Eight Legendary Drinking Binges that Only Celebrities Could Have Gotten Away With

shane macgowan mainWe would examine our society’s two-faced approach to dispensing justice, if only we could stop laughing at drunken celebrities for like one second.

1. Andre the Giant

andre the giant

Andre the Giant’s drinking prowess has been celebrated by millions of people who all should have had something better to do. Often called the greatest drinker in history, the man born Andre Roussimoff would daily consume his recommended calorie intake in booze, alone. Andre the Giant proved that it’s possible to do a world-class job while staying completely loaded. So, those of you who got fired for being drunk at work have no one to blame but yourselves.

On one of his best drinking nights, Andre the Giant sat down at the bar and proceeded to self-medicate decades of joint and back pain. After all, beer is nature’s OxyContin. Nearly 120 cold ones later, the Giant stumbled into the hallway of his hotel and fell asleep on the floor. Unable to move him, the staff was forced to cover Andre with a piano cover to hide his hulking form.

2. John Barrymore

john barrymore

We hear John Barrymore might have been one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. But our grandparents told us that, so who knows. But we do know he starred in dozens of films and left a legacy that is still prominent today.

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Okay, maybe not so prominent today. But John Barrymore was huge, trust us.

However, this might never have happened if it weren’t for one fateful bender in the Spring of 1906. Barrymore was staying in a hotel in San Francisco, where times were shaky at worst (see what we did there?) Dreading an upcoming theater tour of Australia, Barrymore was one of the few people who benefited from San Francisco’s laissez-faire attitude towards building codes.

Barrymore spent most of the days following the huge San Francisco Earthquake drinking like the world had just ended. Eventually, a sloshed Barrymore stumbled onto the streets and began presenting himself as a reporter. Not wanting to bother with unimportant things such as journalism, Barrymore slurred through his reports, making everything up as he went along. This is by his own smug-as-all-Hell admission. By the time the truth came out, Barrymore had already launched himself into the stratosphere of success.

3. John Riggins

john riggins

We’ve all had too much to drink and tried to enact an on-the-spot change in social justice, usually with our fists. As a self-proclaimed flower child, former NFL running back John Riggins was all about enacting social change, especially when it came to carefully changing defenders’ spines so that they were several inches away from their necks. With backwards ideas like these, it’s no wonder John Riggins thought a Congressional dinner was a great place to get shitfaced drunk and not argue politics at all.

Well, “at all” might be a bit of an understatement. At one point during the fancy dinner, a cowboy-boot and tuxedo clad Riggins vision cleared just long enough to recognize Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sitting across the room. Obtaining the Justice’s attention by lunging at her, Riggins yelled, “Loosen up, Sandy baby.”

Riggins took the ensuing awkward silence as an excuse for an encore, staggering to his feet. As John Riggins made his way around the table, O’Connor’s husband must’ve been trembling at the thought of having to fight this guy:

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Fortunately, Riggins decided to forego a highbrow political discussion in lieu of passing out under a nearby chair. He remained there through an entire keynote speech by Vice President Bush, and then Secret Service let him know that he was about as welcome as a leprechaun at an A.A. meeting.

4. Richard Harris

richard harris

You probably know Richard Harris as the guy who played Dumbledore and then promptly died. We think he might have been in some other films, too.

Harris has had a couple of noteworthy benders. Once, upon accepting the award for best actor at Cannes, he was presented with a pair of cuff links. Miffed at the trophy, Harris grabbed the biggest piece of gold-plated hardware he could find and ran off stage. Pushing aside two security guards, Harris escaped into the night.

The binge drinking ordeal that proves he is not like us mortals happened over a five day occasion in London. After drinking all day at a pub, Harris was kicked out at closing time. Not wanting to stop his one-man party, Harris boarded the nearest train that was serving alcohol. When the train kicked him off in the middle of the night, the actor beloved by millions of shitty-kids-movie-loving-tweens had no idea where he was, but had succeeded in getting fiercely tanked. At this point he was probably disheartened for a brief instance before a fiery voice inside his head roared, “I’m Richard Harris and I’m King of the Universe! Also, I need to piss!” Figuring that was a solid enough start to a plan, Harris then picked up a rock and heaved it at the nearest window. The owner came out, recognized Harris as a celebrity, and invited him inside for what turned out to be four more days of binge drinking. Which proves that you can’t throw a rock in England without hitting a raging alcoholic.

5. Shane MacGowan

shane macgowan

Admittedly, when you’re the lead singer of a punk band in Ireland, you’re going to be drunk probably even while you sleep. But, eventually, all punk stars grow out of this musical phase and go on to have successful careers in business/die in drugged-out domestic fights. Which is why MacGowan’s pure exuberance for partying well into his fifties is unique.

