Sex, drugs, and rock and roll — that’s what Led Zeppelin was made for. With the spirit of the ’60s on their side, the legendary hard rock band took full advantage of their superstar status, leaving a trail of bottles, broken furniture, and groupies in their wake. The rock star lifestyle has always been seen as a wild one, yet when it came to Led Zeppelin’s notorious party habits, it’s clear the iconic group took things way too far.
In addition to a love of long hair and unbuttoned shirts, Zep was also particularly fond of chucking TVs out of windows and hotel balconies. Unsurprisingly, this behavior got them barred from quite a few places, though do you really think that stopped Led Zeppelin?
The group actually once used fake names to return to a hotel they were banned from and proceeded to trash the place and launch not one, not two, but five TVs through the air. When presented with a $2,500 bill for the damages, tour manager Richard Cole laid the money down without even flinching.
In response, the front desk manager asked Cole what it was like to throw a TV out your window, to which Cole replied by simply sliding him $500 cash. “Here you go, mate,” Cole reportedly told him. “Go toss a TV courtesy of Led Zeppelin.”
When it came to trashing hotel rooms, however, no one did it better than Jimmy Page. The guitarist had a reputation for ripping rooms to shreds each time booze or a certain powdery white substance made an appearance, eventually forcing band management to get involved.
On several occasions, Page was actually chained to the toilet to prevent him from going crazy on his unsuspecting hotel room. Yet it wasn’t all bad for the legendary rocker — he almost always had a groupie to keep him “company.”
But perhaps the true party animal of Led Zeppelin was John Bonham, whose penchant for drinking was just as impressive as his drum skills. The drummer’s love for the bottle got him into plenty of trouble on tour, including one esepcially memorable night at the Chateau Marmont.
In an event considered one of the hotel’s most infamous, Bonham mounted a motorcycle and actually rode it right through the Marmont’s lobby! He must’ve really enjoyed the ride, too, as on the very same tour he pulled the stunt two more times at the Continental Hyatt House Hotel and the Andaz West Hollywood.
Yet the fun didn’t end once the band checked out of their hotel, as Led Zeppelin made use of a private jet as another popular party spot. Nicknamed the “Starship,” this ride was every hard-partying rock star’s dream.
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Complete with a king-sized waterbed, high-tech video system, and a 30-foot bar with built-in electric organ, the Starship hosted some of Zep’s wildest parties. Hordes of groupies were always on hand, though some of them came with a good amount of baggage — and not the kind you bring on planes.
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In the early ’70s, Page became involved with a groupie named Lori Maddox, who had a history with other big-name rockers like Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, and David Bowie. The only problem? She was just 14 years old.
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Even in the no-rules world of rock ‘n roll, many fans criticized Page’s involvement with a minor and even wrote letters to Maddox accusing the guitarist of pedophilia. Unfortunately, Page didn’t do much to dismiss the accusations, even going as far as sequestering Maddox from the public to avoid charges of statutory rape.
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Yet Page’s antics with groupies went beyond just inappropriate relationships. On one occasion, he and Bonham were sitting bored in their hotel room when suddenly the guitarist got an idea. It involved whipped cream, a service cart, and a room full of groupies.
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Stripped bare, Page covered himself in whipped cream, hopped on the room-service cart, and had Bonham wheel him over to his waiting fans. What happened next was probably very sticky, to say the least, though it’s nothing compared to the infamous “shark story.”
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Following their performance at the 1969 Seattle Pop Festival, the members of Led Zeppelin retired to the Edgewater Inn, a hotel on the Puget Sound that allowed its guests to fish from their windows. Sure enough, the band cast out a few lines and managed to reel in a good-size mud shark.
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When a swarm of groupies descended on the room that evening, the band took one look at the shark and decided to get… adventurous. Tying one of the girls to the bed, they hacked the poor fish to pieces and proceeded to insert — well, need we say more?
While some claim this story is a myth, the band has never outright denied its supposed fateful evening with the shark. Still, this wouldn’t be the most controversial thing the members of Led Zeppelin have done, especially for Page.
One popular rumor holds that in the mid-’70s, Page would actually don full Nazi SS regalia each time the band visited a new city. From there, a swastika-clad Page would then find the nearest drag club and proceed to do heroin in the bathroom with the performers.
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Shockingly, Page managed to survive his hard-partying lifestyle — the same, however, couldn’t be said of Bonham. On September 24, 1980 the drummer stopped for “breakfast” on the way to rehearsal, which included four quadruple-vodka Screwdrivers, equal to 16 shots of vodka.
