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Musician Careers That Were Destroyed By A Moment In History


In the music industry, it probably feels pretty
good to be at the top of your game. Unfortunately, it also means there’s only
one way to go from there: down. Just ask these musicians, whose careers were
destroyed by everything from criminal scandals to wardrobe malfunctions to lip-sync nightmares. In 1958, rock ‘n’ roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis
decided to take his underage wife with him on his tour of England. What happened next isn’t much of a surprise. Lewis had neglected to tell anyone he was
newly married, so when he rocked up with Myra Gail Lewis in tow, the British press were
naturally curious. A Daily Mail reporter, Paul Tanfield, happened
to ask how old the newlywed was. Lewis said she was 15 and ended his transatlantic
career in one fell swoop. The worst part of all this is that Lewis was
lying; Myra was actually 13. Oh, and she was Lewis’ cousin, too. Naturally, his British tour collapsed. Those that showed up to his gigs only booed
him. Concerts were canceled, his expensive hotel
kicked him out, and when he finally hightailed it back to the States, he found he’d been
blacklisted from the industry. The radio would no longer play his songs,
he was dropped from TV appearances, and demand for his performances all but disappeared,
though he never lost his recording contract and continued to release a number of mostly
unsuccessful singles. DJ and songwriter Alan Freed’s name is obscure
today, but he left behind one heck of a legacy. He’s credited with being the guy who coined
the term “rock and roll”, threw the world’s first rock concert, and was instrumental in
determining the course of postwar American music. Between 1952 and 1957, he was practically
the kingmaker of rock ‘n’ roll. But what happened in 1957? At the time, Freed had a nationally syndicated
ABC show, Big Beat, which broadcast his newfangled rock and roll to the entire country. One evening, however, something so unbelievably
and unremittingly anti-American happened that the network had no choice but to immediately
pull the plug. Big Beat showed a black performer dancing
onstage with a white woman. It might sound ridiculous to 21st-century
ears, but that one interracial dance was enough to get Freed’s show canceled. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time
for Freed, whose health was collapsing and marriage was falling apart. Two years later, the final blow came. While still on the ropes from his Big Beat
controversy, Freed was investigated by the FBI for accepting cash to play records as
part of the payola scandal. What was left of his career was over, and
he died in 1965 as a penniless alcoholic. The moment that made Ashlee Simpson fade away
came during her SNL performance in 2004, when she realized her band was playing the same
song she had sung earlier in the show. Unfortunately, the vocals had been pre-recorded. Now, Simpson isn’t exactly the first artist
to lip sync a performance, but this practice is almost universally despised by fans, and
Simpson was not forgiven for her mistake. According to People, she was relentlessly
hounded by critics and former fans simply for the fact that she’d actually dared to
engage in deception via lip syncing. And when she tried to explain that a severe
case of acid reflux had prompted her decision to fake the performance, everyone just ended
up hating her more. Even today, Simpson hasn’t shaken off the
experience. The two albums that followed her fateful SNL
performance undersold the one she’d been promoting at the time, and she hasn’t had a top 10
song since. At least Ashlee Simpson can take comfort in
knowing that she’s not the only musician to have derailed her own career on Saturday Night
Live. In fact, SNL-related career derailment was
pioneered in 1992 by Sinead O’Connor, when she sang Bob Marley’s “War” and ended her
performance by ripping up a photograph of the Pope. Generally, you’re not going to get a good
reaction by attacking the Pope on live television in a country where nearly 25 percent of the
population is Catholic. To be fair, however, she was protesting the
abuse of children in the Catholic church, a problem the general public is much more
aware of today than it was in 1992. And back then most Americans were especially
clueless about the issue, because at that point it was mostly being brought to light
only in Ireland. Still, O’Connor became so unpopular after
that little faux pas that she was booed at Bob Dylan’s 30th-anniversary concert just
two weeks later. Not long after that, she announced her “retirement.” She didn’t stay retired, of course, but she
was never able to quite recapture the success she’d once had. “I was genuinely very angry with what the
church were doing. By ripping that picture, you know, I risked
my career, everything. I could have been a billionaire now if I wanted,
if I believed in it.” During the halftime show at Super Bowl 38
in 2004, Justin Timberlake pulled down Janet Jackson’s leather bustier and exposed her
breast to a television audience of roughly 100 million people. Both artists later said the stunt had only
been sort of intentional, Timberlake was supposed to reveal the red lace under Jackson’s bustier,
but he ended up tearing off the whole thing instead. Inevitably, the American viewing audience,
Viacom, and the FCC proceed to lose their collective minds. Around 540,000 people complained to the FCC,
and the FCC responded by attempting (and failing) to fine CBS $550,000 for the incident. But the person who suffered most was Jackson. Viacom, which owns MTV, CBS, VH1, and a bunch
of radio stations wanted revenge, so they banned her music from all their properties. And then a bunch of other media companies
did the same thing, and pretty soon no one was playing Janet Jackson songs. Just to rub salt in the wound, she was also
