Sep 052008

Here’s a FRIDAY FLASHBACK! topic from way back that might be worth extending with the input of our newer Townspeople. In the Comments for this post you’ll see that Hrrundivbakshi suggested an offshoot thread that’s also still worth exploring. The KISS Army Reunion referred to, by the way, was a pretty major event in early Rock Town Hall history. It may be worth seeking out that mid-February 2007 series of posts.

This post initially appeared 2/16/07.

Enthusiasm for the KISS Reunion has spilled over to the parking lot here at the Valley Forge Convention Center, so keep those KISS comments coming. Something posted by Townsman hrrundivbakshi, however, caught my eye and warrants a discussion of its own. It has to do with the adolescent rock conspiracy theories that only a teen rock fan’s mind can get its, er, head around for a short time. In case you missed the comment, here it is:

Speaking of bands actually being other bands, I must share one of the funnier/stupider young teen music rumors that me and my friends all believed for a while: that Van Halen were actually KISS without the makeup. It was so obvious, from the backstory (Gene “discovered” Van Halen in a bar in California… yeah, *right*) to the revealing photos on the inner sleeve of VH’s first album. I mean, look at that picture of Michael Anthony scowling with demonic intensity! And you can’t tell me that happy-go-lucky photo of “Alex Van Halen” doesn’t capture the essence of the Cat Man! Now, “Eddie,” he’s, uh, Paul Stanley ’cause of the hair… though it’s funny that Paul didn’t play lead guitar in KISS… hm… I guess — I guess that leaves Ace. Ace is, uh, this David Lee Roth guy, I guess. Funny how he must have a completely secret life/talent set… you know, to be the lead singer and everything. Still, he’s a *rock star*, so, you know, anything is possible. Right?

This fantasy lasted about 3 days before we moved on to the next bizarro adolescent conspiracy theory.

There are rock’s legendary conspiracy theories – Paul being dead, the Elton John/Rod Stewart stomach pumping – but I’m curious to know about the adolescent rock conspiracy theories that you grew up with, even those that only lasted a few days.


  32 Responses to “FRIDAY FLASHBACK! Adolescent Rock Conspiracy Theories”

  1. mwall

    Come on. Everybody knows that when Jimi Hendrix died, his soul passed into Frank Marino’s body.

    Now there’s one that nobody tells anymore.

  2. dbuskirk

    Heart’s “Magic Man” was about Charles Manson and that they were members of his Family.


  3. sammymaudlin

    One I think that was pretty pervasive was the “scream” heard in the background of Love Rollercoaster (I think) was either

    A. Real audio of a roller coaster rider slipping from their cart and plunging to their death.


    B. Was one of the musicians being electrocuted during the recording session.

    One that I don’t think was very pervasive was when The Who came out with “Who Are You” that it really wasn’t The Who and was actually the Talking Heads. When the song came on during the bus ride kids would sing “Talking Heads Are You… Talking Heads, Talking Heads”.

    It surprises me in hindsight that we even knew who the Talking Heads were in a town that 2 rock stations, both of which played plenty of Foreigner. Psycho Kill or Take Me to the River must have had some play…

  4. BigSteve

    the Elton John/Rod Stewart stomach pumping

    I didn’t even know what that was, but googling sent me to, who say that this rumor has been variously attributed to “Rod Stewart, Elton John, David Bowie, Marc Almond, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Jeff Beck, Jon Bon Jovi, the drummer for Bon Jovi, the lead singer for New Kids on the Block, the Bay City Rollers (what, all of them?), Alanis Morrissette, Li’l Kim, Foxy Brown, Britney Spears, and Fiona Apple.” I never even knew people thought Rod Stewart was gay. As with the Paul Stanley discussion yesterday, I shouldn’t be surprised, though I am, that people mistake narcissism for homosexuality. Why Jeff Beck?

    The only rumor I can think of (‘Paul is dead’ doesn’t count, right?) is that Jimi Hendrix had shot heroin into his eyeball and survived. And the persistent rumor that his actual death was a heroin overdose. Neither was Garcia’s. I guess these`aren’t really conspiracy theories anyway. Never mind.

  5. A. Real audio of a roller coaster rider slipping from their cart and plunging to their death.


    B. Was one of the musicians being electrocuted during the recording session.

    C. The woman covered in honey on the album cover being knifed to death after she stormed the studio demanding her pay.

    You guys are so naive.

