The Worst Gigs In History

In this blog we revel in the times when rock goes bad, trawling the darkest corners of the music history books to bring you the gigs which the rock & roll world would rather forget.


1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Saturday Night Live - Feb 22nd 1992

Can a single song performance be so disastrous that it earns its place in the annals of crappy gig history?

The fast track success of the band’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik album, catapulted them into a stardom which wasn’t popular with every member of the group. Guitarist John Frusciante used their debut TV performance of Under The Bridge to air his displeasure with the sudden fame and notoriety in which they found themselves. And what better way to do it that to play random tempos, ill-fitting chords and the occasional backing vocal scream for good measure.

Watching this out of tune performance is cringe worthy, but also a testament to the other band members for trying to keep things together.

Check it out:

2. Rolling Stones - Altamont Speedway, California, 1969

If you think security guards have been heavy handed at the shows you’ve been to then imagine being man-handled into place by beer fuelled Hells Angels!

The free concert was supposed to be a tribute to the free spirited and liberal attitude of the 60’s but the decision was made to use the Californian Chapter of the well known biker gang to run security.

The Hells Angels reputedly rode their bikes through the crowd, drowned out the bands and took charge of the mic during announcements. The gig saw its fair share of violence too - Stephen Stills of Crosby Stills Nash & Young was stabbed with the spoke from a motorbike wheel, Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin was punched when he tried to intervene in a biker brawl during their set and ended up spending the rest of their show unconscious! A concert goer was even killed during fighting which erupted in front of the stage.

And you think metal gigs are wild?!

3. Led Zeppelin’s 1985 Live Aid Reunion Concert

Due to their rock royalty status it is hard to imagine the mighty Zeppelin having their ‘off days’. Bringing the band back together minus John Bonham saw Phil Collins and Tony Thompson, of the funk group Chic, completing the now two drummer line up. The two being relatively unfamiliar with the songs was perhaps where the first of the troubles began, with Phil Collins nearly walking off stage mid set.

Jimmy Page was handed a guitar which was woefully out of tune resulting in some ear wrenching solos and Robert Plant was road weary after performing a run of voice training shows on the nights prior to the Live aid performance, his voice warbling and pitching out of tune constantly. To add to the musical problems, the band reportedly had issues with monitors and couldn’t hear much on stage (maybe for the best!). The result makes for some uncomfortable listening.

They muddled through Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven before taking their leave. The performance was removed from the final Live Aid performance video but, thanks to the internet, made it’s way to YouTube nearly 20 years later:

4. Guns N Roses - The Warfield, San Francisco, 2006

You will note by the year, that this is the new incarnation of Guns N Roses (Axl & band). Things started badly and tensions were high when Axl Rose started the show 2 hours late. An aggrieved fan showed his displeasure and regretted it; as Axl stopped the gig mid Sweet Child O Mine solo to hurl his in ear monitor pack at the guy and sound off at him until the berated fan was removed by security.

Add to this the inappropriate addition of large scale pyrotechnics in the small theatre; an insensitive choice following the devastating fire at a Great White gig, of which this was the same cause, only 3 years earlier!

Then again, Guns N Roses wouldn’t be the same without the drama!


So there we have it, an uncomfortable walk down some of the less crowd pleasing efforts delivered by the biggest names in rock over the years …. Just in case you are missing live shows!