Includes all forms of injuries, illness and general clumsiness that have been known to stop a gig cold.

Johnny-WinterJohnny Winter

He was literally the whitest blues guitarist in history. But Johnny Winter's playing was as deep and soulful as anybody who ever picked up the instrument. He and rocker brother Edgar Winter noodled around with Everly Brothers tunes right out of kindergarten. By 15, Winter had already recorded an album with a Houston label. In 1968, he found himself at the center of a record label bidding war after Rolling Stone lauded the albino bluesman's six-string prowess. He went on to release nearly 40 albums, as well as produce three Grammy winners for Muddy Waters. A performer at Woodstock, Winter was ranked in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. The 70-year-old Winter died July 16, 2014, while on tour in Switzerland. (This interview was conducted two weeks before his death.)

"We were playing the Spectrum in Philadelphia in '71 or '72. It had a revolving stage. The whole band took acid before we played. This was not a good idea. We all got way, way higher than we thought we were going to.

"We were onstage playing, and Tommy (Shannon, bassist) came up to me and said, 'Are we playing?'

"I said, 'I hope so. There's a whole bunch of people out there. We better be.'

"Then I'd walk away from the mic and get lost. I couldn't find my way back to the mic.

"The stage wasn't really going that fast, but it felt like it was just racing. It would move and the sound would completely change because the people were in different places. When the show was over, we thought we were back where we started, but we got off in the middle of the fucking audience. That was definitely the worst gig I ever played. It was a mess. We didn't know where we were or what we were doing."

— Johnny Winter

laurieanderson3Laurie Anderson

Renowned experimental musician/artist Laurie Anderson has been exploring her conceptual pieces since the late 1960s while an undergrad at Barnard College and graduate student at Columbia University. She became something of a cult figure thanks to her piece "Duets on Ice," in which she played a violin fitted with a tape head and a bow strung with audiotape -- all while wearing ice skates with blades encased in a block of ice. The piece ended when it melted. She eventually moved into the world of recordings, leading to her minimalist 1981 single "O Superman," which hit No. 2 on the UK charts.

"I was trying to stop smoking and I had the Nicoderm patch, which is basically speed. You wake up in the morning and you think, 'I'll rearrange all the furniture in the house!' So I was doing that and I had this show in Spain in a couple days, and I thought, 'I'm going to have it translated and do it in Spanish -- a language I don't speak.' So it was a show with lots of words, but it also had a lot of images (projected). I slowly read the Spanish, and by the end of the show I thought it went really well. But I looked out and every single person had gone. There was no one left in the theater. Then I walked offstage and all the production people were looking at the floor. I'm saying, 'Wasn't that great?' They were like, 'I'm working for a crazy person.' The show -- which was normally about an hour -- took four hours. My timing was -- well you couldn't even say it was off. It took four times longer than it normally would. It was ridiculous. Nicoderm is a powerful mood enhancer, I guess."

— Laurie Anderson

janesaddictionJane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction helped pave the way for alt-rock's eventual mainstream acceptance. The Los Angeles act's first two records -- 1988's "Nothing's Shocking" and 1990's "Ritual de lo Habitual" -- are considered among the best and most influential of the genre. Singer Perry Farrell originally disbanded his group in 1991 at the height of its popularity, but not before organizing a suitable tour as a send-off. That event became Lollapalooza, the notorious traveling music festival that was hailed as the MTV generation's Woodstock. Since then, the quartet has reformed numerous times for various albums and tours.

"One time in Chicago I was kicking (heroin) really hard. So as opposed to just giving up, I faked a heart attack. I faked a heart attack and then I faked that it was a fake. The truth of the matter is that I couldn't really stand up that well. So it might have been dramatic, but it couldn't have sounded very good. Honestly, in the day, you could get away with a lot of the drama thing."

— Perry Farrell, Jane's Addiction

 

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borgore2Borgore

After drumming for the death metal band Shabira, Israeli musician Asaf Borger reinvented himself as Borgore. Now the love-him-or-hate-him "provocation addict" is at the forefront of the international dubstep scene, churning out aggressive beats that also incorporate his piano and saxophone skills. Borgore's videos have logged millions of views on YouTube, and his many EPs of original, often explicit material has led to him being credited with creating his own genre called Gorestep.

"In Memphis, I got food poisoning (from pizza) five minutes before the show.

"The gig was actually good. The kids had fun. But it was just me thinking I was going to the hospital after the gig. I was supposed to play an hour and a half, but I only played an hour. A few minutes before the set I started puking. The tour manager just gave me a bucket. I filled the whole bucket. Every time I turned around to puke, my video guy turned all the lights on the stage super-bright so no one could look at the stage.

