The stories about famous figures in popular music, as told on the Disgraceland podcast, are insane.
- John Lennons murder by unhinged fan Mark David Chapman, right as Lennon was planning a comeback.
- The violent, hateful outbursts of XXXTentacion.
- Ike Turners disgusting treatment of Tina Turner.
- The drug and alcohol abuse, and subsequent downward spiral, of Amy Winehouse.
- The messy circumstances in the murder of Sam Cooke.
- Johnny Cash burning down a national forest in California.
- GG Allins... uh... well, his entire life, basically.
These stories and more are told by Jake Brennan, a lifelong music lover and songwriter, who was in a time of creative frustration, until he learned that his friends and family agreed that what he was best at was telling stories. As a new father, Brennan wanted to reconcile his love of these famous figures in music, despite the fact that he "wouldnt leave any of these creeps alone with my kid." Voila - Disgraceland was born.
The show is a combination of true crime and musician biography, with a focus on a different musician or band in each episode, told by Brennan with exhaustive research through books and the internet. As Brennan often notes, his podcast is for adults only, and give a dramatized version of the chaotic lives and often criminal conduct of the musicians in question. Needless to say, this show contains a lot of content that's not for the faint of heart - theres lots of physical and sexual violence, drug abuse and even murder. But every episode, no matter how ugly, depressing or deplorable, has one thing in common - the musicians in each episode made great music.
That link at the top? That wasnt great music. That was a demo video for the Mellotron M4000D Mini. We gave you that link, because we cant afford to stream Gods Plan by Drake.
And why would we play you that slice of pop-rap, mumble-rap cheese, could we afford it?
Because that was the number one song in America, on February 13, 2018, when the first episode of this podcast went live - an episode that surrounded the extremely suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Jerry Lee Lewis' fifth wife, in 1983, after only 77 days of marriage.
In this podcast, car chases on PCP, crack binges, torture, murder trials, and holy shit, how are Mötley Crüe still alive?! Your narrator is Jake Brennan, and this? Is Disgraceland.
Season 3 began in late September, 2019, with an episode on the life and crimes of N.W.A..
Tropes associated with Disgraceland include:
- The Alcoholic: Mick Mars from Mötley Crüe... well, everyone in that band indulged to their heart's content, but Jake Brennan singles Mick's drinking out in particular. After all, a multiple day bender convinced Mick that it'd be a great idea to just walk into the ocean, under Vince Neil's house. The ocean eventually washed him back up to shore.
- Anything That Moves: Mötley Crüe, every member. As in, they'd just grab a girl each the minute they got off stage, and get right to it.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: GG Allin at birth was named Jesus Christ Allin by his delusional, abusive father. Leading to this tidbit:Jake: And GGs older brother couldnt pronounce Jesus. Because some supreme being tied his tongue so as not to allow such blasphemy be spoken - that a Messiah could possibly come from New Hampshire. So the cute little sibling nickname, Je-Je - baby talk for Jesus - stuck.
- Broad Strokes: Brennan claims the show isnt so much journalism as it is entertainment; entertainment inspired by true events. For dramatic purposes, the stories may have a little bit of fictionalization - for example, it sounds much more triumphant to say that GG Allin went on stage for his last show with the anthemic Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat & Crucify than the quick, thrashy number "Highest Power" he actually started with.
- Content Warning: If an episode - or a particular scene - is especially disturbing, Jake Brennan will provide one of these ahead of time. Of course, there's one obvious candidate for this treatment...Jake: In this episode, the subject's behavior and the language used to describe it is highly offensive. So this is a warning. It goes without saying that this isn't for kids. And if you, yourself, aren't constitutionally inclined to handle the highly transgressive world of GG Allin, then this episode isn't for you, either. But, if you're the type of sick bastard to slow down and look at a car crash on the side of the road, then pull over right now! Unbuckle your kids from the car seats, and throw them out on the street! Step on the accelerator and turn it the fuck up, like GG Allin would!
- Courtroom Episode: Snoop Dogg's episode surrounds his murder trial from the mid-90s - you know, the one that inspired "Murder Was The Case."
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The fate of Spade Cooley's wife. By Spade Cooley.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Faced with nothing to do in jail, GG Allin spent much of his prison sentence (well, he had over 50, but the long one is alluded to in his episode) playing with himself, multiple times a day. Apparently, this was constant even after he got a scab on the end of his doodle.
- Domestic Abuse:
- The Ike & Tina Turner episode is obviously rife with this, and not an easy listen, even by the standards of this podcast.
- And then there's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who suffered this at the hands of Andre Rison, her then-boyfriend and wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. Left Eye, as some of you know, got her revenge.
- Driven to Suicide:
- GG Allin played with this, saying he planned to kill himself on stage as the ultimate sacrifice to rock & roll. That is definitely not how his death happened.
