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17 Craziest Urban Legends in Pop History

They were so powerful that some opened newscasts. Welcome to the fantastic world of musical conspiracy.

"The Beatles are more famous than Jesus Christ." When John Lennon uttered this phrase back in 1966, he made quite a scandal. But he was not misguided. In recent decades, pop has become a kind of religion, and musical stars, pagan gods whose paradise is not above the clouds, but on the other side of the screen. It is logical, then, that, like all religion, pop generates myths and legends.

The psychologist Bernardo Guerin, author of the book Rumors, gossip and urban legends: a theory of social contingency , maintains that this type of legends are born from word of mouth: “Something that a friend or relative has told you, or that you have read in some site and it is difficult to verify, especially if it has happened to a famous person, whose scope is impossible to access ”. Thus, each person who tells another an urban legend usually contributes details of his harvest to give verisimilitude to the story, something that makes the story grow and enrich itself progressively, like an unstoppable snowball.

Héctor Sánchez, author of Paul is dead and other urban rock legends , points out: “The wild character of rock makes this music a terrain prone to urban legends. Furthermore, if we associate the topic of sex and drugs, it is a combination that works at the same time ”.

Next, we will review a handful of urban legends, almost all of them quite rugged, starring famous groups and pop artists. And by the way we see if these stories are real.

1. The Kiss singer grafted a cow's tongue
The legend. Kiss has always been a quirky band. Its members are famous for their excessive facial makeup, platform boots, and leather and silver outfits. It is not uncommon, then, that they are ideal characters for fantastic stories. Perhaps the funniest is the one that claimed that the immense language of the group's singer and bassist, Gene Simmons, was torn from a cow and grafted onto him.

The truth. As he recounts in his autobiography, Simmons has a large tongue that "has been very useful to me in my sexual relations." A language that he teaches at the group's concerts, while biting into a capsule that makes a liquid very similar to blood flow out. But Simmons himself has clarified that no grafts: "I was born with that immense language." In other words, the bovine language thing was undoubtedly the fruit of the imagination of its fans.

2. Michael Jackson's nose fell off
The legend. In 2001, during a television performance, Michael Jackson's pituitary detached and fell to the ground, due to the many operations he had undergone. When the show aired, they cut the nose drop moment and viewers couldn't see it. But, thanks to the tip of an indiscreet camera, the whole planet knew the truth: that Jackson did not have a nose and that, to cover the hole, he used a removable nasal prosthesis.

The truth. The legend of the lost nose grew so much that when Jackson died in 2009, a new hoax related to the matter jumped to the media: when performing the autopsy, the nose was missing in the center of the singer's face and there was only one hole . However, one of Jackson's surgeons told a newspaper that the singer's nose was solid as stone: "He was never in danger of structural failure, because we have not used silicone, only cartilage from one ear." A phrase that, on the other hand, could also be an urban legend.

3. The members of La Oreja de Van Gogh are pro-ETA members
The legend. Year 2001. The San Sebastian group La Oreja de Van Gogh is in full promotion of El viaje de Copperpot , their most successful album. Pedro Ruíz invites them to The Open Night , the program he had on La 2. During the interview, the presenter asks Amaia Montero and company if it is true that they donate half of their income to a pro-abertzale NGO. They corroborate it and add naturally: "Yes, in this group we are all pro-ETA". Upon hearing this, the presenter expels the group from the set.

The truth. We are talking about a hoax so fat that it was commented on the very newscast. And that was denied in his day by Pedro Ruíz, who dismissed the urban legend as "a malicious invention of an unworthy, lamentable, liar, false and vile being." And he clarified that La Oreja had only sung in the program. For its part, the group declared: "It was sad to see how helpless you are in the face of nonsense spread over the Internet that many people believe outright." At present there are still virtual forums in which the matter is discussed, seasoned with generous extra contributions: it has been said that La Oreja used ETA's zulos as a recording studio.

