Sunday List: 10 Moments That Nearly Destroyed Rock Music
There are times in life where everyone just reaches a fork in the road and that next step truly defines what will become of their future.
Sometimes in music, there’s fame, success and creative fulfillment ahead. And other times, there are opportunities forever lost for something that might have been truly great.
Loudwire and Ultimate Classic Rock have partnered to revisit some of these key moments in rock that could have altered the hard rock/heavy metal music landscape
These are 10 moments which could have nearly destroyed rock music as we know it.
Slash Auditions for Poison
Hollywood was the place to be if you were a rocker looking to make it in the mid ’80s.
But not long before we were all welcomed to the jungle, Slash auditioned for the Bret Michaels-led Poison. In a 2010 interview with Classic Rock Revisited, Slash revealed that he had decided to quit the pre-Guns N’ Roses band Hollywood Rose and was referred to Poison by their exiting guitarist at the time.
Slash says he made it to the final two, but knew it wasn’t going to work when he was asked about wearing makeup. Poison ended up offering the job to C.C. Deville.
Had Slash been chosen for Poison, would Guns N’ Roses have ever reached the pinnacle without him? And while successful in their own right, would Poison have become the iconic act that GN’R went on to be?
Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx Declared Dead
Motley Crue’s ’80s excess is legendary and it really peaked out on Dec. 23, 1987 when the band’s bassist, Nikki Sixx, was declared legally dead of an overdose before he was eventually revived.
While Motley Crue had been highly successful prior to Sixx’s overdose, it should be noted that arguably the band’s most successful release, ‘Dr. Feelgood,’ came after the incident.
Sixx has also gone on to form Sixx: A.M., has become a popular radio host, an author and an accomplished photographer in the years since his almost death. Sixx stated in December 2012 on the 25th anniversary of his near-fatal overdose: “I am extremely grateful to be able to look back over these last 25 years and have all the memories that would of otherwise gone down in flames.”
Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi Loses Fingertips
Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi is a godfather of heavy metal, but his career was almost cut short.
As a 17-year-old, Iommi was involved in an industrial accident that resulted in the loss off the tips of middle and ring fingers on his right hand.
As a result, Iommi adjusted his approach to guitar, with down-tuned strings to ease his playing. The end result created a signature sound for Black Sabbath. What could have been a tragic accident in some ways turned out to be a blessing for heavy metal music, but had the accident been worse, heavy metal music as we know it may have never existed.
John Frusciante Leaves Red Hot Chili Peppers
Following the tragic death of Hillel Slovak, the Red Hot Chili Peppers recruited John Frusciante as their new guitarist.
Frusciante would prove to be an integral member of the band, with his contributions playing a big role in their classic albums ‘Mother’s Milk’ and ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik.’
However, Frusciante quit the group after ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik,’ and the band recorded the somewhat disappointing album ‘One Hot Minute’ with Dave Navarro on guitar.
Thankfully, Frusciante rejoined in 1998 and Red Hot Chili Peppers followed with the acclaimed disc ‘Californication,’ as well as the albums ‘By the Way’ and ‘Stadium Arcadium.’
While Frusciante has since left the band again, there’s no telling what direction RHCP would have headed or if they would have continued had he not joined them that second time in the late ’90s.
Tool’s Maynard Keenan James Pursues Interior Design in Grand Rapids
There are many rockers who move to California to get discovered.
But Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan was more intrigued with pursuing a career in interior design and set decoration upon arriving in Los Angeles.
The future frontman attended Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University in Grand Rapids and took odd jobs like providing feng shui for a pet store.
Fortunately, he would later meet guitarist Adam Jones at a party and they bonded, eventually putting together the beginnings of what would become Tool.
Although he did not end up in interior design, he is still able to use his creativity in performing as a member of such bands as Puscifer and A Perfect Circle as well as Tool.
Interior design’s loss is hard rock’s gain.
Pink Floyd Almost Turned to Rap Music
So, what do a legendary British progressive rock band do for a second act when they’re recording their first album after the loss of one of their most important members?
They turn to rap music obviously. At least, that’s what producer Bob Ezrin suggested to Pink Floyd when they were recording ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason.’
“I brought some in to David Gilmour’s thing, going, ‘Boy, I think this stuff with a rock beat would be awesome,’” he recalls
Fortunately, Gilmour was having none of the credibility-destroying idea.
“He said, ‘Oh my God, that would be terrible,’” Ezrin says, laughing. “He couldn’t believe it. He hated the idea.”
The Rollings Stones’ Keith Richards Almost Loses Satisfaction
In 1965, The Rolling Stones scored its breakthrough hit “Satisfaction.”
However, guitarist Keith Richards almost didn’t finish the song. He came up with the main riff during the early morning hours at a motel in Florida while on tour, putting it down on tape before lapsing back into sleep.
When Richards awoke, there was only a bit of the riff on tape, followed by 45 minutes of snoring, he claims. But it was enough to show it to Mick Jagger, who recognized its potential and swung into action, finishing the song.
Had Richards not taken a moment to record the bit — or forgotten and not gone back to it , The Stones might very well have missed out on their signature song.
Ironically, Richards himself didn’t care for it at first.
John Lennon: The Beatles ‘Are More Popular Than Jesus Now’
In 1966, John Lennon, in an interview with The London Evening Standard, with the London Evening Standard, spoke about his belief that Christianity was dying out, saying of The Beatles: “We’re more popular than Jesus now.”
The quote was taken out of context in the U.S, prompting an enormous backlash that centered in Alabama, where two disc jockeys initiated a boycott of The Beatles that included burning their records.
The incident could have destroyed the career of the most important rock group of all time. But the furor eventually blew over after Lennon clarified his remarks at a news conference.
Ozzy Ozbourne Nearly Passes Out During Randy Rhoads’ Black Sabbath Audition
Ozzy Osbourne is one of the most influential metal performers of all time.
However, in late 1979, the former Black Sabbath singer was unemployed, broke and attempting an unlikely solo career.
During auditions for his new band, in walked a then-little-known guitarist named Randy Rhoads.
Not a Sabbath fan, Rhoads hadn’t even wanted to audition, doing so only at the insistence of a friend.
Rhoads had only played a few warmup exercises when an astonished (and highly intoxicated) Osbourne promptly gave him the job before reportedly passing out.
It’s hard to imagine Osbourne’s stratospheric solo career happening if he missed out on Rhoads.
Jethro Tull Tops Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Grammy Award
In 1988, metal rock was poised to finally make the leap from the shadowy fringes of music into the critical mainstream when Metallica was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance.
But in one of the most incredible upsets in Grammy history, the award instead went to British prog-rockers Jethro Tull.
Fortunately, the incident didn’t permanently damage Metallica, which turned in a slightly more mainstream direction with its next album and have gone on to become the most successful rock act of their generation.
But still: What if James Hetfield had taken up the flute in an attempt to chase Tull’s critical success? Where would we all be then, huh?