Published Jul 10, 2012As great as much of R. Kelly's music is, it's hard to listen to the mega-famous R&B singer without getting bogged down by his personal baggage. Is there any other music star who has courted as much personal controversy as the man born Robert Sylvester Kelly? Despite his tabloid-friendly personal life, he has managed to persevere and sustain his career for more than 20 years.
You can get a taste of the many hilarious, strange and downright disturbing things R. Kelly has (allegedly) done over the last couple of decades in our in-depth Timeline feature. To help you dive in, here's a sampling of five of the craziest facts from that piece.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About R. Kelly:
1. R. Kelly allegedly married Aaliyah when she was too young to legally tie the knot.
Vibe publishes a story claiming that 27-year-old Robert and 15-year-old Aaliyah have married in secret after falsifying her age on the marriage certificate. More rumours begin to circulate that Aaliyah is at one point pregnant. Their reputations are jeopardized by the rumours, as the couple are booed when they appear at the Soul Train Awards together. Aaliyah and Kelly address the rumours, denying they're married, but it doesn't seem to satisfy the press. According to Illinois State Law, no marriage could legally be consummated by anyone under the age of 16.
2. Michael Jordan personally requested the song that became R. Kelly's biggest hit.
After a game of basketball with Michael Jordan in Chicago, MJ asks him to write a song for the soundtrack to his new live action/animated film, Space Jam soundtrack. Robert contributes two, including "I Believe I Can Fly," a three-time Grammy winner (Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television) that becomes his biggest song ever.
3. R. Kelly's alleged fondness for underage girls was apparently so severe that it was described as an addiction.
Barry Hankerson officially resigns as Kelly's manager, and reportedly addresses Robert's lawyer telling him he believes the singer needs psychiatric help for his addiction to underage girls.
4. R. Kelly empathized with Osama Bin Laden.
In an interview with Blender, Robert empathizes with Osama Bin Laden, saying, "People can say whatever they want about you without knowing the facts. They can criticize you without even knowing you, and hate you when they don't even know you. All of a sudden, you're, like, the bin Laden of America. Osama bin Laden is the only one who knows exactly what I'm going through."
5. R. Kelly skipped out on a show to work at a McDonald's.
On the first date in Chicago, he shows up two and a half hours late, to perform a set that includes yellow showers and a dance crew in orange prisoner jumpsuits. Prosecutors ask for a copy of the show on tape after word gets out that Kelly was allegedly mocking his legal troubles. Cancelling the second date in Cincinnati, Kelly performs only half a set in St. Louis and then heads out to a local McDonald's, which he persuades to re-open after closing. Robert then takes over the drive-thru, which attracts a huge crowd once the radio stations begin reporting.