The ten most noteworthy music publicity stunts

Categories: Commentary, Lists


7. Imperial Stars stop traffic
The video for Orange County band Imperial Stars' song "Traffic Jam 101" looks like it could've been directed by the same auteurs that brought us Rebecca Black's "Friday," and the lyrics are about as good. Maybe that's why the band thought they needed an extra push in the publicity department. They set up their gear on a truck in the middle of the 101 freeway, and blocked traffic for hours as they played their hearts out. They were no doubt equally passionate as they later pleaded no contest to a felony count of conspiracy and three misdemeanors. They were sentenced to three years probation and 35 days of community service, which, hopefully, did not involve playing any of their music for people.


6. The Beatles play on a rooftop
The 1970 documentary Let It Be captured the Beatles rehearsing, recording, fighting with each other and playing an unannounced show on the roof of the Apple building in London. After discussing multiple possible locations worldwide for the surprise live set, the Fab Four agreed that walking upstairs together was about as much time as they felt like spending with each other. The performance stopped traffic, summoned the police and ended with John Lennon uttering the immortal line, "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!"


5. U2 play on a rooftop
John Lennon once caused a stir by claiming that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus." U2 frontman Bono -- often mistaken for Jesus -- wasn't about to let the opportunity go by to prove his band's similarly divine place in history. In reference to the Beatles' Let It Be rooftop stunt, U2 played an impromptu set on the roof of a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles. The performance was documented in the music video, "Where the Streets Have No Name," and shows the band almost getting arrested by police. U2's manager Paul McGuinness later admitted that the police were actually quite cooperative with the project, and that the conflict was played up for dramatic effect.

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Brett Schreiber
Brett Schreiber

it's sad that these types of articles NEVER mention the best one: the "helter stupid" scam perpetuated by negativland in 1988. from wikipedia: In February 1988, a 16-year-old from Rochester, Minnesota named David Brom murdered his entire immediate family (both parents, a brother, and a sister) with an axe. When Negativland was forced to cancel a planned tour in support of their album Escape from Noise for financial reasons, the band issued a press release claiming that they had been "advised by Federal Official Dick Jordan not to leave town pending an investigation into the Brom murders." The press release implied that Brom had listened to Negativland's song "Christianity Is Stupid" before the fatal quarrel with his religious parents. In reality, there was no official named "Dick Jordan", and Brom did not possess any Negativland music. The murder investigation later discovered that he was on SST's mailing lists, but he only owned "Zen Arcade" by SST band Hüsker Dü. Nevertheless, pundits and journalists took the press release at face value, and the hoax received widespread media coverage. Negativland encouraged the spread of the story by steadfastly refusing further comment, supposedly on the advice of their attorney "Hal Stakke", another fictional person invented by the band. Much of this media coverage was negative, and band member Richard Lyons' home in Oakland, California was pelted with rocks by an unknown vandal. Negativland subsequently used samples from the media frenzy in their 1989 album Helter Stupid.

Shayne Morgan
Shayne Morgan

By pouring a vial of blood into the ink to print their comic books...selling the comic books, thus selling their blood. :-D

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