in ,

25 Famous Musicians Who Have Been Arrested

paul mccartney on stage playing guitar
Washington DC. USA, 4th July, 1990 Paul McCartney performs at the Fourth of July concert in the Robert F. Kennedy football stadium. Image from Shutterstock.

No matter what your status is, when it comes to the law, no one is above it, although there are instances where it seems some get harsher punishment than others. When it comes to the famous musicians who appear on this list, we have all spectrums, from slaps on the wrist to life imprisonment sentences. Which one of them surprises you the most?

Here’s a list of 25 famous musicians who have been arrested.

1. Lil Wayne

lil wayne with a microphone and his hair flying in the wind
Chicago, Illinois / United States – Saturday, August 3rd, 2019: Lil Wayne performs at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Chicago. Image from Shutterstock.

We’re kicking off our list of famous musicians who have been arrested with a doozy, as rapper Lil Wayne has found himself in handcuffs on more than one occasion. The “Got Money” rapper’s first run-in with the law came in 2007 when he was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon and marijuana.

He was then busted for the latter yet again in 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile, his weapons charges eventually led to him serving eight months in jail. He didn’t learn his lesson, though. Ten years later, in 2020, he pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge but was later pardoned by President Donald Trump on January 19, 2021.

Related: Lil Wayne’s Net Worth, Kids, Height, and More

2. Willie Nelson

willie nelson on stage playing guitar while wearing a cowboy hat
Arrington, VA/USA – 9/7/2014 : Willie Nelson performs at LOCKN’ Festival in Arrington, VA. Image from Shutterstock.

Willie Nelson may be a loveable legend in country music, but he has not been immune to getting in trouble with the po-po. Time and time again, he has been arrested for marijuana possession since 1974. His most recent busting was in 2010 when six ounces of marijuana were found on his tour bus while traveling from Los Angeles to Texas. Despite his many instances, he has yet to be jailed for an extended period. Instead, he’s received probation, paid fines, and even played “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court.

Related: Willie Nelson’s Net Worth 

3. Jim Morrison

jim morrison book with his image on the front
Image from Shutterstock.

To mix things up on our list of musicians who have been arrested is The Doors’ very own Jim Morrison. Instead of drug charges, Morrison was arrested a few days after shouting obscenities at a crowd during a concert. He was later convicted of indecent exposure and profanity and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Morrison later commented on the whole affair to the L.A. Free Press, saying, “I wasted a lot of time and energy with the Miami trial. About a year and a half. But I guess it was a valuable experience because, before the trial, I had a very unrealistic schoolboy attitude about the American judicial system. My eyes have been opened up a bit.”

Related: How Did Jim Morrison Die?

4. Johnny Cash

Johnny cash record and album on a light background
Image from Shutterstock.

While Johnny Cash never actually spent time in Folsom Prison as his hit song suggests, perhaps he was able to sing about it with such clarity because he knew what it was like to be arrested. Seven times, in fact. Over the years, his various charges included trespassing, smuggling prescription drugs, and intoxication, just to name a few. Whatever you have to say about it, we’ll leave you with this. His Live from Folsom Prison record will forever be a classic, and we can’t help but think his own struggles were part of the reason why.  

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Johnny Cash

5. GG Allin

a guitar player performing on stage
(No licenseable Image available) Image from Shutterstock.

While so far on our famous musicians who have been arrested list, there have been multiple instances of being taken into custody, GG Allin is the first to have done some hard prison time for his crimes. While he’d been arrested previously for assault and battery as well as indecent exposure, it was 1989 when things really took a turn. He was arrested and charged with “assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.” While he claimed that the woman in question willingly participated in their sexual escapades, he was later convicted and spent a year and a half in prison.

Related: How Did GG Allin Die?

6. Axl Rose

musicians with DUIs guns n' roses songs zxl rose and slash on stage performing
Rio de Janeiro, September 24, 2017. Singer Axl Rose and guitarrist Slash during Guns N ‘Roses performance during the show at Rock in Rio 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image from Shutterstock.