"I was telling (the audience) that I was sick, but they weren't fully aware that I was puking. But the stage was smelly. My dancers and my MC almost kicked the bucket. My video guy almost stepped into the bucket.

"I was delirious. I thought I was going to faint and lose control over my ... how do you say in English? It's the thing that controls all your (bodily) exits. Well, I thought I'd fall on the stage, bang my head, lose control of my exits and end up in the hospital. I was counting the minutes. Every song I played I knew it meant I was closer to the end.

"I'm not sure if it was because of the pizza, but I'm sure that after the show I had no pizza in my stomach anymore."

— Borgore

peter-framptonPeter Frampton

No other rock artist is as instantly associated with the medium of live performance as Peter Frampton. The guitarist's "Frampton Comes Alive" became the biggest-selling live album of all time -- a feat that proved to be one of the most unexpected success stories in popular music history. The achievement came after the British musician had established himself through five albums in the early supergroup Humble Pie, followed by four modest solo records. Then with 1976's "Alive," Frampton became a household name, garnering Rolling Stone's Artist of the Year along with a slew of other honors. Despite these accolades, it wasn't until 2007 that Frampton won a Grammy for his instrumental album "Fingerprints."

"One of the worst things that's happened to me was having someone in the band who just had a bad night and wasn't playing the notes at all. This was ages ago. That was the most embarrassing thing for me -- and embarrassing for him, too. It was my show and it was nowhere near what it should be. I'm not going to say who it was, but it was no one who was with the band for a long time. It just blew my mind that someone could be that bad. And I came off the stage and I had welts on my face. I'd actually come out in hives I was so embarrassed."

— Peter Frampton

blue-man-groupBlue Man Group

The bald-headed, indigo-skinned Blue Man Group has always mixed music into its wordless, performance art pieces. The trio employs freakish percussive devices that have become a visual and audio trademark. Among these are instruments made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes, "backpack tubulums," "air poles" and a "piano smasher," which is a grand piano turned on its side, exposing strings that are hit with an oversized mallet.

"I threw up, so that was pretty bad. It was very early on toward the beginning of the tour. I was so thirsty I had chugged a pint of Gatorade when I got a chance to go behind the instruments. I came out with my fiberglass boat antenna and swished it around. At the end of the show we jump up and down to the beat for about a minute. So I'm jumping and I feel the Gatorade. I turn around and motion to the band to acknowledge them, then my stomach twisted and all this Gatorade just flew out of my mouth. The band just sort of looked at me. They didn't know if I was holding it in my mouth and just playing a joke. I was like, that's pretty rock and roll. It was some ridiculous flavor like kiwi-watermelon something. So that's off my list now. That was a very panicky thing. I started sweating and thinking, 'I'm just gonna lose it in front of all these thousands of people.'"

— Tom Galassi, Blue Man Group

nadasurf2Nada Surf

Nada Surf is best known for its alt-rock hit "Popular." Featuring spoken lyrics culled from a 1964 dating manual, the anthem had just the right mix of irony, angst and catchiness to become an MTV staple during 1996. But it initially painted the Brooklyn-based trio (guitarist/vocalist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot) as something of a one-hit wonder -- and, in many people's minds, a one-trick pony. Fortunately, Nada Surf would follow it up with the albums "The Proximity Effect," "Let Go" and "The Weight is a Gift," which gained the act significant praise from both the mainstream and underground press.


"I've only played one show high. It was at Lehigh University. The first three songs were absolutely the worst thing I've ever done. Then the end of the show was one of the best shows ever -- but at what price? Like we're playing 'Bacardi' as the third song. The middle bit has this relatively complicated classical-sounding arpeggio. I got to that part and I didn't even try and play it. I just stopped playing, 'Well that's much too complicated. I can't do that right now. Maybe later, but not right now.'"

— Matthew Caws, Nada Surf

12th-planet212th Planet

American dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music known for its pulsating bass lines, periodic vocals and samples -- and John Dadzie is one of its premier practitioners. Operating under the name 12th Planet (a reference to author Zecharia Sitchin's theories involving ancient astronauts), the producer/DJ has achieved worldwide popularity for his vigorous, original live sets. His appearances at elite festivals such as Lollapalooza and Coachella have continued to bolster his reputation as a dubstep guru.

