Mention Decca Records in the presence of anyone who knows rock history, and you're sure to be greeted with a likely-apocryphal quote: "Sorry, Mr. Epstein, but guitar groups are on their way out." Yes, Decca turned down the Beatles. Of course, it was true at the time that their loud and hard style WAS out of favor on the charts (they were the ones who brought it back into fashion a year later), and besides that, their audition tape (which is now widely available for anyone to buy) really isn't very good. Whatever its charms, there is no way anyone listening to it in January 1962 could identify what they later proved themselves capable of. Besides, every other major label in Britain also turned them down (the label they did end up on, Parlophone, was known as a sort of backwater for novelty acts before they became stars on it). But Decca had the bad luck to have a specific date (January 1, 1962) and a surviving audition tape, and a pithy quote that was probably never really uttered in the first place.
If you look at his portrayal in popular media, you'd think Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar at every concert when he actually only did so three times in his entire career (although that's three more than the vast majority of guitarists have burned in their careers). Also, the popularity of "Hey Joe" got to the point where it would be constantly requested, to Hendrix's chagrin. In this performance on British pop star Lulu's program, the Experience stops playing it midway, Hendrix says "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish", and they launch into an impromptu cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love".
Publicly admitting that your views on Intellectual Property mimic the ones of the Profit-Happy American Entertainment Industry can be a tough thing to live down; his crusade against Napster is the first thing that comes to mind whenever many people think of Lars Ulrich.
Zbigniew Wodecki is a gifted singer, violinist, trumpeter, songwriter and composer. He spent over 40 years on stage, sold thousands of albums and won many prestigious awards. But for many Poles he'll always be the performer of an opening song from Maya the Bee (in Polish Pszczółka Maja). For many years, Wodecki hated being asked about Maya - either in interviews or during concerts. However, recently he finally realized there is no escape from that "curse" and he included the Pszczółka Maja song into his repertoire.
Ozzy Osbourne did a lot of crazy shit during his younger years as a rocker (and later in his life too - it's basically the reason his autobiography is worth getting), but the incident that sticks out in a lot of people's minds is that particular concert where somebody threw a bat on stage, and Ozzy, thinking it was a toy rubber bat and not the real deal, bit its head off. People have never let him forget about it since, and he's had to explain more than once that "it was only fucking once."
Oddly, this is far better known than the time in 1989 when he was arrested for trying to murder his wife. She forgave him and is still with him...
Oddly, this is also far better known than the time when he bit the head off a live dove at a press conference. This was before the bat incident. The (now defunct) UK rock magazine Sounds had a reporter and photographer at the event, and printed pictures.
For Texans, that incident may take a back seat to one that occurred shortly afterward: When he was drunk, Sharon would steal his clothes so he couldn't go out unless he wanted to go out naked. On the San Antonio tour date, he found one of Sharon's dresses at six in the morning, and when he had to urinate, he found a wall and pissed out several bottles of booze, immediately being arrested after the act for urinating on the Alamo. After the show, he was charged with public intoxication and was banned from San Antonio for ten years.
For a good long while, Ozzy was "the guy who snorted a line of ants" to people who gawked at his excess. Thanks to Keith Richards, he may have finally lived that down.
Something Ozzy will also never live down is his reputation for simply singing lyrics to the tune of Tony Iommi's riffs in Black Sabbath, despite the fact that it only happened in four songs: "Iron Man", "N.I.B.", "Into the Void" and "Electric Funeral". Four songs out of fifty-six. This is one of the first things to come up in every Ozzy vs Dio debate, and it's bollocks.
The fives years Morrissey spent in The Smiths will ALWAYS take precedence over his 20 year+ solo career.
And his embarrassingly one-sided vegenazism will always overshadow any talent he has as a musician.
His cocaine-fueled, reputedly in-character moment in an interview during his "Thin White Duke" period (when a controversial British politician gave his infamous "Rivers Of Blood" speech and Neo-Nazi skinhead groups were emerging in England), where he mentioned that "Britain could benefit from having a fascist leader" and calling Adolf Hitler the world's first rock star often haunt him, and it took a toll on his reputation. It didn't help that a photo of him as the TWD in mid-wave, interpreted by British Newspapers as a Nazi salute, was tabloid fodder at the time. These events helped lead to the creation of the "Rock Against Fascism" movement.