There is just something about the hard rockers getting into some hard trouble. While Axl Rose is another on our famous musicians who have been arrested list who has seen more than one run-in with the law, his 1992 arrest takes the cake. He was charged with inciting a riot after a St. Louis show for Guns N’ Roses, which led to more than $200,000 in damages. Charged with property damage and assault, he received two years of probation and was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.  

Related: 20 Best Guns N’ Roses Songs

7. Chuck Berry

chuck berry statue
ST LOUIS MISSOURI – MAY 2018: Chuck Berry Statue in May 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 8-foot-tall bronze statue stands on Delmar Blvd near the Ackert Walkway. Chuck Berry was born in St. Louis. Image from Shutterstock.

While Chuck Berry will always be remembered for such hits as “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” he also had a storied history with the law, with several arrests over the years. In later years, these included sexual assault charges, possession of marijuana, and even child abuse after a police raid revealed an intimate videotape that included an underage girl.

Related: 23 Best Chuck Berry Songs

8. Ian Brown

a guitarist playing with their head down
(No licenseable photo available) Image from Shutterstock.

Even before 9-11, behaving badly in an airport was not something you wanted to find yourself involved in. Musician Ian Brown apparently didn’t get the memo as he was arrested in October 1998 and spent two months of a four-month sentence in jail because he threatened a flight attendant of British Airways while traveling from Manchester to Paris. He was later arrested again in 2005 after getting into an altercation with a fan, although no charges were ever brought against him.

Related: Best 90s Songs

9. Paul McCartney

paul mccartney playing guitar on stage
Image from Shutterstock.

Yes, you read it right. The big, bad co-main Beatle himself, Sir Paul McCartney, has also had a run-in with the law on a number of occasions thanks to years of drug use, including marijuana. His first major incident came in 1972 when he was found to be growing marijuana on his farm, for which he was convicted of illegal cultivation. In subsequent years, he would find himself being arrested on multiple occasions.

McCartney commented on a famous instance where a bag of cannabis was found by customs in his luggage in Japan: “I don’t know what possessed me to just stick this bloody bag of grass in my suitcase. Thinking back on it, it almost makes me shudder.” Despite his run-ins, he continues to support the decriminalization of cannabis. “People are smoking pot anyway, and to make them criminals is wrong.”

Related: Paul McCartney Biography

10. Wiz Khalifa

wiz khalifa
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC- JUNE 28 2018: Wiz Khalifa raps on a stage with his band at the Aerodrome festival in Prague, Czech Republic. Image from Shutterstock.

You’d think that with all of his elders that saw themselves being taken into custody over drug possession, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa would have learned not to boast about his regular weed use. But, alas, he didn’t, as he was arrested in November 2010 for the possession of drugs. That wouldn’t be the last time, either. He was again arrested in May 2014 on the same charge. Then, in August 2015, a third arrest came, but this time, it was for riding a hoverboard around Los Angeles International Airport. “Haven’t been slammed and cuffed in a while,” Khalifa later posted on X (formerly known as Twitter). “That was fun.”

Related: Wiz Khalifa Puts On A Big Fancy Show at The Armory

11. Sid Vicious

best punk songs
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Sid Vicious, best known for being the bassist for Sex Pistols, is easily one of the craziest instances on our list of famous musicians who have been arrested. In 1978, he was arrested and charged with the second-degree murder of his then-girlfriend Nancy Spungen. While Sid Vicious admitted that the pair had an argument, he gave conflicting reports of what happened after that.

“I stabbed her, but I never meant to kill her,” he said in one version, while in the next, he said he didn’t remember anything that happened.

Related: 25 Best Punk Songs

12. Phil Rudd

AC DC performing on stage
Image from Shutterstock.

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd’s tales of arrests are yet another that stems from the inability to change when you’re busted the first time for drug possession. Those aren’t, however, his most surprising reasons for being arrested over the years. Although the charges were eventually dropped, in 2014, he was arrested for attempting to procure a murder and threatening to kill, along with his next round of drug charges. This incident subsequently led to AC/DC recruiting Chris Slade for the Rock or Bust World Tour.

