Six of the worst: case studies of rock's wild children

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The Independent Online
Jerry Lee Lewis: The first great rock'n'roll hellraiser. His under- age bride caused a furore in 1958. To get an unwilling musician out of the bath and on to the stage, Lewis urinated in the tub. In 1976, he shot his bass player, Butch Owens. Two months later he was arrested outside Graceland, amid fears that he might shoot Elvis Presley. His fourth wife drowned. The fifth died of an overdose. In 1979, his possessions were confiscated in lieu of tax and he was busted for cocaine.

James Brown: Jailed at 15 for multiple car theft, Brown has also been in court for tax avoidance, payola and contempt of court. In September 1987, under the influence of PCP, he fired a shotgun into the ceiling of his office in Atlanta because someone was using his private toilet. Six police cars pursued his pick-up until it smashed through a road block and landed in a ditch, where, said Sgt Frank Tiller, "he jumped out of his truck singing 'Georgia' and doing his legendary 'Good Foot' dance."

Jim Morrison: The romantic side of the "rock'n'roll Dionysius" is best illustrated by the day he bought all the butterflies in a Los Angeles pet shop and set them free. He was also given to falling insensible out of the windows of the Chateau Marmont hotel, and his many brushes with the law included several drunk and disorderlies as well as the notorious "lewd and lascivious behaviour" bust in Miami, where he treated the audience to a peek at his pecker.

Sid Vicious: The ultimate rock victim, Sid allowed himself to slide from the stagey cartoon violence of the Sex Pistols' early days into an bottomless pit of heroin-fuelled violence that included attacking a fan in the 100 Club, assaulting Bob Harris in the Speakeasy and, ultimately, murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, in New York's Chelsea Hotel.

Shaun Ryder: The former Happy Mondays frontman is one of the few rock stars to have appeared in a Penthouse photo spread. He graduated from marijuana to ecstasy to cocaine to heroin, until in 1992 the band had to abandon recording an album in Nassau when his drug-fuelled behaviour made sessions impossible. He checked out of his rehab clinic when he was not allowed to have pints of lager delivered to his room.

Courtney Love: The grunge Madonna. There can't be many rock wives who, at their husband's funeral, would continually interrupt his final taped message with the words: "Shut up, bastard." This perpetrator of "angry vagina music" has also been involved in punch-ups with fans, assaulted an air hostess and struck a member of the group Bikini Kill. Last June she was back in hospital following her latest overdose.

Profiles by Johnny Black

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