Jessica Simpson will always be remembered for her blunder about "Chicken of the Sea"-brand tuna on her reality TV show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessicanote back when she was still married to former 98 Degrees singer Nick Lachey
Ike Turner was one of Rock & Roll's pioneers. A talented musician and producer and as part of Ike and Tina Turner, part of one of the most popular music acts of the 70s. It used to be that he was less remembered for that than for his physical abuse of his wife Tina. Now it's for his almost-comical denial of said abuse.
On a side note, Laurence Fishburne once remarked it was years after he played Ike in What's Love Got to Do with It that black women finally stopped giving him the evil eye.
Similar to Ike, Chris Brown once beat up his girlfriend Rihanna. You have to be a really devoted R&B/hip-hop fan to get past that. However, he still has fans and chart-topping singles. It's just that the one thing people remember about him is the domestic abuse incident.
Most dramatic response: Radio 1's Chris Moyles refused to play Chipmunk's "Champion" on which Chris Brown appears, going for a specially-produced version in which Mr. Brown is replaced with the show's sports reporter! Listen to her (yes, HER) rendition here.
Ja Rule once had a solid career with a fair amount of hits, a distinct rapping style, and his hard, thuggish persona. Nowadays? "What would I do without my babaaayy?", combined with a crybaby face. It ruined his career.
Dylan Carlson, with his band Earth, is a pioneer of the indie drone metal scene and well-known among metal enthusiasts. Unfortunately, he will forever go down in rock history when he, in 1994, bought a shotgun for his friend Kurt Cobain.
Until he died, Michael Jackson was better-known for A) butchering his face via plastic surgery and bleaching his skin as a way of handling vitiligo and B) facing multiple accusations of child molestation — two of which were handled with out-of-court settlements, and one of which went to trial (he was found not guilty) — than his music. Part of the problem was that he rarely performed live or released new music in the final ten years of his life, meaning that most people only heard about him when he was doing weird, even dangerous (the Berlin baby-dangling incident of 2002, for instance) things. Even after Dead Artists Are Better came into effect, non-fans still tend to remember him as a Cloud Cuckoolander, a plastic surgery disaster, a substance abuser (he died of a prescription drug overdose), and/or a creepy pedophile. This is not helped by, largely due to several lawsuits and trials that followed his death, even more unfortunate truths and claims about him coming to light. The Cult of Personality that surrounds him, with a Vocal Minority of his fanbase devoted to holding him up as Too Good for This Sinful Earth, also puts people off.
Also, his outbidding Paul McCartney for the publishing rights to the Beatles' songs, which wrecked their friendship.
John Cale is an incredibly influential avant-garde Welsh rock musician (he was in the Velvet Underground, for crying out loud) who chopped a chicken's head off on stage during the late seventies to piss off his all-vegetarian band and the aggressive poser punks in the audience - he threw the head into the crowd, and it apparently landed in someone's drink. It's come up in almost every interview he's given since.
Soulfly is one of the most respected bands to emerge from the Nu Metal scene (thanks to MaxCavalera), but he'll never be able to live down the fact that he made a song called "Jumpdafuckup", the name of which was promptly used to mock nu metal bands similar to his.
Jonathan Richman led an illustrious career, leading The Modern Lovers, had John Cale produce their album, and being an influence to punk rock in the process. If you've never heard of him, you might otherwise be familiar with him being the singing troubador in There's Something About Mary.
Disturbed's Signature Song "Down with the Sickness" is probably most known for the staccato scream-thing that David Draiman does near the beginning and end (Oh-wa-ah-ah-ah!!). He's only used this technique possibly three or four times in the band's discography, but since the song has seen use in a number of film trailers and other media, the group's detractors have taken to calling them "The Monkey Noise Band".
Another issue some of the band have is the drum solo that opens the song with a distinctive "THUD" that has made some believe their drummer Mike Wengren hits the drums too hard (it was actually created through applying 2-ply, coated heads on the toms). Wengren dislikes how this sound buries much of his work under layers of reverb, and has been increasingly been trying to work towards a cleaner sound both in how he plays and in mixing and post-production.
