9 of the craziest rock star injuries of all time
Real talk: if rock music has one motto, it’s probably, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Rock music is all about excitement, freedom, and the ability to make things bigger and louder than anything the universe has ever seen. Unfortunately, musicians are made of meat, and often their mental or philosophical scope is at odds with the sheer physicality of being human. Simply put, it’s all a lot of fun until somebody gets hurt.
No one knows this more than professional musicians, who have a long history of getting severely hurt in the name of fun. Whether they’re leaping from balconies or getting caught in the gears of their own elaborate stage shows, rock stars know a thing or two about shedding blood in the name of entertainment. But among those ranks, there are a handful of non-lethal injuries that rise to the top of the WTF pile.
Here are nine of the craziest injuries to ever grace the rock stage…
Slipknot's Sid Wilson breaks both of his heels
Part of Slipknot’s live show has always been leaping around the stage and causing each other bodily harm. But this moment probably takes the cake: in 2008, DJ Sid Wilson leapt off of a platform during the band’s performance of Disasterpiece, plummeting about 15 feet down and landing on his heels… and breaking both of them. Perhaps the sickest part of the whole thing was that Sid limped back out onstage and finished the set barely standing.
High On Fire's Matt Pike loses a toe
Shortly before High On Fire High On Fire won a GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance, the band were forced to drop off a tour with Municipal Waste, only to cancel their rescheduled tour later in the year. Fans were understandably bummed, and some were even angry… until frontman Matt Pike posted a picture of the injury that had caused the cancellation. Matt’s toe had to be partially amputated due to complications with diabetes. Suddenly, some cancelled tour dates didn’t sound very serious.
Metallica's James Hetfield survives a pyrotechnic blast
The 1992 Montreal Metallica show is nowadays known for turning into a massive riot that ripped through the city when Metallica had to cut their set short and Guns N’ Roses bailed early due to Axl feeling super-bummed about something. What’s important to remember is why Metallica had to stop playing: frontman James Hetfield was accidentally burnt with a massive pyrotechnic blast, which severely burnt his face, arm, back and leg. That Papa Het is still playing at all is incredibly lucky; that he’s still headlining arenas is goddamn legendary.
Alice Cooper actually hangs himself trying to fake-hang himself
Several moments in Alice Cooper’s live show involve faking his own death, from decapitating himself with a guillotine to hanging himself on a gallows. It was during a performance of the second act on April 7, 1988, that Alice nearly hanged for real. The piano wire used to keep the Coop from strangling broke, leaving the king of shock-rock to dangle for a few seconds before plummeting to the ground, unconscious. These days, Alice no longer walks the stairs to the gallows – though the guillotine is still very much in play.
Nirvana's Krist Novoselic drops his bass on his own face
Krist Novoselic of Nirvana had become well known for tossing his bass in the air by the time he took the stage at the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards. But after a shitty encounter with Axl Rose (see a theme here?) and a terrible bass sound, Krist was off his game, and this time his bass landed directly on his face. Krist would later insist he was okay, and noted that once paramedics left him alone, Queen’s Brian May came by with real medicine: a glass of champagne.
Slipknot's Corey Taylor catches fire
Leave it to Slipknot to be the only band with two slots on this list. Fire has also historically been part of Slipknot’s live show, with band members like Sid Wilson and Shawn Crahan repeatedly setting themselves and their equipment ablaze. During one such show, frontman Corey Taylor’s leg lights on fire… and he just sort of stares at it and walks away, letting it burn for 13 seconds unhindered. Corey would later reveal that he has tattoos across his leg decorating the burns he suffered onstage. Dude is tough as balls.
KISS's Ace Frehley gets electrocuted (and writes a song about it)
During a 1976 gig in Florida, KISS guitarist Ace Frehley began walking down a flight of stairs and grabbed a metal railing… unknowingly completing an electrical current with his guitar. It was only by seizing up and being thrown back by the shock that Ace was able to let go of the railing and be electrocuted to death. So what did the Spaceman do? He finished the set, and then wrote a song about the experience for the band’s next album. Class act, that guy.
Dave Grohl breaks his leg... and finishes his set
Leave it to Dave Grohl to make breaking his leg sound sexy. After busting his leg at a 2015 Foo Fighters show in Sweden, Dave requested the mic, and slyly told the crowd, “I think I just broke my leg!” He then promised the audience that the band would return, and eventually did… an hour later, on a stretcher. He then returned to Sweden with the Foos in 2018 and pranked the audience by having a lookalike immediately fall offstage. Sometimes, you have to laugh at yourself just to keep from screaming.
Tony Iommi loses his fingers and invents heavy metal
Never forget, all of heavy metal exists due to a single rock star injury. At the age of 17, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi was working in a sheet metal factory when a machine accidentally sliced off the tips of two of his fingers. Tony was told he’d never play again, but he decided to do it anyway, crafting prosthetics from thimbles, wax, and strips of leather from his jacket. The lack of sensation allowed him to tune his guitar lower than normal, creating the low, rumbling sound that came to define Sabbath’s music. It’s unsurprising that metal’s legacy started with a blood sacrifice.
Read this next:
Slipknot have posted a tribute to their founding drummer Joey Jordison, who passed away earlier this week.
Kerrang! Radio host Alex Baker brings you the new bands you need to check out now, including Alienblaze, Wilder and Those Without.