TheWho. Most notably Keith Moon, who embodied the "crazy drummer" stereotype. He wasn't called "Moon the Loon" for no reason. One of his most famous anecdotes: as the band's limo was halfway to the airport, he suddenly screamed "STOP! We have to go back to the hotel immediately!" When they got back, Moon raced up to their former suite, tore a TV set from the wall and threw it through the window into the swimming pool below. His comment? "I almost forgot to do that. We can go now."
Along with his already Crazy Awesome unlearned drum (anti-)technique and pioneering use of massive drum kits in rock, Moon broke his two front teeth diving from his hotel room to an empty swimming pool on his eighteenth birthday, was known for exploding toilets with explosives, throwing TV's out of windows and wrecking hotel rooms (the band were banned from Holiday Inns as a result), crashed through a corrigated iron roof at a Carlton Athletic Arena concert as a grand entrance, was incapacited in the middle of another concert after an near-fatal overdose of animal tranquilizer, crashed his Rolls-Royce (he had no driver's license) into his swimming pool and swam to the surface during a party, and a joke of his that a supergroup he and John Entwistle was to form with Jimmy Page "going down like a lead zeppelin" would lead to Led Zeppelin getting its band name. An incident where he unknowingly overloaded his drum kit with explosives during the Who's appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to the point it singed Pete Townshend's hair and damaged his hearing permanently (Pete partially blames his tinnitus on this event) and causing Bette Davis, who was waiting in the wings, to faint into Mickey Rooney's arms.. Oh, and Animal from The Muppets was based on him. Unfortunately, this recklessness might have been the byproduct of being an ADD/hyperactive case; it cost him his marriage, led to his paunchy figure in his last years, and ironically, he died from taking an accidental overdose of the pills he took to cure him of his alcoholism. Moon was taking steps to get his life back together when he died.
And you know what? "Weird Al" Yankovic. This is a guy who writes songs about bologna and Star Wars, turns popular music into polka songs on every album and once made a movie where Michael Richards blasted a kid in the face with a firehose. He's had ten gold albums, six platinums, three grammys, nine nominations and has outlasted many of the ''real'' artists he's parodied.
Speaking of animated incarnations, his Batman: The Brave and the Bold incarnation was himself. And he defeated a supervillain. By playing his accordion.
His band deserves a mention, too; they're good enough to play literally any kind of music, and play it well, and they're "just" making parody music.
Singer, model and actress Grace Jones fits this trope from beginning to end. She's well-known for playing May Day in the 007 movie A View to a Kill, in which her character jumped off the Eiffel Tower in a parachute. Most awesomely, this is something she'd probably do in real life. If you're skeptic about this, just check out this picture◊, used as cover art for her album Island Life, or this picture◊, or watch this video. Or search for anything related to her. She's just that awesome. Oh, by the way, she's 61.
Van Canto is an a cappella band. A heavy metal a cappella band.
More specifically, their subgenre is Hero/Power Metal, which focuses on making everything sound as epic as possible. Most bands need orchestra and tons of studio magic to pull it off. This group accomplishes it with 5 vocalists and a drummer. Their "lead guitar" vocalist performs guitar solos which sound almost dead on like a real guitar, with the only vocal modification being his microphone fed through a guitar amp. They held auditions for an a cappella drummer while forming the band, and while it was possible to emulate the instrument, every auditioner passed out trying to keep up with the rapid double bass pedals. Also unlike most a cappella groups, they don't focus on covers. More than half of their material is original, spanning three studio albums. According to an interview, their live performances are usually met with confusion and laughter at first, but singing along and roaring applause by the end.
Ozzy Osbourne, through his entire life. His escapades include: Biting the head off a bat, biting the head off of two doves at a meeting with record execs, pissing on the Alamo, shooting all of his chickens and lighting their remains on fire, giving a Great Dane cocaine (which made it expel every particle of shit in its body and frantically run around for three days straight), snorting a line of ants, asking Betty Ford where the bar is at the Betty Ford Clinic and blacking out, obliviously pissing out the window of Def Leppard's dressing room onto the fans lined up to get in, taking a shit in the elevator of a posh hotel and waking up in the middle of a busy interstate miles from his previous location. The cap to all of this is getting in a wild man contest with Mötley Crüe and winning by appearing on stage stone drunk wearing a dress, lifting up the dress to reveal white tighty whities and screaming "LETS GO FUCKING CRAZY!". After that tour everyone involved had to go to a treatment center.
