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The 5 Strangest Reasons Rock and Metal Bands Cancelled Their Shows

Over the last couple of years, we’ve all been no strangers to that big red typesetting over posters or on Facebook pages that announce that our favourite band are no longer playing the show we wanted to go to. Now, I’m not saying that there weren’t valid reasons to cancel them (it’s a bit tough to enforce social distancing in a mosh pit), but that spark of disappointment on hearing the bad news can still be hard to take.

However, not all cancellations have the same levels of justification. In fact, some of them are so downright bizarre that you couldn't possibly imagine them curtailing a live gig. From glam metal terrorism concerns to unsavoury 70s hair conditions, here are the five weirdest reasons we could find that a band cancelled a show or even a whole tour.

1. Joe Strummer of “The Clash” Literally Does a Runner

What do you do when you’re struggling to sell tickets to a show, even when the band is at the height of their powers? Well, you rely on the sex, drug and rock n’ roll reputation that The Clash had in abundance to drum up some controversy, obviously.

However, this didn’t exactly go according to plan. See, the idea was that lead singer Joe Strummer was to “disappear”, i.e. visit a friend out of the way in Texas before the Scottish leg of their 1982 tour. That would get some hype going and he’d be back in time to see the numbers climbing. Easy money, right?

But here’s the fun part. Strummer managed to abscond from that planned disappearance and actually go missing for a while before people finally caught up with him in Paris, of all places. About to run the Paris marathon. After necking about ten pints.

The tour was delayed, but needless to say the initial plan definitely worked. Even if he was a lot more AWOL than they were intending him to be.

2. “Too Much Snow” for Motley Crue

After a now infamous press release hit the radiowaves and broadsheets before Motley Crue’s January 1988 tour in the UK that said the band were pulling out due to “too much snow on the arena roofs”, the jokes were falling over themselves to be written. Given their members' drug-friendly views, to put it lightly, it presented lower hanging fruit than a two foot apple tree with a fat dog on the branch.

It was quickly discovered that this was a cover story, though, and a weirdly unnecessary one given the actual reason why the tour had been cancelled. Singer Nikki Sixx had actually died from a heroin overdose shortly before they were due to set out on the tour and had to be revived with adrenaline shots. We all remember Kickstart My Heart, right? That was written with the very same incident in mind.

So, while it wasn’t snow that caused the tour to be cancelled, it was one hell of a strange thing to give as the cause of it, given the literal death and revival of the band’s lead singer would have been reason enough!

3. Keith Richards Falls Out of a Coconut Tree

By Keith Richard’s impossible standards of survival against chemical odds, falling out a tree while holidaying in Fiji in 2006 might seem like a fairly mundane occurrence for the veteran British rocker. For everyone else, though – especially paid Rolling Stones ticket holders – hearing that a show isn’t going ahead because of a tumble from a coconut tree must have raised a few eyebrows in disbelief.

But given his legendary status for treating his body like a personal experiment, I’m not sure people close to him would have been unshocked to hear that the then 62-year-old (!) man was up a tree gathering coconuts in the first place, before falling out and requiring a drill through his skull to relieve pressure on his brain.

The band had already played a few shows around New Zealand and the rest of the tour had to be put on hold after the spill, which given the circumstances could have ended a whole lot worse. But this is Keith Richards we’re talking about. The tree he fell out of will probably be outlasted by him.

4. Led Zeppelin’s Long Hair Upsets China

Way back in the 1970s, there were more than a few handfuls of corruptive influences in the rock world. Seemingly endless drugs, pushing back against authority of all forms, hotel room windows that opened up all the way, that sort of thing.

However, one thing that legends Led Zeppelin weren’t expecting to ruin their plans for a 1972 tour in China were their flowing locks. Given it was the style of every fashionable no-gooder back then, you wouldn’t imagine that this would be too much of a problem.

But this is China we’re talking about, where authoritarianism is spelt with three capital A’s as well as the rest of the letters. Thanks to a ban on long hair on men enacted in the 60s, the band made it as far as the runway in Singapore before being locked into their private jet and forced to turn around and fly home.

5. Cinderella vs Saddam Hussein

Now it’s not often we get to talk about glam metal in these lists. Especially in the context of the 90s, where it had been more than a few crazy nights since the hairspray can had run out if you catch my drift.

However, thanks to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, Cinderella (the band, not the woman who loves a glass slipper) had the sudden realisation that they might fall under the targets of some unsavoury types. An utterly ridiculous realisation, not based on much fact or reason, but it was enough for them to jump on a private jet and zoom home.

Leaving their unfortunate tourmates Slaughter behind in the process, no less. I guess the pumpkin carriage would have been too easy to spot from above.

Article cover photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Posted by Eddie "exactly where you don’t need him" Hull published on: 18 Jul 2022

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