"My worst gig happened when it was my 22nd birthday ... at Adrenaline (in) Orange County. I was mid-mix, and I threw up on the decks and all on myself after taking one Patron shot. ... At the time I wasn't the biggest hard alcohol drinker. I was a beer guy. My buddy was bringing me birthday shots. I thought it was going to be something that goes down smooth, and I just wasn't expecting it. I just went like, 'Bam!' You know that feeling when the Patron hits the bottom of your stomach? Then it was just like, 'Ohhhhh ... wuhhhh.' ... All the equipment stopped (because) I threw up on the mixer and turntables. That's a bad gig."

— 12th Planet

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rubblebucket1Rubblebucket

Brooklyn's Rubblebucket sports an overflowing bucketful of influences, with horn-laden dance material meeting indie rock whimsy. The 8-piece act -- which made its Bonnaroo debut in 2012, aided by surprise guest Foster the People -- is piloted by vocalist/saxophonist Kalmia Traver and songwriter/trumpeter Alex Toth. Its revisionist version of "Michelle" recently made Paste Magazine's list of Best Beatles Covers of All Time.

"We were playing a small 'American festival' in New Jersey. It was a campground festival with a mix of hippies and Bruce Springsteen-loving types. At the time, we had a couple vegans in the band, including our guitar player. Backstage, they did not have any vegan food. But what they did have was 10 different choices of flavored vodkas. So instead of eating food, our guitar player grabbed a plate of tortilla chips and tons of vodka. By the time we hit the stage, he was blackout drunk.

"The venue had three HD cameras and was doing a full-on filming with a super-fancy soundboard recording of the gig. At first we thought the guitar player being drunk was pretty funny. But quickly into the gig we realized he just couldn't play his parts. And that wasn't funny. The guitar parts are crucial to polyrhythmic, super-locked, funky music. We didn't have that on this night. There was one song where he started everything, and he couldn't play the part at all.

"At one point he left the stage and disappeared. Then he'd periodically come back. If you watch the video, there's a lot of footage of him sitting onstage smoking cigarettes.

"He had a microphone as well, and he kept talking nonsense to the crowd. Words that didn't go together. I've never experienced any drunkenness that extreme before. It was pretty debaucherous."

— Alex Toth, Rubblebucket

fitztantrums1Fitz & the Tantrums

Few modern bands have so effortlessly captured the sound and feel of 1960s Motown acts better than Fitz & the Tantrums. The noticeably guitar-free ensemble features the emotionally charged interplay between vocalists Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, buoyed by the stellar musicianship of saxophonist James King, bassist Joseph Karnes, keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna and drummer John Wicks. The band's 2009 full-length debut, "Pickin' Up the Pieces," spawned the hit single "MoneyGrabber," leading to live performances on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Conan" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

"We did a whole tour through the Midwest and the Northeast when it was the dead of winter. ... There was one night we played in Columbus, Ohio, that was one of the greatest shows we ever did because the crowd was just raucous, and insane and into it. But as soon as I stepped out on the stoop -- I had never been in an ice storm before because I'm from California -- I didn't know what was going on. I had my sax on my back, stepped out on the stoop, went backwards, landed on my horn and then bounced on my ass down 10 steps. So that sucked. ... I had to get through two and a half more weeks of tour with a bad back. ... I had sprung on fancy Sorel snow boots. I thought I was the pimp. But they're useless against ice. I gotta get the ice-climbing gear next time we go to Ohio in the wintertime.

"But that's really not a bad gig; that was just a bad fall. Other gigs I can tell you about were from when I did a lot of touring with hip-hop artists. ... We were out with the Hip-Hop Live tour in 2007. We were backing Ghostface Killah, Brother Ali and Rakim. ... We were in Baltimore -- roughest crowd of the tour and a rough part of town. We were backstage waiting to go on. Ghostface slayed it. Brother Ali came out and did a good job, but the whole crowd was chanting 'Rakim. Rakim. Rakim.'

"They wanted him onstage now -- and he wasn't coming. Didn't show up. Twenty minutes went by, half an hour went by, 45 minutes. Same deal. We were playing our songs and they wanted nothing to do with that. They were booing us off the stage. Finally, the promoter had to come on and say, 'Rakim won't be making it tonight because he's stuck in traffic' -- which is total bullshit. We all knew Rakim had taken the opportunity the night before to hang at his house in New York and left with not enough time to get to Baltimore.  

"They started rioting. (The promoters) locked us backstage in the green room until the cops could show up and clear it out. We couldn't come out to see what was going on, but we heard everything. That was kind of surreal. ... I think it was full-blown rioting outside. The security couldn't handle it. There were people throwing bottles. The cops finally had to come and break it up. But they are like, 'You are not to leave this room until the situation is under control.'

"It was a good couple hours before we could leave there."

— James King, Fitz & the Tantrums

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