Music makes us feel stuff: joy, melancholy, rage, disquiet. Also, frequently: unbridled enthusiasm. Especially in a live performance, a reptilian sector of the human brain takes hold, prompting fans to forget the assumed boundary between a performer and their audience.
Thus, every musician will at some point find themselves sharing the stage with someone who doesn’t belong there. And how they react in that moment says a lot about them, as well as the nature of celebrity, art, and delusion. Here are some of our favorite encounters.
The diplomatic response
At the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998, Bob Dylan was performing “Love Sick” when one of the background head-bobbers tore off his shirt to reveal the words “SOY BOMB” written on his torso and began dancing amid the band. Dylan looked bewildered but took it in stride.
When Taylor Swift came face-to-face with an obsessive fan, she was nothing but smiles.
The actual invitation
Playing in Albany, N.Y., Sir Paul McCartney saw a curious pair of signs held aloft by a couple in the crowd. “He won’t marry me ’til he meets you,” read one, while the other stated: “I’ve got the ring and I’m 64.” McCartney invited them both onstage, where they got properly engaged.
The old heave-ho
The stunt gone wrong
The bizarrely violent
Afroman should stick to throwing people who rush the stage, because when he knocks them out with haymaker punches, the show ends early and he gets carted off to jail.
The craziest thing about this shirtless Brazilian guy trying to drag Beyoncé offstage mid-song is that afterward, she stood up for the guy, saying that he “just got excited.”
Tim McGraw didn’t take too kindly to a woman who grabbed at his crotch and apparently ripped his very nice jeans; indeed, video appears to show him slapping her for it.
Michael Bublé took a huge risk by letting a mom coerce him into singing a duet with her her 15-year-old son Sam, but it paid off big time—and the crooner couldn’t have been happier.
A Los Angeles audience got a pleasant surprise from Kristin Chenoweth’s special guest Sarah Horn when the two duetted Wicked’s “For Good” in 2013. Turns out Horn is a vocal coach, so let’s just say she knows what she’s doing.
The lessons here are simple: If you want to get on stage, you’d better have a modicum of talent, and it’s best to make sure your hero wants you up there. Also, better to just leave Afroman be.
Photo via Curran Kelleher/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)