James Brown’s dance moves don’t mean what you think they mean.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images
1. Prince reportedly sent Weird Al Yankovic a telegram back in 1986, commanding the comedian to avoid eye contact with him during the entirety of the American Music Awards show.
2. Though little was known about eating disorders in his heyday, Louis Armstrong showed signs of bulimia. He binged and purged with the help of laxatives; he was often pictured with his laxative of choice, Swiss Kriss, and recommended it to his friends with the catchphrase "Satch says: Leave it all behind ya!"
3. As a teen, Gil Scott-Heron wrote a number of short detective stories in the vein of Agatha Christie.
4. Snoop Dogg reportedly sold weed to Cameron Diaz back when the two attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School.
5. Lil Wayne's debut album The Block Is Hot, released when the rapper was only 17 years old, is nearly profanity-free because of his mother's wishes.
6. Nas almost had Jesus in a headlock on the cover for his 1994 album Illmatic.
7. B.B. King named every guitar he owned Lucille after an incident at one of his performances. Two men had a physical altercation over a woman named Lucille; during the scuffle, they knocked over a barrel of kerosene that heated the venue and subsequently set the venue on fire. All persons inside were evacuated, but King ran back into the burning building to rescue his $30 Gibson guitar. The guitar thus became known as Lucille, as a reminder to King never to run into burning buildings or fight over women.
Hulton Archive / Getty Images
8. At the height of McCarthyism in the '50s, Lena Horne was blacklisted as a Communist over her participation in the Civil Rights Movement and her friendships with fellow activists Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois.
9. Getting fired from Office Depot inspired Janelle Monae to write "Letting Go," the song that would reach the ears of OutKast's Big Boi and launch her career.
10. When a drunken emcee announced The Sledge Sisters as "Sister Sledge" on stage, the quartet rolled with it and went on to use the error professionally.
11. James Brown's famous dance moves were coded directions for his stage band; every hand movement meant Brown had noticed a bum note or had seen a pair of unshined shoes.
12. Jimi Hendrix often switched up the frequently misheard lyrics to "Purple Haze" in his live performances; he swapped out "kiss the sky" for "fuck the sky" during a Seattle rainstorm, and for "kiss this guy" during another performance as he pointed to drummer Mitch Mitchell.
13. Using a modified board with elevated squares, Ray Charles frequently played chess with friends and band members. In 2002, Charles faced off against (and lost to) chess grandmaster Larry Evans.
14. Chuck Berry supplemented his musician's income by working as a trained beautician.