13. Big Lurch

a male rapper performing on stage
(No licensable photo available) Image from Shutterstock

It’s heart-wrenching to know that someone with such promising talent threw it all away for what’s easily the most heinous crime any one person can commit. Former rapper and poet Big Lurch was such an example when he was arrested in 2002 for the first-degree murder of his roommate, Tynisha Ysais. Now, he’s serving a life sentence at Kern Valley State Prison.

14. Charles Manson

Charles manson's mug shot
Charles Manson, April 1968 mugshot. Image by the California Department of Corrections.

This entry on our list of famous musicians who have been arrested may be a cause for confusion, but that’s to be expected. Because Charles Manson is so famously known for the conspiracy to commit murder in the death of seven people, including Sharon Tate, many don’t realize or perhaps forget that he was once the lead musician in the Manson Family. Considering the whole group was ultimately a cult, that’s probably why. He did write a song that was performed by the Beach Boys.

Related: Beach Boys Biography

15. Faust

silhouette of a drummer
Image from Shutterstock.

Yet another sad case of murder comes up on our list, although it seems this was at least in self-defense. (We’re not saying it makes it right). Norwegian drummer Faust, best known for his time with Emperor, a black metal band, was arrested in 1992 after he stabbed Magne Andreassen, who tried to solicit Faust for sex. After following him into nearby woods, the latter stabbed Andreassen 37 times. He was later arrested in 1994 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Faust later said of his imprisonment, “It has taught me a lot about myself, my limits, my psyche, and my will. I think it as a positive thing that I was removed from the black metal scene because I was heading towards a very destructive path.”

16. Keith Richards

keith richards on stage playing guitar
Image from Shutterstock.

This shouldn’t be a surprising entry on our list of famous musicians who have been arrested. The Rolling Stones guitarist has had no stream of instances of being “rolling stoned” in his off-time. Over the years, Richards has been arrested on several occasions, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. While his first conviction did end in a prison sentence, he has yet to ever receive jail time again, although he has been forced to live under the threat of criminal sanction.

Related: Keith Richards’ Net Worth

17. Justin Bieber

justin bieber mugshot
Mugshot of Justin Bieber taken by Miami Beach Police in January, 2014

Baby Bieber is not so innocent anymore. In 2014, at just 19 years old, his good-boy image was shattered when he was arrested in Miami Beach. His charges? Driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and driving (or, more specifically, street drag racing) with a suspended license.

Bieber later spoke about his arrest, calling it “not [his] finest hour” and asking fans to “let the forgiveness of Jesus take over and watch your life blossom into all that God has designed you to be.”

Related: Justin Bieber Biography

18. Lauryn Hill

lauryn hill on stage singing
Image from Shutterstock.

Lauryn Hill, best known for being the founder of Fugees, is proof that just because you’re rich, it doesn’t mean that you’re above the law. She became one of the famous musicians who have been arrested in the early 2010s thanks to her failure to pay taxes on $1 million in earnings. She was later sentenced to three months in prison, followed by three months of house arrest.

“I needed to be able to earn so I could pay my taxes without compromising the health and welfare of my children, and I was being denied that,” Hill reportedly said during the hearing, insisting that she always intended to pay.

Related: 24 Famous Musicians Who Went Bankrupt

19. Ozzy Osbourne

sharon osbourne with her husband Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne at Spike TV’s 4th Annual “Guys Choice Awards,” Sony Studios, Culver City, CA. 06-05-10. Image from Shutterstock.

Ozzy Osbourne has one of the craziest consequences on our list of famous musicians who have been arrested. While he has also been arrested multiple times for various crimes, he was famously taken into custody in 1982 for urinating near the Alamo, being publicly intoxicated, and rocking Sharon Osbourne’s dresses better than she does. As a result of his escapade, he was banned from performing in San Antonio, Texas, for ten years.  

