The 10 Funniest Rock ‘n’ Roll Stories of 2020
It didn't seem like there was much to laugh about in 2020, but we still managed to find stories that kept us amused throughout the year.
With the world gripped by the coronavirus pandemic for most of the past 12 months, these tales became much-needed distractions from what we were seeing on the news. Keep in mind that not all of these stories happened during 2020 — some are past encounters that we heard about for the first time this year.
So whether it was Steve Lukather engaged in an early-morning volume battle, an onstage prank pulled on David Lee Roth or a public trading of insults between lawyers for the Doobie Brothers and Bill Murray, we're sure you'll enjoy the 10 Funniest Rock ‘n’ Roll Stories of 2020.
Steve Lukather vs. His Neighbor's Gardeners
After being woken up by his neighbor's gardeners setting off their leaf blowers, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather picked up his guitar, placed an amplifier atop his kids' trampoline and unleashed a furiously loud solo into their open windows. He concluded with a long shout of "Good morning!" The plan worked.
David Crosby: Joint Critic
Because of its mixture of irreverence and unflinching honesty, David Crosby's Twitter feed is one of the most consistently entertaining. Both of those traits were on full display in March when fans started sending him pictures of marijuana cigarettes for him to critique. "Poor ... looks like a snake who swallowed a bowling ball," he wrote of one calling another, "Crumpled and puny." He wasn't always condemnatory, however. "That is a party waiting to happen," he said of a particularly large blunt. "Beautiful, even though it is the size of a small sex toy."
The Doobie Brothers Trade Jokes With Bill Murray's Lawyer
When the Doobie Brothers found out that actor Bill Murray was using their "Listen to the Music" in an ad for his Zero Hucks Given line of golf shirts without permission, their lawyer sent a letter displaying a bit of the wiseass humor that made Murray a star. "This is the part where I’m supposed to ... excoriate you for not complying with some subparagraph that I'm too lazy to look up and threaten you with eternal damnation for doing so," he wrote. "But you already earned that with those Garfield movies." Murray's counsel responded by saying that he appreciated the lighthearted tone of the letter and referenced several of their hits. But he also argued that the Doobies' weren't harmed by the oversight. While Murray's lawyer never said he would pony up, he did offer to send shirts to each member of the band.
A Bot Writes an AC/DC Song Called, Naturally, "Great Balls"
A YouTuber who goes by the name of Funk Turkey ran the lyrics to every AC/DC song into a piece of artificial intelligence software normally used to analyze things like thermodynamic states and stock market trends. The result was a track called "Great Balls," and featured lyrics like "She got great balls and big balls / Too many women with the balls / Seems like a bone givin’ the balls / A whole lotta woman ‘cuz I’m a ball."
ZZ Top Get Around a Two-Drink Limit
In 1973, ZZ Top were a little-known band who got the opportunity of a lifetime when they were booked as the Rolling Stones' opening act for three Hawaii shows. As they revealed in their documentary That Little Ol' Band From Texas, they flew out two weeks early under the pretense of wanting to be as tight as possible — but spent more time at the beach and hotel bar. With their tab mounting and gigs approaching, manager Bill Ham put the band members on a two-drink limit; however, the trio discovered that the lounge had a drink called the Chimp in Orbit, whose size required its container to be placed on the floor and sipped from a giant straw. It became their poison for the rest of the trip.
Sebastian Bach's Birthday Gift to Roger Daltrey Winds Up Back in His Face
Roger Daltrey's 76th birthday coincided with his appearance on the Rock Legends Cruise VIII. During his set, the proceedings were stopped, and Sebastian Bach brought out a cake for the singer, who reminded everybody of Keith Moon's antics: "Cakes and the Who are very dangerous." The former Skid Row singer began leading the attendees in a round of "Happy Birthday" but didn't even get two lines in before Daltrey jammed it into Bach's face. "I did try and warn him," Daltrey said.
"Ratt Problem" Puts Band Back on the Charts
A TV commercial for GEICO where a "rat problem" in a couple's new house turned out to be Ratt performing "Round and Round" in various rooms throughout the home. The band had the last laugh: Exposure of the 1984 song, a No. 12 hit on Billboard's Hot 100, helped it reach No. 17 on the magazine's Rock Digital Songs Sales chart. "It’s ironic, because in 1984 it was the Year of the Rat in the Chinese calendar," singer Stephen Pearcy noted, "and it’s the Year of the Rat in 2020. What goes around comes around? No pun intended.”
Van Halen's '1984' Drives 'Family Guy' Plot Into a Tree
An episode of Family Guy found Peter Griffin temporarily obsessed with Van Halen's 1984 album, particularly the hit "Panama." While cranking the song up in his car during a drag race, Peter crashes into a tree and ends up in a coma. In his state, he finds himself back at the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal, with President Woodrow Wilson's speech consisting of the lyrics, "Ah, you reach down, between my legs and ease the seat back. Got the feeling, power steering. Pistons popping, ain't no stopping now. Panama.”
David Lee Roth Hit With 'Avalanche of Beach Balls' at Last Van Halen Show
Throughout what turned out to be Van Halen's last tour in 2015, David Lee Roth would call for the beach balls being tossed around the crowd to make their way to the stage, at which point he'd stomp on them. For the final night at the Hollywood Bowl, Wolfgang Van Halen remembered, their tour manager arranged for what he called an "avalanche of beach balls" to be thrown onstage towards the conclusion of "Jump." "Dave was just, like, short-circuiting," Wolfgang said. "He didn't understand how to handle it. But we all laughed it off. And it was just a really fun, almost like a fun practical joke. ... As time went further and further by, the more I thought about it like, 'Wow, if that is the last show, what an amazing way to cap it off.'"
Kiss Take Their Own Breath Away
A promotional show in a small London club left Kiss with a story straight out of This Is Spinal Tap. During a Q&A session on this year's Kiss Kruise, guitarist Tommy Thayer noted that "about eight years ago," the band brought a few confetti cannons into the small venue to be used during "Rock and Roll All Nite," just as they do in arenas. He noted that "about halfway through the thing, all the confetti is going off, and suddenly we all look at each other. ... It's like, you kinda couldn't get your breath. It was starting to get kinda freaky." The band had to leave the stage in mid-song and run into the street to get some air because, as he continued, "These cannons, when they shoot confetti, it's all done with CO2. So they're blasting all this CO2 onto the stage, and therefore all the oxygen gets pushed out. It was the funniest thing, but it was the weirdest thing."