Top 10 deported/exiled musicians

Last updated 05:00 27/06/2012
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10. Slick Rick

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Getting deported used to be a rite of passage for any self-respecting musician. Through acts of either ill-timed lewdness or just flat-out cultural insensitivity, you could find yourself passing through the latexed hands of local authorities and back towards your dustbin bachelor pad of origin quicker than one can say "I have nothing to declare."

The itinerary typically went something like this: catch flight, land in country, don't declare drugs, get deported. Or this: catch flight, land in country, buy drugs, wee on icon of national importance, get deported. Or perhaps this: catch flight, land in country, play concert, buy drugs, buy more drugs, stay in country, stay in country, stay in country, flash penis, get deported. The options were endless.

Of course, some artists have been forced to leave a country (often their own) for reasons far heavier than a few pounds of weed. Dictators, fascist regimes and the United States of America all think musicians are pretty crap.

It may no longer be the 1960s but touring artists still occasionally find themselves in hot water after forgetting to flush their uppers down the toilet. So in honour of our favourite revolutionaries, rebels, and stupid idiots, The Vine have dug out the top ten deported and exiled musicians. Boarding passes at the ready.

10. Slick Rick
Year: 1991-2008
Country: United States
Offence: Attempted murder and weapons charges, looking like a pirate

A cheat because Slick Rick never actually got deported, but this saga is nothing short of legendary. The British-born rapper moved to the States when he was just 11 years old, but wound up in jail in 1991 after being convicted on attempted murder and weapons charges. Rick was paroled for good behaviour after just five years, but a law that threatens to deport immigrants convicted of aggravated felonies always loomed large. He was picked up by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service in 2002 and spent a year in detention before a judge ruled that he could go free. Still, it took a 2008 pardon from New York Governor David Paterson to confirm that Rick could once and for all stay in the United States.

9. Paul McCartney
Year: 1980
Country: Japan
Offence: Weed carrying

If Paul McCartney isn't banging on about how great marijuana is, he's getting deported for trying to spirit half a pound of the stuff into Japan. Half a pound! That's 230 grams - he might as well have used the bag for carry-on luggage. Incidentally, McCartney was once also deported from Germany for setting fire to condoms. The man's a terrorist, basically.

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8. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

Year: 2003
Country: United States
Offence: Being Yusuf Islam (as opposed to being Cat Stevens)

Talking of terrorists, Cat Stevens is obviously one. I mean, just look at the guy; he calls himself Yusuf Islam FFS. Yusuf was en route to Washington, DC in 2003 when the United States Transportation Security Administration ordered his flight be diverted 600 miles to Maine, where the British rock star-turned-philanthropist was promptly yanked off the plane and sent back home. Then again, it was the year of Yusuf's children's album, I Look I See. You could level a city with that bomb.


7. Paris Hilton
Year: 2010
Country: Japan
Offence: Former drug offences (i.e. being Paris Hilton)

Before you cry foul over Hilton's inclusion on this list, remember: she has released an album. Not only that but, like McCartney, she's fallen foul of Japan's zip-tight drugs laws. Apparently her 2010 cocaine offences were too much for the Japanese immigration officials to handle. Opportunity lost, though, to ask the hotel heiress to take leftover copies of Paris back home with her.


6. Kutmah
Year: 2010
Country: United States
Offence: Giving birth to a musical movement

Not really, but sometimes it feels that way. Justin 'Kutmah' McNulty was born in Brighton, England, but moved to Los Angeles when he was just 12 years old. He went on to become a boundary-pushing DJ at Dublab and Low End Theory, whilst his Sketchbook Sessions at Little Temple on Santa Monica Boulevard were critical in the development of L.A.'s now celebrated beats scene. Kutmah's blunder came in 1997 when, planning to get married, he signed a voluntary departure agreement. The wedding never happened, and 13 years later he became a victim of the Obama government's toughened immigration enforcement. As it stands, Kutmah can't apply to return to the US for another eight years. Pants.

5. Rod Stewart
Year: 1963
Country: Spain
Offence: Vagrancy

It's like rats in a barrel with these old schoolers - they couldn't help but piss off somebody - but Rod Stewart's story is more interesting than most. He may now be better known as the smarmiest cover artist on the planet, but time was when the Brit earned his money, sleeping rough on trips to the continent with folk singer Wizz Jones. Arrangements included local fields and bridges, and it wasn't long before the two of them were picked up by police in Barcelona for vagrancy. I wish someone would pick him up for artistic vagrancy.

4. MF DOOM
Year: 2010
Country: United States
Offence: Being a supervillain

In what's increasingly looking like a tactic by the United States to rid itself of all musical talent, Q Magazine reported last month that MF DOOM was Slick Ricked in 2010 when trying to re-enter the country. The British-born DOOM was moved to the US as a baby but never naturalised. Two years ago he bit the bullet, filed for a UK passport and jetted off on a world tour; DOOM has a US-born wife and children and - as Q suggested - most likely figured they'd be enough to guarantee him re-entry into the country. But once back in the US he was met head-on by a recalcitrant immigration official and has been stuck in London ever since. DOOM being DOOM, though, he's been making it count, working on new recordings with both Thom Yorke and Beth Gibbons.

3. Dean Reed
Year: 1973
Country: United States
Offence: Really digging Communism

Or Marxism, as Reed was careful to delineate. Either way, the square-jawed Coloradan singer-songwriter was immensely popular throughout the Soviet bloc, and decided to settle in East Germany in 1973 after becoming openly critical of his own country's foreign policy. Many Americans were at least sympathetic towards Reed's plight if not his politics and he never renounced his US citizenship, continuing to file tax returns for the Internal Revenue Service (because communists love taxes). Unfortunately, the wheels well and truly came off for Reed during an infamous 1986 interview on CBS's 60 Minutes, in which he defended the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the building of the Berlin Wall ("self-defence"), and compared Ronald Reagan to Joseph Stalin (add a moustache and they actually do look pretty similar). Tragically, Reed was found dead in Zeuthener Lake near his home in East Berlin just six weeks later. Officially ruled an accidental drowning, Stasi files unearthed since indicate that he committed suicide.

2. Gilberto Gil
Year: 1968
Country: Brazil
Offence: Thinking for himself

If there's one thing we learned from Stripes it's that army types don't have a sense of humour. So in 1968, when Brazilian Gilberto Gil composed a satirical take on his country's national anthem, it was only ever going to piss off the military dictatorship then in control of the government. He was soon under arrest. Gil was set free after three months on the condition he leave the country, and those classy generals even allowed him to play a concert to raise the money for his plane ticket. Gil eventually returned to Brazil and in 2003 became the country's culture minister. Winger would be proud.

1. Joe Cocker
Year: 1972
Country: Australia
Offence: Weed carrying, allegedly punching people in the face

Just four years after The Who and Small Faces were vilified by the Australian media and Mick Jagger declared too unmanly to play Ned Kelly, a touring Joe Cocker and five of his entourage ran afoul of South Australian authorities when arrested for marijuana possession. They were fined $300 each and Cocker continued the tour. But the Englishman found himself in hot water again a few days later after his Melbourne Festival Hall show, when he and his girlfriend were involved in an alleged brawl in the foyer of the Commodore Chateau hotel. Get the hell out, Joe.

-The Vine

- © Fairfax NZ News

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