uninvited from the Grammys. It’s worth noting that Timberlake was not
uninvited from the Grammys, nor was he banned from MTV or Viacom. The Monkees got a lot of shade for being a
so-called “manufactured band,” but they managed to survive for decades because they never
lied about what they were. History doesn’t remember the ’90s pop group
Milli Vanilli quite so kindly, because Milli Vanilli was all lies. Front men Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan had basically
just lip synced their way to fame and fortune, and it wasn’t Ashlee Simpson-style “I have
acid reflux” lip syncing, either. Pilatus and Morvan didn’t even do their own
singing in the studio, their voices were 100 percent other singers, who had been sworn
to utmost secrecy. So how did Pilatus and Morvan end up as the
faces of Milli Vanilli when other people were doing all the singing? According to Gizmodo, producer Frank Farian
thought the real singers were “unmarketable,” so he hired a couple of models to pretend
they were the ones singing. What he didn’t seem to comprehend was that
you can’t keep a lie that size quiet forever, especially when it got you a Grammy. In 1989, Milli Vanilli was doing a live performance
on MTV when the backing track skipped. The media immediately took interest, did some
further digging, and discovered that Pilatus and Morvan actually did none of their own
singing for the group. Milli Vanilli lost their Grammy, and that
was pretty much the end of that. Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial was the media
circus of the century. Jackson was accused of molesting Gavin Arvizo,
who was 15 years old at the time. He was acquitted, but since then no one has
really been able to agree on whether he was actually a child molester or just a seriously
weird dude who liked to have sleepovers with kids. Still, there’s no doubt he made some incredibly
stupid and arrogant decisions. One of them was the fact that he regularly
allowed young boys to sleep in his bedroom and pretended like there wasn’t anything weird
about it. And he even said as much in the 2003 documentary
Living with Michael Jackson, which was probably what led to his downfall. Police saw the fim, opened an investigation,
raided Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and the circus began. In the end, it didn’t matter that he was acquitted
because most people had already made up their minds. In the years following the trial, Jackson
developed a dangerous prescription drug addiction. His dependence on the anesthetic propofol
deprived his body of real sleep and gave him severe symptoms of sleep deprivation, which
included an inability to remember lyrics or learn new dance moves. His career stagnated and his debts continued
to mount. Ultimately, it was propofol that killed him
in 2009. Even now, the eye-opening new documentary
Leaving Neverland seems on track to kill the last of Jackson’s positive legacy. “I was really into jewelry, and he would reward
me with jewelry for doing special acts for him.” Fame does weird things to people, and no one
knows that better than George Michael, who was a renowned singer and heartthrob during
the 80s. In 1998, Michael was arrested for “engaging
in a lewd act” in a public restroom. You’ve gotta admire his attitude, though,
because after all that went down he didn’t just crawl into a hole and hide, he actually
considered it his moment. The once-reclusive Michael was suddenly agreeing
to interviews, and by the end of the scandal he’d gone from a closeted pop star to an out-and-proud
gay pop star. Prior to this incident, Michael had only come
out to friends and family, although he had often alluded to it in the lyrics of his songs. Michael’s career never really recovered, though,
at least not in America, where homophobia is still rampant. But to many, Michael is today remembered for
publicly embracing his sexuality and helping young gay people feel like they could do the
same. In 1990, police seized weapons, pornographic
videotapes, marijuana and hashish, and $130,000 in cash from Chuck Berry’s home. Not long after that, a bunch of women filed
a class-action lawsuit against him alleging that he had video cameras hidden in the bathrooms
of his house and a restaurant he owned, cameras that he would use to record women, some of
whom were underaged, while they were dressing, undressing, or using the bathroom. In the end, Berry got off pretty lightly,
he was charged with drug possession and child abuse, but the child abuse charges were dropped
and he was sentenced to just two years of unsupervised probation, plus $5,000 paid to
a drug rehabilitation program. That seems like nothing, but the incident
also cost Berry $1.2 million in legal fees. Although his career wasn’t ruined in the sense
that he was blacklisted or forced into destitution, pretty much no one could see him live without
feeling seriously icky about it. In 2014, CeeLo Green proved that a good career
can easily end over a heinous act of violence. Green’s career-defining moment was the one
in which he took to Twitter to dubiously proclaim his innocence after he was accused of indecently
assaulting an unconscious woman. And then he also tweeted some nonsensical
stuff about how you can’t be “with” someone if you’re unconscious, which just served to
make him look even more guilty than he had before. Somehow, Green managed to squirm his way out
of the allegations and was convicted only on a lesser charge of supplying drugs, because
fame is powerful. He got three years’ probation and community
service. But his career never really recovered, and
the most notable thing he’s done since was a performance during the opening ceremonies
at the 2017 World Aquatics Championship in Budapest, as well as some voice work on the
children’s animated series Teen Titans Go! Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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bell so you don’t miss a single one.

