THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Gill Allen
The curls! The cone bra! The controversy! In 1990, Madonna was likely the most discussed woman in the world. The ‘sexy Catholic’ motif of her 1989 video for “Like a Prayer” caused such a flurry of finger-wagging that Pepsi dropped her as a spokeswoman. But it wasn’t just the video images of burning crosses, stigmata, and romantic love with a priest: When she sang “Like A Virgin” every night on her “Blond Ambition” tour, she was going to simulate solo sex on stage. Was she going to do it graphically? Yep. The Pope noped the whole idea and he tried to have her Italian show banned. Here in Canada, the Toronto Police threatened to have Madonna arrested on the grounds of lewd and obscene behavior but her three sold-out Toronto shows went ahead as planned, 30 years ago, on May 27-29, 1990.
The tour, which was filmed for the documentary “Truth Or Dare”, supported Madonna's fourth studio album, ‘Like a Prayer’, and the "Dick Tracy" soundtrack ‘I’m Breathless’. She co-starred in the oft-forgotten comic book movie as lounge singer Breathless “I'm wearing black underwear” Mahoney. It seems police detective Dick Tracy is a little more lenient than the Toronto Cops.
Photo by Barrie Davis / The Globe and Mail Canadian Press
The Hamilton punk band’s set at a December ’78 show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto ended in a riot and was shut down by the police. But that's not what's pictured here. What’s pictured is a photo that graced the front page of the Globe and Mail on June 3, 1980. It shows a riot at Ontario Place, of all places. Fans were trying to get into a Teenage Head show and the police came to “manage the crowds.”
Jim Morrison of the Doors
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The story goes that Jim Morrison was making out with a woman before a show in a shower stall backstage at the New Haven Arena. (This took place in 1967, as you can see in his mug shot.) A police officer, who didn’t recognize Morrison, wasn’t cool with the makeout sesh. The officer told them to stop and Morrison told the cop to “Eat it”. So the cop maced him. FACT: Whenever the cops accidentally mace a lead singer backstage, it can delay the concert. When the show did go on, Morrison taunted the cops until they arrested him onstage and charged him with obscenity and incitement to riot.
Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses
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Axl has been super-well arrested. He joined Guns N’ Roses in his early 20s and even by then, he had over 20 arrests. He had so many arrests that authorities threatened to charge him as a habitual criminal. But the particular arrest we’re going to tell you about is the one that's most closely tied to his onstage antics. We’re talking about the Riverport Riot of 1991. When an altercation gets a formal moniker and its own Wikipedia page, you know it’s kind of a big deal. Here’s what went down: Guns N’ Roses were performing in St. Louis. From the stage, Axl could see a fan taking pictures. He told security to get the camera. When that didn't happen, he jumped off stage and grabbed the camera himself. When the crew pulled him back on stage, he was so angry at security that he promptly ended the show. The audience were so angry at everybody that they rioted for three hours, injuring dozens of people. Rose was charged with inciting the riot, but a judge ruled that he did not directly incite it.
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Like Axl Rose, there’s a lot on this ‘80s R&B star’s rap sheet. The ex-husband of late singer Whitney Houston has been charged with DUI, DWI, domestic abuse, missing child support payments, and drug possession. Even within the parameters of career-specific arrests, there are a few to choose from. In 1989, he was arrested mid-show in Columbus, Georgia, for simulating sex on stage. In 1993, he was cited for simulating a sex act in front of an underage audience.
In 1989, 18 people were arrested on misdemeanour charges at an N.W.A. concert in Detroit. The concert promoter had assured the police that the Compton hip-hop group wouldn’t perform their song “F--- tha Police”. But here’s the thing: they did perform it. Note: This photo from “Ride Along 2” (2016) starring N.W.A. member Ice Cube and Kevin Hart is for illustration purposes only and does not reflect the large police presence at the show. (You can make your own Kevin Hart height joke here.)
You can't fight city hall but at least there was a silver lining for the Barenaked Ladies. The band were taken off the lineup of the 1991 New Year's Eve concert outside Toronto City Hall because someone in the mayor’s office thought the band’s name objectified women. The press picked up the story and the band’s publicity caught on like wildfire. The following week, there was a sales explosion for BNL’s latest release, their third indie tape known as 'The Yellow Tape'. It became the first indie release to achieve platinum status in Canada.
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The Edmonton indie rocker was detained by police during a show at the University of California in 2014. Campus police arrested two overzealous concert-goers, whose moshing had turned rough. But DeMarco joined the pair, then briefly crowd-surfed before climbing to the ceiling beams. He was arrested when he came back to the stage. (The officers didn’t know that he was the performer.) How many fans were at this epic, explosive, potential very, very dangerous event? About 100. “It was definitely not some Slayer concert,” an attendee told the Santa Barbara Independent. “What was supposed to be an intimate concert turned into ‘I can’t believe the police are acting this way’….There was no danger in the crowd.”
The German hard rock band, seen here picking up a Golden Gods Award in 2011, have had their share of run-ins with the law. While on the 1998 “American Family Values” tour, the band were arrested for indecency. In 1999, frontman Till Lindemann and keyboardist Flake Lorenz were arrested after a concert in Worcester, Massachusetts, and charged with lewd and lascivious behaviour. They were released the following day.
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The American shock rocker was charged with misdemeanour assault and battery and criminal sexual conduct in 2001. At a Michigan concert, Manson had, um, okay. What words to choose here, we wonder. How about this: Manson was in a g-string and he humped an unsuspecting security officer’s head. He also spit on him and wrapped his legs around the officer’s neck. The fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge Manson received was a felony carrying up to two years in prison. "It was definitely offensive conduct," the prosecutor said, according to ABC News. "It's one thing to shock the audience by some kind of behaviour, it's another to involve an unwilling participant who was there to protect him." Manson paid a $4,000 fine.
This dance music star from Toronto scored a No. 1 hit in 1990 with the love song “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)”. He scored an arrest on stage in 2011 by the Springfield, Massachusetts Police after his concert at the MassMutual Center. The postman must have lost the $420,000 Stevie B owed in child support.