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1930s-1980s

Mug shots of major rock stars

Many of these musicians were known for being wild and crazy. Others were more sedate. Either way, at some point, they all got hauled in

Rock stars are not known for their quiet and demure personalities. In fact, the ability to trash one’s hotel room appears to be a core part of the rock star’s job description.

But some stars take acting out to a whole new level, and their deeds—or rather, misdeeds—cross the thin blue line that separates the legendary and the illegal, and brings them straight into the police station. Sure, charges related to sex and drugs may not be entirely unexpected for rock-n-rollers, but larceny, aggravated assault, and even murder are also in the mix below.

c. 1938
Frank Sinatra, aged 23, poses for a mugshot after being arrested and charged with “carrying on with a married woman” in 1938 in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

c. 1947
Jazz singer Billie Holiday’s mugshot in May 1947, when she was 32. She was arrested for the possession of narcotics, and served eight months in prison.
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c. 1963
The first of three mugshots of Jim Morrison of The Doors. Here, aged 20, Morrison had been arrested on September 28, 1963 on charges of petty larceny, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and public drunkenness at a football game in Tallhassee, Florida. Morrison made fun of the players and the crowd and went so far as to steal an umbrella and a police officer’s helmet from a police car. Charges were dropped, but Morrison was fined.
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c. 1967
Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, aged 18, posed for his mugshot on March 15, 1967 in Yonkers, New York. He was arrested for possession of marijuana.
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c. 1968
Jim Morrison’s second appearance, on January 29, 1968 in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he was 25. On this occasion, Morrison was detained at the Pussycat a’ Go Go bar for public drunkenness and vagrancy.
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c. 1969
Jimi Hendrix poses for a mugshot after his arrest for narcotics possession at Toronto International Airport on May 3, 1969 in Toronto, Canada.
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
c. 1970
Jim Morrison in Dade County, Florida, in September 1970. His arrest was for an incident a year previously, at Coconut Grove, Florida. Morrison was charged with a felony for lewd lascivious behavior, two misdemeanors for public profanity, two for public exposure and one for public drunkenness—all while on stage.
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c. 1976
David Bowie was arrested in March 1976, after a performance in Rochester, New York, for possession of around half a pound of marijuana. Three others were detained with Bowie, including Iggy Pop. They were all released on bail after three hours.
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c. 1976
Jerry Lee Lewis was arrested by Memphis police in November 1976 and charged with public drunkenness and gun possession.
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c. 1978
Bassist Sid Vicious of punk band The Sex Pistols poses for his mugshot after being arrested by New York City police for allegedly murdering his girlfriend Nancy Spungen on December 8, 1978 in New York City.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
c. 1980
An 18-year-old Axl Rose posed for the above Lafayette, Indiana police mugshot in July 1980. It was the first of at least five arrests for Rose.
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c. 1982
David Crosby, founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash was arrested by Dallas police in April 1982 and charged with drug and gun possession.
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c. 1984
John Osbourne (aka Ozzy Osbourne) was arrested by Memphis cops in May 1984 and charged with public intoxication.
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c. 1986
Kurt Cobain, singer of Grunge band Nirvana, was arrested by Aberdeen, Washington police in May 1986, for for spray painting the phrase “ain’t got no how watchamacallit” on vehicles.
Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images


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c. 1988
James Brown posed for this South Carolina Department of Corrections mug shot in December 1988 after a jury found him guilty of aggravated assault, weapons possession, and failure to stop for police. His “failure to stop” saw Brown flee police across two States. When police blew out two of his tires, he drove on the rims for six miles. He served three years—one of a number of periods in prison.
Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images
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