It’s rather incredible that classic rock artists escaped the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s without being electrocuted. After all, one of the most common tropes in the era’s music videos — besides diaphanous scarves, quick-cut editing and, shall we say, distinct hairdos — was rain. Buckets of rain, in fact, where some clips are concerned. Video directors often seemed to delight putting the world’s biggest rock stars into a position where they might get completely soaked, all for the sake of art.
Guns n’ Roses, ‘November Rain’ (1991)
One of the most famous rain-centered videos in the MTV era is Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain.” The clip starts with Axl Rose in his bedroom, safe and dry during a storm, but later features unexpected cloudbursts during a wedding and funeral. The clip ends with Rose next to his beloved’s coffin, with the rain causing the red dye in a bouquet of flowers to drip out.
Fleetwood Mac, ‘Gypsy’ (1982)
The artistic, vintage-movie-inspired video for the Fleetwood Mac hit features an interlude where a rainstorm threatens to ruin a fancy night out for the clip’s characters. As Stevie Nicks sings “Enough to love,” she runs into the rain, soaking up the weather like a cathartic cleanse — and trills “She was just a wish” while exhibiting one of her inimitable twirls.
The Clash, ‘London Calling’ (1979)
It’s subtle, but the Clash are pictured in this clip on a boat adjacent to the Thames River during a steady downpour. Naturally, the group members aren’t flinching at the precipitation — or the fact that the ground near their equipment is noticeably wet – although both close-up and long-view camera shots show the torrential rain. Ever the good sports (and unflappable punks), the Clash give a strident performance.
Kiss, ‘Tears Are Falling’ (1985)
Does anybody else think it’s funny that somehow only the new guy, guitarist Bruce Kulick, is forced to play in a man-made monsoon while his bandmates (and their Day-Glo-bedazzled clothes) stay nice and dry?
Toto, ‘I’ll Be Over You’ (1986)
Toto’s clandestine performance on a rooftop seems to be coming off without a hitch. Michael McDonald shows up to contribute guest vocals, and the day is filled with postcard-perfect, radiant sunshine.
Then disaster strikes– a thunderstorm. Toto frantically run for cover, leaving most of their gear behind — save for a snare drum, which Jeff Porcaro attempts to use as an umbrella. Musicians might wince at the clip’s final scene — water running over a drum and guitar neck — although it looks like the band members made it safely to cover.