Yvette Parker

100 Comments

  1. Do you think any of these musicians were treated unfairly, and didn't deserve to have their careers destroyed?

  2. I thought Milli vanilli was first caught lip syncing at Lake Compunce in Bristol, CT…

  3. Dear Grunge,
    Disagreeing with the gay lifestyle is not the same as homophobia. Get over yourselves.

  4. LMAO @ "at least not in America, where homophobia is still rampant". yes and we also have rampant racism, sexism, bigotry and misogony. just ask any leftist

  5. So…it’s “homophobia” if you think it’s sick for guys to be blowing each other in a men’s room? What a weird set of values people have today.

  6. "America" is not homophobic. Thanks for the hate though. Are you speaking on the United States or Mexico and Canada included consisting of North America?

  7. Lewis, Green and Berry were nasty little perverts and the Janet Jackson thing was no accident

  8. Actually their careers were destroyed because they had no talent to justify a career in the first place.

  9. The US is such a strange country. Janet Jacksons breat is exposed, thanks to a piercing it wasn`t less than what Lil Kim wore all the time at the time. I remember the german media constantly showed the picture and said It is a scandal. She should sue her doctor don`t show such a badly made fake breast.
    And I live in Austria were the vast majority are catholic only imigrants and people smart enough to leave the church arent, yet critising the church and church officals was always absoultely fine.

  10. You have to feel for Alan Freed, through no fault of his own, but the fault of Americans blinded by racism and bigotry at that time, he ended up a broken man,fast forward to the Janet Jackson incident and those same racial and bigoted attitudes still exist, the viewing public, networks and tv authorities ruin Janet Jackson, but the no talent self idolising brat Timberlake goes away laughing all the way to the bank.
    Most of these people are just damn unlucky, but there are some (I won’t say as I don’t want to start a row) who got everything they deserve and in some cases not enough, those should burn in Hell, abusing others for the sake of their own desires is a heinous crime, but using celebrity status to justify and/or cover it up is beyond definitive description.