While Elvis Costello is well respected for his wide-ranging musical career, his use of the n-word to describe Ray Charles in a drunken tirade toward Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett in 1979 has always haunted him, even after Ray Charles told him he wasn't offended because he knew Costello didn't really mean it, and that "drunk talk isn't meant to be printed in the papers".
Tim "The Ripper" Owens is a pretty good metal vocalist, but he's likely doomed to be known as the guy who ruined Judas Priest and Iced Earth.
The band Orleans had two big hits in the 1970's with "Dance With Me" and "Still the One". In addition, band leader John Hall has had a successful post-music career as a political activist and Congressman. However, he and the band still have to contend with memories of this less-than-dignified album cover.◊
Bob Dylan has had a career stretching just under 50 years and just over 50 albums. Of all this, only two albums recorded early on in his career could be considered pure 'protest' albums and most of his songs have ever dealt with personal affairs, sexual politics or sheer surreal imagery. In fact he even disowned his protest period in his song 'My Back Pages' from Another Side of Bob Dylan. Despite this, certain people still insist on labelling him a 'protest' singer.
And for attacking a reporter at an airport in Thailand.
Billy Squier will never live down the bizarre "Rock Me Tonight" video that showed him cavorting on a bedroom set in a pink tank top and led to suspicions that he was gay and an irreversible career decline.
R. Kelly and a certain incident involving urination. Plus, "I Believe I Can Fly".
Imogen Heap is most popular for her "Hide And Seek", due to the Memetic Mutation related to it. People however ignore the meaning of the song, the lyrics, and any other part other than the meme-related part. In fact, most people associate it now with Jason Derulo.
David Sylvian, an ambient musician, will never live down the work of his pop band Japan, especially their debut album Adolescent Sex which really embarrasses him.
John Greely, who sang on Iced Earth's Night Of The Stormrider, will never live down the rumors that he was kicked out of the band for being anti-Semitic whilst on tour in Germany. In reality, he never did this - he just wanted to leave the band to be with his family (albeit in the middle of a tour). This annoyed band leader Jon Schaffer so much that he made up the story to make himself look good for the media.
For people who don't actually listen to her music, Lady Gaga is the weird chick who wore a meat dress and got carried around in an egg. This is a zig-zagging because she actually wants to be remembered for stunts like those; however, it's the only thing many people know about her.
If you're discussing Lisa "Left-Eye'' Lopes, the first topic will either be her tragic death in 2002 or the time she burned down the mansion of her boyfriend, NFL star Andre Rison.
Before that, she seemed well-known for the then-edgy gimmick of wearing goggles with a wrapped latex condom in her left eye.
When she performed on Saturday Night Live, Sinéad O'Connor tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II and said "Fight the real enemy!" She will always be remembered for doing that. (Lampshaded by cast member Tracy Morgan years later when he said that the guest host for that episode was Tim Robbins, but nobody except him remembers that.)
Another controversial incident involving Sinead O'Connor involved her refusal to to perform a New Jersey concert if the National Anthem was played beforehand.
Also related to SNL, Rage Against the Machine, desecrated an American flag which got them labeled as Anti-American to the point that Clear Channel Communications deemed their entire catalog inappropriate to be played on radio after 9/11; they were the only artist to get such sanctions.
Jarvis Cocker will likely never live down disrupting Michael Jackson's performance of "Earth Song" at the 1996 BRIT Awards; he has a reputation as a jerk or even monster in Jackson's fanbase. It doesn't help that he and Pulp don't have a big following beyond the U.K. On the other hand, just about everybody in the UK who wasn't a Jacko fan saw it as a Moment of Awesome for him and a justified comeuppance for Jackson's messianic pretensions.
Janet Jackson is unlikely to get people to forget about her "Wardrobe Malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show anytime soon. Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, was hardly affected.
On a smaller scale, some people haven't forgiven Kid Rock who wore an American flag as a costume earlier in the halftime show.
Greg Ham, the flutist on the Men at Work song "Down Under", will be remembered forever for plagiarizing "Kookaburra" while jamming under the influence during the recording of the song.
