April Fools’ Day: Best Pranks In Rock ‘n’ Roll

April Fools’ Day: Best Pranks In Rock ‘n’ Roll

Beatles guitarist George Harrison (1943 - 2001) tries out a pair of false eyes made by Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum, where models of The Beatles are being created. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Happy April Fools’ Day! Whether you’re lying about being pregnant, faking an injury, or setting up booby traps on your roommates, it sure is a day to celebrate. Practical jokes are not just for the common folks as many legendary musicians have taken part in the fun in some epic proportions. Here are some of the greatest pranks in rock ‘n’ roll history that are worth knowing about:

  1. Elton John Shocks Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop and Elton John during Elton John File Photos in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images)

In October 1973, Iggy Pop was performing at a small club in Atlanta, Georgia. Elton John, a big fan of the punk rockers, decided to surprise the band by jumping on stage in a gorilla suit. However, Iggy Pop was not exactly in the right state of mind so as Elton sensed the singer’s next move, he took off the ape head and revealed his identity.

2. Rainbow’s Brick Incident

UNITED STATES – APRIL 01: Photo of RAINBOW; Cozy Powell, Ronnie Dio (back), Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Carey at the Record Plant (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images)

In 1976, keyboardist Tony Carey joined rock band Rainbow at the request of Ritchie Blackmore. His time in the band did not last long because he couldn’t keep up with the pranks constantly pulled on him by his bandmates. He finally quit in early 1977 when Blackmore and drummer Cozy Powell blocked the entrance of Carey’s room at the French chateau they were staying at with a stack of bricks while Carey was still inside.

3. Joe Walsh’s Famous Chainsaw

Joe Walsh of the James Gang and later The Eagles, portrait, London, 20th October 1970. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Joe Walsh was known for his art of destruction. While touring with the Eagles in the mid ’70s, Walsh would bring his guitar AND his chainsaw to enlarge hotel rooms that were not up to his standards. To poke fun at the 5-foot-3 Eagles manager Irving Azoff, Walsh once utlilized his chainsaw to shorten the furniture legs in Azoff’s hotel room so that they would be more suitable for his short stature. Azoff got his revenge by nailing all of Walsh’s hotel furniture to the ceiling.

4. George Harrison Fools Phil Collins

Beatles guitarist George Harrison (1943 – 2001) tries out a pair of false eyes made by Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museum, where models of The Beatles are being created. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Before he became a household name, teenager-at-the-time Phil Collins got an exciting call to play congas on George Harrison’s groundbreaking 1970 solo album All Things Must Pass. However, his contributions were not included in the final product. Shortly before he passed away, Harrison sent over a new mix that he said included Collins’ percussion parts. Collins was very disappointed in his younger self when he listened and has since revealed, “I thought, ‘Oh my god, this sounds terrible.” Turns out the congas he was hearing were coming from Ray Cooper, who Harrison instructed to play horribly in order to prank Collins. Collins also stated, “I couldn’t believe that a Beatle had actually spent that much time on a practical joke for me.”

5. Orange Juice Feces For Axl

Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses performs on stage at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Wembley Stadium, London, 20th April 1992. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

In 1992, the band Faith No More had the incredible experience of being the opening band for a Metallica/Guns N’ Roses tour. To pay their respect to the rock sensations, Faith No More took part in some playfulness. Mike Patton, the band’s frontman, once pooped into an orange juice carton, resealed its container, and moved the breakfast drink to Axl Rose’s tour van fridge. No one has revealed the exact ending of the story, but we can imagine what that surprise might have entailed.

6. Black Sabbath’s Creepy Castle

(‘NO SUB AGENCIES) Black Sabbath, 1970: Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi during Black Sabbath File Photos in , United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty Images)

Clearwell Castle in Wales was the site where Black Sabbath wrote a chunk of material for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in 1973. The 18th-century castle was very fitting for the band’s outward appearance with its dark, spooky essence. But even Black Sabbath gets scared. Taking advantage of each others’ fears for a good laugh, the band members began playing pranks on each other making the stay even creepier. Tony Iommi once woke up in the middle of the night to ghostly sounds coming from a tape-recorder Ozzy hid under his bed. One night while Bill Ward was asleep, Geezer Butler, Iommi, and Ozzy put a full-length mirror right in front of his face and poked him leading him to awake in utter terror to his own reflection. Iommi once threw a creepy dressmaker’s dummy out of the third-floor window while Butler and Ward were walking back into the castle. The practical jokes that began as harmless eventually spooked the band enough to stop sleeping at the castle.

7. The Ramones Pissing Off The Sex Pistols

SANTA MONICA – AUGUST 1976: (L-R) Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone and Tommy Ramone of the rock and roll band “The Ramones” pose for a portrait holding letters that spell out the name of their band outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California in August of 1976. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Ramones were the essence of punk rock. For example, Dee Dee Ramone once revealed “The Ramones always put a few drops of piss in anything they give to their guests as a little joke.” The late bassist also told a story in their oral history book, Please Kill Me about meeting Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten. “Johnny Ramone was very friendly to Johnny Rotten when they met. He shook his hand, patted him on the back and asked him if he wanted a beer. Ha ha ha.”

8. Johnny Cash’s Chickens

American rock and country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003), circa 1965. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

While most destructive tales involve the antics of Joe Walsh and Keith Moon, we can’t forget the mischief of the “Man in Black,” Johnny Cash. Cash was also a fan of flushing cherry bombs down hotel toilets and throwing TVs out the window. But his most impressive act of disobedience could possibly be when he let 500 baby chickens loose at a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska (100 on each of the five floors).

9. Keith Moon’s PSA

Drummer Keith Moon (1947 – 1978) of English rock group The Who, wearing a large bow tie and using a cigarette holder, 24th April 1973. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

While we always hear about Moon’s abilities to quickly demolish a hotel room, these wrecking sessions weren’t the only pranks The Who drummer partook in. One of his favorite practical jokes was to blare fake public fake public service announcements from a passing car.  He took these jokes so seriously that he rigged up his own car with hidden amps and speakers so that he could scare citizens with his windows rolled down protecting his identity.  Some of these hoax announcements included dangers of tidal waves and the invasion of poisonous snakes.  

10. Michael Jackson’s Prank Calls

Michael Jackson 1981 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty Images)

Michael Jackson was known as the pop star who never grew up, which is especially true when it came to his love of practical jokes. One of his most reoccurring victims of his prank phone calls was celebrity Russell Crowe, who he never even met in person. Crowe got a kick out the child-like jokes and told The Guardian, “He’d ring up, do this kind of thing, like you did when you were 10, you know. ‘Is Mr Wall there? Is Mrs. Wall there? Are there any Walls there? Then what’s holding the roof up? Ha ha.'”


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