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Music / Buckethead

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"Who's this guitar-playing sonzabitch?"
Is a question common asked
On his head, a bucket of chicken bones,
On his face, a plastic mask
He's the bastard son of a preacher man
On the town he left a stain
They made him live in a chicken house
To try and hide the shame
He was born in a coop, raised in a cage
Children fear him, critics rage
He's half-alive, he's half-dead
Folks just call him Buckethead!

Les Claypool, "The Ballad of Buckethead"

Buckethead is probably twice as good a guitar player as me and Slash combined, and can stand having fried chicken rubbed up against his face all night for a couple of hours.
Dave Mustaine

Brian Patrick Carroll (born May 13, 1969), better known by his stage name (or rather stage persona) Buckethead, is a prolific American experimental/avant-garde/progressive/thrash/jazz/electronica/insanity songwriter and multi-instrumentalist noted for his eccentric persona, as well as for being really good with his instruments. Also, he only ever performs while wearing an expressionless plain white mask and a KFC bucket on his head. To date, he has released over 260 solo albums and performed on over 50 more. Played lead guitar for Guns N' Roses from 2000-2004, and for Praxis from 1992-1999 and from 2004-present. His discography may be found here.

He's also a painter, though as you might expect, his artworks are somewhat... peculiar.

Sadly, you probably only know him for "Jordan", the song from the scene where Goro beats the crap out of Art Lean, or the seriously badass rendition of the theme from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.

