10 Most Embarrassing Moments
By Ralph Greco, Jr.
Not of the Ozzy –bites-the-head-off-a-bat-but-doesn’t-know-it’s-a-live-bat variety, there have been moments in rock history that have been so out-and-out silly, embarrassing, jump-the-shark insipid that I felt a light little list of ten might be warranted. Although I’d argue that the entire run of MTV is the biggest bunch of silliness the rock world has ever seen (and continues to see), I had to get beyond my prejudice and find some real actual moments that caused a ‘d chill’ down my back enough to win inclusion here. You be the judge.
1) Aerosmith and Britney Spears Perform Together At The Super Bowl. The Backstreets Boys were there too, but seeing the Bad Boys of Boston mix it up with the tart pop queen was one of the most emasculating moments in rock and roll. Back in the day if a girl as hot as B.S. happened within even a yard of Steve Tyler, he would have wrapped a scarf round her and “Oops, did it again,” to her a thousand different ways! Steven and Britney did their thing for the cheering football fans while real rock and roll nuts (not to mention Aerosmith fans) looked on, convinced they were witnessing one of the sure signs of the apocalypse.
3) The Who Carry On. How many members of a band have to leave, quit or die before the remaining members of that band decide that it ain’t that band anymore because the members have left, quit or died? I could go on and on about questioning integrity when a group tours with so many new members they shouldn’t they even use the name any more (can anybody say Queen and Paul Rodgers? Journey with Steve Perry sound-alikes?), still this one gets me where I live because Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey lost Keith Moon so many years ago and didn’t give it up then. Now with John “The Ox” Entwistle dead, they still carry on!? And in almost every interview, Townshend claims to have only ever toured those later years because Entwistle needed the money! What’s your excuse now Pete?
4) Yes On The Mike Huckabee Show. Hopefully passing beyond most everyone’s notice (how many Huckabee viewers are prog rock fans anyway?), the latest incarnation of Yes (sans Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson) stopped in on the ex-Presidential hopeful’s cable show to play “Owner of Lonely Heart.” With Huckabee staff members, the Little Rockers standing in on guitar (Steve Howe was conspicuously absent). Alan White and Mike C. jawed a bit, and Huckabee called Chris Squire “Chris McGuire.” Another sure sign of the apocalypse.
5) Emerson Lake and Palmer Release In The Hot Seat. I hate to get down on my most favorite group, but really, when the boys released their last studio recording in 1994, the collective fan base (what there was left of us) groaned as loud as when Fonzie literally jumped that shark. Proving that maybe Greg Lake was right about producing ELP records all along (at least he should have had a hand in this one beyond writing insipid ballads about lost children) these last bunch of tunes almost rival the first half of Love Beach for fan vitriol. I know almost every great rock band has one of these clinkers in their canon, but this one cuts me to the quick since I love these guys so much.
6) George Michael Gets Arrested In The Bathroom. Look, do what ya gotta do, with whomever you got to do it with; I don’t damn anything between consenting adults. Whatever lewd act the ex-Wham! singer was accused of — and to this day nobody ever really has been sure what ‘it’ was — couldn’t he have done ‘it’ in a place a little less public then the restrooms at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills? Sure the guy's not Robert Plant or Slash, but his show-stopping vocal performance of “Somebody To Love” at the Freddie Mecury memorial concert proves he can be rock and roll when he wants to.
7) Kiss On The Tomorrow Show. This moment was so embarrassing that members of the band were visibly squirming. A fully made-up Kiss was interviewed by Snyder on Halloween night 1979, and Ace “The Space-d” Frehley was blasted, loud and laughing hysterically. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were visibly pissed at their drunk guitarist (it’s quite obvious if you watch the show). What makes it all the more painful is that Snyder is attempting to be cool by going along with Ace and simply laughing as loud as he can at everything the guys says. This squirm-inducing 25 minutes of TV was so bad Simmons later said he felt “betrayed” by his band mate.
8) Queen On American Idol. Later rejecting some comments he made, claiming they were taken out of context, Brian May appeared on American Idol with Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers to help the singing hopefuls bolster their individual versions of “We Will Rock You.” Since “AI” represents arguably the bottom-of-the-barrel of the music business these days (at least the lowest-common-denominator demographic) this really wasn’t any place for Queen, or what’s left of them.
9) Elvis Meets Nixon. The one item requested more then any other from the National Archives each year is a reproduction of the photograph of Elvis Presley and Richard M. Nixon shaking hands at the White House. Initiated after The King wrote a six-page letter to the President, Elvis was not only hoping for an audience with the Commander-In-Chief but suggested that he be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The irony, of course, is that Elvis would have been a perfect target for a Federal Drug Enforcer and in the famous, oft-requested picture of their 1970 meeting, old swivel hips is quite obviously stoned!
10) The Sex Pistols Mark The Queen’s Silver Jubilee On The Thames. With the success of their single “God Save The Queen,” the quintessential UK punk quartet passed by Westminster and the Houses of Parliament on a boat, intending to perform for stoned and soused guests. Ending in arrests as their manager Malcolm McLaren hoped — even though he had secured a license for the performance-cum-cruise — this stunt was just another in a long line in the Pistol’s short ill-fated rise, belittling a seminal album and a career that might have been considered something truly rebellious if not for these stupid press-catching moments. Their first and only album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is still truly ground-breaking.