Bonham continued drinking heavily throughout the day, eventually consuming the equivalent of 40 shots of vodka. Bassist John Paul Jones found him dead the next day, having suffocated on his own vomit. He was 32 years old.
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Two months later, out of respect for their lost bandmate, Page, Jones, and Robert Plant announced that the group would be disbanding, effectively putting an end to their wild nights. Led Zeppelin would go down as the epitome of the hard-partying, rock-and-roll lifestyle, though there was another band that just might’ve had them beat.
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When The Beatles took the world by storm in the mid-1960s, they endeared themselves to fans with a clean image. Despite the shaggy hair, they wore trim suits and bowed at the end of each show. This civility, however, was little more than an act.
Rewind a few years, and the Fab Four — who actually had five members at the time — were a wild bar band. Sporting leather jackets, greased up hair, and amplified attitude, the lads attacked the stage more than they performed on it.
Paul McCartney, the only surviving Beatle to witness the full scope of their misadventures, waited decades before disclosing the craziest stories. Understandably, he and his bandmates probably worried their crazy youth could hurt their marketability.
The Beatles emerged as the leading rock group from the rough-and-tumble port city of Liverpool. In contrast to their posh London contemporaries, they were just as hungry for trouble as they were for fame.
Pioneering the Mersey Sound, named after the local river, The Beatles brought back rock music from the brink of extinction. Liverpudlians packed into smoky basements like The Cavern Club to see them tear it up. But the group wouldn’t stay put for long.
As they made a name for themselves, they got an invite for a residency in Hamburg, Germany. This city was even grittier than their own, its streets filled with gangsters and prostitutes. For them, it provided the rush of their lives.
Alas, these gigs paid anything but a fortune. They made pennies, and while room and board was included, they practically lived in a closet. Having to wash and do laundry in the sink made for a severe lack of privacy, which became awkward when girls came over.
The Hollywood Reporter
Performing in red light district clubs, The Beatles didn’t have a challenge picking up girls — for a fee or otherwise. But they often had to share the room with others. Reportedly, Paul and John clapped when they witnessed George Harrison lose his virginity.
The boys turned to drugs almost out of necessity. German clubs had them playing for up to nine hours per day, so other musicians recommended a cocktail of pills to keep their energy up. Naturally, they also indulged on complimentary beers for extra calories.
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Fortunately, the hours of practice refined them into world-class artists. The Germans, who would’ve been mortal enemies just a generation earlier, loved the antics of these rock and rollers — until their craziness and lawbreaking got them deported.
The lawbreaking wasn’t limited to one Beatle, either. Authorities shipped George off after discovering he was too young to enter most German clubs, while Paul and Pete Best got arrested for nailing a condom into the wall of their room and lighting it on fire.
Once they reconfigured their lineup and landed a record deal back in England, The Beatles became international stars almost overnight. Fame didn’t upset their party-heavy lifestyle; it just heightened the mania. The party just kept on going.
Many fans couldn’t see The Beatles when they arrived in town, but they could certainly hear them. That’s because hordes of screaming girls chased them wherever they went. The most passionate ones tore at their idols, hoping to rip off a scrap of hair or clothing.
Some Beatlemaniacs would stop at nothing to meet their heroes. When the band visited Los Angeles, a group of teenagers rented a helicopter to fly over The Beatles’ lodging and wave as they sped by.
Never expecting to be so famous, the lads ate up the attention. Plus, between the pandemonium and constant traveling, they could hardly keep track of where they were. They just rocked the stage, raged after the show, and flew off to the next gig.
An ample security force guarded the moptops in blocks of hotel rooms, where they often had to sneak in and out. Besides spending lots of quality time together, they invited select individuals to party with them — though some parties may have been out of their league.
Upon his first meeting with the Brits, Bob Dylan famously introduced them to marijuana at New York’s Delmonico Hotel. High on drugs and celebrity, The Beatles felt invincible. However, there was some blowback.
After John quipped that his band was more popular than Jesus, Christians around the world went up in arms. Southern communities organized bonfires of Beatle records and merchandise. Protests and death threats suddenly made touring a lot less fun.
On top of that, The Beatles were growing exhausted and homesick. The only breaks they had from touring they used to record new albums, so there was little gas left in the tank. At the same time, exciting new technology was shifting their priorities.
