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10 Totally Phony “Facts” from the World of Music

by Selme Angulo
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

The music industry is a wild and crazy place. It’s filled with world-famous stars and their wild, hard-to-believe stories. People can’t get enough of that juicy gossip, whether from tabloids, interviews, books, or social media. And it’s become big business to report on these larger-than-life superstars.

But not all the reports that come out are real. With all the secrecy and scandal around the music biz, it’s no wonder that there are tons of crazy myths and urban legends floating around. And many of those are just flat-out false! Today, we’ll dive deep into ten notorious urban legends from the world of music. As it turns out, these ten myths are totally phony—even if overzealous fans have spread them as gospel for decades. It’s time to set the record straight!

Related: Top 10 Freaky Urban Legends Hidden In Songs

10 Jimi Hendrix: Not a Parakeet Pusher

Why do parakeets live in the UK?

Great Britain has a wild parakeet problem. Specifically, the ring-necked version of the bird is all over the island. They’re not native, and they don’t migrate, so they didn’t just fly over from Africa or India. Somebody actually brought them to Britain and set them free to roam. Since then, they’ve multiplied and multiplied, and now they are a mainstay. But who brought them to live here in the first place? And why?

One long-standing rumor claims it was Jimi Hendrix’s fault. As the story goes, he supposedly released a pair of parakeets on Carnaby Street during his 1968 London trip. For years now, no one has been able to say for sure if that really happened. And even if it did, Hendrix wouldn’t be responsible for the population. Parakeet sightings in Britain go all the way back to the 1800s. Plus, biologists now believe the first big release was likely in the early 1930s when “parrot fever” hit. English owners let their pets loose, and the rest is history.

Experts think there were other occasions when large numbers of parakeets were released too. One significant event could be the Great Storm of 1987, which wrecked birdhouses across the country. That’s how these parakeets became feral and established themselves in Britain. Ever since, it’s caused a bit of a problem. But all those things combine to make one point on the matter: Jimi Hendrix is cleared! Even if he did release a pair of parakeets in 1968, they weren’t the reason for Britain’s aviary infestation.[1]

9 The Monkees: Not Bestsellers

The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Open Up Like Never Before | Studio 10

The Monkees are a beloved band, but even they sometimes took things too far. Take a claim that has been floating around for years about how, in 1967, they outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined. Think about that. Of course, the claim was false! Outselling the Beatles and Stones (combined!) in the ’60s? No way! But the way it was started in the first place is an interesting early entry into the world of “fake news.”

Monkees member Mike Nesmith admitted in 2015 that he completely made up the sales claim. To drive the point home in that 2015 interview, he called it a “complete fabrication” and a “lie.” The origin of this falsehood can be traced back to a 1977 interview in Australia. At the time, Nesmith was tired and bored of media appearances, so he decided to playfully mislead the interviewer by mixing fact with fiction.

“Then came a point where he asked me about the sales of the Monkees records, and I saw the chance,” Nesmith recalled. “I said flatly that we sold over thirty-five million records in 1967. More than the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined… he diligently wrote all this down, and I wondered for a moment if I had chosen too outrageous a lie to tell, but it turned out it had been just right.” Oops![2]

8 The 27 Club: Not Real

27 Club: The Truth Behind Hollywood’s Deadliest Conspiracy

The 27 Club is a notorious phenomenon that links musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. These talented stars all tragically passed away at the age of 27. That created a mysterious statistical anomaly. By the time of Cobain’s demise in the ’90s, the concept of the 27 Club had already gained steam. Winehouse’s death in 2011 further reminded the world of this eerie pattern.

While these are the most well-known cases, other musicians such as Brian Jones, Robert Johnson, Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and many more have also been associated with the 27 Club. Why are so many rockers dying at 27, anyway? Well, as it turns out, they’re not… really.

Scientific studies have debunked the notion that musicians are more prone to die at the age of 27. Analyzing the deaths of over 11,000 musicians spanning 60 years, researchers found that only 1.3 percent of them died at that age. Surprisingly, the number of deaths was higher at 28. As expected, the mortality rate increased with age. And it reaches its peak between 55 and 65 years old. The deadliest age turns out to be 56, claiming the lives of 2.3 percent of musicians. That’s still a relatively small percentage, of course. But this slight increase compared to neighboring ages doesn’t support the existence of a significant spike related to the 27 Club.[3]

7 Jim Morrison: Not Alive

John Densmore Answers Jim Morrison Death-Faking Rumors | HPL

In the realm of urban legends, there’s a wild rumor floating around that suggests a deceased musician might actually be alive and kicking after having orchestrated his own demise. No, we’re not talking about Elvis Presley here. (Although there is that myth.) Instead, let’s venture into the idea that Jim Morrison, the charismatic frontman of The Doors, pulled off the ultimate disappearing act.