Tragically enough, it was reported that Ham killed himself in 2012 because he was haunted by the thought he had tarnished his reputation by being remembered for copying that melody. (He had actually died of of a heart attack.)
Thanks their song "My Immortal" Evanescence will forever be known as emo. Amy Lee will never live down firing the entire band (even though she only directly fired one member).
Despite Burzum being one of the most famous and important bands in all of Black Metal, its sole member Varg Vikernes will always be known as "that guy who killed the Mayhem guitarist and burned down three churches."
On a related note, fellow Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem will probably be forever remembered as "that band where the singer blew his brains out and the bassist [Varg Vikernes from above] murdered the guitarist/bandleader."
Black Metal in general gets this due to Vikernes' actions and a handful of other murders, actually. It's probably the only reason a lot of people have even heard of the genre, really.
Singer MIA will probably never live down give the audience the finger in her performance at the Super Bowl in 2012. Before that she was known for performing at the Grammys the day before she gave birth.
Sergei Rachmaninoff had the Cursed with Awesome (or is it Blessed with Suck?) fate to have composed his number one hit single, "Prelude in C-Sharp Minor," at the age of 18. For the entire rest of his long career, he was known as "Mr. C-Sharp Minor," and it was the one thing audiences always demanded to hear at his recitals, no matter how sick and tired of it he became, no matter how much he wished they'd care about his mature compositions.
Taylor Swift writes songs about her exes. It's not as if every other songwriter ever hasn't done the same thing.
Singer Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas is almost as well known for having once wet her pants on stage as she is for her music. Why do fans talk like she's the only one, when Marie Osmond, Hugh Jackman, and possibly Lady Gaga have similar stories to tell?
No one will ever let Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd bassist, forget the time he spat on a disruptive member of the audience (and let off a Cluster F-Bomb) on their 1977 show in Montreal. Of course, said fan was also part of a group lighting off fireworks in front of the stage, so Waters was perhaps right to be pissed, but without context the incident seems bizarre and disproportionate.
Pink Floyd had broken up in the middle of The '80s in a very ugly, public, controversial way after years of conflict within the group (not helped by Waters' at-the-time very bad behavior and Control Freak reputation), and Waters unsuccessfully threatened to sue the band in 1987 over the rights to the band name. Even years after the acrimony, with Waters later admitting he "was wrong" to sue the band, and he and the remaining members now on civil terms (with occasional reunions and near-reunions happening since 2005, he is still often asked questions about his actions in 1987.
Waters also seems to get controversy, as of 2014, for speaking out against reputed human rights abuses in Israel against Palestinians, with has often been misinterpreted as anti-Semitism or pro-terrorism. Some of the fire was fanned by the animated projected film he used for "Goodbye Blue Sky" in his solo Roger Waters The Wall tour, where Star Of David signs (alongside Christian crosses, dollar signs, Shell Oil and McDonald's logos, Russian hammer-and-sicles, etc.) were "dropped" from ominous bomber planes onto cities. A rabbi from an Israeli anti-defamation organization took offense at the film, and took Waters' "Fascist Pink" costume quite literally, accusing Roger of being anti-Jewish/pro-Nazi.
B.o.B. will never live down "Flatline", which he released after a Twitter beef with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Thr song expresses B.o.B.'s belief that the Earth is flat (among other conspiracies), and has speech clips by Tyson himself disproving the theory.
Steve Harwell, the lead singer of Smash Mouth, will never live down the bread incident at the Taste of Fort Collins festival in 2015. When the audience started throwing bread at the stage, Harwell cussed the crowd out as the rest of the band played their Signature Song "All Star".
Their first album, Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler, which set new lows for creative bankruptcy in the deathcore genre, both in terms of the songwriting and arrangements, which are incoherent and highly derivative of the entire Slam Death Metal genre, as well as the lyrics, which are larded down with juvenile rape-and-murder fantasies that would horrify any sane person if they weren't so hilarious (not to mention biologically improbable at best). The best known song off this album, "Chased Through The Woods By A Rapist", is mostly this for the mondegreen"I LIKE SHREDDED WHEAT!!!". It's so bad that even deathcore fans only rarely give the benefit of the doubt to their later releases Beyond Cops, Beyond God and Real-Life Death, which are much better from a purely technical standpoint, not to mention devoid of misogynistic lyrics, if still terribly derivative and uninspired.