  11. "Investigated by the FBI for accepteing cash to play records?" Um, isn't that what DJs generallly do?

  12. Dear Grunge – you may take your condescending condemnation at 9;18 of "…in America, where homophobia is still rampant…", and ram it up your sorry little bitch ass. A phobia is a fear – fear however, of any description, has nothing to do with the lack of acceptance of homosexuality unto which you therewith, quite dishonest;y refer. The simple fact is, that homosexuals, are not the slightest bit entitled to anything, for the sake of their being homosexual – acceptance included. Acceptance is by definition, a voluntary act by one on behalf of another, and like any other voluntary act, it is accomplished at the complete option of the giver of it, and is not subject to the demands of others in gaining it. Homosexuals have absolutely no right to demand this, because nobody has any right to demand it, and neither do they. Geoff Rohde

  13. George Michael never really had to "come out" I knew from day 1 he was a Peter puffer

  14. Milli Vanilli won a Grammy!? Surely the powers that be at the Grammys would've known the secret.

  15. Grunge is really asinine. Chuck Berry's career was ruined? What bullshit.

  16. Jerry Lee Lewis got banned yet Elvis dated Priscilla at 14 and he was 25? Other than a cousin (1st, 2nd or 4th or5th??, it does make a difference and England has a history of marrying cousins, sometimes 1st in royalty) why wasn't Elvis scrutinized? Maybe because he did not have riots like JLL did at his shows?

  17. so Black Eyed Pees lip sync'd on Superbowl, hmmm, everyone forgot about that? I think Milli Vanilla was singing back up!

  18. with exception of Ashley Simpson and Milli Vanilli…..most of these musicians were the victims of industry and public bias….but the Janet Jackson situation is especially ridiculous in light of singers like Madonna , Lady Gaga and Kate Perry have done much more scandalous things publicly….with Justin Timberlake admitting 90% of the incident was his fault….how do they keep punishing Janet this way….

  19. Blacks sold more slaves than anyone!!! They 1st sold slaves to the Arabs then the Arabs sold to everyone else! Blacks and Arabs (Islamists) STILL SELL SLAVES  >T  O  D  A  Y< ! RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND!!! More whites ARE and were slaves than blacks. Instead of whining and cry babying all the time why not do like the organizations that are freeing slaves NOW. BTW TODAY'S slaves re treated FAR WORSE than any in America

  20. and Sinead O'Connor was vindicated because the Roman Catholic Church and the POPE WERE criminals and child molesters!!! never forget that!!!!!!

  21. this is what is wrong with RELIGION. WAKE UP FOLKS…. The POPE was a criminal. Quit yer whining!!! go research Mark Passio

  22. I wish you would have saved me the time and said that "rampant homophobia' line at the beginning.
    What a fucking lie that is.

  23. In the late 60's and early 70's, Jerry Lee Lewis found new life on the country charts, scoring ten top 10 hits.

  24. Homophobia was hardly “rampant” in the US in the ‘90s and ‘00s.
    That’s like saying racism is still a major problem today.

    Certain artists felt (and some still do most likely) that being out would hurt their careers financially.
    George Michael made money by being a heartthrob to women. If women knew he was gay, they may have been less interested in him as a sex symbol, which may have impacted sales.

    It’s like saying racism is still a huge problem. It’s not.
    In fact, it’s such a non issue, morons like Jussie Smollett have to hire people to pretend to be racist and homophobic.

    Sure, there are still racists and homophobes out there. But the vast vast majority of people are neither.
    Unfortunately there are people who continue this narrative because that is how they make their money.

  25. After Michael Jackson went through the trial in 2005 he walked on stage at the O2 arena and without almost ANY promotion sold out 50 shows.

    I wouldn't say his career was destroyed by the allegations… His health yes.

