This Week in Rock History. The World Loses a Legend, Izzy Pisses on a Plane.
This week, about 24 years ago, the world mourned the loss of a bonafied legend. Stevie Ray Vaughn passed away in a helicopter crash. On August 27, 1990, Vaughan had just performed with Double Trouble at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. All of the musicians boarded four helicopters bound for Chicago, which were waiting on a nearby golf course. According to a witness, there was haze and fog with patches of low clouds. Despite the conditions, the pilots were instructed to fly over a 1000-foot ski hill. Vaughan, along with three members of Eric Clapton’s entourage (agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and assistant tour manager Colin Smythe), boarded the third of the four helicopters flying to Meigs Field. At about 12:50AM the helicopter departed from an elevation of about 850 feet, veered to the left and crashed into the hill. All on board, including the pilot, Jeff Brown, were killed instantly. In Clapton: The Autobiography, Clapton explains that, contrary to rumors, his seat was not given to Vaughan but as indicated above, three members of Clapton’s entourage were on board with Vaughan at the time of the crash.
Also this week back in 1989, Izzy Stradlin of Guns N Roses, decided his bladder couldn’t wait any longer on a flight to Phoenix. What happened next is Rock N Roll history.
The group was on a much-needed break — mostly from each other — when Stradlin hopped a plane from Indianapolis, where he was visiting family, to Los Angeles. But he never made it back to L.A. Sometime before the plane reached Arizona, Stradlin verbally abused a flight attendant, lit up a cigarette in a non-smoking area and, most famously, peed on the floor of the galley in front of other shocked passengers. When the plane landed in Phoenix, he was arrested at the airport for causing a public disturbance.
Stradlin said he was angry for having to wait to use the plane’s restroom. (“I’m not waiting any longer,” he reportedly said.) His publicist said he was merely “expressing himself.” And Stradlin ended up with a year’s probation for the mile-high pee incident. He also had to write a letter of apology to the flight crew. Soon after, he retreated to his mom’s home back in Indiana, where he kicked his drug and alcohol addictions.
Two years later, after another massive world tour with Guns N’ Roses and around the release of their two ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums, Stradlin quit the band. Now sober, Stradlin couldn’t stand the lifestyles most of the other members were living … or Rose’s cavalier approach to showing up on time. “Once I quit drugs, I couldn’t help looking around and asking myself, ‘Is this all there is?’” he told Rolling Stone several years later. “I was just tired of it. I needed to get out.” Apparently, his urine felt the same way on Aug. 27, 1989.