Rock Stars Who Have Done Time
When you think about it, the list of rock stars who have done time is a testament to the fact that we often reward our favorite musicians for rebelling in ways that we wouldn’t dare.
Of course, sometimes such things can be taken too far — and that’s when Johnny Law has to step in. Sometimes the offense is relatively minor, and sometimes as serious as attempted murder, but there’s almost always an interesting story involved. Here’s a quick rundown of why and when some of classic rock’s biggest names spent time behind bars.
The Rolling Stones are no strangers to being behind bars. Guitarist Keith Richards shows up elsewhere on our list of Rock Stars Who Have Done Time, and singer Mick Jagger’s most famous incident occurred at Richards’ country house in 1967. Authorities scooped up the frontman along with a stash of amphetamines. He was sentenced to three months in Brixton Prison but ended up serving only a couple of days.
In 1998, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee was arrested for assaulting his wife (and pioneering sex-tape co-star) Pamela Anderson. He was sentenced to six months, during which time Anderson filed for divorce. The exes got back together after Lee was released from prison, but the reconciliation didn’t last long. They split up again soon afterward, this time for good.
In January 1980, Paul McCartney headed to Japan for a tour with Wings but was stopped in Tokyo when customs officials found almost a half-pound of pot stashed in his luggage. The former Beatle ended up spending nine days in jail and was then deported from the country. The concerts were canceled, and McCartney — who claimed he didn’t know weed was illegal in Japan — had to eat the costs lost by promoters.
Ozzy Osbourne has had his share of run-ins with the law over the years. But his very first trip to the slammer came in 1965, when he was still known as John and in his teens. The future Prince of Darkness spent seven weeks in a Birmingham prison for failing to pay fines for a burglary conviction. Bonus bust: In 1989 Osbourne was behind bars again, this time for attempting to kill his wife Sharon.
Keith Richards’ most famous stint in prison comes from the same raid that landed bandmate Mick Jagger a cell (see elsewhere on our list of Rock Stars Who Have Done Time). But unlike Jagger’s relative hand slap, Richards was sentenced to an entire year behind bars for opening his home to all the drug taking that resulted in the bust, which, incidentally, was tipped off by a tabloid newspaper. He served two months.