On August 24, 2009, interns working for NBC’s Tonight Show (then hosted by Conan O’Brien) were surprised when musical guests Kings of Leon insisted on a closed rehearsal. Normally, employees and interns could watch artists sound-check during their lunch break, but Kings of Leon shut them out. It seemed an unusually douchey move, though that alone might not have been such a big deal …
… but the band’s antics were just getting started.
Let's be clear: Stories of stars acting like complete assholes around the little people are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles. But when we started asking industry insiders for some of their worst horror stories, we were so struck by Kings of Leon's Tonight Show visit that we stopped right there (for now, anyway — other assholes, you're not off the hook yet).
]The Southern rockers of “Sex on Fire” fame used to be portrayed as a genteel family band — three sons and the nephew of a Pentecostal preacher who moved to Nashville to make music together. But over the years, that image has become increasingly hard to reconcile with the trail of douchbaggery they’ve left in their wake.
Since 2009, Kings of Leon have cussed out their own fans, walked out of a show after getting shit on by pigeons, and dissed the TV program Glee to such an extent that Sir Elton John called them “assholes.” Caleb Followill admitted to Britain's Telegraph in 2010 that he was only sober for “the first 30 minutes of every day” — adding that once he started drinking, “there's a level of brutal honesty, if not pure meanness.” At a gig in Dallas in 2011, Caleb announced he was going offstage “to vomit” and never returned. Their tour was later canceled, with “exhaustion” given as the reason. (In a 2013 interview, again with the Telegraph, Caleb said he'd quit drinking, although he also denied rumors that he'd gone to rehab.)
And that's the context for the story we learned from two former Tonight Show interns, who independently confirmed the details. (Both asked not to be named since they still work in the entertainment industry.)
According to the interns, things got even more sore after the sound-check. When Kings of Leon went to their dressing room, they had a spread of food and wine waiting for them, as requested in their contract. But the band refused to touch it until they had ceramic plates and actual stemware.
One intern was instructed to wash glass stemware dug up out of a prop room. The other recalls someone making a run to a nearby store to purchase plates. (For the record, this wasn’t the first time they made extra hospitality demands at a show.)
Then one of the interns made the mistake of making eye contact with Caleb Followill in the hallway. “Hey, I really liked your new album!” the starstruck intern told him.
Followill alledgedly scowled, and then shoved the intern aside as he passed.
Later, one of the interns says, Tonight Show staff members responsible for cleaning the dressing room reported that the place had been trashed. Drink and food were spilled everywhere, and food was ground into the carpet, almost as if it had been done intentionally.
“It was unbelievable,” the intern says. “I used to like them. But now anytime I hear their songs it triggers a horrible memory.”
When asked for comment, a PR representative for the band told LA Weekly that the allegations were ridiculous, saying the Followills “were happy all day and the show was great.”
The show’s Music Talent Executive, Jim Pitt, who still works for Conan's TBS show, was defensive. “Really? When did LA Weekly become TMZ?” Pitt went on to deny that the band made any unusual requests or acted unprofessionally, but did allow that NBC employees had been stuck in traffic and late to pick up the band from their Los Angeles hotel that morning. Band members had to drive their own rental cars to the lot when it became clear they might miss the dress rehearsal, which might have set a bad tone.
So, maybe that excuses shoving the intern. But what about the stemware demand? What kind of rock stars drink out of a glass?