Marking Your Turf: The Rock Star Tradition of Peeing in Public

Oct 7, 2015 | 7893 Views | 3 Comments

As all dog owners know, male canines urinate in specific outdoor areas to indicate “top dog” status. Are men prone to pee in public to achieve the same goal? And just what tactics do women employ to establish turf? Well, that’s another story, and a lot more complicated. (Actually, I wish a power grab WAS as simple as strategic peeing.)

As any guy will tell you, it’s a liberating experience to take a whiz in the great outdoors. However, some do actually get busted for it, none more so than male rock stars who tend to be rather indiscreet when it comes to leaving their scent.

stones_ledgeAlthough various members of the Rolling Stones were arrested numerous times for high-profile drug-related offenses, they began their criminal careers as lowly public pissers. On March 18, 1965, the boys were fined £5 each each for urinating on the wall of a London gas station after bassist Bill Wyman was refused the use of the public restroom (supposedly it was out of order). He and bandmates Mick Jagger and Brian Jones retaliated by anointing the garage wall. It was a brilliant, albeit inadvertent marketing move: they’d now found their niche — as the bad boys of rock. The anti-Beatles, so to speak.

John Lennon "A Matter of Pee" letter to Phil SpectorAh, but The Fab Four were no angels, either, especially John, who was once evicted from a recording studio for allegedly urinating into a recording console. This was during his riotous 18-month “lost weekend” period in L.A. in the mid-1970s, so anything would have been possible.  Now, peeing into an expensive piece of audio equipment is forgivable, especially if you’re a Beatle, but blaming it on yer mates is just plain inexcusable! In a letter to record producer Phil Spector titled “A Matter of Pee,” John alleged it was his brothers in booze, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson, who did the deed as the three were sharing studio space. “Should you not yet know, it was Harry and Keith who pissed on the console!” he wrote. “I can’t be expected to mind adult rock stars.” (In March 2014, this letter sold at auction for $88,000!) Who’d have thought John Lennon would end up being the piss police?

ozzyIn February 1982, Black Sabbath hellboy Ozzy Osbourne took aim at the Alamo Cenotaph, a statue erected to honor the Texans who died during the 1836 independence battle with Mexico. How dare a Brit spray bat pee (or whatever he drank that day) on a revered American monument! At least he did it in style: he was supposedly wearing his girlfriend’s dress at the time. (Hey, Ozzy: is it easier to lift a skirt than yank down a zipper?) San Antonio banned The Oz from the city for 10 years, but later pardoned him when he donated $10,000 to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, caretakers of the Alamo.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.21.56 PMMoving on from Ozzy to Izzy, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin gave “cock pit” a whole new meaning when he unzipped and urinated in front of a plane full of passengers on a flight from Indianapolis to L.A. in 1989. Seems the restroom was occupied. What’s a famous rock star to do? Geffen Records publicist Bryn Bridenthal used the First Amendment to defend his client: “Relieving himself in the galley was just his way of expressing himself.” Izzy’s punishment? Writing a letter of apology to the USAir crew.

Izzy’s bandmate Slash would never make such a spectacle of himself. The guitar wiz prepares himself for accidents by choosing the appropriate moisture-absorbing clothing. In his self-titled memoir, he says he likes to wear leather pants, because “they’re a lot more forgiving when you urinate in them.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.20.11 PMThose Brits sure like soccer tournament trophy cups — so much so that some want to fill them with bodily fluids. That’s what English musician Pete Doherty once did when he and his band Babyshambles competed against a professional team, Queens Park Rangers, during a charity soccer event. Pete, a fan of QPR, said he was merely pulling a prank. Did the cup runneth over? Oh, banish the thought!

One of the the rock world’s most revered albums, The Who’s “Who’s Next,” features the four members of the British band zipping up after urinating on a stone monolith. Was it staged? Well, sort of. The band was driving through the English countryside scouting locations for a cover shot, when suddenly they spotted the perfect photo op. But photographer Ethan Russell takes some of the fun out of the scenario, saying, “Most of the members were unable to go, so rainwater was tipped from an empty film canister to achieve the desired effect.”

bieber-bucketFinally, we come to pop pup Justin Bieber. He may lack the musical talent of the aforementioned celebrities, but when it comes to location, location, location, he scores points for finding a practical place of deposit: a yellow mop bucket! It seems that he and his pals were exiting through the rear of a restaurant kitchen in New York last year when he decided to leave a little something for an unsuspecting cleaning crew. The stunt was captured on tape by his silly sycophants, showing Bieber laughing all the while.

But permanent records of his urination don’t end there. Following a DUI arrest on January 23, 2014, Bieber was required to take a urine test, which was videotaped by an officer of the Miami Beach Police Department. The footage was made public (with Justin’s genitalia blacked out) after Judge William Altfield ruled that under Florida’s public records law, most evidence in a criminal case can be turned over to the media after it’s been given to the defense team. Who’s laughing now, rocker boy?

So, what’s the lesson to be learned here? Whether your bladder’s about to burst and you just can’t find a ceramic pot to piss in, or your inner rebel simply tells you to spray away, it’s best to be discreet.

Here’s the J. Geils Band, reminding men everywhere that no matter what goes on in the world, just fuggetaboutit and take a piss on the wall. The song is from their 1981 album “Freeze Frame.”

© Dana Spiardi, March 18, 2014


  1. Dave says:

    March 19th, 2014 at 4:26 pm (#)

    I feel much better about my criminal record now, Where’s my album cover?, I was the king of public urination.

  2. cheryl kubelick says:

    March 20th, 2014 at 2:46 pm (#)

    Hilarious!!! I think this calls for a new publication on better and more socially conscious potty training for babies.

  3. guitar tuner App says:

    December 15th, 2014 at 7:39 pm (#)

    Thanks for finally writing about > Marking Your Turf: The Rock Star Tradition of Peeing in Public | Hip Quotient < Loved it!

    my web page guitar tuner App

Leave a Response