You forgot the part where he pissed in the Alamo while wearing his wife's dress because Sharon tried to stop him from going out drunk by hiding his clothes.
And when he walked down a street dragging an old shoe (that he got from a dumpster) on a leash, carrying an empty guitar case. And took three times the normal dose of sedatives to be put to sleep for a colonoscopy. He watched for a moment and in his book comments that he was "glued to Journey To The Centre Of My Arse on the screen".
And by the way, that thing with the old shoe? That was before he made it big. That was just because he thought it made him seem more like an authentic bluesman.
Yamantaka Eye. Best known for his work with Boredoms and as the singer for Naked City, Eye is also known for performing under the name Hanatarash. Live performances for these were notorious for their dangerous and destructive nature with antics that include a backhoe and trying to throw a Molotov cocktail on stage.
Syd Barrett. Just listen to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Not to mention his solo works The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Which some regard as brilliant, while others lament them as merely documenting his descent from Crazy Awesome into just plain crazy.
The late Ol' Dirty Bastard from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. This is a guy who had a crew from MTV follow him and his family as he picked up welfare checks in a limo. This is a guy who shoplifted a $50 pair of sneakers when he had $500 in his back-pocket. This is a guy who attended rehab and recorded an album while on the run from the law. This is a guy who organized the rescue of a four-year old girl from a car accident and, in the evening after, wandered onstage at the Grammys to complain that he spent so much money on a new suit in anticipation of winning an award for Best Rap Albumonly to lose to Puff Daddy.
Iron Maiden already has one of the hammiest singers in business, and a really hyperactive bassist. Yet this trope is best represented by drummer Nicko McBrain. He'sjusthilarious. (said bassist, when writing a profile for Nicko: "I know people see him on the videos and that, and they think he’s crazy - and he is!")
Forget the Five-Man Band! This guy from Croatia is a One Man Band! He plays the guitar, the tambourine, the kazoo, the harmonica, a bicycle horn, and a kick drum! Not simultaneously, but it actually sounds like an actual band!
Jello Biafra. This guy randomly ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979. Part of his political platform was (among more serious proposals): forcing businessmen to wear clown suits within city limits, erecting statues of Dan White (who assassinated Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978) all over town and allowing the parks department to sell eggs and tomatoes with which people could pelt them, and a citywide ban on cars (this wasn't that extreme - San Francisco was suffering from a horrendous pollution problem). He came in fourth place. Also, he was the leader of the Dead Kennedys, probably the most crazy awesome band punk rock ever witnessed.
Most of the "Real Life" examples of Bizarre Instruments were invented by people who, to varying degrees, fit this type, with Harry Partch being an excellent example.
Want proof that Lady Gaga is Crazy Awesome? Two more words: Meat◊ Dress◊. Not only did she wear it, in public, in a totally casual way, but she actually managed to make it look good.
Lady Gaga is so tired and hackneyed; Madonna was far more of a rule-breaker and pioneer than Lady Gaga ever could, and Madonna didn't even have to lie about the great life adversity she faced (Madonna's was losing her mom at an early age and being raised by an extremely strict father). No, if you want true musical originality by someone who was really both crazy and awesome, you have to go back to The Seventies and The Eighties for Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich, two true musical originals and heroes for outsider women everywhere.
Rammstein. How many other musical artists can you think of that have lit themselveson fire for 3+ minutes once a show every show for three straight tours with solely the protection of a pair of welding goggles, and have been claimed to enjoy it? The drummer Cristoph Schneider was quoted once as saying that the band's motto was "Do your own thing. And overdo it!"
And of course the wine-spraying dildo.
When played live, "Mein Teil" sees the lead singer drag the keyboardist out in a boiling pot. And then using a flamethrower on it while the poor guy is still in there.