Related: 10 Best Ozzy Osbourne Songs

20. Beanie Sigel

a rapper on stage performing
(No licensable photos available) Image from Shutterstock.

Rapper Beanie Sigel, who can thank Jay-Z for getting his name in the limelight, was first arrested in 2002 on a federal weapons charge. One year later, he was arrested on assault charges after allegedly punching a 53-year-old man, resulting in the man’s eye socket becoming fractured. Since then, he has continued to break the law, being arrested on robbery charges, drug possession, and even failing to pay child support.

Related: Jay Z Biography

21. Arthur Lee

a band performing on stage in sihlouettes
(No licensable image available) Image from Shutterstock.

The former leader of Love, Arthur Lee, is one of those famous musicians who have been arrested and spent a significant amount of time paying for his actions. In 1996, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of the negligent discharge of a firearm, although he only spent a little over five years. His time frame was due in large part to two previous charges in California, which has a “three strikes your out” approach to law. He had previously served time for arson on two separate occasions.

“I thought I would beat this chase, so why would I want to broadcast it? This has been so humiliating to me,” he later said, refusing visitors and interviews while he was in prison.

22. Travie McCoy

Travie mccoy on stage performing with the band gym
Image from Shutterstock.

Sorry, not sorry, because Travie McCoy has to be one of the stupidest when it comes to others on our list of famous musicians who were arrested. If you’re going to break the law, perhaps you shouldn’t boast about it on Twitter, yet that’s exactly what he did when he tagged the Berlin Wall in Germany. Even then, don’t tag it with “Travie McCoy” either.

This 2010 incident was actually his second arrest. He was previously arrested in 2008 for aggravated assault after he hit a man with a microphone. McCoy later claimed that the man was shouting racial slurs at him during a St. Louis concert.

23. Frank Sinatra

frank sinatra on stage in a suit singing songs
Washington, D.C. USA, October 1st, 1992 Frank Sinatra in performance at the reopening of the Warner Theater in Washington DC. Image from Shutterstock.

We’re going back nearly 85 years for this next entry on our list of famous musicians who have been arrested. Funnily enough, his 1938 double arrest was for something that isn’t necessarily a crime in this day and age. Ol’ Blue Eyes was arrested for seducing a woman and then later arrested again for adultery once it was revealed that the woman in question was married. Unlike many on our list, however, all of his charges were eventually dropped.

Related: 11 Best Frank Sinatra Songs of All Time

24. Phil Spector

phil spector mugshot in 2014
Image is in the Public Domain.

Phil Spector was one of the most up-and-coming record producers in the 1960s, known for being a highly influential figure in pop music history. Because of that, he is also regarded as one of the most successful producers of the decade. Sadly, that all went to waste in the 2000s when he was tried and convicted for the murder of Lana Clarkson.

According to reports, he shot the actress in the mouth on February 3, 2003. While he later claimed to Esquire that Clarkson’s death was an “accidental suicide” after having “kissed the gun,” his driver, who made the call to police, was quoted the disgraced producer as saying, “I think I killed somebody.” Spector would later be convicted following two separate trials and spend the rest of his days in prison.

Related: 21 Best 60s Songs

25. Prince

prince alias
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – AUG 9: The rock/ pop/ funk musician Prince in concert at the annual Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday, August 9, 2011. Image from Shutterstock.

To round out our list of famous musicians who have been arrested, we’ve got a juicy federal offense on the books, and for our hometown hero and everything. In 1980, while touring with Rick James, Prince was reportedly arrested, along with his keyboardist, after stealing an emergency megaphone from an airplane. While the item was later found in the keyboardist’s bag, Prince gets props for standing by him and taking part in the fall. What makes it even funnier is that while at the station, things allegedly turned into a meet and greet with the Purple Rain musician.

You May Also Like: 

Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





musicians who died in plane crashed

12 Musicians Who Died in Plane Crashes

danny masterson in a tweed suit

23 Most Hated Celebrities