Top 10 Most Gruesome Rock & Roll Injuries


Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images

From gory to gross, rock stars have survived some truly gruesome (and unusual) injuries

Everyone knows the stories about infamous rock star deaths…but what about the musicians who were merely maimed? We’re not talking about any run-of-the-mill accidents here, though – this list focuses on the gross, the gory, and the downright gruesome. Self-inflicted, fan-inflicted, and freak accidents suffered onstage and off: these injuries cover the full spectrum of rock ‘n’ roll pain and suffering. But all of these musicians miraculously survived…and, in most cases, they came back stronger than ever, proving that rock and roll really is hard to kill. So, if you’re not squeamish, read on…

Iggy Pop

Since rock’s earliest days, musicians have tested the limits of what audiences can stomach…but Iggy Pop was among the first to push things to the extreme, especially during his tenure as frontman for legendary punk band The Stooges. Pop wasn’t averse to cutting himself up if that’s what it took to rile up an audience, though it’s questionable whether or not he actually meant to do so during a particularly gory show in 1973 at legendary New York City venue Max’s Kansas City. The show, promoting the Stooges’ new Raw Power album, went south when Pop rolled around in broken glass after falling off of a chair. Some spectators claim that he purposefully fell onto broken bottles, others say it was an accident. But by all accounts, Pop deliberately spurted blood onto the crowd - which included Alice Cooper, who then convinced Pop to go to the E.R. - proving that there’s such a thing as too much gore, even the King of Shock Rock himself.

GG Allin

Bleeding on his audience was actually one of the less disgusting things that infamous punk rocker GG Allin did. His assaults on his fans - whether with his fists or with his bodily fluids/waste - led to multiple arrests. Eventually, Allin became known more for this violence than for his actual music. Allin died at 36 in New York City just after a show, though his cause of death was a drug overdose, not the result of any onstage injury (or in-show suicide, as he had often threatened to do).

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa, leader of experimental rockers the Mothers of Invention, also knew a thing or two about bad fan interactions. On Dec. 10, 1971, an unstable man jumped onto the stage during a show in London, pushing Zappa into the orchestra pit 13 feet below. Zappa suffered a broken ankle and other injuries that required several months of recuperation. 1971 had already been a weird year for Zappa and his bandmates: only days before the London assault, their Geneva, Switzerland show ended when a fan fired a flare gun at the ceiling, causing a fire that burned down the venue (an incident that inspired Deep Purple’s classic “Smoke on the Water”).

Rick Allen

What’s a one-armed drummer to do? That was the dilemma confronting Def Leppard’s Rick Allen after he severed his arm when he crashed his Corvette on the highway outside of Sheffield, England in 1984. Losing a limb seems like a career-killing situation for someone in Allen’s position - but he proved skeptics wrong when he learned to drum again using a specially rigged electronic kit. He and his bandmates returned, triumphant, with 1987’s multi-platinum selling Hysteria album, which remains their most successful release to date. 

Ozzy Osbourne

Marilyn Manson

Being squashed by a giant pair of pistols seems like an extremely unlikely event, but that’s exactly what sent Marilyn Manson to the hospital on September 30, 2017. Manson was performing “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These),” a cover of the Eurythmics song, at a show at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, when suddenly the weapon-shaped prop pieces crashed down onto him, knocking him out cold. Manson later told reporters that he had broken his leg in two places, requiring surgery to insert a metal plate and several screws.

James Hetfield

Metallica vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield also ended up in the exact wrong place onstage at the wrong time. During a show in Montreal on August 8, 1992, as part of the band’s tour with Guns N’ Roses, Hetfield became disoriented and wandered directly onto the place where a 12-foot pyrotechnic flame (using explosives that reportedly burned at 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit) shot up and burned his arm and hand to the bone. He also suffered severe burns to his face and back. Hetfield underwent months of treatments for his burns and nerve damage - but he proved that metal guys really are tougher than mere mortals when he somehow returned to the stage just 17 days later in Phoenix.

Ace Frehley

Becoming a human torch onstage is apparently not entirely uncommon: KISS bassist Gene Simmons claims he’s accidentally set himself aflame several times during his fire-breathing stage routine. But his KISS bandmate, guitarist Ace Frehley, almost found a more novel way to almost shuffle off this mortal coil when, at a show in Lakeland, Florida on December 12, 1976, he was nearly electrocuted. A faulty connection in his guitar meant that when Frehley grabbed a metal handrail onstage, the electrical current ran through him. But in true “Space Ace” style, after taking a short break, Frehley finished the show - though he has said he could not feel his hands as he played. Being zapped inspired him to write the song “Shock Me,” which appears on the 1977 KISS album Love Gun

Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl, long known for his sense of humor, showed that even breaking a bone won’t dampen his upbeat attitude. During a 2015 show in Gothenburg, Sweden, the Foo Fighters frontman tumbled over the stage edge into the security pit, breaking his leg. Incredibly, after leaving the rest of his band to play cover songs while he went to the hospital, Grohl returned to the stage (carried in by medical personnel, who placed him on a chair) - and played for more than two hours. Later, Grohl posted the X-ray image of the fracture on the Foo Fighters Twitter account with the caption: “Thank you Gothenburg. That was amazing.”

Iggy Pop...again

Iggy Pop has the dubious distinction of making this list twice. Just one year after the infamous Max’s Kansas City gig, Pop proved he had a death wish when he provoked a Detroit biker gang, the Scorpions. He’d had a relatively minor skirmish with them at a show, so during a radio appearance days later, Pop challenged them to a rematch at The Stooges’ show at the Michigan Palace on February 9, 1974. It’s debatable whether any Scorpions actually showed up - but there’s no doubt that both the band and the audience were antagonistic. The proof is on Metallic K.O., the live album recorded that night, which captures the sound of bottles and other projectiles hitting Pop and the rest of the band. This turned out to be The Stooges’ final show - but Pop himself, rock’s truest survivor, continues performing to this day.