Elvis "Pelvis" gyrates on the “Milton Berle Show”
Ah, what a pure and wholesome time the 1950s were. Elvis Presley was branded “Elvis the Pelvis” for his hip gyration heard ‘round the world while performing “Hound Dog” on the “Milton Berle Show” in 1956. Protesters couldn’t keep him off the air, but “The Ed Sullivan Show” producers were careful to later only shoot him from the waist up to shield innocent eyes.
Jerry Lee Lewis marries his 13-year-old cousin
Remember that thing we said about the 1950s being pure and wholesome? Well dreamy, blonde-haired “Great Balls of Fire” crooner Jerry Lee Lewis single-handedly wrecked that in 1958 with rock and roll’s first real scandal when the then-22-year-old married a way too young 13-year-old girl named Myra. And oh, by the way, Myra also happened to be his first cousin.
When word got out, Lewis’ career took a serious hit. Myra may have been young, but she wasn’t dumb. She divorced him 12 years later and cashed in on an autobiography that was made into a film starring Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder.
Paul McCartney conspiracy theory
A rumor hit London in 1967 that “Beatles” member Paul McCartney had secretly died in a car accident, but it wasn’t until American college students fueled the fire by publishing a 1969 magazine with “evidence” that he had been replaced in a “great hoax” that the story became an urban legend.
The writers cited lyrics, messages heard when listening to certain “Beatles” songs backwards and symbolism on album covers. The claim was denied by the band, but the theory has since inspired countless books, records and films.
Eric Clapton to George Harrison: “I’m in love with your wife”
It was a battle of two songs: “Something” and “Layla,” both written for Pattie Boyd, one by her husband, George Harrison, and the other by his close friend, Eric Clapton.
The famous muse was still married to Harrison in 1968 when Clapton declared his love for her. After letting her know that “Layla” was for her, Clapton confessed to his friend, “I have to tell you, man, that I’m in love with your wife.”
Boyd initially stayed faithful to her husband, but once her marriage to the Beatle fell apart, she found herself in Clapton's arms after all.
Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s bromance
“Rolling Stones” frontman Mick Jagger and musician David Bowie were known to have a mutual fascination in their heydays, Bowie with Jagger for his great level of success and Jagger with Bowie for being the next big thing.
But Bowie’s former wife, Angie, revealed there was more to the relationship when she told reporters that she walked in on the two naked in bed together after a drunken night in 1973. "I don't think it was a big love affair," she said. "It was probably more drunken pawing."
Angie later admitted she was jealous—not that her husband was in bed with someone else, but that she didn’t get to score with Jagger.
Chuck Berry a “Peeing Tom”
He may have been a rock and roll pioneer, but Berry’s career in the restaurant business wasn’t as promising. A cook at his Missouri eatery, Southern Air, sued him in 1989 claiming that he installed a hidden video camera in the restroom.
A total of 59 women who had visited his other restaurants or his home later came out to claim that they were victims of his hidden camera scheme. The lawsuits cost Berry about $1.2 million—and a good chunk of his dignity.
Rick James holds woman hostage
Musician Rick James proved himself to be a “Superfreak” when he was convicted of kidnapping and beating music executive Mary Sauger in 1991, but he took it to a whole new level while out on bail when he and future wife Tanya Hijazi held 24-year-old Frances Alley hostage for about six days, tying her up, giving her sexual demands and burning her with a crack pipe. He avoided torture charges but served two years in jail and paid out $2 million.
Sinead O'Connor disses the papacy
Rocker Sinead O’Connor proved that not every Irish girl is in good graces with the Roman Catholic Church when she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II after performing a version of Bob Marley’s “War” on what would become the most controversial episode of “Saturday Night Live” ever to air in 1992.
She wasn’t a fan of Pope Benedict XVI either, taking to her website to write a statement calling his decision to retire his “greatest achievement.”
Michael Hutchence’s fatal attraction
INXS singer Michaelk Hutchence’s death was ruled a suicide when he was found naked with a belt hung around his neck in a Sydney hotel room in 1997, but the 37-year-old’s then-girlfriend, British TV presenter Paula Yates, claimed that he died in a failed attempt at autoerotic asphyxiation. The act, which involves purposely cutting off oxygen from the brain, is done to maximize sexual pleasure.
Phil Spector convicted of murder
Actress Lana Clarkson, then 40, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the mouth in rock and roll producer Phil Spector’s California mansion in 2003, but it took six years for him to be convicted of murder.
Spector claimed that Clarkson had committed suicide, but his driver testified that he heard him say “I think I killed somebody” just after a gunshot was fired. Five other women also testified that Spector had threatened them with weapons.
After a mistrial in 2007, he was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison in 2009 at age 69.
Pamela Anderson’s double feature
Former Playboy model and “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson has an affinity for rock stars… and video cameras. (Has anyone ever introduced her to Chuck Berry?)
A homemade sex tape with then-husband and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee filmed on their honeymoon was stolen and went viral online in 1998, and although they won $1.5 million in a legal suit, they couldn’t stop its distribution.
But that wasn’t Anderson’s first rodeo. A sex tape featuring the bombshell and “Posion” rocker Bret Michaels surfaced in 2005, although it was shot before the one with Lee. This time, Anderson made it all the way to DVD.
Forget sex and drugs-- we dug up rock and roll scandals that REALLY cross the line.