4. The singer with fluid indigestion
The legend. There are urban legends so long-lived and universal that they change as they pass from person to person, to the point of being attributed to different artists. This is the case of the one who claims that, after an orgiastic party, a musician was taken to the emergency room due to indigestion. At the hospital, the doctors proceeded to wash his stomach, and they extracted up to three liters of semen.

The truth. The best evidence to dismantle this hoax is the fact that, depending on who tells you, the artist changes. Initially, the legend was attributed to Freddy Mercury, then to Elton John and later to very different protagonists, both gay and straight: Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Jimmy Sommerville, Billy Idol, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and a long etcetera. In recent times, new generations have told the same anecdote with more modern and female artists, such as Britney Spears or Alanis Morissette. But the reality is this: there is no record that any famous person was taken to the emergency room in such circumstances.

5. Elvis is alive, I've seen him
The legend. On August 16, 1977, as the whole world mourns the death of Elvis Presley, he packs his bags and heads to the airport. There are several witnesses who claim to have seen the King of Rock two hours after his death, buying a plane ticket to Buenos Aires. According to what they say, the singer paid in cash and said his name was John Burrows, an alias he had already used on other occasions. The explanation for such a stealthy escape? Elvis was fed up with fame and decided to fake his own death to travel the world incognito.

The truth. Elvis Presley's death was verified by doctors at Baptist Memorial Hospital and today his remains are buried at Graceland, his Memphis mansion. For now, no one has provided irrefutable evidence that this is not true. The hoax that ensures that he is alive stems from the fact that many of his fans refuse to accept the death of their idol, to the point of believing they have seen him swarming through spaces as diverse as a Cambridge supermarket, a Montana gas station, a Southhamton Pizza Hut or an Oslo office.

6. Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain
The legend. In 1994, Kurt Cobain was so fed up with Courtney Love's infidelities that he wanted to divorce her. When Courtney found out, she was furious and decided to kill him in a way that looked like suicide. This would allow him to keep the millionaire inheritance of the singer, since their daughter was still a minor. This theory is defended tooth and nail in several books, and also in the controversial documentary Who Shot Kurt Cobain? (nineteen ninety five).

The truth. The autopsy made it clear that "everything indicates that it is a self-inflicted injury." A month earlier, Kurt had already attempted suicide by swallowing 60 rohypnol pills sprinkled with champagne. As if that were not enough, Cobain intended to title his latest album I hate myself and I want to die . The legend was probably spread by Cobain's most ultras, who hate Courtney: they call her "the Yoko Ono of grunge.

7. Ricky Martin, a fan, a dog, and a jar of jam
The legend. One morning in 1999, the whole of Spain commented on the embarrassing incident seen the night before on the Surprise, surprise program presented by Concha Velasco. They were broadcasting a surprise live to a young follower of Ricky Martin, whose dog is precisely named Martin in honor of his idol. The singer was hiding in the young woman's closet, waiting for the moment for the presenter to let him out. And, when the moment came, the cameras and Ricky entered the scene and found the teenager naked, smeared with jam and with the puppy practicing cunnilingus.

The truth. The scandal was so loud that it reached the media, and the Juvenile Prosecutor's Office was forced to open an investigation. So Concha Velasco had to start the following program denying the facts: “It's a hoax. Everything is a lie, here they laugh or cry, but always with joy ”. But the weight of the legend was stronger than reality, and it has remained so alive over the years that, in 2015, on the anniversary of Antena 3, Concha Velasco had to insist: “It is incredible that there are still people speaking of it as if it had happened or as if he had seen it. No one saw it because it did not happen ”.

8. 'Hotel California', by the Eagles, is a satanic song
The legend. In 1966, Anton Lavey created The Church of Satan. And in 1976 he commissioned a song from the Eagles group to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his Satanist congregation. The song is called Hotel California , and its lyrics describe a black mass with cryptic metaphors. The Hotel California would be an allegory of hell, a place that, as the theme goes, is "adorable" and has "a lot of space." There are fans who, looking with a magnifying glass at the cover of the homonymous album that includes the piece, assure that, in one of the hotel windows, the figure of Anton Lavey can be distinguished.

