If you look at his portrayal in popular media, you'd think Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar at every concert when he actually only did so three times in his entire career. Also, the popularity of "Hey Joe" got to the point where it would be constantly requested, to Hendrix's chagrin. In this performance on British pop star Lulu's program, the Experience stops playing it midway, Hendrix says "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish", and they launch into an impromptu cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love".
To be fair, three guitars in his entire career is probably three more guitars than most musicians have burned in their entire lives.
Heck, publicity in any way admitting that your views on Intellectual Property mimics the ones of the Profit-Happy American Entertainment Industry can be a tough thing to live down. I would personally salute you if that crusade against Napster isn't the first thing coming to your mind whenever you think of Lars Ulrich.
Ozzy Osbourne did a lot of crazy shit during his younger years as a rocker (and later in his life too - it's basically the reason his autobiography is worth getting), but the incident that sticks out in a lot of people's minds is that particular concert where somebody threw a bat on stage, and Ozzy, thinking it was a toy rubber bat and not the real deal, bit its head off. People have never let him forget about it since, and he's had to explain more than once that "it was only fucking once."
Oddly, this is far better known than the time in 1989 when he was arrested for trying to murder his wife. She forgave him and is still with him...
For Texans, that incident may take a back seat to one that occurred shortly afterward: When he was drunk, Sharon would steal his clothes so he couldn't go out unless he wanted to go out naked. On the San Antonio tour date, he found one of Sharon's dresses at six in the morning, and when he had to urinate, he found a wall and pissed out several bottles of booze, immediately being arrested after the act for urinating on the Alamo. After the show, he was charged with public intoxication and was banned from San Antonio for ten years.
For a good long while, Ozzy was "the guy who snorted a line of ants" to people who gawked at his excess. Thanks to Keith Richards, he may have finally lived that down.
Something Ozzy will also never live down is his reputation for simply singing lyrics to the tune of Tony Iommi's riffs in Black Sabbath, despite the fact that it only happened in four songs: "Iron Man", "N.I.B.", "Into the Void" and "Electric Funeral". Four songs out of fifty-six. This is one of the first things to come up in every Ozzy vs Dio debate, and it's bollocks.
The fives years Morrissey spent in The Smiths will ALWAYS take precedence over his 20 year+ solo career.
And his embarrassingly one-sided vegenazism will always overshadow any talent he has as a musician.
How about her sister Ashlee Simpson? Caught lip-syncing on Saturday Night Live, tried to cover by doing an awkward jig and later blaming her problems on "acid reflux"!
The Nu-metal genre as a whole. It doesn't matter how much they tweak their style or whether they overhaul it entirely, nu-metal bands will forever be known for having once played nu-metal.
Ike Turner was one of Rock and Roll's pioneers. A talented musician and producer and as part of Ike and Tina Turner, part of one of the most popular music acts of the 70s. It used to be that he was less remembered for that than for his physical abuse of his wife Tina. Now it's for his almost-comical denial of said abuse.
On a side note, Laurence Fishburne once remarked it was years after he played Ike in What's Love Got to Do with It that black women finally stopped giving him the evil eye.
Ja Rule once had a solid career with a fair amount of hits, a distinct rapping style, and his hard, thuggish persona. Nowadays? "What would I do without my babaaayy?", combined with a crybaby face. It ruined his career.
Dylan Carlson, with his band Earth, is a pioneer of the indie drone metal scene and well-known among metal enthusiasts. Unfortunately, he will forever go down in rock history when he, in 1994, bought a shotgun for his friend Kurt Cobain.
Until he died and Dead Artists Are Better came into effect, Michael Jackson was better-known for A) butchering his face via plastic surgery and bleaching his skin as a way of handling vitiligo and B) two separate accusations of child molestation -- the latter of which went to trial (he was found not guilty) -- than his music. This was not helped by the fact that he rarely performed live or released new music in the final ten years of his life, meaning that most people only heard about him when he was doing weird, even dangerous (the Berlin baby-dangling incident) things.