- The two-part Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love episode. Kurt's personal demons with nausea, heroin addiction and suicidal tendencies are well-documented, including on this very episode, so the Downer Ending is, of course, inevitable.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Slick Rick got this, after years of dealing with the fallout with his (incredibly unstable) former bodyguard, and his infamous immigration struggles, both of which left him in jail multiple times.
- Gangland Drive-By: What Snoop Dogg was taken to court over.
- Hot Pursuit: What a drugged-up James Brown lead the police on, through multiple states. It didn't end well for him.
- House Fire: After Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' boyfriend abused her one too many times, she started burning all the fancy new shoes he bought in their bathtub. The fire spread, and the next morning, Left Eye and the smoldering ashes of their house were all over the news.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: Once an Episode, in the intro, Brennan will admit that despite the troubled, sometimes downright ugly, career of the musician(s) in question, they made "great music." He does the same in the GG Allin episode and cracks a joke about it, but a moment later, he walks it back a bit and admits that "okay, there's a lot of shit to sift through."
- Intercourse with You: This was apparently Johnny Cash's interpretation of The Beatles' "Ticket To Ride."
- Karma Houdini: Quite often, a lot of the musicians in question get off without any jail time for their misdeeds. Spade Cooley is an interesting case - through circumstances or possibly connections, Cooley was sentenced to an asylum for killing his wife, rather than jail. That said, he died there soon after.
- Madness Mantra: "The phony must die, said the catcher in the rye."
- My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Dre in the N.W.A. episode. Reflecting on the incident where he drunkenly attacked Dee Barnes in the early 90s, a couple of decades after, he showed remorse for his actions and a hope that he's a better person nowadays.
- Near-Death Experience:
- Nightmare Fetishist: GG Allin was one, and you'd better have a strong stomach because Jake Brennan doesn't shy away from the details.
- Offing the Offspring: The horrible fate of Marvin Gaye.
- Proscenium Reveal:
- The Cardi B episode begins with Cardi doing a striptease on a pole, getting ogled by the men around her, before an announcement informs the passengers that the subway has reached Cardi's stop. (Yes, Cardi really did this.)
- The Rape as Backstory, Downer Beginning of the Madonna episode. A year after the incident, she had to play a rape victim in a movie.
- Parental Incest: Spade Cooley was a seriously messed-up individual. He didn't just murder his wife - no, he then immediately put the moves on his own daughter (who would later testify against him in the court case).
- Police Brutality: The N.W.A. episode begins with a truly grisly look at the aggressive tactics of the LAPD circa-1985.
- Rape as Backstory: Let's just say Madonna isn't just a pop icon; she's a survivor.
- Refuge in Audacity: Madonna, GG Allin, N.W.A. and many more episodes.
- Sanity Slippage: The John Lennon two-parter. Mark David Chapmans mental health deteriorates something fierce leading up to his infamous crime.
- Self-Harm: Iggy Pop would frequently do this on stage to his own chest, amongst many, many other things. His episode begins with him in a jail cell, still bleeding from the show last night.
- Shock Rock: No surprise that guys who invoked this would show up on this podcast. As such, GG Allin and Iggy Pop provide memorable episodes.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Every episode begins proper with an intro loop from Jake Brennan's Mellotron. He even identifies which loop. Since the Mellotron loops are often very pretty, pleasant, and even jaunty, it sure is jarring to go into such dark subject matter.
- Split Personality: A recurring theme in the Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes episode. Specifically, Left Eye claimed hers came out while drunk.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Right up the wazoo. Hell, the Mötley Crüe episode alone is so excessive, younger listeners would be forgiven for thinking Brennan made all this up. (Not that younger listeners should be listening to this podcast in the first place.)
- Technology Marches On: Invoked once by Jake Brennan. If Johnny Cash had made an intoxicated, on-stage spectacle of hooting and hollering at June Carter - while Johnny was married to someone else, mind you - crawling on his hands and knees trying to lick her ankles, in this day and age, word would spread like wildfire and his career would be tarnished. Luckily, this happened in the 60s, and merely got a passing mention in a newspaper.
- Tragic AIDS Story: Briefly alluded to in the N.W.A. episode. RIP, Eazy-E.
- Two-Part Episode: Not something done often, but the unfortunate tales of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, John Lennon, and N.W.A., needed two episodes each to fully delve into.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Marvin Gaye was a deconstructed version, because his life got ugly without the love he needed from his father. In fact, his differences with his dad is what led to his premature death.
- Would Hit a Girl:
- Dr. Dre in the N.W.A. episode, drunkenly attacking Dee Barnes for giving Ice Cube TV time to diss the other N.W.A. members.
- And then there's Ike Turner's infamous treatment of Tina Turner, which is too ugly to repeat here.
- Your Cheating Heart: Left Eye's boyfriend, Andre Rison, did this to her frequently. He'd pay dearly for that.