  26. Ashley Simpson DIDN'T HAVE A MUSIC CAREER EVER! No talent is what she had then, and still does yet!

  27. Brittney, Madonna. Taylor Swift, Bieber, all lip sync to tracks. Most people accept it! They pay for tickets to hear a concert. Instead, they hear the CD!

    Jackson planned the wardrobe malfunction. Her brother was the huge news story for child rape. This event took him off the front pages and put Janet on. It worked. Sad.
    Today, the grown up kids have come forward. They lied. MICHAEL told them to. They believed that he was a super being. They worshipped him. Sad.

  28. I admire Sinead for what she did back then.It was very brave at the time.

  29. Americans are such babies. Oh my god, it’s a boob! The sky is falling.

    BTW, I’m American. I hate the fanatic puritanical mindset in America.

  30. They've shown the two men who were singing Milli Vinilli's songs, they were simply middle aged men, not unmarketable. Same thing happened to The Weather Girls back in the day, but they finally got credit and their faces shown. I'll admit I think trying to show your bra on national tv is tacky, but the amount of crap Janet Jackson got while he walked away unscathed is bs. Sinead O'Connor got screwed hard. Of course no one was listening to why she tore the photos, just freaked out and plugged their ears.

  31. Micheal jackson was a catholic castratio. Testicle'less people, are sick in the head. That goes for women too. We know why you like listening to castratios.

  32. so Justin Timberlake fucked up bad he exposed and humilliated Janet Jackson but SHE was the one PUNISHED and blamed. if that's not a clear example of sexism, i dont know what is

  33. Oh, yes, in America homophobia is rampant, in stark contrast to other countries. Did you do a survey? Did you read peoples minds?
    Idiotic activism propaganda.

  34. No. Freed did not coin the phrase. It was already coined by the black community. It means "having sex"

  35. Gee, you omitted Berry's 1959 conviction for violation of the Mann Act, with a 14 yo girl and the time he spent in prison for it. This was what killed Berry's career, not some drug bust in 1990.

  36. You know when your a pedo you will get black listed. Sadly Jerry Lee Lewis is not the only one.

  37. I'd love the opportunity to fail miserably in public at music……oh wait, …..😏

  38. "America where homophobia is still rampant."
    Typical libtard shaded glasses view of the world. The TRUTH is that Micheals was sold to women as a sex symbol, and hid who he really was from his fans. He lacked integrity.
    There had been plenty of successful gay musicians before him, morons.

  39. Jackson went full on creep of the deep with some of yawls itty bitty babies while you just stood there and let it happen because he was famous. Pathetic in every aspect…

  40. Oh my god Jerry was a good singer . Have you heard his song called sweet balls of fire ?

  41. How can you call A. Simpson a musician? If she's a musician so am I. Everyone is.

  42. CD’s don’t skip, the laser may have trouble reading or jump around but someone wanted Milli Vanilli done

  43. "THE MONKEYS blah blah top of screen says milli vanilli lol indeed perfection is made up by humans and is sci fi but humans believe its real, then those same humans will say and make others believe they are "smart" …

  44. Wow so Jerry Lee Lewis got the proper response from the media and then the public for marrying an underage girl, effectively paedophilia. Why is it that r kelly didn't receive the same treatment.? I don't think you can blame the media here as they published the stories. It's his fans. They still queue up for his gigs and forn all over him. They are just as bad as him.

  45. Wait you mean to tell me Jerry Lee Lewis married a 13 yr old, took her to another country raped her & did whatever else & still was able to keep his recording contract in the USA now that has to be protection for the completion cause r Kelly damn sho was dropped & I believe Kelly value was more to the label lol only in America

  46. General public been knew about the pope raping kids & just covers it up like all the other lies they cover up .. lol

  47. I remember 90's sleaze rock band the Nymphs (who were sort of like a cross between Hole and Motley Crue) that were feted by the media and music press as being the next big rock band who would supersede the likes of Metallica and Guns & Roses, but courted controversies that curtailed their career such as the lead singer performing fellatio on her wheelchair bound boyfriend on stage, but the final nail in their coffin was when she said "[email protected]#k me Jesus' during a gig, The rest of the band were supposedly so outraged by this blasphemous outburst that they publicly broke up live onstage