Morrison’s untimely demise in 1971 happened under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Quickly, it fueled the flames of speculation and conspiracy. The musician tragically passed away in his Paris apartment—joining the infamous 27 Club. A drug overdose seemed the likely cause of death, but his partner Pamela Courson feared legal repercussions. So she provided a false statement to French cops.

In it, she claimed Morrison died from a heart attack. Without any signs of foul play, authorities skipped an autopsy and hastily buried Morrison at Père Lachaise Cemetery. Then, they only informed grieving fans after the funeral. Naturally, that bizarre series of events had all the makings to push some skepticism.

Over the years, conspiracy theories have run wild. Some suggested Morrison fell victim to assassination plots. Others claimed he overdosed in a trendy Parisian nightclub, with his body surreptitiously transported home to avoid unwanted attention. And then, perhaps the most audacious theory emerged: Jim Morrison staged his own death, got himself a fresh start, and abandoned his former life. Astonishingly, this notion was supported by some of his closest friends, including Ray Manzarek, the co-founder and keyboardist of The Doors. But it’s not true. Regardless of his official cause of death, Morrison’s burial was very, very real.[4]

6 Keith Richards: Not Immortal

The Rolling Stones look back on 50 wild years of rock ‘n’ roll | 60 Minutes Australia

Keith Richards has gained notoriety for his extensive history of drug abuse. And yet he has outlived many of his peers who followed a similar path. So speculation surrounding his longevity has led to rumors. One notable myth suggests Richards achieved his enduring vitality by replacing his entire blood supply with fresh blood. According to these claims, the musician sought treatment at an exclusive medical facility hidden within the Swiss Alps to overcome his heroin addiction. Intriguingly, people close to Richards initially validated the rumors. However, the guitarist himself later confessed that he fabricated the entire story out of sheer boredom.

It makes sense, at least. Richards’ ability to withstand the effects of his excessive lifestyle has captivated the public’s imagination. So the notion of him rejuvenating his body through a total blood transfusion garnered attention. Was it really true? Sadly, it ultimately proved to be a fictitious account concocted by the Rolling Stones stud himself.

In an interview about the supposed blood transfusion, Keith fessed up to the fake. “Someone asked me how I cleaned up, so I told them I went to Switzerland and had my blood completely changed,” he admitted. “I was just fooling around. I opened my jacket and said, ‘How do you like my blood change? That’s all it was, a joke. I was f**king sick of answering that question. So I gave them a story.” And what a story it was![5]

5 Avril Lavigne: Not Dead

Avril Lavigne RESPONDS to Clone Conspiracy Theory

Canadian pop rocker Avril Lavigne has her own celebrity doppelgänger story that rivals any music myth out there. According to this conspiracy theory, the real Avril Lavigne tragically passed away in 2003. The death would have come shortly after her rise to fame with her debut album Let Go. However, even before her alleged demise, Avril apparently had reservations about her newfound stardom. So the story went, she occasionally employed a body double named Melissa Vandella for public appearances.

After Avril’s supposed death, her record company allegedly made a shrewd decision to keep the momentum going by promoting Melissa to assume Avril’s identity full time. Intriguingly, the new Avril purportedly dropped subtle hints about the switch in her songs. She even went as far as writing the name “Melissa” on her hand in a publicity snapshot. These clues fueled the fervor of conspiracy theorists, who eagerly dissected every piece of evidence they could find.

Despite the mounting speculation and so-called “irrefutable proof,” Avril chose to largely brush off the conspiracy theory. She viewed it as nothing more than a frivolous internet rumor. Idle minds yearning for fresh gossip were behind it, she swore. And while she has acknowledged the theory in recent years, she only does it to completely dismiss it as baseless and phony. The real Avril is still alive, and she hasn’t been replaced.[6]

4 The “Love Rollercoaster” Scream: Not a Murder

Debunking the ‘Love Rollercoaster’ Murder Scream Urban Legend

It all began with a scream. Back in 1975, the Ohio Players released their hit song “Love Rollercoaster.” It had a unique element: a scream in the middle of the music. Soon, a rumor spread that the band had accidentally captured the final cry of a woman being murdered in the recording.

