Top Five Rock Star Criminals: From Rick James to Norwegian Black Metal

Rock stars and jail-time go together like bars and stripes, weed and whiskey, hookers and cocaine. No wonder so many of our musical heroes end up in trouble with the law.

Like Miami's own Against All Authority say, "Fuck the law/Fuck the law/Fuck the law/You're fuckin nothin' but a pig."

So in honor of being criminal minded, here are Crossfade's top five rock star criminals.

5. Johann Sebastian Bach

OK, he didn't actually play the electric guitar. So what? In his day, Bach was a motherfuckin' rock star. He may also be the only master classical composer to have served a jail bid. Bach did a month in German lockup for taking a composing job without the approval of his previous boss. The hater was so pissed he threw Bach in the slammer, where he probably sat around all day writing new music. Source: Glory and Honor: The Musical and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach.

4. Rick James

Lest you doubt his rock star cred, Rick James started his

career in a band called the Mynah Birds with a dude named Neil Young. Later, America's favorite superfreak caught a five year sentence for imprisoning and assaulting two women (one his girlfriend) while coked to the gills. Here are some of the allegations that got him locked up, "He made me take my clothes off and sit in the chair," Alley testified. "He ordered Tanya to go to the kitchen and heat up the knife until it was red hot. Rick poured alcohol all over my knees. He started smoking crack. Every time he took a hit, he held part of the crack pipe to my knees." According to victim testimony, James slapped her across the face with a handgun, saying, "No-one fucks with Rick James in this house." She then testified that he burned her with a Bic lighter and kept reheating the knife with the lighter or a candle, burning her inner groin area, and from "the abdomen to the pubic line. He burnt Hijazi twice on the back for smoking outside. I then went into the bathroom and put cold towels on my burns. We then went into Rick's room and smoked crack."  Source: The Devil In Rick James.

3. Varg Vikernes

He was a Norwegian black metal scenester into heavy music, church burnings, and photo ops with Viking clubs. He also went by the name Count Grishnackh and was an original member of the band Mayhem. His other band, Burzum, was signed to the record label of a dude named Euronymous, who was found stabbed to death in Oslo. Vikernes was convicted of the killing, and served 14 of a 21-year prison sentence that saw his release in 2009. Source: Sound of The Beast: The Complete Headbanging Histroy of Heavy Metal. Check out Vikernes' own retelling of the killing on his website.

2. Lester Bowie

You don't have to play rock 'n' roll music to be a rock star, and that's exactly what Lester Bowie was, a horn blowing, globe trotting, show throwing, prolific composer and recording artist with a penchant for the wild life. He also took no shit from anybody and that's what got him locked up for five months in military prison while he was in the army. Here's how he tells the story, "I was in there for whuppin' a white boy's ass. I had shot up the barracks, shooting at this white boy. They had got me for attempted murder. It wasn't malicious or anything really, but this white boy from Tennessee took my seat in the TV room. So when I asked him about it, he came out of his Southern bag: 'Yeah, I took your seat, so what.' Well, I ain't never been afraid of white folks. A lot of people [blacks] got that fear built in, but I don't. So I grabbed him by the collar, pulled him down, pulled my gun, and fired off four or five shots right next to his head and said: 'Motherfucker, if you ever think about saying some shit to me like this again, I'll blow your head off.' This cat was begging 'Lester, please don't kill me.'" Source: BlueSpeak: The Best of The Original Chicago Blues Annual.

1. Ike Turner

Most popular thought about Ike Turner revolves around his "physimotional" abuse of former partner Tina Turner (with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). But fact is, Ike was also one hell of a guitar player, one of the best ever a damn good one, and also the creative force behind Rocket 88, widely acknowledged as the first rock and roll song ever. Besides a bad reputation as a wifebeater, Ike did time on drug charges, and died in 2007 of a cocaine overdose. Source: Jet Magazine. Sept 23, 1991.

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Jacob Katel
Contact: Jacob Katel