Frontman Don Campan has done himself no favors due to his general tendency to respond to criticism of any form with homophobic rants and threats of violence. Most notably, there was this poorly-written email, sent to Sergeant D of Metal Inquistion after the latter jokingly referred to the band as "Wigger Slam", along with subsequent posts on MI showing pics of Campan's MySpace page, which revealed he sold Amway products under the apparently wholehearted belief that Amway is in fact a legitimate business and not a blatant scam.
Being a winner on a reality singing competition can be especially painful when the losers become more successful than you. Buddy Jewell, Taylor Hicks, Kris Allen, and Diversity have all been overshadowed by acts like Miranda Lambert, (Chris) Daughtry, Adam Lambert, and Susan Boyle, respectively. However, nobody has this worse than Matt Cardle. The winner of the 2010 X Factor, he has been overshadowed by three acts: Rebecca Ferguson, One Direction, and Cher Lloyd, who finished second to fourth place. As if that wasn't bad enough, add the fact that One Direction have become a global phenomenon and it's not easy being Matt Cardle.
Australian deathcorers Endworld's legendaryvideo for "Never Trust", better known as "YOU ARE A SCUM SLUT". Its notoriety reached the point where its was eventually taken down; the current link is to a "fan" re-upload, which you can expect to suffer the same fate by the time you read this. You can read a more detailed synopsis here, here and here.
Not to mention an incident in St. Louis, where the band left the stage after someone attempted to record a bootleg copy of the concert and Axl saw him and attempted to take his camera. This caused their fans to destroy a brand new amphitheater and got the band and its members banned from the city.
Onyx member Fredro Starr is rarely remembered by many contemporary rap fans, and when they do find out about him, they will always remember him as the guy who got snuffed by rapper 50 Cent over a misunderstood situation at the VIBE Awards back in 2003 despite Fredro's friendly gesture to 50. Even in videos and topics of Fredro where 50 Cent is not even germane to, there are still fans who constantly bring it up to use against Fredro.
Malevolent Creation is loaded with these to the point where it honestly makes one wonder whether they wouldn't be bigger if it wasn't for Phil Fasciana and Jason Blachowicz. Between the ambiguously racist lyrics in "Leech" and the VERY unambiguously racist lyrics in "They Breed" (complete with the infamous "YOU FUCKING NIGGERS" shout at the end), Blachowicz's infamous wearing of a Ku Klux Klan shirt onstage sometime in the mid-nineties (according to Fasciana, it was to piss the audience off and resulted in Phil beating the shit out of him and kicking him out of the band for nearly causing a full-scale brawl), Phil making the downright ludicrous claim of foiling a robbery and accidentally killing the robber while disarming him, claiming that a police report existed when people called bullshit on the story, and the Tampa police coming forward, confirming that he was full of shit and that the only report on file of him was for a domestic disturbance, Ben Orum's account of how his first time meeting Phil as a Malevolent Creation fan resulted in Phil asking him for cocaine, then verbally abusing him and calling All Shall Perish a "nigger band" when he told him that he didn't have any, and Phil's announcement that Malevolent Creation had fired their "gay drummer" when they ejected Gus Rios from the band and subsequent hilariously inadequate "explanation" for his statement, Malevolent Creation has turned into a punchline amongst death metal fans. It's telling when the lion's share of Phil's recent interviews have significant portions where he downplays the accusations of racism.
Whitney Houston is most known for her "Crack is whack" speech. Considering that she died over a drug overdose, it doesn't help.
One-Hit Wonder artist Q Lazzarus is best (read: only) known for her 1988 single "Goodbye Horses". It was a hit song when it came out, and the song is notable for Lazzarus' distinct contralto singing voice and use of Hindu symbolism. Then The Silence of the Lambs came along, and since then any discussion of the song is quickly bombarded with references to Buffalo Bill dancing.
Elvis Presley's death. He died on the toilet, while in reality he was just found unconscious on the floor near the toilet in his bathroom.
He had a painful and embarrassing bowel problem and had a heart arrhythmia while straining to have a bowel movement...his first in many weeks. Poor Elvis.