What’s also unique is this video of a 52-year-old MacGowan unable to compose a two-word sentence, yet taking red carpet interviews:

In 2002, MacGowan was well into his mid-forties and still fronting the Pogues. One one particular day, he was confined to a wheelchair for a broken leg. Naturally, such a state gets kind of boring, so MacGowan drank himself into a stupor. Later that evening, MacGowan wheeled onstage for a gig, and promptly puked on the front rows of fans without so much as a splash zone warning.

For his unique display of audience banter, MacGowan received little punishment, if any. He even picked up the pukey microphone and tried to continue (but fans were distracted, for some reason). If we ralphed (or “Safewayed”) all over people at a punk show, we’d end up with our lips and nuts pierced and chained together.

6. Lon Chaney, Jr.

lon chaney

Lon Chaney, Jr. made himself famous delivering some of the most memorable movie monster roles of the black-and-white era. He was best known as The Wolfman, back before Werewolves hooked up with Vampires and got totally boring. He was the son of a famous actor, and he was a raging alcoholic due to this and a combo of other factors we now refer to as “Keifer Sutherland Syndrome.” But, unlike saving the world from a nuke on 24, being a snarling, howling movie beast can totally be done by a raging drunk. Even if he has to toss kids around, like in this memorable drunken live performance:

Leading up to this live Frankenstein appearance, Lon Chaney, Jr. was stumbling through rehearsals drunk as an Ancient Egyptian at the Temple of Mut. Yeah, look it up. In fact, rehearsals had to be stopped because Chaney broke a window he was not supposed to… three times. During these rehearsal breaks, Chaney would slither to the bar and proceed to get even more hammered. When it came time to do the live take, Lon was so blitzed that he thought it was a rehearsal. Lon half-assed his was through the performance, muttering to himself “I’ll break this later,” every time the script called for him to smash a piece of the set. Looking back, that was probably best for the little boy in the scene.

7. Keith Moon

keith moon

The Who has long been associated with their wild hotel room antics that eventually led to a multiple-decade ban by the Holiday Inn. A large part of the motel room destruction was due to the actions of their hyperactive drummer, Keith Moon, who once famously passed out during a show and had to be replaced by a fan from the audience.

Moon’s lust for shattered porcelain went far beyond the normal hatred most people harbor towards sit-down toilets. He behaved as if the Secretary of War had issued him a prime directive against all commodes. Moon started with cherry bombing and progressed to M-80s, racing to win an arms war in which only he was competing. Not satisfied with that, Moon began stockpiling actual loads of dynamite to take with him on tour. You’ve got to be drunk to think packing active and unstable explosives to a rock show post-party is a pretty nifty idea.

One fateful day, the Who checked into a Flint, Michigan Holiday Inn. There, Moon went on a drunken Sherman’s March throughout the hotel grounds. A stick of dynamite left nothing of the toilet except an enormous gaping hole into the bathroom below. Not satisfied with this explosive combination of fixture and water, Moon then drove a Cadillac into the hotel pool.

According to Roger Daltry, Moon didn’t exactly elude authorities. He was fined $50,000 and given a lifetime ban, which sadly turned out to be 11 years for Moon.

8. Paul Revere

paul revere

First of all, it’s difficult to ascertain the real truths behind Paul Revere’s ride. It’s difficult to ascertain anything about anyone from back in those days, because old-timey journalism blew. In order to determine what happened, we can only examine the facts and provide suppositions.

That said, Paul Revere’s ride took him through the rum-producing town of Medford, where he did stop by the local tavern. Did he light two lanterns and head on his way, or did he get rum-plastered and go on a British-warning bender? All we can do is provide the facts and let you decide.

Paul Revere’s ride was planned to end at the house of Samuel Adams (the beer guy) and John Hancock (the guy who can sign his name with his own unit). They spent a great deal of time there planning. Then, instead of resting up for the upcoming war with a sensible Adams and Hancock, Paul Revere decided to attack the militia’s main arsenal. Which is totally something we would do sober at 1 A.M. (if we were ever sober at 1 A.M.) He then picked up a buddy, Samuel Prescott, who had been up all night having sex (which totally doesn’t ever involve drinking.)

Those two, and another guy, were soon caught by British troops. We imagine this is kind of like getting pulled over by the cops for drunk horseriding. Prescott and that other guy got away, but Revere was taken into custody. Was he plastered at the time? You make the call. It’s important to note that Revere, a wealthy and well-known dude, is remembered as a hero of the American Revolution. He’s not remembered as a drunken silversmith who shambled up the entire coast drunkenly screaming about the British, before trying to almost single-handedly attack the enemy’s main stockpile of weapons (and failing miserably).

Evan Hoovler also writes for Blastr and Gamespy. He co-wrote the National Lampoon book, “Pimp It Yourself”, and wants to be your Facebook friend.

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