The Hollywood Reporter
The Fab Four chose to evolve into studio-focused artists, creating music impossible to play onstage, like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Internal drama only continued from there, and The Beatles never went on tour again.
The Beatles officially called it quits in 1970, and yet fans are still digging up new information on their legendary career. These folks aren’t just focused on the music either. Dark rumors still swirl around the band’s most terrible secret.
Drummer Ringo Starr may be the only person who knows the real truth. While he doesn’t like to address it in interviews, one question about a former bandmate still comes up again and again. Ringo admitted that it was a troubled time for the Fab Four.
See, ever since the mid-1960s, rock listeners have had questions about the whereabouts of Paul McCartney. Sure, he and Ringo appeared in public together as recently as 2018, but not everyone is convinced both men onstage were real Beatles.
How could that be? Since Beatlemania erupted on a worldwide scale in 1964, not one of John, Paul, George, or Ringo have been able to go anywhere without being recognized. They reached an unprecedented level of fame.
Everywhere they went, throngs of frenzied girls followed them. But after one 1969 radio broadcast, Beatles fans were screaming for a completely different reason. Many feared one of their heroes had met a grisly end.
One night, Detriot disc jockey Russ Gibb took a call from an anonymous source who claimed that Paul McCartney had secretly died and been replaced with a double. Russ entertained the crackpot for a while but never imagined listeners would believe him.
Ultimate Classic Rock
In the ensuing weeks, tabloids and reporters began running the story as if it were fact. The “Paul Is Dead” rumors actually started years earlier – back when The Beatles stopped touring and changed their look — but now it had hit the mainstream.
Here’s the myth: Paul was speeding down a long-and-winding road one November night in 1966. Amid the icy conditions, he lost control of his car and veered into a pole, killing him instantly. Before the press picked up the tragedy, the band covered it up.
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Allegedly, manager Brian Epstein predicted that Paul’s demise would sink The Beatles and cause mass panic. So, in secret, he organized a search for a McCartney lookalike. They found their double in a man named William Shears Campbell.
At the same time, the three surviving musicians supposedly wrestled with extreme guilt. They could only bear it by hinting at Paul’s secret death and replacement. Before long, fans claimed to identify clues all over The Beatles’ catalog.
For example, conspiracy theorists thought the band’s alter-ego experiment in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was all a nod to the cover-up. The Beatles did name drop Billy Shears in “With A Little Help From My Friends,” after all.
Far-fetched as it sounded, a number of fans bought into the story. They pulled out photos of Paul from 1964 and 1967 and claimed there were enough facial differences to prove these were two different men! Naturally, they ignored the effects of aging and facial hair.
The Beatles added fuel to the fire by acknowledging the rumors in their work. For instance, a garbled voice appears at the end of the song “I’m So Tired.” When played backwards, it chants aloud, “Paul is a dead man. Miss him, miss him!”
The Beatles Bible
In addition, the cover of Abbey Road resembled a funeral procession. John led the way in a minister’s white outfit, Ringo followed in a black undertaker’s suit, Paul signified his death with a cigarette and no shoes, and George wore the blue-collar denim of a gravedigger.
With the Detroit radio broadcast, the “Paul is dead” conspiracy reached its peak. Though after The Beatles broke up in 1970, Paul disappeared from the public eye. Was there some truth to his downfall?
No, not so much. Following the band’s breakup, Paul and his wife Linda retreated to their Scotland farm. He did regular interviews to prove to everyone he was still alive and kicking, but a small group of naysayers just weren’t buying it.
Many hit singles and sold-out tours later, tinfoil hat wearers still insisted that this man simply wasn’t Paul McCartney. They alleged that the same impostor from 1966 was coasting off of The Beatles’ success, as he knew most people would never believe his secret.
Los Angeles Times
These days, Paul has mostly laughed off the hoax. Maybe the Fab Four shouldn’t have indulged the paranoids out there, but they were mostly just making fun of it. However, he admitted he did get into a crash in 1966.
Fortunately, this accident wasn’t nearly as horrific as the urban legend. The Beatle fell off his moped, resulting in him chipping his tooth. Paul actually grew a mustache shortly after to hide a small scar on his lip too!
As for Ringo, he never suspected his longtime friend of being replaced by a lookalike. That theory is simply too absurd and convoluted, he claims. Plus, The Beatles never could’ve found a quality double — there is only one Paul McCartney.
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