The music industry is a crazy world, but not this crazy
1. Keith Richards Snorted His Father’s Ashes
A few years ago, Rolling Stones guitarist caused quite a stir when he admitted in an interview that he mixed his father’s ashes with cocaine and snorted them. The whole thing caused a lot of shock and was mentioned by all the big media outlets but it wasn’t true. Richards was surprised that everyone actually believed him and straightened things out in a later interview when he revealed that he actually sprinkled the ashes under a newly-planted oak tree.
Later on, when he published his autobiography, Richards backtracked on his comments and admitted that he did, actually, snort some of his father’s ashes, but not in the original context. He didn’t mix them with cocaine, but when he sprinkled them some of the ashes wound up on a table. Richards decided it would be more fitting to snort the ashes instead of simply brushing them off the table.
2. He Also Had a Blood Transfusion
That is not the only time that the rocker was in the headlines with an absurd story. On another occasion he supposedly went to Switzerland to undergo a radical medical treatment where all his blood was replaced with new blood to get all the drugs out of his system. While it is likely that Richards underwent some kind of medical treatment at the time, he later confessed that he made up the story about the blood transfusion as a joke on the journalists who kept asking him about the rumor.
3. Gene Simmons’ Cow Tongue
Here is another dubious myth involving a rock star and a medical procedure. KISS bassist is renowned for his giant tongue and this led to rumors that he had a cow tongue surgically attached to his own. Obviously, this isn’t true for several reasons. For starters, Simmons said as much in his autobiography. Secondly, he might have an impressive tongue for a human, but it’s nothing compared to a real cow tongue. If you’ve ever seen one, you’ll know that a cow tongue is huge! It’s about a foot in length and three times as wide as a human tongue. And last, but not least, there is no need for such a preposterous explanation to account for the rock star’s impressive tongue. It might be unusually large, but there are other people with even bigger tongues, including Nick Stoeberl, the Guinness Record Holder for the longest tongue in the world.
4. Michael Jackson Owned the Skeleton of the Elephant Man
Was there ever a celebrity surrounded by more bizarre stories than MJ? One of the weirdest definitely has to be the rumor that he bought the skeleton of John Merrick, a 19th century man nicknamed the Elephant Man because he suffered from many physical deformities. We know this one is not true. The skeleton has always been under the care of the Royal London Hospital and it’s not even commonly placed on public display. Jackson might have had a fascination with the skeleton and might have even tried to buy it, but it was never for sale.
5. Cass Elliot Died by Choking on a Ham Sandwich
Cass Elliot was almost as well-known for her substantial girth as she was as a singer for The Mamas & The Papas. Jokes and references regarding her size were pretty common in the tabloids so, when she died, it obviously had something to do with food, right? More specifically, she died by choking on a ham sandwich. Her obesity did have something to do with her death, but that’s only because she died of a heart attack.
Bonus Fact: Here is some true grim trivia about Cass Elliot if you want it. She died in a flat on 9 Curzon Place in London belonging to singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson. Four years later, Keith Moon died in the same flat.
6. Louie Louie Has Obscene Lyrics
Originally written by Richard Berry in 1955, it is the version performed by The Kingsmen which was the biggest hit and is still a popular song today. The tune was sung in a deliberate slurred way which made the words hard to understand, leading some to speculate that the song contains obscene lyrics. This led to many complaints so eventually the FBI, apparently having nothing better to do, genuinely undertook a 4-month investigation to determine if a song had naughty words in it or not. What was the result of their hard work? Inconclusive. Their conclusion was that the lyrics are unintelligible at any speed which makes it impossible to determine if the lyrics are obscene or not.
7. ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy
Supposedly, that is what Jimi Hendrix says in Purple Haze. At least, that is what many people hear instead of ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky. This is called a mondegreen – a mishearing of a word or phrase which sounds similar to another word or phrase which changes its meaning. It happens quite often, especially in music. Jimi’s lyric happens to be one of the best-known examples of a mondegreen. Another common (and quite comical) one comes from Bad Moon Rising by Clearance Clearwater Revival where instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise” people hear “There’s a bathroom on the right” (and now so will you every time you hear the song). Another memorable mondegreen is the title of 17-minute epic In-a-Gadda-da-Vida which is often misinterpreted as In the Garden of Eden.
8. Robert Johnson Sold His Soul to the Devil
One of the most enduring legends of the music industry. A Faustian tale where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for unparalleled talent for playing guitar. The tale was giving credence by several facts such as Johnson dying young at the age of 27 under suspect circumstances and the fact that he disappeared for six months prior to displaying his newfound talent. The problem is that he didn’t disappear. He spent that time learning from a guitar teacher (a human one), played street corners and every bar that would have him. In other words, he kept practicing and practicing until he got very good. So no pact with the devil here. Just a very talented, highly-influential blues singer.
9. Marilyn Manson Starred in The Wonder Years as a Child
There is a slight resemblance between rocker Marilyn Manson and child character Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years which led many to conclude that the two must be one and the same. Of course, they’re not. They just (kind of) look similar. Pfeiffer was played by actor John Saviano who never really appeared much on-screen after the show because he became a lawyer.
10. Paul Is Dead
Probably the most pervasive and famous myth of the music industry – Paul McCartney (the real one, that is) died a long time ago and was replaced with a look-alike. Ever since then, the band had always left clues to his demise in their music. The most famous example is the cover of Abbey Road where each member of The Beatles is supposed to represent a different character: Ringo was the mourner, dressed all in black; John was the priest, dressed all in white; George was the gravedigger, dressed in jeans (because gravediggers love denim, apparently) and Paul was the deceased because he had no shoes on. Well, I’m convinced.
Ever since the rumor started, the band has denied it with every occasion, but conspiracy theorists are sticking to their guns. Perhaps it’s best to let the man himself dispel the myth.