The most famous musical conspiracy theories and hoaxes
1 October 2020, 14:00 | Updated: 12 October 2020, 15:52
Scams. Myths. Fibs. How do you separate the truth from the nonsense? Here’s Radio X’s guide to some of the biggest lies in music history.
Did Paul McCartney die in 1966?
Of course he didn't. Who wrote the Frog Chorus in that case? This didn’t stop American radio DJs concocting a bizarre tale back in 1969 that the Beatle had been killed in a car crash and had been replaced by a lookalike. Among the bits of flimsy evidence: on the cover of Abbey Road, he’s not wearing shoes (LIKE A CORPSE), the VW Beetle license plate in the background says “28IF” cos Paul would have been 28 IF HE WERE STILL ALIVE (actually, he would have been 27 in the summer of ’69). And if you play the end of I’m So Tired backwards, John says: “Paul is dead, man - miss him, miss him, miss him”. Listen to the clip above, it's TRUE!
Is this a video of Amy Winehouse aged 10?
Of course it flipping isn’t. But that’s not stopped people sharing the clip, claiming it’s the late singer in her pre-pubescent years, complete with trademark beehive hairdo. It’s actually a clip of eight-year-old Angelina Jordan, winner of Norway’s Got Talent in 2014. There’s so much wrong with this story, including the fact that it was filmed three years after Amy’s death and do they really think she had that hairstyle when she was ten? Pish!
Are Jack and Meg White actually brother and sister?
No. They were married. One of the band’s early gimmicks (apart from the snazzy red-black-white outfits) was that they portrayed themselves as innocent, musical siblings. The truth was that Mr Jack Gillis married Ms Meg White in September 1996 and ended up taking her name to become the world famous Jack White. The pair divorced in 2000, by which time the truth had come out.
Did Radiohead release a song called “Putting Ketchup In The Fridge”?
No. In December 2011, many websites reported that this strangely-titled track was a Radiohead demo from the early 1990s and that the singer was definitely, undeniably Thom Yorke. Pretty soon after it was revealed that the song was actually by a Canadian musician called Christopher Stopa and he was slightly surprised by all the acclaim heading his way - particularly as he’d given up music and become a baker.
Are there really pre-Nirvana demos by Kurt Cobain out there?
Yes. But not all of them are real. To explain: Fecal Matter was the scatological name of Cobain’s early punk band circa 1985 and they released a demo tape called Illiteracy Will Prevail. The recordings were the Holy Grail of Nirvana collectors, who went into meltdown in 1997 when some tracks apparently surfaced. But no - they were created by a gentleman named William Clarke, who eventually ‘fessed up. The actual, genuine Fecal Matter demos have since turned up in decent quality.
Did Daft Punk release an album under the name The Third Twin?
No sir (or madam). At the end of 2010, a set of tracks leaked online, claiming to be taken from Daft Punk’s much-anticipated soundtrack to Tron: Legacy. Rumours said that the tracks were rejected by the movie’s producers Disney, and that they were issued under the name “The Third Twin” to avoid legal action. A festival in Spain claimed The Third Twin were “directly related” to Daft Punk and would be performing that summer, but DP’s management called foul. The Third Twin themselves claimed to be the nephews of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, but then claimed they’d split up in December 2011. Thank God Get Lucky came along and consigned this mess to history.
Did The Beatles, the Stones and Bob Dylan form a secret supergroup?
In October 1969, rock critic Greil Marcus wrote (under a false name) an album review for the magazine Rolling Stone. Credited to “The Masked Marauders”, this record was apparently a studio jam featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger and released anonymously because the artists were all under contract to different labels. It was all hogwash, of course and a spoof of the bloated “supergroups” of the time. This didn’t stop the editors of the mag from hiring musicians to actually record the songs and release them as an album. This is obviously Mick Jagger, right?
Did Timbaland produce a Nine Inch Nails album?
In 2009 (1 April, as a matter of fact) king of industrial noise Trent Reznor tweeted that he was rush-releasing a new album called Strobe Light, produced by hip hop superstar Timbaland. Guests on the album included Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow (on a song called “Pussygrinder”) and a track “featuring Chris Martin, Jay-Z AND Bono”. It was all bollocks. Sample the “title track” here:
Did Milli Vanilli sing on their own songs?
Well, no. Having a good looking “front” for a band of session musicians is not a new thing in the music biz, but some people can take it too seriously. German producer Frank Farian made millions with Boney M in the 70s, performing the male vocals on hits like Rasputin and Rivers Of Babylon while dancer Bobby Farrell mimed to the tracks on TV. Farian tried the same technique again in 1988 with Milli Vanilli, performed by session musicians and fronted by two German models: Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus.
The duo enchanted the Grammy judges, who gave them the award for Best New Artist in 1990, but the group to give it back when actual singer Charles Shaw noticed that the US version of the album credited the two pretty boys with the vocals. Legal action was thrown about, claiming record buyers were defrauded and were owed refund, while the whole affair ended in tragedy with the death of Pilatus in 1998 from an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs.