LONDON – R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck staggered around a plane, got stuck between seats and covered himself in yogurt after downing 15 glasses of red wine on a trans-Atlantic flight, a London court was told Monday.
Prosecutor Edward Lewis told the first day of Buck's air-rage trial that the 44-year-old musician "became the transmogrification of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde" during the 8 1/2-hour Seattle to London flight.
Buck is charged with being drunk on an aircraft, assaulting two cabin crew, interfering with the performance of a crew member's duties and damaging British Airways crockery during the flight in April.
Buck, who appeared in court in a pinstriped navy blue suit, white shirt and dark blue tie, denies the charges.
Lewis said Buck became "paralytic" with drink while sitting in the first-class section of the Boeing 747 jet.
"The steward was to replenish Mr. Buck's glass 15 times during the first three hours or so," said Lewis. "Even though Mr. Buck's glass was being replenished frequently, it would appear that it was not enough for him, because 20 minutes into the flight he was seen to go into the galley for more."
Lewis said Buck became stuck between two seats, mistook a hostess trolley for a CD player and covered himself and the cabin services manager with the contents of a yogurt tub. He also overturned a trolley, sending crockery, honey, cereals and milk flying across the floor, it was alleged.
He was seen "stumbling up the aisles, bumping into passengers' seats, and sometimes landing on them," Lewis said.
Lewis said Buck responded to warnings about his behavior by saying, "I am R.E.M. and I can make up a story that I was assaulted."
His behavior was so extreme, Lewis said, that crew members considered handcuffing him, and the captain considered diverting the flight.
Lewis accused Buck and tour manager Robert Whittaker, who accompanied him, of behaving like "naughty children."
"It was getting beyond a joke," he said.
The alleged incident occurred as the Georgia band traveled to Britain to promote their album Reveal and perform at a Nelson Mandela tribute concert in London's Trafalgar Square.
Lewis said when the plane landed in London, Buck told police he could not remember what had happened during the flight.
"I guess I acted like an idiot and a jerk," Buck allegedly told the officers who questioned him.
Buck's trial at Isleworth Crown Court in west London is expected to last a week.