18 Very Real Phobias of Rock Stars

October 29, 2019

Photos by Getty Images


It is often said that public speaking (Glossophobia) is the #1 fear in America, followed by a fear of heights (Acrophobia), bugs & insects (Entomophobia) and drowning (Aquaphobia). But for rock stars, they are out performing live for hundreds and thousands of people every night, so we can take being the center of attention off the list.

But what else is left for them to be afraid of? Below is a list of fears experienced by some of the biggest artists in the world, with some of them still facing them to this day.

1. David Bowie, David Lee Roth, Chris Cornell and Gene Simmons: Fear of Flying (Aviophobia)

With Lynyrd Skynyrd, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Denver among the list of artists that have perished in plane/helicopter crashes, it is understandable for touring musicians to develop a fear of flying. From 1972 to 1977, David Bowie refused to fly due to a dream of him dying in a plane crash. So for years he toured the globe by car, bus and ship. Gene Simmons of KISS had the same  fear, but managed to overcome it after he flew to visit bandmate Paul Stanley in the hospital after receiving ear surgery. David Lee Roth believed there was a "lack of control" when travelling by plane, but also managed to overcome this fear, later admitting that he actually prefers taking longer flights because they allow him to read a book. The late Chris Cornell admitted to taking sedatives before flights because one flight from Seattle to New York City was  flown through a lightning storm for almost the entire flight.

2. Ozzy Osbourne: Rats (Musophobia)

He's bitten the heads off of bats and doves. But the Prince of Darkness is afraid of rats? Ozzy has admitted to being superstitious and afraid of lots of things, including rats for the amount of incurable diseases they carry.

3. Slash: Hand Injuries (Traumatophobia)

Considering that he built a legacy of being one of the greatest guitarists of all time, the fear of being unable to use his hands is understandable. He admits that he takes very good care of his hands, including not hanging his arm out of the car window while driving.

4. John Lennon: Legacy

Lennon told Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney that he would often worry about how people would remember him. To his relief, fans remember him as one of the greatest songwriters ever.

5. James Hetfield: Responsibility (Hypengyophobia)

In a 2014 video about his recovery from addiction, Metallica's James Hetfield revealed that the pressure of being a leader, making important decisions, the possibility of failure, and taking responsibility for himself and others was a fear that stayed with him ever since he was a kid. However he has made strides of overcoming this fear, including his more recent visit to rehab to battle addiction.

6. Freddie Mercury: Spiders (Arachniphobia)

Freddie Mercury embodied what it meaned to have a fearless onstage persona. He controlled and connected with the crowd, and all eyes and ears were on him. But in a book written by his partner Jim Hutton, the Queen frontman was petrified of spiders. But rather than kill them, he asked Hutton to catch the eight-legged crawlers and throw them outside alive.

7. Dave Grohl: Small Spaces (Claustrophobia)

The Foo Fighters frontman revealed in a 2002 interview with MTV that he sometimes has nightmares about being trapped in small, confined spaces like coffins, elevators and airplanes.

8. Axl Rose: People (Anthrophobia)

Even though he has no problem performing for thousands and thousands of people with Guns N' Roses, when they dropped their album Chinese Democracy in 2008, vocalist Axl Rose would disappear of months, refusing to give interviews or do press to promote the album.

9. Alice Cooper and Joe Perry: Needles (Trypanophobia)

Cooper has played with snakes, fire, and even guillotines onstage. But needles is where the shock rocker draws the line. He admitted on The Late Late Show with James Corden that he has not had a shot in 30 to 40 years.

Perry recalled a time in which an attempt to shoot up coke resulted in him losing lots of blood, fueling his already existing fear of needles.

10. Nikki Sixx and Johnny Cash: Snakes (Ophidiophobia)

Nikki Sixx had overcome death, but he's okay not being around snakes. After Slash pitched him the idea of getting comfortable around serpents for a show, Sixx ditched the concept altogether.

Johnny Cash had also felt the same way towards snakes, and was known to completely freeze at the very sight of one. 

11. Ringo Starr: Germs (Germophobia)

When Ringo Starr had his appendix removed at 6-years-old, complications from the surgery left him in a coma for days. At 13, he contracted tuberculosis. Even now at the age of 79, he refuses to shake hands, settling to rub elbows as a greeting instead.

12. Joe Elliot: Thanking The Wrong City

This fear would seem both specific and appropriate to touring musicians, because there is probably nothing more embarassing and awkward than thanking the wrong city you are performing in.

13. Matt Bellamy: Alien Impregnation (Xenophobia)

Muse's Matt Bellamy has his own list of conspiracy theories, and admitted in a 2000 interview with NME that his biggest fear is being impregnated by an alien and giving birth to it. Let's hope he's never seen Alien before.

14. Marilyn Manson: Sleeping Naked (Gymnophobia)

Yes, even Marilyn Manson is afraid of something. Main one being the fear of sleeping naked and waking up in front of the police or someone else.

15. Paul Stanley: Bullying (Gelotophobia)

The KISS vocalist/guitarist was born with a facial deformity that resulted in his right ear not completely developed. As a child he was always afraid of being bullied for his deformity. But after growing his hair long and joining the school choir, Stanley learned to overcome his insecurties.

16. Thom Yorke: Cars (Motorphobia)

After a near auto-accident in his childhood, Radiohead's Thom Yorke refers to cars as one of the most dangerous forms of transportation on Earth. This was even reflected in some of the band's songs like "Stupid Car", "Killer Cars" and "Airbag."

17. Johnny Depp: Clowns (Coulrophobia)

The actor/rocker has been around enough movie makeup in Hollywood, but he cannot act like he isn't afraid of clowns. He credits his fear to the fake, painted smile on their faces, believing something evil is lurking underneath.

18. Brandon Flowers: The Number 621 (Numerophobia)

It's an oddly specific number, but The Killers frontman revealed that after playing with Ouija board, it predicted that he would die on his birthday, June 21st (6/21). Although he admits it's a stupid fear, he refuses to stay in hotel rooms with the number 621, fly on his birthday, and becomes extra cautious when it's 6:21 while he's driving.