How did this happen? Well, as the band was laying down the track, a woman was supposedly killed nearby. Some say it was just outside the studio, while others claim it happened in a different room or even a neighboring apartment. The scream heard faintly halfway through the song seemed like an unintentional recording. That only added to the belief.

Another version of the urban legend suggests that the woman was not killed but rather badly scalded by hot honey. In that instance, the scream supposedly belonged to Ester Cordet, a model who posed nude and dripping with honey for the album cover. However, it remains unclear how her scream ended up on the recording.

In truth, the explanation was much simpler. The scream was neither accidental nor from a woman. It was actually created by Billy Beck, the keyboardist of the Ohio Players. He wanted to add an extra touch to the track, so he wailed away. And even though he succeeded in making an impact, it wasn’t quite what he had originally intended. But still, the song lives on today because of it![7]

3 Phil Collins: Not a Death Voyeur

Phil Collins Shares the Real Story Behind “In the Air Tonight”

Fans of music often debate the hidden meanings behind their beloved songs. That happens especially when the lyrics or artist’s intentions are not clear. Of course, this leads to a perfect breeding ground for rumors. One such example is Phil Collins’ iconic song, “In the Air Tonight.” Despite its popularity, many fans remain uncertain about its true message.

There are different versions of the story, but the most common one suggests that Collins once witnessed a tragic incident. It is said that a man drowned while another person callously stood by, refusing to offer help. Depending on the theory, Phil was either too distant, too intoxicated, or too young to intervene. However, the wildest tales take it a step further. Some claim Collins hired a detective to track down this heartless person. Then, the musician allegedly invited the man to one of his concerts and dramatically exposed him to the entire audience. But that’s all wrong!

“When I was writing this, I was going through a divorce,” Collins explained once during a BBC interview meant to clear the air. “And the only thing I can say about it is that it’s obviously in anger. It’s the angry side or the bitter side of a separation. So what makes it even more comical is when I hear these stories, which started many years ago, particularly in America, of someone coming up to me to say, ‘Did you really see someone drowning?’ I said, ‘No, that’s wrong.’”[8]

2 The Beatles: Not Royal Stoners

The Beatles Receive their MBE’s – Beatlemania scenes!

The Beatles were an integral part of the music scene in the 1960s. And they were said to have pulled off a daring act of rebellion at Buckingham Palace in 1965: getting high. Legend has it that during a visit to the palace, where they were awarded MBEs by Queen Elizabeth II, the Fab Four sought solace in the bathroom. There, they supposedly sparked up a joint together to calm their nerves.

However, the authenticity of this tale remains disputed. Paul McCartney and George Harrison have dismissed his claim. Instead, they assert they merely indulged in regular cigarettes. Even John Lennon himself later recanted his initial statement boasting of the supposed doobie day. Instead, he later implied that this momentous event in the band’s career was nothing more than an imaginative lie.

So, were the Beatles genuinely under the influence when they encountered the queen? The truth may forever remain shrouded in uncertainty. The legend itself is now lost amid the myths and stories surrounding this iconic band’s legacy. But to hear the band members themselves explain things, it would seem the weed story is phony. Still, it has become an enduring part of the Beatles’ folklore, forever etching their rebellious spirit into the annals of music history.[9]

1 John Denver: Not a Sniper

Was John Denver a Sniper?

John Denver was always known as the friendly folk musician with a passion for nature. So it comes as a shock to see he has been falsely accused of being a ruthless killer during his time in the U.S. Army. However, this rumor couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that Denver hailed from a military background, with his father serving in the U.S. Air Force, his own aspirations of becoming a pilot were dashed due to poor eyesight. Additionally, a lawnmower accident during his teenage years left him missing two toes. So he was already out from being a high-level military sniper before his supposed “dreams” of military glory even kicked off.

Now, it is true that in 1964, Denver did receive an Army induction notice. However, his health issues rendered him classified as 1-Y. That limited his eligibility for service to only times of war or national emergencies. Consequently, he never served in the military at all. Even if he had, his severe visual impairment would have made him unfit for the role of a sniper. So despite the online spread of these baseless claims, John Denver’s gentle image and love for his fellow man remain untarnished. And now you know![10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen