Who were the drunkest performers you saw on stage?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by spencer1, Sep 26, 2019.

  1. ripdan

    ripdan Well-Known Member

    Greenville, SC
    ZZ Top at the Spectrum in Philly, I think it was '76. We had crap seats off to the side of the stage and watched their handlers getting them ready to take the stage and then just give them a little push toward the mics. Sounded horrible so we left. Unless I'm confused, Ted Nugent was the opener, and he was definitely sober, swinging out on a rope over the audience in a loin cloth.
  2. Bug80

    Bug80 Forum Resident

    Amy Winehouse at Rock Werchter in Belgium. She got on stage half an hour late (the band was already waiting all this time) and she had a roadie on stage dedicated to re-fill her wine glass.

    Her performance was still amazing though, that was what surprised me the most.

    I still remember the singer of Snow Patrol (who were next on stage) asking the audience if we liked Amy Winehouse while lifting his water bottle.
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  3. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Youngstown, Ohio
    I saw Faces in this general time frame too.

    Don't know about the entire band being drunk, but Kenney Jones' drumming was absolutely pathetic that night — among the worst I'd ever heard.

    At the time, I was generally unaware of his work in Small Faces (other than "Itchycoo Park"), so it came as a revelation a few years later when I became acquainted with that band and found out that he was really very good.

    But boy…not that night!
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  4. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Youngstown, Ohio
    I saw Jerry Jeff while in college at a small coffee house.

    He was surely drunk, but it didn't have the usual effect liquor has on performers. Instead, his intake simply caused him to fall asleep between songs. Seriously…he would play a song, and then sit there on the stool for a couple of minutes with his eyes closed. Then he would revive, and play another song. Then the process would be repeated.

    Most of the patrons left in disgust as this continued, but my girlfriend and I were among ten or so who stayed around to the end. We ended up chatting amicably with him. This was when he had not yet become the Texas icon he turned into. I actually asked him about Circus Maximus!
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  5. canadian73

    canadian73 Forum Resident

    I have never seen anyone drunk onstage, but my wife once saw Van Morrison who was very, very drunk -- slurry and forgetting words, almost falling down, etc.

    The closest I ever saw was electric Hot Tuna as they had a bottle of Jack Daniels on the speaker and were smoking joints, but they did not appear drunk at all.
  6. Jerquee

    Jerquee Take this, brother, may it serve you well.

    New York
    I saw Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley get well ripped while sharing a bottle earlier this year. Despite that it was a great show.
  7. Nib

    Nib Well-Known Member

    After seeing John Martyn numerous times throughout the 80s and 90s always play fantastic shows I would always recommend him to fellow friends of a guaranteed great show, sadly that was not the case the last time I got to see him which was at Cambridge Corn Exchange in the early 2000s when he played for about 15 minutes before he and everyone realised he was too drunk to perform.
    R.I.P Big Man
  8. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    He has been on good behavior since this incident, though. The two most recent GBV shows I saw were the tightest I've seen from any version of the band.
  9. Murman

    Murman Forum Resident

    Wasn't at it, but I have a hard time thinking anyone could have been worse than this:

  10. I have a CD of a live show- Dublin 1997, I think- where JM starts out in pretty good shape, starts slurring, gets totally lost somewhere in the middle, starts playing another song without quite getting through his original choice, and kinda-sorta recovers enough to get through a somewhat abbreviated set.

    The other live sets I have by him from earlier eras, dude is fire, as the kids say. Obviously buzzed, but it's a well-crafted buzz.

    That video documentary from his last years is pretty sad. Martyn has the classic late-stage alcoholism symptom, rheumy eyes. Trying to put up a good front, but his expression is pleading.

    That sounds like the late-era Hunter Thompson's appearance on David Letterman's show. I don't know if he ever managed to pull himself together, because I turned off the Youtube clip after about a minute. A classic case of a guy devoured by his own legend.

    Shortly after John Belushi kicked the bucket from an OD, Thompson opined that John's problem was that he didn't have a brake pedal. Thompson started out with one, but he eventually wore it down to the rivets. Limiting the mileage is important, too. Hunter used to swim laps in the pool, he used to go out at night and run. If the alcohol and the heavy drugs start interfering with that- which is practically inevitable- it turns into a matter of one or the other.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  11. piepants

    piepants Forum Resident

    Onalaska, WI, USA
    That sounds more like heroin than alcohol.
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  12. Mothmanica

    Mothmanica Forum Cryptid

    Who were the drunkest performers you saw on stage?

