Most interviews are pretty by the numbers. Nothing special.But sometimes interviews live on in infamy because they’re so damn crazy, weird, or otherwise awkward that they provide entertainment long after everyone has forgotten why the celebrity was being interviewed in the first place. Those special disasters continue to capture all of our imaginations because if there’s anything America loves, it’s seeing a celebrity break down or blow up in public.
For the sake of that, I compiled five disastrous interviews with musicians. Thankfully, none of them were done by anyone on the SOTC staff.
How Not To Interview Musicians
5. Tom Waits
Tom Waits has given some bizarre interviews, including one which briefly became internet famous due to Waits’ resemblance to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Credit where it’s due. though, interviewer Don Lane was a professional the whole way through.
The disaster here, then, was when Waits decided to promote his last record Bad as Me with an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The future Tonight Show host Fallon has done well for himself in the Late Night seat, but he showed his youth in conducting interviews in this one where he practically breaks down because he’s so starstruck interviewing Waits. Waits plays it off decently, guiding Fallon through it, but it’s clear how ridiculously nervous Fallon is to be in his presence and it ends up being terribly uncomfortable.
4. Billy Bob Thornton
Whatever you do, don’t refer to Billy Bob Thornton as an actor when he’s doing an interview as a musician. Billy Bob Thornton is a serious musician with a serious band, and you will not mention his other career.
The Q radio show on CBC found that out the hard way when Thornton’s band the Boxmasters appeared and host Jian Ghomeshi briefly referred to Thornton’s acting career in his introduction of the band. Apparently Thornton had instructed them not to bring that up and after it is mentioned, he refuses to answer questions until he finally simply blows up and has a fit over the whole thing.
Before Madonna even steps through the curtain, our host David Letterman assures bandleader Paul Shaffer that “everything is fine.” But, of course, it’s not, or this classic interview disaster wouldn’t have made our list.
Everything goes horribly wrong after Madonna does come out and immediately goes on the attack, bringing Letterman a pair of her panties, then taking him to task for being so interested in her sex life. It’s all downhill from there, especially when she starts cursing and referencing drugs. The best part is when she randomly starts giving Letterman tips on how to cure athlete’s foot with your own urine.
See also: Famous Musicians Talk About Each Other, In Illustrated Form
2. Michael Jackson
In 2002, Michael Jackson’s public image was in the toilet and he had only recently released his 2001 album Invincible, his first miss since beginning his solo career. In response, he allowed journalist Martin Bashir to shot a feature length documentary on his life and do a series of interviews with him.
The result, Living with Michael Jackson, was so bad it made Jackson a public pariah. Some criticized Bashir for seemingly purposefully casting Jackson in a negative light, but most simply reacted with disgust at the things Jackson discussed, particularly the fact that he slept in the same bed as young boys who visited his Neverland Ranch home. Though there supposedly was no direct correlation between it and the release of the documentary, Jackson was subsequently charged with seven counts of child molestation later in the year.
See also: Crossing Over: Michael Jackson, Ne-Yo, and the Sound of Pop in 2012
1. Crispin Glover
What could top Michael Jackson’s bizarre and publicly damning behavior? Why the most infamous interview disaster of all time of course. This is the holy grail of bad and/or crazy interviews, my friends, and it features David Letterman once again playing straight man to someone who is clearly not quite right.
Known primarily as an actor thanks to his role as George McFly in Back to the Future, Glover is also an outsider musician who for one album in 1989 created some of the weirdest music available for consumption. Clearly Letterman was expecting the guy who played George McFly, but he got the wacked out musician version of Glover instead and the results are amazing. Although fans of Glover say he was putting on an act, Letterman didn’t know that so the interview is no less entertaining because of it.
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