  48. She ripped up the picture most appropriately. She is an amazing talent.

  49. Imagine forming rock and roll as a genre and then fading into obscurity and depression and alchoholism and dying as a broke alchoholic all because you aren't racist… What a sad world this is

  50. You still call people like Ashley Simpson musicians?
    If so, that means everyone I see at a Karaoke bar is a musician.

  51. Reverend jerry Falwell also his cousin depicted by Alec Baldwin in biopic

  52. Prince is the only reason anyone knows who Sinead O'Connor is. Nothing Compares 2U, her only real hit, was written by him and he let her use it.

  53. An inter racial dance? That's what ended his career?? Fuckin sad!

  54. Janet Jackson wasn't destroyed by the wardrobe incident. She was destroyed by cheeseburgers, biscuits, gravy, French fries, tacos, and chocolate enemas.

  55. the crazy thing is that the 'milli vanilla' album frank farian made was very good.

  56. IF "homophobia" [9:17], is stating that being a practicing sodomite [in any form/lgbtq] is sin/immoral/an abomination to Jesus Christ/abnormal/plain wrong…then yeah, I'm the made up word "homophobic" thats now used to accommodate mankinds sin. I'd rather have ppl around me who love me enough to tell me what I already know deep inside is true; that will save me from an eternity in hell w/o God. Its better than ppl who lie to me to feel good about, and justify their own sin. Truth is a stubborn thing.

  57. I think Michael Jackson just really loved kids and was a big kid himself. Unfortunately, in today's environment of being guilty until proven innocent and people suing over lies, he walked right into it. How do you come back from fake news causing mass amounts of fickle people to hate you before the truth can actually get out? People aren't interested in the truth today. I felt bad for him. That's my opinion anyway.

  58. I have a different take on why George Michael's popularity dropped and it's not homophobia. All of the girlies who thought he was singing love songs for them became disinterested. Wasn't mostly women who were buying his records? Good video but misguided editorial comment imo.

  59. The industry did Janet so dirty. Especially because Justin suffered literally no consequence and yet he was the one to pull the piece away from her.
    And that's sexism for you. Men getting away with things women could never get away with.

  60. You could include Terrence Trent D'Arby's "bigger than the Beatles" remark but his career was doomed without it.

  61. In Canada we had K D Lang. She was a rocketing singer. When she came out as gay people just shook it off. But, when she came out a bit later as vegetarian and against eating meat in her home province of Alberta. people turned their backs on her. One radio guy even said that he would quit eating beef the day she quit eating cat (different word for same thing). I don't think she ever got back on the same track after that.

  62. You forgot to mention about vanilla ice’s career going down when Queen sued him for using their sound tone of the song “Under pressure” for his song “Ice Ice Baby.”

  63. So it took 27 years for the stupid people to finally realised about the pop action? How long were the children abuse anyway? Nevertheless, Sinead O'Connor should be called a Hero!!!

  64. I really like your channel but I take serious issue with you dragging Michael Jacksons name through the mud. He was acquitted, and if you bothered to actually research this topic you would see that leaving Neverland is yet another half assed smear pieces.

  65. I love how the media says somethings offensive and like good little sheep the public falls in line.

  66. As for your Homo phobic remark. I follow God and his opinion on the matter is that they are an Abomination. If you have a problem with it take it up with God his words not mine. Although it is pretty disgusting to shove a D**K in a hole where sh*t comes out. But hey lets just ignore the health issues it's love after all.

  67. I'm a Musician and Asked about George Michael's. Tommy Eyre Wham's Producer / Keyboardist told my he was completely straight . I do know,if you're in the Band and wont to be in the Band.You have to do what ever your told Not just what's in your contact.

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