15 Musicians Who Were Sent To Jail At The Peak Of Their Careers

By 07.02.12

As we mentioned last week, woefully miseducated singer Lauryn Hill may spend up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges. This is especially sad news because Hill, who’s only 37 years old, should still be in the peak of her career. Her live shows have supposedly gotten much better much lately, which is to say she’s been actually showing up on time(ish).

Assuming she does spend time in the slammer, she would be the latest of a long line of performs who should have been making amazing music, not making shivs out of toenails and belly button lint. Here are 15 musicians who went to jail or prison during the peak of their careers.

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Sid Vicious

Charged with: Murder (of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen)
Length Incarcerated: 59 days (beginning 1978)


Chuck Berry

Charged with: Violating the Mann Act (transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines for “immoral purposes”)
Length Incarcerated: 18 months (beginning 1962)


Pete Doherty

Charged with: Breaching his probation orders (one of many times he went to jail)
Length Incarcerated: 29 days (beginning 2008)


Tupac Shakur

Charged with: Sexual assault
Length Incarcerated: 11 months (beginning 1995)


Peter Yarrow

Charged with: Making sexual advances towards a 14-year-old girl
Length Incarcerated: Three months (beginning 1970)


Steve Earle

Charged with: Possession of narcotics
Length Incarcerated: Four and a half months (beginning 1995)


Lil Wayne

Charged with: Criminal possession of a weapon
Length Incarcerated: Eight months (beginning 2010)


GG Allin

Charged with: Aggravated assault with intent to mutilate
Length Incarcerated: 15 months (beginning 1989)


Lil' Kim

Charged with: Federal perjury
Length Incarcerated: One year and one day (beginning 2005)


Beanie Sigel

Charged with: Federal gun charges
Length Incarcerated: One year and one day (beginning 2004)


Fela Kuti

Charged with: Currency smuggling
Length Incarcerated: 20 months (beginning 1984)



Charged with: Murder
Length Incarcerated: Nine years and four months (beginning 1992)


Billie Holiday

Charged with: Possession of narcotics
Length Incarcerated: 10 months (beginning 1947)


Big Lurch

Charged with: Murder (of his female roommate, whose liver he also ate)
Length Incarcerated: Life (beginning 2003)



Charged with: Aggravated assault
Length Incarcerated: 12 months (beginning 1993)


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