Give the supposed auspicious nature of today’s date, I thought it might be work looking at musicians who have suffered some excruciating bad luck. Not that I’m superstitious or anything...
13. Tony McCarroll
First ridiculed and then fired from Oasis by Noel Gallagher for being a bad drummer, McCarroll worked up the gumption to sue for wrongful dismissal and a share of royalties from Definitely Maybe, the only Oasis record to feature him his sometimes wobbly drumming (But hey, it works in the opening bars of “Live Forever,” don’t it?) He might have had a case had he not waited several months too long. By the time he decided to take legal action, the time frame under which he could sue for such things under British law expired and Tony. No Oasis royalties for you!
12. Pete Best
Okay, not exactly someone from the alt-rock world, but we HAVE to include him here for his sheer lucklessness. Another drummer who some saw got a raw deal. Just before Beatlemania hit, Best--the Beatles’ drummer during their infamous Hamburg days and the guy keeping time the day the band unsuccessfully auditioned for Decca Records--was replaced on the advice of producer George Martin. He was fired by manager Brian Epstein in August 1962 after serving with the group for two years. His eventual replacement was some kid named Richard Starkey--and things turned out okay for him.
11. Dave Evans
Not the Dave Evans who became as known as The Edge in U2, but the guy who was the original, original singer for AC/DC. He got a tiny, tiny slice of success before he was sacked and replaced with some guy named Bon Scott.
10. Dik Evans
Dik had a decent thing going playing a shared guitar with his brother Dave in a band called The Hype. But after months as a three-guitarist band (Dik, his brother and some kid everyone called Bono), everyone came to a mutual decision that three guitars were too many. Besides, Dik wanted to concentrate on his studies at university. After a final set as The Hype, Dik stepped aside. The band played their second set that night as U2. Dik later went on to join The Virgin Prunes and it’s safe to say that they sold somewhat fewer records than U2.
9. Dee Dee Ramone
Douglas “Dee Dee” Colvin was a co-founder of the Ramones with his mate, John Cummings in 1974 and stayed with the band until 1989 when certain addictions got the better of him. His dumbest move was reinventing himself as a rap artist under the name Dee Dee King, which resulted in some truly awful music. Although he was able to clean himself up for a while, the only punk rock gig he could get was in a Ramones cover band called The Remains. A heroin overdose eventually claimed Dee Dee in 2002.
8. Aaron Burckhard
Aaron did the responsible thing when he was offered a job with a future--night manager with Burger King--rather than stick with playing drums in a band that was obviously going nowhere. That band eventually became Nirvana. Oh, dear.
7. Elvis Costello
Not so much bad luck as just plain dumb. On March 10th, 1979, he and his band were staying at the Holiday Inn in Columbus, Ohio, when they encountered Steven Stills – as in Crosby, Stills, and Nash. A loud discussion over music ensued with Elvis apparently making some racist comments which led to a brawl. The resulting bad press almost completely ruined Elvis’ chances of ever selling another record in the US.
6. Everyone in the Happy Mondays
In May 1993 the Happy Mondays were about to sign a very lucrative long term record deal with London Records, an unbelievable opportunity considering that the failure of their last album, Yes, Please, was the nail that drove Factory Records into bankruptcy. The contract was literally sitting on the table, awaiting signatures when singer Shaun Ryder decided that he needed to nip out for “a little KFC”--Shaun-speak for “a hit of drugs.” He never returned to the meeting, the contract was never signed and the offer was revoked.
5. The Verve
They and everyone else associated with the band were positive that they had signed a good and proper licensing deal to sample an orchestral recording of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time” by the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra for a song called “Bittersweet Symphony.” But because it was ruled that The Verve based too much of the song on the sample, all publishing rights and songwriting credits were stripped away from the band and awarded to the Stones’ people. In other words, The Verve have never and will never make a cent from their biggest song.
4. Bradley Nowell
Everyone had a feeling that Sublime’s third album was going to be a monster--and that’s exactly what happened. But on a pre-release tour through Northern California (and just days after he married his girlfriend), Bradley had a celebratory hit of heroin and died of an overdose on May 25, 1996. When the album was released two months later, it would go multi-platinum and serve up seven singles.
3. Andrew Wood
Long before Bradley Nowell screwed up his chances of being a rich rock star by dying, Andrew Wood did the same thing. His band, Seattle’s Mother Love Bone, not only had a major label record deal but a debut album already in the can. Expectations were very high and people were betting on MLB being a big hit. But then just before that record--called Apple--was supposed to be released, Wood overdosed on heroin so heavily that he fell into a brain dead coma. He died three days later. If there’s a lucky side to this story it’s that the death of MLB resulted in the birth of a new band called Pearl Jam.
2. James Lilja
Just like Aaron Burckhard, James didn’t think there was much of a future being a professional drummer in what would inevitably turn out to be just another Orange County punk band. In 1986, he quit the group in favour of medical school, which later led to a him establishing a successful practice as a gynecologist. His old band, The Offspring, ended up doing okay without him. As to whether James’ chosen vocation qualifies him as “unlucky” depends on your perspective, I suppose.
As the lead singer in The Germs, Darby Crash was a key figure in the early days of LA punk. Self-destructive to the point of being a genuine danger to himself, Darby eventually carried through on his threats to kill himself, taking his own life on December 7, 1980. Unfortunately for Darby and the media coverage of his demise, someone named John Lennon was assassinated about 24 hours later.