Great Artistic Decisions made by mistake

I recently heard that they accidentally cast the wrong actor as the lead villain in The French Connection. The director asked for a certain European actor named Fernando, but his underlings screwed it up and contacted a completely different Fernando. Of course, Fernando #2 did a great job and helped it become a classic movie.

Are there any other examples of great artistic strokes that happened by mistake?

The early 1960s Pacific Northwest group the Wailers inadvertently changed the beat for Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie”. Most of the groups that since recorded this classic have followed their lead.

Early examples of guitar distortion - on Rocket 88 from the early 50’s and Honey hush by the Rock n’ Roll Trio in the late 50’s - were caused when the amp was dropped…

At the end of I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang,

[SPOILER]Paul Muni’s on the run from the law and pays a late night visit to his girlfriend. He thinks he hears the cops coming so he slinks away and is covered in darkness as he hisses his last words to her.

Apparently, the darkness was a mistake - someone tripped on a wire and the lights went out or something. But the results was so effective they left it in.[/SPOILER]

(Fixed the link.)

That page says nothing about that, and, in fact, the page for Louie Louie says it was the Kingsmen who accidentally changed it from the Wailers version (which, listening on YouTube doesn’t seem to vary from the Berry).

“Her Majesty” ended up as the final song on Abbey Road by mistake. It was originally supposed to be between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam”, but McCartney had it edited out. The tape operator, following a policy of never destroying any Beatles recording, stuck it on the end of the tape after a fourteen-second delay, and that’s how it stayed.

Some people hate the fact that “Her Majesty” is there; they think it spoils the grand ending. I love it for exactly the same reason. When they started out, the Beatles were all about being irreverent, puncturing pompousness, and just having a laugh. If Abbey Road had ended with “The End”, it would have been like the Beatles had lost in the end – they would have ended up becoming what they had originally mocked. “Her Majesty” saves them from that fate… the fact that they liked it there means that they stayed true to themselves.

Pete Townshend’s guitar smashing career began in a club with an extremely low ceiling. Long story short–he held his guitar up above his head, broke the headstock, and the rest is history.

I am sure there are a ton more of guitar-related ones I can shake out of my skull if I took the time. Another that comes to mind is Peter Green’s Les Paul tone. PG was the guy who formed Fleetwood Mac - originally Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac - from pieces of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. They were a blues-psychedelic band, and Peter - having taken Clapton’s place in JM&tBB’s band, had a reputation as an amazing guitarist (see post #21 for a discussion of Green’s work).

Anyway, one thing that was considered great what his tone - it was different than a normal Les Paul tone. When it was finally investigated, it turns out that the magnet on one of his pickups was flipped, rendering that pickup out of phase with the other one, resulting in that tone (it was mounted with the pole-piece screws oriented wrong, too, but I believe that does not contribute to the tonal difference).

The guitar has its own complex history - a few breaks along the way, sold to Gary Moore for some stupidly low amount by a Peter Green slipping into acid-induced imbalance; a couple of years ago, Moore sold it to fund some surgery he needed (he has since died), but the sale was poorly handled, with the buyer immediately turning around and offering it for upwards of $2million. Here is a threadon the Gear Page on the guitar, one of the shorter ones - don’t even go near the Les Paul Forum and try to read up on this guitar - the threads are miles long…

…got pissed off at both the situation (Rickenbackers were high-end guitars back then, too) and some heckling from the crowd and smashed it out of anger. THEN he liked the reaction he got and transitioned it to an “artistic statement” if you will…

Legend has it that when the Sheldon Concert Hallin St. Louis was built, the plasterers mixed the formula wrong. The result greatly improved the acoustics of what was, basically, just a large room

Jaws would not have been as good a movie if there hadn’t been so many problems with the mechanical shark. Spielberg had to shoot most of the scenes with the shark only hinted at, which resulted in a more suspenseful movie.

I would bet a lot of money that a lot of the supposed great novelists through the years didn’t intend to put all of the so-called symbolism that everyone today is convinced their classic books are full of. i.e. The Great Gatsby News flash, college professors: a lot of these novelists were hammered throughout the writing process, so not every word is a metaphor for something profound.

Khan’s single gloved hand was unscripted, as was Spock’s tug of the uniform in those scenes -

Every word is a metaphor of something profound for the hammered.

I totally agree, but your example is absolutely one of the worst to illustrate it - our boy F. Scott was totally going for symbolism every step of the way…even while hammered out of his mind…