Buckethead provides examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: See below. As Shawn Lane once mentioned, Buckethead managed (or at least came very close) to play "Kaiser Nancarrow", because he didn't know Lane composed that song in a way that it was unplayable in real time.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Most of his friends and even some fans call him "Big B". His mother used to call him "Boo" for liking scary things.
  • Ambient: Not only does he do a-lot of ambient rock, but he side-project Death Cube K is where he performs nightmare inducing dark ambient.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Bucketheadland.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 3. With Population Override, Bucket manages to recount the extinction of the human race without singing a single word.
  • Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Buckethead", "Buddy Berkman's Ballad", "The Ballad of the Inside-Out Face" and possibly others.
  • Beyond the Impossible: He performed a song the original artist composed to be unplayable! (Shawn Lane's "Kaiser Nancarrow")
  • Bucket Helmet: Duh. His name doesn't come from anything else.
  • Buffy Speak: Whenever he happens to actually speak. Also uses Metaphorgotten, Non Sequitur and sometimes even Insane Troll Logic.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's very weird. He's also very, very good at what he does.
    • A lot of people assume Buckethead's persona is just a stage gimmick, and that he is a normal person offstage. They are very wrong. Buckethead's persona is basically just a way he's found to allow himself to cope with his crippling fear of people. Offstage, however, he is pretty much just as weird in his private life. One anecdote going around was that when he was playing with Guns 'n Roses, while they were recording music in the studio, someone jokingly suggested that they build a chicken coop in the studio for Buckethead to live in. Buckethead loved the idea, and proceeded to do just that.
  • Came Back Wrong: His Frankensteinian taxidermy experiment in the music video for We Are One. And later in the video Buckethead himself, when the creature does the same experimentation on him.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He's...awkward, to put it lightly.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: One of his stage outfits throughout the years consisted of Coat, Bucket and Mask.
  • Collector of the Strange: He owns many odd things, like rubber chickens, rubber body parts, scary masks, many plastic buckets, aside from the ones he wears, and toys.
  • Commonality Connection: Over the years he's worked closely with and developed friendships with similarly eccentric people in the entertainment industry (most of which are mentioned below). For a more funny take on this, he apparently mentioned in a magazine interview that he liked Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down because the latter "has a look on his face, where you can tell he dug up something he shouldn't have" and Bucket proceeded to tell Shavo that he liked digging holes too and they could dig together sometime.
  • Crossover: With Serj Tankian, Les Claypool, Mike Patton, Bernie Worrell, Iggy Pop, Guns N' Roses, Praxis, Brain, Bootsy Collins, Deli Creeps, Science Faxtion, Cornbugs, Bill Moseley, Bill Laswell, Travis Dickerson, Viggo Mortensen, Giant Robot, DJ Disk, Lawson Rollins, Jonas Hellborgs, Michael Shrieve, and That 1 Guy.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: His appearance and eccentric behavior usually mark him as creepy and odd to most people. His friends and those who work with him, however, often state that he's a really nice guy.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": He takes his stage persona pretty seriously so unless you're one of his parents/relatives/close friends, he probably won't allow you to call him Brian. No, not even if you're Ozzy Osbourne.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • Many of his songs are around 10 minutes long. Most well known examples are probably "Siege Engine" and "Soothsayer". Some are split in parts, such as "Lurker at the Threshold".
    • There's also the album Look Up There, which includes the songs "Golden Eyes" (10:59) and the twice as long song "Look Up There". And even more recently all the "Pike" songs, some of which are long enough to be considered albums on their own.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He was considered too weird by one of the weirdest people in the music industry.
    • While, interestingly enough, Red Hot Chili Peppers thought he was "sweet and normal", which was their reason for not accepting him in the band. And Axl Rose had no qualms with getting him in Guns N' Roses, despite the obvious clash of the musician's gimmicks and the band's style.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: His name is Buckethead and he wears a KFC bucket on his head.
  • The Faceless: Although there is an old video and a picture that (not very clearly) show his face when he was young, there's no way to see him without a mask, unless you work with the guy.
  • Fictional Document: Buckethead Pikes is, in-universe, the name of a souvenir kiosk in Bucketheadland that sells the Pikes - issues of the park's official audio-only comic book.
  • Fun Personified: Buckethead is this to many fans due to his antics and stage gimmicks being quite enjoyable for them. The fact that he is very dedicated to his stage persona and all the silliness and creepiness that go with it, continuing to be as eccentric and amusing as ever for many years, just adds to that effect.
  • Genre-Busting: What's a genre?
  • Genre Roulette: The man does everything. He tends to like separate genres by album, but sometimes he'll switch it up during the course of one, or even MID-SONG.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In the music video for We Are One he sews together parts of various dead creatures and tries to bring the result back to life with taxidermy and blood magic. He succeeds... and the resulting monster kills him and does the same experiment on him.
  • Iconic Item: The white mask and plastic bucket, naturally. His custom made white Gibson guitar with a red killswitch may also count, as he seems to be using it almost exclusively.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: In several of the songs that have lyrics. Like in "Frozen Brains Tell No Tales" due to the distortion of most of them.note 
  • Kayfabe Music: Buckethead is a persona Carroll himself thought up.
  • Manchild: Could be seen as such. He never talks while being filmed or infront of fans without his puppet, Herbie. Also, he often plays with or trades toys during live performances and is a big fan of the Disney Theme Parks.
  • Meaningful Name: "Buckethead". Why yes, he does wear a bucket on his head.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Many songs, but probably the most prominent examples are "Pickwick's Lost Chapter", "Electric Bell Blanket" and "Big Sur Moon".
  • Mistaken Identity: For a time people would find pictures on the Internet of a tall guitarist with long hair, standing next to Shawn Lane. Immediately someone rushed to the conclusion that it's Buckethead unmasked, because he knew Shawn Lane personally. Turns out it was the French guitarist Stephane "Fanalo" Alaux, who just happens to be tall like Buckethead and had also met Shawn Lane and even Paul Gilbert at one point. Apparently Fanalo got so many e-mails of people asking him if he's Buckethead (despite the fact that Buckethead's American, a few years older, etc.) that he now explicitly states on his myspace and facebook that he isn't. Amusingly enough, Fanalo wrote on his official site that he admits to being guitarist Bumblefoot (which he isn't either). He also posted a picture of himself wearing a popcorn bucket on his head and covering his face, as a jest to the many who called him Buckethead.
    • What's more, many people are still convinced either that those pictures of Fanalo are Buckethead's or that Fanalo is Buckethead and is trying to hide it. All that despite the fact Fanalo has a different playing style and lives in France and performs exclusively there, while Buckethead lives and performs in the US at the same time.
  • Murder Ballad: "Unemployment Blues" is about a gutter at a slaughterhouse getting fired and subsequently killing all his former coworkers in the showers. It's actually narrated, rather than sung, with the narrator being the killer.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: He adores horror, has a video filmed in a cemetery, owns rubber body parts and scary masks, one of his hobbies is taxidermy, etc. In both recorded non-serious interviews (20 years apart) he still talks about visiting slaughterhouses and covering himself in blood.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Being that 99.9% of what he makes are Instrumentals, this is bound to happen.
  • No Social Skills: Buckethead acts like this when filmed and interviewed. Whether the man himself behaves in any way similar in his daily life, or the whole thing is just playing the character, is not known.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: No one denies that he's very eccentric, but he's not as crazy as his stage persona.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The only time he's broken kayfabe in public thus far was during a podcast interview wherein he disclosed a debilitating and potentially fatal heart condition.
  • Pop-Star Composer: He co-scored Last Action Hero with the late Michael Kamen.
  • Raised by Wolves: He claims to have been Raised By Chickens. That chicken coop is/was his home.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: He quit Guns N' Roses rather abruptly, with his manager claiming Bucket's main reason was he got fed up with the band not making any progress on a single album for 4 years. In turn, Axl Rose blamed Buckethead's eccentric behavior as the cause for problems with the band's schedule.
  • Shout-Out: Almost all of his music contains references to people he admires and things he likes.
  • Shrinking Violet: Admits he's very shy and using the Buckethead persona makes it easier for him to express himself.
  • Significant Anagram: The name of his side project Death Cube K is an anagram of Buckethead.
  • Something Blues: "Conveyor Belt Blues" and "Unemployment Blues".
  • "Somewhere" Song: "Somewhere over the Slaughterhouse", though only by name. The song has no lyrics, except for a short "Help me!" at the end.
  • Soul Power: According to his character biography, Buckethead became a better guitarist than ever after putting a bucket of chicken bones on his head and the ghosts of the chickens channeled their power into him.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: One of his hobbies is this and it is just one the many creepy things he does.
  • Taxidermy Terror: His creation in the video for We Are One is a creepy creature made of the corpse of a rabbit, with drooling jaws full of sharp teeth, three eyes, a human hand and a lobster hand, and various other parts of dead animals. Oh, and it comes alive.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Ozzy Osbourne thought he was too weird to work with. Yes, the guy who's done so many drugs that he literally had scientists testing to see how he's still alive, could not handle Buckethead.
  • The Voiceless: Doesn't talk. Even in interviews there's an unusual amount of silence.
  • White Mask of Doom: That hockey mask adds to his creepy factor. It doubles as a Cool Mask, depending on how you look at it.
  • Word Salad Title: Oh, plenty. Some of the more notable are "Bloody Rainbow Spiraling Sherbert Scoop", "Carpal Tunnel Tomb Torker", "Gory Head Stump 2006 The Pageant of the Slunks", "The Hills Have Headcheese", "Heaven of Black Tar Pitch" and others.