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    May 13, 2020

    19 Wild "Secrets" About Classic Rock Stars That Are Hard To Believe But Absolutely True

    Snorting ants...Trying to dose the president...Hanging with Charles Manson...

    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the facts about classic rock stars that blew their minds. Here are the most jaw-dropping responses (with some of our own thrown in):

    1. Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury dressed Princess Diana in drag and took her to a gay bar in the '80s.

    en.wikipedia.org, Patrick Riviere / Getty Images

    According to the memoir of British actor Cleo Rocos, she and Freddie sneaked Princess Diana into the iconic London gay bar Royal Vauxhall Tavern dressed in a leather cap to hide her hair, an army jacket, and dark aviator sunglasses. After having a couple drinks and some fun, she was dropped back home at Kensington Palace without anyone being the wiser about what happened.

    wmaebrey

    2. The Who's drummer Keith Moon washed down some horse tranquilizers with brandy before a show, then drummed slower and slower until he passed out while playing "Won't Get Fooled Again."

    Jim Summaria / Via commons.wikimedia.org, en.wikipedia.org

    The band threw Moon in the shower, trying to revive him, and were able to get him conscious long enough to play "Magic Bus." After that, Pete Townsend asked the audience if anyone played the drums, and a 19-year-old kid came out of the crowd to accompany the Who on three more numbers.

    —BuzzFeed

    3. Before starting the band Kiss, Gene Simmons was a sixth-grade teacher.

    George De Sota / Getty Images, Sony

    Gene taught at a public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side for six months. He quit when he realized the reason he wanted to be a teacher was because he got to stand in front of people and be noticed — but what he really wanted was to stand in front of people on stage as a musician.

    becky07990

    4. On a drug- and alcohol-fueled tour in 1984, Ozzy Osbourne used a straw to snort a line of ants off the ground in an effort to gross out his tour mates, Mötley Crüe.

    Hulton Archive / Getty Images, en.wikipedia.org Domain

    Ozzy's guitarist at the time contests the story, saying he snorted a spider instead of ants, but either way it's pretty wild even for rock 'n' roll!

    —BuzzFeed

    5. Lynyrd Skynyrd was named after Leonard Skinner, the strict high school gym teacher who sent at least one member of the band to the principal's office for having long hair.

    MCA Records

    The band members changed two letters in Leonard Skinner's name to avoid a lawsuit. Eventually, Skinner became good-natured about the tongue-in-cheek tribute and even introduced the band at a concert in their shared hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

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    6. Jerry Lee Lewis (the high-energy pianist/singer behind "Great Balls of Fire") got married to his 13-year-old third cousin.

    Hulton Archive / Getty Images

    Also jaw dropping? The marriage was the 22-year-old singer's third marriage.

    —BuzzFeed

    7. The first time the Beatles smoked pot was with Bob Dylan. They met up at a hotel and Dylan offered them some. Dylan assumed the fab four had smoked it before because he'd misheard their "I can't hide!" lyric from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as "I get high!"

    United Artists, en.wikipedia.org / Via Public domain

    8. "Son of a Preacher Man" singer Dusty Springfield used to spend hundreds of dollars on cheap china, then blow off steam by breaking it all.

    youtube.com

    Mary Weiss of the The Shangri-Las recalls standing at the end of a corridor with Dusty and throwing crockery down it as hard as they could. Motown singer Martha Reeves has a similar story of finding Dusty in her dressing room breaking china and being asked to join in on the destruction.

    —BuzzFeed

    9. In 1984, Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen had his left arm amputated after being in a serious car crash. It took him about two years of physical therapy, but he was able to continue as the band's drummer and even play live!

    Scott Gries / Getty Images

    To do this, Allen had a drum kit specially made that allowed him to use his foot to replicate the parts he previously played with his left hand.

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    10. Stevie Nicks was offered the opportunity to write the lyrics for "Purple Rain," but turned Prince down.

    Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Warner Bros.

    Stevie and Prince were friends — Prince even played keyboards on Stevie's "Stand Back" — so when she mentioned she'd like to work together again, he sent over a 10-minute instrumental of the music that would become "Purple Rain" with a request that she write the lyrics. Stevie rejected the opportunity, not because she didn't like the song, but because it was overwhelming. She said in an interview, "I called him back and said 'I can't do it. I wish I could. It's just too much for me.'"

    —BuzzFeed

    11. As an 8-year-old boy, Guns N' Roses lead guitarist Slash walked in on his mother and David Bowie naked in bed.

    Scott Penner/ / Via en.wikipedia.org, en.wikipedia.org / Via Public domain

    Slash's mother was a costume designer with rock 'n' roll clients like David Bowie, whom she dated. Slash says that, awkwardness aside, he liked Bowie and thought he was cool.

    jamiewalker

    12. Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson befriended Charles Manson and even got the Beach Boys to record a song written by Manson.

    Universal Pictures, en.wikipedia.org / Via Public domain

    In 1969, Dennis picked up a couple hitchhiking girls who turned out to be part of Manson's group. Dennis went on to help Manson meet music industry people (including Terry Melcher, whose home Sharon Tate moved into), and rewrote a Manson tune "Cease to Exist" as "Never Learn Not to Love" that the Beach Boys released as a B-side.

    —BuzzFeed

    13. Elvis was actually a natural blonde! He dyed his hair jet black with shoe polish initially, and then later with Clairol hair dye.

    @elvispresley as a Blonde #graceland.

    The above photo, hanging in his former home known as Graceland, is one of the few that exist showing his natural hair color.

    smoothjazz1

    14. Jefferson Airplane's lead singer Grace Slick — after being invited to the White House — went with some acid and a plan to dose President Nixon.

    Central Press / Getty Images

    The president's daughter, Tricia, invited many of her fellow Finch College alums, including Grace, to a tea at the White House. So the "Somebody to Love" singer went with acid and a plan drop it into the president's drink. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), the secret service viewed her as a security risk and didn't let her anywhere near the president.

    —BuzzFeed

    15. After the breakup of the British rock band the Zombies (who scored hits like "Time of the Season"), a promotion company in America hired some kids from Texas to go on tour as the band, claiming they were still together. Eventually, the actual Zombies served the fake Zombies with a cease and desist order, but the fake Zombies stayed together and became...ZZ Top.

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    16. Richie Havens' most famous song — "Freedom" — was actually improvised on stage at Woodstock.

    Warner Bros.

    With other artists delayed in reaching the music festival, Richie was sent out for encore after encore until he'd run out of material and improvised the song based on the traditional spiritual "Motherless Child."

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    17. The Beatles' Paul McCartney wrote "Yesterday" — the most-covered song in popular music historyliterally in his sleep.

    CBS

    Paul woke one day with the melody in his head and went to the piano to find the chords. He then played it for everyone he came across for months to make sure he hadn't remembered some other song, but no one had heard it before. He had, indeed, written one of rock's most timeless songs in his sleep.

    —BuzzFeed

    18. Similarly, the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards woke one morning to see his cassette recorder had been left on and the tape run to the other end. When he rewound the tape, he discovered — though he had no memory of doing it — that he’d gotten up in the middle of the night and recorded the riff to "Satisfaction."

    Mccarthy / Getty Images, Etsy / Via etsy.me

    —BuzzFeed

    19. Canadian folk/rock legend Neil Young and American funk superstar Rick James were in a band together before they became famous for very different styles of music.

    BBC, Gordy

    In the early '60s, James Johnson (later named Rick James) left America for Toronto, Canada to avoid having to serve in Vietnam. There, he met Neil Young and they played together in a band called the Myrnah Birds. The band even got signed to Motown Records and were about to release this single when Rick was arrested for going AWOL. That ended the Young/James partnership.

    —BuzzFeed

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