On this day in 1990, the manager for recent Grammy winners for Best New Group Milli Vanilli held a press conference to tell everyone his act was a fraud. They did not do any of the singing on their best-selling record and they lip synced their shows. It was a startling revelation for a pre-Auto Tune world where singers were supposed to sing and musicians were supposed to play. While there were always suspected fakes out there, this was one of the most public humiliations of the kind.
Well, here on Rocks Off, the shit just got REAL! In honor of this momentous occasion, we've decided to bring you the 10 most no bullshit, it doesn't get any realer than this, artists ever. Strap in and hold on.
10. Keith Richards
Some believe that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. I think it was Keith Richards. Who could survive the constant punishment that man has subjected his body to for 50 years and live to tell about it? If he isn't a minion of Satan, he must be a robot.
9. The Clash
London Calling wasn't just a great rock record, it was a call to arms at a time when popular music had backslid into cheese and cocaine. The Clash, like the Who in the 60s, were the middle finger conscience of a young, pissed off generation.
8. Ted Nugent
Long before Nugent was a gun-toting conservative railing against pussy liberals and even well before he got hair sprayed for his pop turn with the Damn Yankees, Terrible Ted was crushing rock and roll and taking no prisoners. I once saw him hock a massive loogie on stage and spit it about 20 feet. Like the honey badger, Ted just didn't give a shit.
7. The Stooges
It isn't often that someone gives himself over the music in the way Iggy Pop did with the Stooges. The guy looked like a walking track mark and the music felt like meth addiction before that even existed.
When heavy metal was turning coiffed and pretty, nobody brought the sick and nasty like Motorhead. Sticking to their guns at a time when they probably could have ridden a gravy train of hot chicks and LA parties so many other rockers were doing it proved they had brass balls wrapped in stainless steel.
5. Wendy O. Williams
Last year, I glanced at the Wikipedia entry for Wendy O' Williams just to try and get a handle on what happened to the rubber-clad chick who wore black electrical tape over her nipples on stage, not to be sexy, but because she was straight up crazy. What it revealed to me was a woman who not only walked away from rock to do animal rehab (seriously), but someone who tried to commit suicide by stabbing herself in the chest, which didn't work. She finally, and sadly, killed herself via gun in 1998.
These guys invented gansta rap. They took out their rage against the police and oppressive authority through some of the angriest shit you'll ever hear recorded. What made them so real was the fact that they stuck to their guns in a time when white people were already afraid of rappers or trying to minimize them by calling the music a fad. They kept it real and changed music.
3. Johnny Cash
One of the quintessential images of a musician is that of Johnny Cash flipping the bird in the face of the camera. For all his bluster in music, Cash was a pretty gentle guy, but no one stuck to his guns like the Man in Black. Even in his waning years, he was working with Rick Rubin and recording Nine Inch Nails songs in excruciatingly poignant fashion. His duet on "September When It Comes" with daughter, Rosanne, from her wonderful album Rules of Travel is heart-achingly honest, like Johnny Cash himself.
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2. Charles Manson
When you use your music and pop icon status to further your mission as a pyschopath and mass murderer, I reluctantly have to include you on this list. Manson will forever be known for his criminal atrocities and that stupid swastika on his forehead, but music was how he cultivated and expressed much of his crazy. Fucked up, yes, but real as it gets.
1. GG Allin
The man shit on stage on more than one occasion. End of story.