Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson Recalls Being Soaked in Urine at His Worst Gig Ever
Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson, Police guitarist Andy Summer, ELP’s Carl Palmer and other musicians recently recalled their worst gigs ever for London's Guardian newspaper. These weren’t just shows where the bands played badly, but the kind of worst-case scenario where they’re glad to make it off the stage alive.
Anderson's tale of an "unholy baptism from above" might take the cake. Performing at New York's Shea Stadium in 1976, and already concerned about nearby airplanes drowning out his music, the singer and flutist (flautist?) prepared to start the show when he "was suddenly drenched with a warm, sticky liquid from high above... only as I began the inaudible first verse of 'Thick as a Brick' on acoustic guitar did I realize with resigned horror the the liquid I assumed to be beer, was not, in fact, beer at all. It was urine."
(Editor's note: yeah....that'd be "show over" for us, or at least a shower break. Savages! )
So can the Police's story match that? Summers recollects, “It was an early-ish Police gig, in a smallish theatre, maybe about a thousand people. We were playing our set when suddenly the doors burst open and about 30 skinheads walk in, fully clad in leather and bovver boots. And we were like: ‘F---.’ They walked down to the front and started pogoing and moshing and screaming ‘Sieg heil!’ It was really fucking intense.”
Read the full story to find out how a quick-thinking Sting diffused the situation, and how the band’s management later arranged for “divine retribution.”
The rest of the tales are violent and messy. The other survivors of onstage debacles include Jimmy Cliff, Steve Hackett, Peter Murphy, and members of Wilco and the Jonas Brothers. Slade flash back to their unpopular days covering Zappa. Suzi Quatro opens for Alice Cooper and contracts blood poisoning. Like AC/DC says, 'It's a Long Way to the Top if You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll.'
What’s the worst show you survived? What happened?