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12 Timeless Rock and Roll Mistakes

These 12 rock and roll miscues, which will live on forever, are perfect for audio demos.


Even Jimmy Page, one of Gibson's most famous guitar users, makes mistakes as Led Zeppelin lands on Gibson's list of top rock and roll bloopers.
Robert Archer · October 14, 2010

As a proud Les Paul owner I may be biased, but Gibson is one of the best companies at using social media.

Gibson recently tweeted a story called “Oops! 10 Great Rock and Roll Bloopers” that chronicled some funny moments caught on tape during the recording process.

For musicians, the story proves nobody is perfect and that even the most talented musicians screw up. For audiophiles, these songs prove to be pure listening gold to see if their systems can resolve these mistakes. For dealers selling these components, these mistakes provides some tangible non-audiophile talking points that can be used in product demos.

To make this list a nice even dozen, I’ve added two of my favorite Rock and Roll mistakes to the list:

Stevie Ray Vaughn: “Little Wing” (The Sky is Crying)
Around 1:20 of the studio version of “Little Wing,” a buzzing sound emanates from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s equipment and RF/EMI noise is amplified by Vaughn’s Fender Stratocaster pickups.

The song features some nicely recorded drums and bass. This song surprisingly isn’t used more to showcase Vaughn’s trademark Fender tone.

Michael Jackson: “Beat it” (Thriller, 1982)
The song “Beat it” is on the biggest albums ever made and one of the most well produced pop records you’ll ever hear, but it’s not perfect. At 2:45 on the track, which is just prior to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo, an audible knock on the studio door was made by a technician who didn’t realize he was interrupting a recording session.

Here are Gibson’s top rock and roll bloopers caught on tape:

The Beatles: “Helter Skelter” (The Beatles, 1968): According to Gibson, it took drummer Ringo Starr 18 takes to complete his drum parts. At 4:24 of “Helter Skelter,” Starr can be heard yelling “I’ve got blisters on my fingers.”

Joe Satriani: “Surfing with the Alien” (Surfing with the Alien, 1987): Gibson says that during the recording of the guitar wizard’s first album, he was having problems with a guitar effect called a harmonizer, and that Satriani decided it was best to leave the track alone rather than re-recording it.

Frank Zappa: “Muffin Man” (Bongo Fury, 1975): Paraphrasing Frank Zappa’s autobiography, Gibson points out that Zappa didn’t really enjoy writing lyrics. At 0:48 of “Muffin Man,” he can be heard chuckling at his own words.

Megadeth: “Paranoid” (Nativity in Black, 1994): Covering Black Sabbath’s classic for a tribute album, Gibson says Megadeth’s drummer Nick Menza can be heard playing after the song ends and Megadeth’s leader Dave Mustaine yelling at Menza, “Nick, Nick, Nick.” After realizing his error, Gibson notes that Menza can be heard uttering some choice words.

Metallica: “The Four Horsemen” (Kill’ Em All, 1983): After cutting two solos for the recording of this song, Gibson says the group was listening to both takes at the same time and they decided to leave both in because it sound like a Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) guitar solo.

Steve Vai: “Sex & Religion” (Sex & Religion, 1993): Following up his successful Passion and Warfare solo album, Vai enlisted singer Devin Townsend for his next album Sex & Religion. Singing on the title track, Gibson says Townsend lets out a scream from 4:05-4:23 of “Sex & Religion” and then passes out. After waking up Townsend can be heard muttering, “oh I hurt your brain ... oh, my fingers are numb right now, they’re numb ... can I deprive my brain of oxygen?”

The Police: “Roxanne” (Outlandos d’Amour, 1978): At :04 of the song, Gibson says Police’s lead singer and bass player was attempting to lean back and relax against a piano, but he didn’t realize the lid was up. The result is a ringing chord that has nothing to do with the song’s main chord progression.

Led Zeppelin: “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” (Led Zeppelin, 1969): A case could be made that Zeppelin’s debut album is the best debut record in rock history. With that said, it’s not perfect. At 1:43 of the song, lead singer Robert Plant can be heard singing along to the late John Bonham during the recording of his part. Gibson says no one is sure if Plant’s singing leaked through to the drum mics or if his vocals were blasting through Bonzo’s headphones.

Radiohead: “Creep” (Pablo Honey, 1993): “Creep” from Radiohead is an example of a plan backfiring. According to Gibson, Radiohead guitar player Jonny Greenwood didn’t like the song and was trying to make it sound bad. Greenwood’s attempt at messing the song up occurs at 0:58 of the song just before the chorus. That partially muted sound was Greenwood trying to ruin the song, but the band like the sound and left it in the final mix.

Van Halen: “Everybody Wants Some” (Women and Children First, 1980): This song features some interesting factoids highlighted by lead singer David Lee Roth’s poor attempt to sing a line that Gibson says was supposed to be, “I’ve seen a lot of people just looking for a moonbeam.” Instead, Gibson says, he sang, “Ya take a moople-ah, wookie pah-a moopie.” After hearing it, the band liked the line and left it in.



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  About the Author

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at robert.archer@emeraldexpo.com

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