The truth is out there…
Everybody loves a good conspiracy, right? And in rock and roll there is no shortage of them. From who “really” killed sixties icons like John Lennon and Brian Jones, to the “truth” behind all those seventies heavy metal records that hypnotize you into a secret pact with the devil when played backwards, rock and roll in fact has more than a few Area 51s and grassy knolls all its own. Here in Seattle, we even have this guy named Richard Lee who enjoyed a dubious run of celebrity by running a public access television series on how “Kurt Cobain Was Murdered” (the chief suspect was Courtney Love).
But what about the flip side of the rock and roll hoaxes? Our investigation into these (more or less) disproven conspiracy theories in fact turned up some real pay dirt, usually hidden underneath just the sort of rocks you’d expect such things to crawl out from. These would be our top five rock & roll hoaxes ever:
5. The Masked Marauders This actually should be rated much higher just for it’s delicious sense of audaciousness. But both the passage of time and the loss of memory since the late sixties places it in the #5 spot. The Masked Marauders began as a 1969 Rolling Stone magazine review of a non-existent album purported to be by a supergroup consisting of no less than three quarters of the Beatles (Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison), along with Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan.
Eventually, enough people took the joke seriously that an album was actually released by Warner Brothers, featuring a bootleg-ish looking black cover photo of a female and song titles like “I Can’t Get No Nookie” (purportedly sung by Jagger), “Cow Pie,” and a Bob Dylan cover version of Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch.” Rolling Stone eventually owned up to the hoax (which was actually recorded by a group of Bay Area musicians). But even that didn’t stop demand for the album many rock fans swore was the “real thing.” A similar record company marketing stunt in the seventies for a group called Klaatu (they were supposed to the Beatles) doomed that group forever to memory as the guys most famous for “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft,” which was later a hit for the Carpenters.
4. Jim Morrison Is Alive The mythology that Morrison never actually died in 1971, but rather faked his death in order to escape the pressures of stardom and his own self-destructiveness, and pursue an anonymous life in France has long surrounded the Doors and the their fallen Lizard King. It has more recently taken on new life however, with the “discovery” of Morrison apparently living in the Pacific Northwest and working the rodeo circuit there. Since going public, “Morrison” has made appearances on the nationally syndicated paranormal radio show “Coast To Coast AM,” and has also began marketing a video, which can be ordered through Rodeos West Pictues. Cause’ when ol’ Jimbo makes a comeback, he doesn’t settle for second best.
3. Tupac Shakur Is Alive This one began with the release of the album Makaveli, shortly after Shakur was gunned down gangland style in Las Vegas in 1996.
On this album, Shakur dropped the 2Pac handle and replaced it with Makaveli, which is assumed to be inspired by the Italian warlord Machiavelli, who famously faked his death to escape his enemies. The album’s title is also subtitled The 7 Day Theory which proponents of the Tupac Is Alive mythology claim pointed to a plan for Shakur to resurrect himself Christ style seven years after he was shot in 1996. 2003 has since and come, as have most of the theories. Still, some of the lyrics used to back this original mythology are eerie (he seems to predict the deaths of people like rival Notorious B.I.G.) and in some cases, downright creepy (where he seems to predict his own). There is a great site where all of the theories are posted, which can be found here.
2. Elvis Is Alive This one just refuses to go away. The theories surrounding Elvis faking his death center around everything from the misspelling of the name “Aron” on his gravestone, to the numerous Elvis sightings (some with photographs) which continue to be reported throughout the country.
Curiously, many of the sightings have occurred at Burger King fast-food restaurants. The story probably has its modern genesis in a now out-of-print book by author Gail Brewer Giorgio called Is Elvis Alive?. At the time of the book’s release, it also contained a mysterious cassette tape featuring a purported phone conversation with a very much alive King, that seemed to reveal details of why and how he faked his death. Current rumors have Elvis going by John Burrows – a pseudonym he was known to have used in life – and possibly working undercover as a DEA agent. But since Elvis is alive, it only stands to reason that…
1. Paul Is Dead The story here began around the time The Beatles released Abbey Road in 1969. Here, the album cover offered a number of clues why Paul was dead, such as his barefeet and the mysterious volkswagon baring the license plate “28IF” in the picture (meaning he’d be 28 if he weren’t dead). As the story picked up steam, the Beatles back catalog began to sell anew as fans combed lyrics for clues, such as the line “I Buried Paul” some claim to hear at the end of the song “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
As the story goes, McCartney was killed in a car crash (“he blew his mind out in a car”), and was replaced (as a business decision) by a McCartney impersonator, Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Band (who also did double duty with the Bonzos for many years). You’ll find all the proof you need that Paul has been dead for going on four decades now at a website called The King Is Naked.