Both members of Angelspit. These are the guys who created a music video about a secret society devoted to cannibalism and vivisection, regularly use synths to fuck songs up beyond belief, built their own instrument and subsequently destroyed it for the purposes of recording the sounds it made while being destroyed, made some awesome music out of a salad bowl and a lampshade, and instead of simply making a video asking for video entries from those who wished to be their new videographer, created a video where ZooG killed the old videographer, asked for video entries, and finished the vid with 'I need a knife, a fork, and an oven built for one. Happy New fucking Year!'
Devin Townsend. Having lots of breakdowns during his career and being able to survive through every one of them? Check. Channeling his mental problems torward his music and making them awesome? Check. (Seemingly) getting rid of his drug problems and some mental illnesses and finding out his songs can be even more awesome when his mind is clearer? Check. And showing us that's true? Check. Devin Townsend had a career of 16 albums he produced himself, including Ziltoid The Omniscient, on which he has done almost EVERYTHING, including the 5+ voices featured, and more are on the way. Oh, and he has bipolar disorder.
Guitarist Wilko Johnson is known for erratic stage behaviour, including deploying a herky-jerky clockwork saunter and a rather aggressive wiLd-eyed stare, and seems to be a meathead off-stage as well. Whilst playing with Dr. Feelgood, he decided to have a go at flying the plane him and his bandmates were on and proceeded to perform twists and loops. All he said to the pilots was "Look, I know what I'm doing."
Kaizers Orchestra is quite the embodiment of this trope. Think alt-rock and Norwegian folk music stuck in a blender with Blue Man Group-style theatrics on stage and a dark musical mythos involving lunatic asylums, the mafia and an only semi-defined "resistance" operating in the midst of it all. As for the "awesome" part? Well...herdugår, minCostanze.
The Talking Heads album Fear of Music is basically a musical DSM-IV, full of songs about neurotics and psychotics, but nobody denies it's one of their best albums. David Byrne's dancing may well qualify, too.
Queen staging an all-female nude bicycle race to promote "Fat Bottomed Girls/Bicycle Race", to say nothing of some of their concert acts and videos (Freddie Mercury swordfighting Connor MacLeod with a microphone stand in the "Princes of the Universe" video, just for example)
Daniel Johnston is a very straightforward example, having been diagnosed bipolar type 1 and exhibiting extreme delusions of grandeur. Among his infamous exploits: standing in the middle of a river preaching end-of-days prophecies in the middle of the night, breaking into an elderly woman's house to exorcise her demons, hitting his agent over the head with a pipe, and removing the keys from the ignition of his father's plane in-flight. He was committed for a period as well. On the awesome side, Daniel is credited with writing and obsessively recording circa 500 unique songs, which have inspired the likes of Sonic Youth, Kurt Cobain, and many others. He even found instant fame when he blagged his way into MTV's coverage of Austin's South By Southwest festival. He's also an established visual artist with a natural talent, and it's routine for his work to already be sold prior to the start of a gallery showing. The simple fact is that he owes his fame to his psychological disorder, having spent many, many hours obsessively recording and re-recording the same songs over and over again for demo tapes during his time in his sister's garage in Austin, where he lacked an auto tape dubber. Additionally, his delusions regarding Jesus, the devil, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Captain America, space exploration, and others are a prominent feature in his work. Eventually, a documentary titled "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" was filmed in order to highlight this aspect of his life.
Miley Cyrus's 2009 Wonder World Tour, especially her filmed appearance at London's O2 Arena, can definitely count as this. She entered the stage "breaking free" from a "block of ice" prop, rode moving hotel dollies and airport carts, "rode" a motorcycle across the audience while singing "I Love Rock And Roll", played a piano rising from an elevator for "When I Look At You", flew on a harness in a giant white dress for "Fly On The Wall" (after riding a giant van to the front of the stage), and basically hammed it up in full "rock chick" persona for much of the rest of the show. The projected films, dancers (often scaling walls), laser and light shows, and multiple costume changes added to the theatrics. And she sang live (if understandably breathlessly at times) the whole time. It was one of the hottest tours of that concert season. She (somewhat) scaled down for the Gypsy Heart Tour a few years later.