“My doctor told me it happens to everybody,” said Patti Smith in 1977 after her 15-foot plummet into a concrete orchestra pit. Sure enough, as Gene Simmons learned once again this week, falling over on (or off) stage is an occupational hazard for the committed touring rock musician, with a different stage every night and a mixture of adrenaline and who-knows-what substances coursing through their veins. So here are ten of the best rock star tumbles: some funny, some tragic.
Gene Simmons (location unconfirmed)
Arguably the most satisfying of Gene’s pratfalls, telling a tale of sexual overconfidence and poetic justice. Having already acknowledged a woman in the crowd in full Demon make-up, Gene returns for a bit of awkward impromptu tongue-licking, followed by a wobbly backward crash that’d make the most humourless Kiss Army warrior piss himself.
Bruce Dickinson (Donington 2007)
Given the mileage Bruce runs onstage, it’s amazing how seldom he slips up, but gravity catches up with the best of us. The athletic frontman came a-cropper attempting to star-jump onto the edges of two monitors, but gamely continued singing on his back with his legs in the air.
Patti Smith (Florida 1977)
Patti was so engrossed in a rendition of Ain’t It Strange, she danced off a 15-foot-high stage into a concrete orchestra pit, breaking multiple neck bones. “Actually I felt like an asshole,” she later admitted to Circus magazine, “but my doctor told me it happens to everybody.”
Dave Grohl (Gothenburg 2015)
Dave toppled over the front of the stage for the right reason: he was rocking too hard. Two minutes later he took the mic to announce “I think I just broke my leg.” The remaining Foos played a few covers, and were later joined by Dave with his leg in a cast for an appropriate Under Pressure.
The Edge (Vancouver 2015)
It was the first date of U2’s Innocence And Experience Tour when The Edge dreamily plummeted off stage. “Didn’t see the edge, I’m ok!” he gamely joked after the show. “It was a moment of reverie where I just completely lost track of where I was,” he later explained to The Guardian.
Steven Tyler (South Dakota 2009)
When the sound system failed during Love In An Elevator, Steve tried to liven things up with a bit of a hot shoe shuffle. One stagger backwards took him off stage, and the 61-year-old was air-lifted to hospital suffering minor head, neck and shoulder injuries.
Alice Cooper (Vancouver 1975)
Alice broke six ribs and suffered concussion after being propelled off stage by a giant toybox. He received 15 stitches to his head, but only after returning to the stage swathed in bandages. “I put my hand on my head and it felt like a baseball,” he told Associated Press, adding it was “such a silly thing.”
Eddie Vedder (various)
Falling over is such an Achilles heel for the clumsy Pearl Jam singer, someone edited together a series of clips of him doing just that. It’s surely getting to the point where the audience feel short-changed if Eddie doesn’t fall over during a show; he’s effectively the Norman Wisdom of grunge.
Brian May (Birmingham 2009)
Eyewitnesses claim the Queen guitarist tripped over Roger Taylor’s drum kit during a special version of Bohemian Rhapsody at the end of Queen musical We Will Rock You. “As the drum kit came forward, Brian stepped backwards and the two collided,” explained the Birmingham Mail, adding that Brian carried on soloing regardless.
Axl Rose (Colombia 2010)
It’s often true that the bigger the ego, the more satisfying the pratfall. But when Axl ended up on his arse during Knocking On Heaven’s Door, he handled it with humour and humility, flashing a toothy grin before picking himself up and carrying on. Hats off (although ironically his hat stayed on).