A fierce war between Elton John and Keith Richards, an outburst from Joeystarr, insults from Serge Gainsbourg live… Number looks back at 5 star slip-ups in the middle of an interview.
The Serge Gainsbourg / Guy Béart clash | INA archive.
1. Serge Gainsbourg insults composer Guy Béart live
December 1986. On the set of his show Apostrophes, journalist Bernard Pivot presents Gainsbourg, a beautiful book dedicated to the musician and signed by Alain Coelho, Franck Lhomeau and Serge Gainsbourg himself. We learn that one of the composer’s first passions remains painting, a discipline he discovered at the age of 13. Passed by cubism and surrealism, he humbly insists on his position as a neophyte: painting remains a major art for which an initiation is essential… unlike popular music which he describes as a “minor art” or even a whole of “bullshit”. But in the assembly, a man steps up: “There’s nothing minor about a song!” This is Guy Béart, French singer-songwriter and father of actress Emmanuelle Béart – who moderately appreciates the spontaneous definition of his counterpart. “But if my little guy… What the asshole is he!” launches Serge Gainsbourg with a jaded air to his interlocutor without even looking at him. And to continue:You need initiation for architecture, painting, classical music, literature and poetry. We don’t do poetry. Shut up ! You are doing a minor art my little guy. You take money from poor bastards, like me…”
Guitarist Richey Edwards, a member of the British band Manic Street Preachers shortly after the “4 Real” incident.
2. Manic Street Preachers and the terrible “4 Real” incident
Unlike their British underground counterparts, the members of Manic Street Preachers refuse to sing the spleen of the dreadful life. In the 90s, their first single suicide alley hit the music industry hard and the public welcomed the glam punk spirit of an iconoclastic group even though this aesthetic was losing ground in Great Britain. Electronic music was then booming… Richey Edwards, a former fan of the Welsh band, joined the trio as guitarist. But the fourth member of the group is often out of control. In 1991, he gave an interview to a journalist from New Musical Express, encounter which will be remembered as “the 4 Real incident.” While the two men have been talking for almost an hour, the journalist questions Richey Edwards about the authenticity of the group’s political claims and the part of calculation in their scandals of disillusioned rockers. But the musician receives the question like a slap in the face. He who sincerely defends his positions since the beginning of the interview would in truth be a charlatan? To mark the occasion, Richey Edwards takes a blade out of his pocket and writes “4 Real” (“For real” or “For real”) in the very flesh of his left arm. Result of the interview: 17 stitches. A few years later, in February 1995, he ran away from his hotel room and disappeared into the wild. If the thesis of suicide is quickly put forward, the mystery will never be solved…
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on stage with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea in Los Angeles.
3. Legend Nick Cave destroys the Red Hot Chili Peppers
With her angular face and slicked back hair, Nick Cave does not lack charisma. In wings of desire (1987), filmmaker Wim Wenders also embodies his passion for rock. At the bend of a street, the angels of the film pass in front of concert posters, until the moment of grace when Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, a group then unknown, appear on stage. The Australian rock star has now become a legend respected and even admired by his peers. Among his admirers, Flea, the bassist of the Californian funk rock band Red Hot Chili Pepper… whom Nick Cave did not fail to pay himself a few years ago as related The Guardian, in 2006, in a review of Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers album: “Every time I listen to the radio and think, ‘What the hell is this?’ the answer is always the same: Red Hot Chili Peppers.” If the release of Nick Cave enchants his worshipers who salute his cynicism, Flea will cut short any controversy: “I don’t care if Nick Cave hates my band, his music is everything to me. He remains and will remain the best musician of all time.”
Elton John – “Candle in the Wind/Goodbye England’s Rose” performing live at Lady Di’s funeral.
4. Keith Richards declares war on Elton John
The war between Elton John and the iconic Rolling Stones guitarist really begins in 1997, a few months after the tragic death of Diana Spencer. The title Candle in the Wind, cover of the eponymous title recorded by Elton John in 1973, pays tribute to the princess and sells nearly 685,000 copies in a single day… During an interview, Keith Richards, known for his outspokenness and his recurring attacks on other artists, violently attacks Rocket Man: “Elton John is an old bitch whose writing is limited to songs about dead blondes…” But the pop star responds shortly after by media intermediaries. In an interview given to New York Daily News, he returns precisely to the words of the guitarist of the Rolling Stones: “Unlike Keith Richards, I’m glad I quit drugs and alcohol. Poor guy, he’s pathetic. Looks like an old monkey with arthritis trying to get on stage and look young. I have a lot of respect for the Stones, but they would have been even better if they had dumped Keith 15 years ago… He’s just an asshole but everyone knows that for a long time.”
Supreme NTM – “That’s My People”
5. Joeystarr explodes in the middle of an interview for France 2
The scene takes place in a bar. Rappers Kool Shen and JoeyStarr defend the new NTM project in front of journalists from the France 2 channel. A supposedly “cool and natural” interview which unfortunately goes wrong after a few minutes… the questions journalists annoy Joeystarr who gets up and walks towards the three journalists in an intimidating way: “People want to know if we still have the energy and if the concert is going to be good. Do we have money, do we have a big head? Excuse me, but I don’t feel like answering your bogus questions!” The France Television team defuses and tries to calm things down, acknowledging that “the questions were stupid” and the interview finally resumes despite the grumbling. A few days later, an excerpt from the interview is broadcast on television: we see the rapper apostrophizing one of the journalists, ordering him to be quiet while a voice-over declares: “Radical, sulfurous even aggressive, NTM, one of the flagship groups of French rap has always been.”
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Clashes, insults and scarifications: 5 skids of stars in the middle of an interview
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