    All of them. If they weren't drunk on alcohol then they were drunk on fame & money.
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  13. Kassonica

    Kassonica Forum Resident


    both incredibly sad and funny at the same time..........:sigh:
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  14. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Youngstown, Ohio
    I suppose that's possible, though I can't find any reference to Jerry Jeff having a heroin habit.
  15. dlemaudit

    dlemaudit Forum Resident

    France, Paris area
    how could his liver sustain all those abuse , a miracle
    bless him
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  16. dlemaudit

    dlemaudit Forum Resident

    France, Paris area
    i saw johnny twice live and he was wasted on drugs not booze
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  17. dlemaudit

    dlemaudit Forum Resident

    France, Paris area
    same for me , the drunkest performer i have ever seen , that was with the Gun Club . Saw him solo and he was sober .
    Callahan likes this.
  18. BornBeforeTheWind

    BornBeforeTheWind Forum Resident

    Don Ho
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  19. jlykos

    jlykos Forum Resident

    Parts Unknown
    I once saw Mike IX Williams from Eyehategod start swigging morphine from a bottle on stage. Show lasted 40 minutes and ended the second time he fell off the stage. Good times.

    I also saw Peter Steele from Type O Negative drink an entire magnum of red wine straight from the bottle during a concert. That guy was so huge, however, that I’m not sure if it made a difference.
  20. Nib

    Nib Well-Known Member

    I often wonder if there was any truth in what some say that John's self-destruction was triggered by the passing at an early age of his good friends and fellow Island artist Nick Drake and Paul Kossoff?
  21. postscripum

    postscripum Forum Resident

    Poor John. Mind you, I'm not surprised any performer gets drunk at that venue. It's like a cabbage-scented school hall.
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  22. HairyWeimer

    HairyWeimer I can resist anything but temptation.

    There's a band that's been going a fair old while and still perform now, they are called Vincent Flatts Final Drive. The lead singer Bertie holds a bottle or glasses of JD continuously drinking through the whole gig.
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  23. arthurprecarious

    arthurprecarious Forum Resident

    North East England
    Saw Terry Reid a few years ago at the Sage Gateshead. Drunk as a skunk. Some of his family were there and left early! People got their money back. One of the few shows I’ve left early.
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  24. Roy66

    Roy66 Well-Known Member

    Bob Dylan in the mid 70s bloody enoying
    Amy Winehouse totally wasted Really sad to see.
    Will never forget seeing Judy Garland off her face live from the London Palladium
    On telly as a kid.
    squittolo likes this.
  25. That's all speculation. As is my own opinion on this question, of course. Which is that I don't think that's the case, based on what I've read. John Martyn was already "partying heavily", as we say in the US, from the outset of his career, and likely before then. It isn't as if he tipped into a tailspin after either of them departed this realm. Nor did JM self-destruct in the immediate aftermath of those losses; he stuck around for another 30 years or so.

    My cold reading, so to speak, is that John Martyn wasn't a guy who had big problems and took to booze and dope; he took to booze and drugs without a care, and that became more and more of a problem. He was one of those sturdy, rough and tumble guys who can handle a heavy body load of alcohol and drugs up to late middle age. At that point, people tend to hit the wall. But they often find that it's too late to quit, or anyway not worth it to them. The higher the tolerance, the bigger the adjustment required. And the tolerance accumulated by people with sturdy constitutions can be gargantuan. The path of least resistance is to simply decide to keep on taking their own chances, as it were. If it were easy for serious pounders to quit or throttle back, more of them would do it. But one of the problems with quitting alcohol after 30 years of daily drinking is that damage has accumulated- liver problems, diabetes, vascular problems, etc. And so not only do those problems very often stick around without improving (at least given the current state of medicine) after you sober up, but you ain't even getting high no more. So I get how people faced with that dilemma just continue on with doing what they like with their substance habits. I read an interview with JM a few years before he passed away, and he more or less told the interviewer that he wasn't regretting any of it. But I've read some lyric changes he made to his performances of "Over The Hill" in the '80s and '90s that indicate that he was abstaining and trying to give sobriety and recovery a go. Intermittently.

    On this topic, I like to refer people to a passage in the first part of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, where he discourses (wittily, DFW-style) on the common progression of teenage-youthful undisciplined drug abuse, stacking substance on substance in ever-increasing doses as a daily regimen while feeling just fine, until the wall gets hit and general systemic failure kicks in "at about age 26." Of course, Wallace was talking about tennis players- lightweights like yours truly, who fortunately figured out early on that it was entirely the wrong approach, and likely to lead me to an early grave if I went that route. Mesomorphs with more of a furnace and more muscle mass can sometimes carry on into their 40s and 50s with little slowing of their step. It's all too easy to mistake the ability to hold one's liquor and dope as a license to keep having more fun, instead of a warning sign. But when the bill comes due, the cost is often a heavy one to pay.

    For a real good, true to life movie on the subject, watch Crazy Heart. Which features Jeff Bridges doing what may be the all-time authentic "drunk performer onstage" scene, to return the thread back to the original topic.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019

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