The truth. According to members of the group, Lavey is nowhere to be found in the photo. As for the song, Don Henley, who wrote it, has explained that it only tries to reflect the decadent climate of the Los Angeles rock scene at a time when drugs such as cocaine were ubiquitous.

9. Marilyn Manson removed two ribs, an eye and a penis
The legend. It stands to reason that such a quirky character as Marilyn Manson was the target of more urban legends than any other artist of his time. Among other things, it has been said that he amputated two ribs in order to perform oral sex on himself and that the drummer in his group uses those ribs as drumsticks; that Manson's true identity is Paul Pfeiffer, the young actor who played Kevin Arnold's little friend in the series Those Wonderful Years ; that during a concert he took out an eye with which he made a key ring; that the penis was removed; that he cut off his toe to inject heroin directly into his vein; that his father was a priest; that he has at home the mummified corpse of his grandmother and a long etcetera.

The truth. Of course, it is all a lie. The singer has not had time or desire to deny all these fallacies, although on one occasion he claimed that his ribs are intact. But we are talking about an artist who considers himself "the antichrist", so it is possible that it was his own press office that has released many of these hoaxes, aware of what Dalí said: even if it is good ”.

10. Mama Cass died of choking on a ham sandwich
The legend. As all her admirers will know, Mama Cass Elliot, singer of The Mamas & The Papas, had certain overweight problems, which gave her a plump appearance that, on the other hand, was part of her charisma. When, in 1972, he died at the age of 32, it was said that the reason for his death had been a bad bite of a ham sandwich, with which the singer would have choked to death.

The truth. According to the autopsy, Mama Cass died of a sudden heart attack, the result of her fast-paced lifestyle and obesity. And no, no trace of food was found in his windpipe. The legend started from a misunderstanding between the police and the press: journalists were informed that a half-eaten sandwich had been found next to the singer's body, but that an autopsy would still have to be done to verify the cause of death. Some media, eager to give meat, released in hoax.

11. Donna Summer was a man disguised as a woman
The legend. In the seventies, Donna Summer was one of the disco divas par excellence. Since then, hits like I feel love or Love to love you baby have been playing in every self-respecting gay club. And in those places it is also affirmed that the person who sang those songs was not a real woman, but a man with a wig, heels and false breasts.

The truth. Her facial features may be a bit androgynous, but Donna Summer was quite a woman. Her career came to a halt around 1983, with the decline of the disco era and some alleged homophobic statements that, according to her, were another urban legend. Apparently, she was a Catholic and the interviewer was an atheist, so he twisted her words to make her look bad. The queen of disco music died in 2012, but even today she has fans who think that under her sequined dresses there was a homophobic male.

12. Depeche Mode disowned Axl Rose because he shot a pig to death
The legend. Oddly enough, Axl Rose, leader of Guns N'Roses, has always been a huge fan of the group Depeche Mode. To meet them, in 1987 he decided to invite them to a barbecue in a Beverly Hills mansion. Upon arrival, the Depeches find the Guns N'Roses singer completely drunk, immersed in a noisy party where there is no shortage of prostitutes and drug dealers. Axl welcomes Dave Gahan and his family. He then places a live pig on top of an SUV and shoots it to death in honor of his guests. Strict vegetarians, the members of the English gang issue a statement the next day in which they claim to feel "sorry for Axl's behavior." "We don't want to have anything to do with someone who goes around killing pigs for fun",

Reality. It is an urban legend so widespread and credible that many music fans believe it at face value. In fact, in the book Depeche mode: the raw and passionate biography of a mythical band , by Steve Malins, the incident is taken for granted. But, so far, no credible witness has confirmed it.

13. Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite
The legend . In the summer of 2009, perhaps due to the lack of news inherent in any heat wave, nothing was said about anything other than Lady Gaga's penis, both in Internet lies and in programs like Save Me Deluxe . The rumor started when a spectator attending a Gaga concert at the Glastonbury festival swore and swore that he had seen a penis protruding from the singer's dress. Shortly after, some statements (without a source) jumped onto the Internet in which the singer said: “I have male and female genitalia, and I am not ashamed of it. Hermaphroditic people should feel comfortable with their bodies ”.