Any mention of Tommy Flanagan will inevitably have something to do with his lousy playing on the title track of Giant Steps. Sure, Coltrane just handed him the chart to a ridiculously difficult, ridiculously fast tune and expected him to play it.note Some sources say he had it a week in advance (still not enough time to master it) but thought it was a ballad. Sure, his playing on the rest of the album was top-notch. Sure, he re-recorded it years later, to demonstrate that he could play it. But that's what he's remembered for. Sad.
Popstar Ariana Grande was promoted as the new darling of pop music. However, there were rumors about her having a Jerk Ass personality that followed her for years. Those rumors were confirmed when she was caught on video talking disrespectfully to an employee at a doughnut shop for no reason, while licking doughnuts that she didn't buy on a tray. She was also caught saying she hated America and Americans.
Tommy Allsup had a somewhat memorable career as a country musician and producer but whenever his name is mentioned, it will most likely be his role in "The Day the Music Died". Allsup was on tour with several musicians in 1959 when there wasn't enough room for him on the plane chartered by Buddy Holly. He had a coin toss with Ritchie Valens over the the last seat and lost, therefore sparing his life when the plane crashed.
Similarly, Waylon Jennings gave up his seat to the ailing Big Bopper and then jokingly uttered to Holly, "I hope your plane crashes." It took him years to forgive himself for that.
Hard rock band Butcher Babies is almost entirely known for a brief period of time in which both lead singers wore little else but tape over their nipples. Even years after they abandoned the look (inspired by The Plasmatics), it's still constantly brought up in interviews.
Even though it's beyond their control, the band Eagles of Death Metal will likely always being known for their planned concert which was interrupted by ISIS terrorists resulting in the deaths of over 100 people, including a member of their crew.
Great White was a well-known rock band in the 80s, but they will probably be forever known for lighting the pyrotechnics that burned down The Station nightclub in Rhode Island in 2003, resulting in the deaths of 100 people, including one of the band members.
Ray J was a popular R and B in the 90s, but nowadays, he's more likely known for single-handledly creating Kardashian empire when he featured his then girlfriend Kim in a sex tape.
Rap music promoter Birdman, best known for discovering Lil Wayne is now a victim of this trope. He went on a popular radio show called the Breakfast Club with a hostile attitude, demanding the three radio host "respect his name". He accused them of making fun of him in the past and he didn't appreciate it. Instead, he made a fool of himself, and now the whole country (if not the world) is making fun of him on the internet. He has become a victim of Memetic Mutation, as people often make post with the word "Respeck" as a way to make fun of how he talks. And it seems to get worse everyday.
The first thing that comes to anybody's mind when Sister Souljah gets mentioned is her making controversial remarks about white people after the 1992 LA Riots and being denounced by Bill Clinton for them. The fact that Clinton's repudiation inspired a new political term named after her certainly doesn't help.
The Chainsmokers may be one of the biggest EDM stars today, but they'll never be able to live down the fact that their Breakthrough Hit was 2014's "#SELFIE", an annoying novelty dance song about, well, taking a selfie. At one point it seemed to have doomed them to One-Hit Wonder status. While they proved that wasn't the case, the fact that they made it when talking about where they're at now (being outright superstars who constantly score Top 10, even chart-topping singles) is often brought up as a miraculous escape from one-hit wonderdom.
Finger Eleven's biggest hit, "One Thing" is a calming, mellow song with a hard rock edge and riff to it. Unfortunately, it's is also forever known as being used in a promo for a rather infamous professional wrestler.
Deathcore act Rose Funeral is still best known for The Uno Incident - at a show in Tulsa in 2010, they repeatedly assaulted a small group of young metalheads after the group chose to play a game of Uno in front of the stage during their set, and eventually got one of the fans ejected. The band was savaged all across the net, with members of the other bands from that tour (headlined by Death Metal veterans Nile, who were also supported by fellow Death Metal acts Immolation and Krisiun; most fans were there for these bands and unimpressed by RF's presence as the opener, not to mention that the other bands had issues with RF before this) encouraging their fans to further harass them. Most of the more vitriolic hate died off within a year or so, but to this day it's not uncommon to find Uno jokes in their YouTube comments.