Despite a number of recent albums with pro-God lyrics, Esham is still best known for his early Satanic lyrical themes.
Chris Brown beat up and domestically abused his girlfriend Rihanna. You have to be a really devoted hip-hop fan to get past that. However, he still has fans and chart-topping singles. It's just that the one thing people remember about him is the domestic abuse incident.
Most dramatic response: Radio 1's Chris Moyles refused to play Chipmunk's "Champion" on which Chris Brown appears, going for a specially-produced version in which Mr. Brown is replaced with the show's sports reporter! Listen to her (yes, HER) rendition here.
John Cale is an incredibly influential avant-garde Welsh rock musician (he was in the Velvet Underground, for crying out loud) who chopped a chicken's head off on stage during the late seventies to piss off his all-vegetarian band and the aggressive poser punks in the audience - he threw the head into the crowd, and it apparently landed in someone's drink. It's come up in almost every interview he's given since.
Disturbed's Signature Song "Down with the Sickness" is probably most known for the staccato scream-thing that David Draiman does near the beginning and end (Oh-wa-ah-ah-ah!!). He's only used this technique possibly three or four times in the band's discography, but since the song has seen use in a number of film trailers and other media, the group's detractors have taken to calling them "The Monkey Noise Band".
Another issue some of the band have is the drum solo that opens the song with a distinctive "THUD" that has made some believe their drummer Mike Wengren hits the drums too hard (it was actually created through applying 2-ply, coated heads on the toms). Wengren dislikes how this sound buries much of his work under layers of reverb, and has been increasingly been trying to work towards a cleaner sound both in how he plays and in mixing and post-production.
While Elvis Costello is well respected for his wide-ranging musical career, his use of the n-word to describe Ray Charles in a drunken tirade toward Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett in 1979 has always haunted him, even after Ray Charles told him he wasn't offended because he knew Costello didn't really mean it.
Tim "The Ripper" Owens is a pretty good metal vocalist, but he's likely doomed to be known as the guy who ruinedJudas Priest and Iced Earth.
The band Orleans had two big hits in the 1970's with "Dance With Me" and "Still the One". In addition, band leader John Hall has had a successful post-music career as a political activist and Congressman. However, he and the band still have to contend with memories of this less-than-dignified album cover.
Bob Dylan has had a career stretching just under 50 years and just over 50 albums. Of all this, only two albums recorded early on in his career could be considered pure 'protest' albums and most of his songs have ever dealt with personal affairs, sexual politics or sheer surreal imagery. In fact he even disowned his protest period in his song 'My Back Pages'. Despite this, certain people still insist on labelling him a 'protest' singer.
Gackt called his penis "Magnum" in an interview almost ten years ago. This resulted in a severe case of Never Live It Down with fans from all over the world now calling him "Magnum" whenever they see him.
Also, his infamous story about buying Pork Belly Blocks from the supermarket has resulted in fans yelling "Butabara" (the Japanese word for "Pork Belly") every time they see him.
R. Kelly and a certain incident involving urination.
Imogen Heap is most popular for her "Hide And Seek", due to the Memetic Mutation related to it. People however ignore the meaning of the song, the lyrics, and any other part other then the meme-related part.
David Sylvian, an ambient musician, will never live down the work of his pop band Japan, especially their debut album Adolescent Sex which really embarrasses him.
John Greely, who sang on Iced Earth's Night Of The Stormrider, will never live down the rumors that he was kicked out of the band for being anti-semitic whilst on tour in Germany. In reality, he never did this - he just wanted to leave the band to be with his family (albeit in the middle of a tour). This annoyed band leader Jon Schaffer so much that he made up the story to make himself look good for the media.
For people who don't actually listen to her music, Lady Gaga is the weird chick who wore a meat dress and got carried around in an egg. This is a semi-subversion because she actually wants to be remembered for stunts like those; however, it's still played straight in that it's the only thing many people know about her.