Music history is filled with controversies, and some moments are better forgotten. From Kanye at the VMAs to the 1999 Woodstock riots, these infamous episodes in music history stirred a conversation and divided opinions the world over. Take a look at some of these episodes here.
1. Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs
Kanye West has a history of bad behavior at award shows, but none of his bratty outbursts could be compared with his interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video award at the 2007 MTV VMAs, to let the world know that she doesn’t deserve it, and Beyonce should be the one to get it. The audience booed Kanye, and viewers across the globe were simply stunned to witness this.
While accepting another award on the same night, Beyonce graciously gave Swift the moment she deserved, allowing her to complete her speech. Kanye couldn’t escape universal criticism for his action, even drawing harsh remarks from former US President Barack Obama.
2. Woodstock 1999 riots
The original Woodstock festival was built as three days of peace and music, but its 1999 reincarnation wasn’t really that. During Limp Biscuits’ performance, fans tore apart parts of the stage, lit fires during Red Hot Chili Peppers set, and while Metallica was on stage, a man died after collapsing in a mosh pit.
After several reports of many wrongdoings by the crowd, a large force of law enforcement was deployed to quell and disperse the crowd.
3. N.W.A and the FBI
Symbols of angry urban youth, N.W.A rocked the world when they dropped their debut album Straight Outta Compton. Rapping about gang violence and police brutality, the group reflected the raw realities of growing up in the inner city.
The FBI, however, took exception to the group’s music, especially F@#k the Police, sending the group a letter, accusing it of advocating for violence and assault, and warning them not to perform inflammatory songs. In addition to the FBI, many local law enforcement officers refused to provide the group with security. The dispute, however, brought the group publicity, which they used to their advantage, and added to their notoriety.
4. Axl Rose Sparks a Riot
During a 1991 performance in St. Louis, Guns and Roses frontman Axl Rose leaped into the audience mid-set. The angered Rose showed his thorn when he stole a banned camera from fan, came back on stage, and announced “I’m going home.” The thousands in the crowd eventually went home too, but not before 2,500 of them decided to riot, causing over $200,000 in damages.
5. The Rolling Stones Play at the Altamont
Facing criticism for high ticket prices, The Rolling Stones decided to conclude their 1969 tour with a free one-day festival. After struggling to secure a location, California’s Altamont speedway was chosen at the last minute, creating a logistical nightmare. Ultimately, motorcycle gang Hell’s Angels was hired to provide security, but failed
spectacularly. By the end of the festival, a man was murdered, and three people died in an accident.