Billie Holiday, 1947 – In 1947, Billie Holiday was arrested for narcotics violation and at her own request, was committed to a federal rehabilitation centre in Alderson, W. Va., for a year and a day so that she may recover. Her obituary, which appeared in the New York Times, July 18 1959 (Holiday died aged 44), referred to the incident as “a cloud that had been gathering over Miss Holiday and which was to cover the rest of her career, burst on her.” Following her release, Holiday performed at a packed Carnegie Hall and various other New York concert halls. Unfortunately, the singer was no longer allowed to perform at New York night clubs as she could not obtain the necessary cabaret licence owing to her narcotics conviction.
Steven Tyler, 1967 – Still a teenager (18 years old), Steven Tyler was arrested in Yonkers, New York, on charges of marijuana possession.
Jimi Hendrix, 1969 – Near the end of his US and Canada tour, Jimi Hendrix faced charges of drugs possession and possible border trafficking. According to an article in Rolling Stone magazine which is dated May 31st, 1969, Hendrix was arrested May 3rd in Toronto International Airport by Canadian Mounted police. Reportedly, the police uncovered several ounces of an unknown chemical (supposedly heroin) substance in Hendrix’s flight bag. Hendrix was released after paying $10,000 bail and his answer to the press on the incident was simply: “no comment. I’m innocent and my lawyers will prove it.” The icon was later acquitted after claiming a fan had slipped the drugs into his bag without his knowledge.
Janis Joplin, 1969 – After shouting obscenities at police officers during a Tampa concert in November 1969, Janis Joplin was charged with disorderly conduct. These charges were later dropped after it was ruled that Joplin’s actions were an exercise of free speech.
Jane Fonda, 1970 – Jane Fonda explains on her official website that in late 1970 she was starting a nationwide speaking tour about the Vietnam War. Her aim was to raise awareness of The My Lai massacre and recruit soldiers and veterans to testify in the Winter Soldier Investigation which was to take place in 1971. Upon re-entering the US after giving her first speech in Canada, Fonda’s luggage was seized by police at Cleveland airport. Inside they found vitamins that Fonda took with breakfast, lunch and dinner (the envelopes they were kept in were marked in red nail polish ‘B’, ‘L’, ‘D’). Despite the actress informing the police of this they told her they were acting on orders from the Nixon White House. She was handcuffed and taken to Cleveland jail. The charges were dismissed and far from leading to the speeches being cancelled, after the incident, the audiences were never less than 2,000 and up to 10,000.
Larry King, 1971 – Larry King was arrested in Miami on December 20th, 1971 on charges of grand larceny. King was in a vast amount of debt to sustain an extravagant lifestyle among other things.
Steve McQueen, 1972 – This photo was taken in Anchorage, Alaska after Steve McQueen had been arrested for recklessly driving an Oldsmobile Tornado whilst intoxicated. The Anchorage Daily News described McQueen in the mug shot as “looking mighty ragged after his night on the town here. A raggedness exceeded only by his seismographic signature.” He was later convicted in absentia for reckless driving but not drunk driving.
Dennis Hopper, 1975 – Dennis Hopper was arrested in New Mexico in July 1975 for reckless driving, failure to report an accident and evading arrest. Hopper pleaded guilty to the charges and was ordered to pay a fine.
David Bowie, 1976 – As reported in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 22nd, 1976 David Bowie was arrested at the Americana Rochester Hotel for possession of marijuana. Present and also arrested was Iggy Pop who was travelling with Bowie at the time. The court date was postponed to allow Bowie to appear at two concert engagements. Attending the court a few days later, when asked by the judge for a plea Bowie replied, “not guilty, sir”.
Jerry Lee Lewis, 1976 – In the early hours of the morning of November 23rd, 1976, Jerry Lee Lewis pulled up at the gates of Elvis Presley’s mansion, Graceland. He had been there the night before but was told Presley was asleep so left without incident. The eccentric musician turned up the second time once again highly intoxicated, however, on this occasion with a loaded pistol which he waved around and demanded to see Presley. The police were called and Lewis was arrested for public drunkenness and gun possession.
Bill Gates, 1977 – Age 22, Bill Gates ran a stop sign in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was arrested by local police and taken to the station.
David Crosby, 1982 – In 1982 police burst into Crosby’s dressing room in a Dallas nightclub. They found him with an automatic pistol and cocaine. He was arrested for possession and bringing a loaded weapon into a nightclub. The singer was sentenced to 5 years in Texas State Penitentiary but was released after 5 months on parole.
Woody Harrelson, 1982 – Harrelson was arrested in Columbus, Ohio in 1982 for disorderly conduct. Allegedly, he was disturbing the peace by dancing in the middle of the street and was also charged with resisting arrest after running from the police. Harrelson escaped a prison sentence by paying a fine.
Ozzy Osbourne, 1984 – At 12.30am on May 15th in Memphis, Tennessee, Ozzy Osbourne was arrested on a misdemeanour charge of public intoxication. Reportedly, the police found Osbourne “staggering drunk” in Memphis’ Beale Street entertainment district. He spent 5 hours sobering up in a cell and was released without charge.
Kurt Cobain, 1986 – Allegedly intoxicated at the time, Kurt Cobain was arrested for trespassing after he wandered onto the roof of an abandoned building at 618 W. Market Street on May 18th, 1986, in his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington.
James Brown, 1988 – According to an article from The New York Times’ archives James Brown was arrested in September, 1988 following “a two-state auto chase that ended after authorities shot out two tyres on his truck”. Brown was carrying a shotgun when stopped and was arrested on two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, as well as driving while intoxicated and other traffic offenses.
Anna-Nicole Smith, 1989 – Anna-Nicole Smith was arrested in Texas for driving under the influence. She was charged with a misdemeanour and released.