The truth. Both the statements and the rumor were a hoax that the singer, who became known dancing in local places full of transsexuals, did not give a damn. At a performance in Manila he allowed himself the luxury of joking about the matter: “They ask me if I have a dick. And yes, I have a cock and it's much bigger than yours. " The uproar was such that the artist's representative had to grant a statement to ABC News to clarify that the rumors about Lady Gaga's penis were "ridiculous."

14. The album 'The dark side of the moon' , by Pink Floyd, is synchronized with the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'
The legend. In 1973, the group Pink Floyd released one of their most acclaimed albums, The dark side of the moon . But it was not until 1995 that an article appeared in the Journal Gazzette explaining that the album is synchronized with the film The Wizard of Oz (1939): since Judy Garland appears singing Over the rainbow, the film and the album are intimately united, so it is assumed that the group conceived the album as an unofficial soundtrack for the film. Later, there were fans of the group who came to find more than 100 coincidences between both works, baptizing the phenomenon as The dark side of Oz .

The truth. Both David Gilmour and Roger Waters have denied this urban legend, ensuring that the group did not think for a moment about The Wizard of Oz while recording The dark side of the moon . Gilmour blamed the fantasy of "some guy with too much free time." Waters was more diplomatic and admitted to having found "a certain strange thread" between the film and the album, but attributed it to the purest chance.

15. Bobby McFerrin shot himself
The legend. “Don't worry, don't. Be happy. Put a smile on your face. Don't depress people. Don't worry, whatever it is, it will soon pass. Do not worry Be Happy. I am not worried, I am happy ”. That's how optimistic he was that kind of ventriloquist of himself that reached the top of the charts in 1988 with a true hymn to joy called Don't worry, be happy . But in 1992 the macabre rumor spread that the vocalist had shot himself. The irony of the case was obvious: if the very author of one of the most Felician songs in history had committed suicide, what was left for the rest of us?

Reality. You just have to google “bobby mcferrin” to see that the bugger is still alive and well: he is happily married, has three children, and still records albums and performs live, although at 66 he is not as active as before. The suicide thing was nothing more than a hoax that came out of the cerebellum of some unscrupulous person who was having a bad day.

16. Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil
The legend. The now mythical blues musician Robert Johnson was a rather mediocre guitarist until, back in 1933, he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in exchange for playing the blues better than anyone else. Thanks to this satanic pact, he ended up being crowned in a very short time as the King of Delta Blues. He died at the young age of 27, poisoned by the husband of one of his lovers. They say it was up to the devil, who claimed his soul.

Reality. Johnson always denied his contractual relationship with the devil, despite the fact that his hits include such telltale songs as Crossroad blues or Me and the devil blues . In the latter he says things like: "Early in the morning, when you knock on my door, I say 'hello Satan, I think it's time to go." As false as it may be, Johnson's legend contributed to making him one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, who today is considered the Grandfather of Rock'n'Roll. Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young or Jimi Hendrix are some of his fans.

17. Paul McCartney died and was replaced by a double
The legend. One night in 1966, Paul McCartney is driving at dawn when he sees a girl walking soaked in the rain. He offers to pick her up, she accepts and gets in the car. Paul starts. As soon as the girl realizes who he is, she embraces him effusively, in such a way that the musician loses control of the car and crashes into a wall. The car explodes and the beatle dies. As the group is at its peak of popularity, it cannot afford to lose such an important member, so they call a doubles contest and replace Paul with a Canadian policeman named William Campbell.

The truth. The rumor was born in a Michigan radio program: a listener called the DJ and said that Paul was dead and the proof was hidden in the White Album : when you played the song Revolution 9 backwards you could hear the phrase “turn me on, dead man ” (“ excite me, dead man ”), which is supposed to refer to Paul. Since then, “evidence” has not stopped appearing, each more absurd, of the bass player's death. And that the United Press agency disqualified the rumor in October 1969 and, a month later, the musician himself did the same in LIFE magazine . But the legend does not stop, and even Wikileaks had to deny it in 2015.

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