8 Artists Who Have Bled for Their Music
Emotionally and spiritually speaking, plenty of artists will bleed for their craft, but few are willing to actually let the plasma fly. We can’t help but be captivated by those rockers that have literary shed blood for the sake of their music. While some of our heroes have injured themselves during live performances, succumbing to the powerful emotions driving their songs, others have offstage misadventures and personal struggles to blame (or thank) for the scars they wear. Either way, the musicians featured on our 8 Rockers Who Have Bled for Their Music list have lived hard and created memorable music in the process.
Fiona Apple was a bit of loner as a child. She suffered through some hard time that eventually came out in her music and helped her reach a deeper place — but those experiences took a toll on her body and mind. While Fiona has never been one to jump around or fall down onstage, her depression and self-loathing have led her to self-injury. She’s admitted to biting her lips and scratching herself to the point of bleeding — actions she uses to physically express the inner torment that also fuels her beautiful, if sometimes dark, songwriting.
Sid Vicious, like Fiona Apple, was prone to self-injury, but the damage he did to his body often took place under the glare of the spotlight, in full view of an amped-up and adoring crowd. Sid would jam sharp blades into his leg and slash his arms and chest during live shows, and he even tried to kill himself with a knife after his paramour Nancy Spungen was stabbed to death (most likely by Vicious himself). Due to his off-the-rails punk rock lifestyle, Sid cemented his place in the annals of counter-cultural musical history.
Back in the day, Eddie Vedder was famous for his monkey-like climbing capers and dangerous stage dives during Peal Jam shows. Scaling the rafters and lighting rigs like a child on a playground, he would ascend to incredible heights and then jump out into the crowd. Said leaps resulted in scratches and bruises all over his torso, and the crème de la crème of his epic stage dives came when he hopped off of a camera mast in Holland. On many a night, Eddie scared the fecal matter out of his bandmates, and it’s amazing he survived the early ’90s.
Billie Joe Armstrong
Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong is no stranger to onstage mishaps. Over the years, he’s fallen off stages, bloodied himself on sound equipment, sustained head injuries while crowd surfing and melted down and ranted (after discovering his set was cut short). Once, he was booted off a plane for wearing his pants too low. Green Day’s gigs are legendary for their wild abandon, and while Armstrong’s audacity has long enthralled the masses, it occasionally gets the better of him.
Iggy Pop is the reason you should never wear white to a rock show. The Stooges founder and undisputed Godfather of Punk is famous for cutting himself during his live shows, and the blood and gore have only added to his legend. It all began when Iggy, born James Jewell Osterberg, accidentally sliced his skin on some glass. The crowd loved it, so like any good showman, he kept at it, setting a new standard for suffering in the name of art.
Amy Winehouse, may she rest in peace, was no stranger to mistreating her body. Drug and alcohol abuse led to some erratic onstage behavior, including tirades directed at the crowd. In her private life, the singer cut herself as a child and later suffered plenty of self-inflected injuries, some due to her substance abuse. Her struggles helped to make her great, but sadly, they also led to her death at the age of 27.
Courtney Love has a reputation for getting a little out of control. Onstage, she’s a wild diva crossed with a screaming banshee, and her fondness for rushing on and offstage at awkward moments in order to abuse or taunt the audience is well documented. On occasion, she rips off her clothes — she once went topless for part of a show in Brazil — and she’s been known to cut her arms and let out a bit of blood, just like Sid and Iggy.
Henry Rolling is a master of intense live shows. It’s as true now, when he takes the stage as spoken-word performer, as it was in the early ’80s, when he fronted the legendary punk band Black Flag. The only difference is that back then, things sometimes got a little bloody, as fans would jab him with sharp objects, claw at his skin and punch him in the head. For his part, Henry would occasionally deal with unruly fans by yanking them onstage and dishing out brutal beatings. Naturally, the singer sustained plenty of injuries as he battled concertgoers, giving new meaning to the term hardcore.