With Radiohead giving away copies of their newspaper, The Universal Sigh, in conjunction with their new album The King of Limbs, it seems like an appropriate time to look back on some of the more gimmicky notions bands have had over the years. Publicity stunts, shameless acts of self-promotion, honest attempts to engage their fans: Here are the 10 most memorable stunts our favorite bands made history with.
9. OK Go's "Here We Go Again" video: If imitation is any form of flattery, OK Go's ultra-gimmicky "treadmill" video for their 2006 single "Here We Go Again" takes the prize for the most high-school talent-show spinoffs (just Google it and see what happens).
8. Sticky Fingers Cover Art: Conceived by pop artist Andy Warhol, the working zipper on the lower half of a man in jeans on the cover of the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers was so innovative and suggestive, VH1 ranked it the "#1 Greatest Album Cover" of all time.
7. The Doors on Ed Sullivan: The psychedelic band was instructed to substitute a different word for "higher" in their song "Light My Fire," but sang the song unchanged while performing it live in 1967 on the Ed Sullivan show. Sullivan was furious and banned them from the show, but by then the group had already accelerated the decline of "wholesome" TV.
6. Bruno's ass in Eminem's face at the 2009 MTV Music Awards: Figuring some publicity is better than none, comedian Sasha Boren Cohen and Eminem teamed up to create the ultimate stunt, one ensuring some cheap laughs for Cohen and a cyclone of PR for the rapper, who was poised for a comeback. Eminem and his entourage stormed out of the show after he appeared upset over the aerial maneuver that landed Bruno's near-bare behind in his face.
5. 2 Live Crew Obscenity Charges: When As Nasty As They Wanna Be was ruled by the Supreme Court as the first legally obscene album in the United States, Luther Campbell and his group not only appealed and had the verdict overturned, but shortly thereafter released Banned in the USA, the group's fourth album, which championed their right to freedom of speech, making a giant media spectacle of the process--and their indignation.
4. Brian Jonestown Massacre/Dandy Warhols feud: The ongoing feud between these two Portland bands is one part truth, one part hype, and has been playing itself out for over years, each band taking shots at each other at any and every opportunity. The compelling documentary Dig! chronicles the evolution of the beef.
3. Ozzy Osbourne and the bat: Osbourne
2. Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: Waning in popularity, Cash pitched the idea of recording a live album at a prison to a studio executive who liked the idea. His 1968 album Live at Folsom Prison is credited as revitalizing Cash's career and ever after endearing the performer to the hearts of all those who root for the underdog.
June Carter and Johnny Cash performing at Folsom Prison.
1. The Beatles playing on top of Apple Records in London: FYI to all bands: If you ever get to be as enormous, chart-topping, and universally adored as the Beatles, here's a good way to play YOUR LAST SHOW EVER LIVE: unannounced, impromptu, on top of the recording studio you created. Just sayin'.