Jailhouse Rock: 10 Artists Who Did Hard Time In The Slammer

Prison photo.jpg
Dylan Oliphant via Flickr
Nothing earns an musician instant street cred quite like a night or two in the pokey. It's basically a rite of passage -- a guarantee that if you sign up for the public eye, you will, indeed, screw it up at least once in order to delight us with your antics.

From the likes of good ol' boys like Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash to rock legends like Paul McCartney, it's easy to name the artists who've done short stints in the grey-bar hotel. Every once in a while, though, an artist will jump the proverbial gun and make an ill-advised leap from lowly misdemeanor to hardcore felony, all with one swift kick of someone else's ass.

Instead of seeing an increase in record sales, these artists get to see the inside of a prison cell for the next, oh, three or so years. Because mugshots are awesome, here's a list of the top ten artists I was surprised to see as members of the hard-time club. (Rick James is not on this list for obvious reasons, y'all. We all saw that coming a mile away.)

Billie_Holiday_mug_shot.jpg
Wikipedia

10. Billie Holiday
Lady Day, as Holiday was known to her friends, was not only a jazz great, but also a jailbird. Holiday did a couple of rounds in the pokey thanks (in part) to a shitty childhood and a drug habit.

In May 1929, both Holiday and her mother were sent to prison after the brothel they were working at was raided. Holiday spent about six months in the hoosegow, and was 14 at the time. She was arrested again in '47 for possession of narcotics and sent to Anderson Federal Prison Camp for an 8-month stint.


9. GG Allin
The 'Merican punk-rock singer-songwriter was known for spitting lyrics about topics like pedophilia and racism. He also relished in performing at concerts where he'd incorporate live "transgressive" acts (think shit like self-mutilation, covering himself in his own feces, and attacking the audience as the equivalent of "transgressive" in this equation), so it should come as no surprise that Allin also found himself in a heap o' trouble, and often.

In late '89, Allin was arrested and charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm on a female acquaintance. Allin admitted to cutting her, burning her, and drinking her blood as part of a really fucked-up sexual encounter. He took a plea-bargain and was sent to prison for felonious assault for a couple of years as punishment.


8. Beanie Sigel
In very recent news (think this month), Sigel pleaded guilty to illegally possessing Percocet, which landed him in prison for a term of 6-23 months. That's on top of the two years of federal time he's already serving for failing to pay around $348,000 in taxes. Ain't that a bitch.

The more recent sentence stems from an incident in Philly in 2012 when the car Sigel was riding in was pulled over by the cops. Police searched the car and found a loaded .30 caliber handgun, $4,600 cash, and Codeine syrup. Sigel was the passenger and was passed the fuck out, but he's a convicted felon and that whole loaded-gun thing is a huge no-no when you've got a rap sheet, apparently.


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