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Legendary in-concert meltdowns

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The in-concert meltdown: an unfortunate spectacle usually activated by the rigors of a life on the road sparked by exhaustion, chemicals, a fragile emotional or physical makeup and the general demeanor of the 'artiste' in question.

Audience reactions to the meltdown can range from anger to amusement - from disbelief to delight. The end result for the performer varies, but it could include a vaguely-worded apology and a trip to the ER, rehab or both.

The epic meltdown exhibited by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong at the Clear Channel-sponsored iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sept. 21 has already gone down as a pivotal moment for the band thanks to its broad availability on YouTube.

Allegedly, Green Day's set was cut by 20 minutes to allow Usher and Rhianna more time to perform. After abandoning the hit 'Basket Case,' Armstrong noticed the countdown clock read '1 Minutes' (sic). He blew a head gasket unleashing an expletive-laden rant that managed to include 21 F-bombs in under 90 seconds capped by the demolition of his guitar.

Some loved the punk rebellion behind Armstrong's tirade; others wrote him off as a spoiled brat. Regardless of where you sit, you might agree that he probably provided the festival (the varied lineup included Pitbull and Jason Aldean) with its one honest rock and roll moment. Two days after the show, a spokesman for the band announced that Armstrong had entered rehab.

Will Armstrong's meltdown negatively impact the band in the long run? Probably not. The episode brought a ton of publicity for the group on the eve of the release of 'Uno!' - the first in a trilogy of new Green Day albums due over the next four months.

You decide how Billie Joe's nuclear episode stacks up next to these legendary displays of in-concert meltdown grandiosity.

Ryan 'Don't call me Bryan' Adams (Oct. 2002)

No stranger to onstage diatribes, rocker Ryan Adams became especially surly during a 2002 concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville when a heckler in the audience insisted that he play 'Summer of '69' by Bryan Adams. Ryan demanded that the house lights be turned up while he located the joker. He fished around in his pocket for cash, handed it to the man and refused to play until he had left the building. What Adams didn't realize is that the auditorium manager allowed the man to return after Adams had resumed his set. The heckler kept the money.

The Who Townshend explodes, Moon drops (Nov. 1973)

Fraught with technical glitches from the beginning, The Who's brilliant double album 'Quadrophenia' was a beast to recreate onstage. During one unforgettable show in Newcastle, England, the band's legendary soundman Bobby Pridden found himself dragged across the stage and assaulted by an enraged Pete Townshend when pre-recorded backing tapes repeatedly malfunctioned. After pummeling Pridden, Townshend yanked the tapes from the machine, unspooled them from their reels and let them fall to the stage in a wrinkled heap.

Two weeks later, during the opening show of their American tour at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, drummer Keith Moon collapsed on his kit during 'Won't Get Fooled Again' as a result of his pre-show consumption of horse tranquilizers and brandy never a good idea. Roadies carried Moon backstage where, after a cold shower, he rebounded and returned to the drums to start 'Magic Bus' before passing out again. A timorous Townshend stepped to the mic to ask the audience, 'Can anybody play the drums? I mean somebody good.' Nineteen-year-old Who fan Scot Halpin stepped in to join his favorite band on a few oldies to close the show as an unconscious Moon was rushed to the hospital where doctors pumped his stomach and discovered that he had consumed enough medication to bring down several large gorillas. The following day, Moon was back with The Who, where he remained sheepishly quiet - for a day. Less than five years later, he was dead.

John Mayer manic confusion (Feb. 2010)

Mayer is no stranger to bizarre utterances, but things got a little out of hand at this Nashville show when the 'Heartbreak Warfare' singer stopped playing mid-song to apologize to his band and threaten to quit 'the sound bite game.' He was referring to a recent freaky interview in 'Rolling Stone' where he referred to his johnson as a 'white supremacist' while explaining why he can't have a relationship with a black woman. Treating the stage like a couch and his audience as a therapist, Mayer continued. 'I had fallen through a wormhole of selfishness, greed and arrogance,' he told the crowd. One member of Mayer's band burst into tears behind his bizarre rambling.

Axl Rose lose your delusion (July 1991)

There's probably enough material on Axl Rose's quarter century of onstage meltdowns to fill a book. During a St. Louis stop on Guns 'n Roses' 'Use Your Illusion' tour, the always cranky Rose spotted a video camera in the audience. 'Take that! Get that guy! Take that!' Axl bellowed in the middle of the show. He then launched himself into the crowd to personally abscond with the offending camera. After making his way back to the stage, Axl took his anger out on the venue and its security staff with a flurry of insults before trashing his mic and strutting offstage. When the house lights came up, violence erupted in the auditorium. Sixty fans were taken to the hospital, the nearly new venue received heavy damage and most of the band's equipment was destroyed. Long live rock.

Mike Dow is part of The Mike and Mike Show mornings on Kiss 94.5. Connect with him at and

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