  6. sammymaudlin

    C. The woman covered in honey on the album cover being knifed to death after she stormed the studio demanding her pay.

    Dude, that’s harsh. Did you grow up in Camden?

  7. I though Hendrix put Acid/Coke/Heroin into cuts in his head that his headband covered up?

    Speaking of “Who Are You” – After Keith Moon died, I remember some conspiracy reagrding Moonie sitting on the bench that had “Not to be taken away”

    Of course one of the first rock conspiracies were the “dirty” lyrics to “Louie Louie

  8. Mr. Moderator

    Yeah, Hendrix’s LSD-soaked headband – not to mention putting drops of LSD directly into his eyes – is one I grew up with. Of course., Andy and I went to the same school, so it’s probable that we picked up the same stories from the same rock dudes in higher grades.

    I knew the stomach pumping incident went beyond the few people I’d mentioned, but I had no idea it kept spreading as far as it did. JEFF BECK? Maybe anyone with that rooster hairdo was suspect?

    Rock’s Ultimate Conspiracy Theory that I still don’t believe is Dylan’s Motorcycle Crash. WHERE is the photo of the smashed cycle? Where are the hospital records? If you ask me, that was all a cover-up for a treatment stay to kick heroin.

    Here’s a personally derived and maybe never shared myth – not conspiracy story, mind you: Once, while tripping and listening to XTC’s English Settlement album (yes, the double-lp import, if you must know), I was CONVINCED that I’d unlocked a track-by-track analogy to US history as seen through the eyes of the English settlers. I think I spent 6 hours of that trip either trying to or thinking I would have to remember to share this important discovery with my XTC-loving friends. I hope these discussions stayed in my mind that night. The next day, I’d pretty much lost the thread.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    Mr. Mod, now you’re opening up an entirely new, entirely interesting thread concept: “hidden” meanings or concepts that we all think we’ve found. I for one believe that XTC’s “Wonderland” is about George Harrison — though I have a dim, malt liquor-soaked memory of hearing AndyR spout that one, too.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    It could be that we were all in the same room over this “Wonderland”/Harrison tie-in. I’ve long thought the same thing. Knowing the proctomusicologic bent of XTC, the veractiy of any of these half-baked (or fully baked) theories would not surprise me.

    Let the opening of this thread concept flourish! Remember, it’s these “homegrown” conspiracies and concepts that most interest me. The ones you may not be able to Google!

  11. trolleyvox

    The big kid rumor that I recall was that Klaatu were secretly the Beatles. Now I had always assumed that Klaatu were strictly the Beatles recording in the 70’s, but apparently there was way more to it:

  12. The Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” story was very popular in my junior high. I never bought it myself, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized why: if Phil Collins saw this man refusing to help someone who was drowning…uh, doesn’t that mean PHIL was refusing to help someone who was drowning?

    I had an Australian friend in high school who once cornered me in a drunken rant and screamed about how America had killed Ian Curtis because he had killed himself rather than go on a US tour because he didn’t want the band to be popular in the American market.

  13. I found out about Jim Morrison still being alive on the same night I found out about the Jersey Devil when I was 8 and on vacation in West Wildwood. That was all fuckin with my head. I thought they were somehow connected.
    How bout the opposite? Me and my friend Brian in grade school always thought Rob Halford looked like a fag! Years later…

  14. 2000 Man

    Tvox, I remember that Klaatu stuff. All the radio stations made a big deal of the “mystery,” probably just to get more people to listen. I remember the Rod Stewart stomach pumping, too.

    shawnkilroy – I have a friend that is still a huge Priest fan, and on the day he found out about Rob Halford it messed up his whole world. He loved Accept, too and I think he thought London Leatherboys was just about looking cool and kicking ass with Flying V’s. You know what he said when he dropped that “bomb” on me and I laughed and kinda said, “Duh. Isn’t the whole metal scene pretty gay?”

    He said, “Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t be surprised. You always liked that fag Bowie.” The die hard fans of metal really struggle with that. At least the guys I know.

  15. Regarding Klaatu: I still think that’s Macca singing “Sub Rosa Subway”. It’s a dead ringer. I can see how people fell for this.

    One of the many myths that swarmed the halls of Pearl Junior High was that Gene Simmon’s tongue was actually a cow’s tongue that he had surgery to replace. That may be plausible, but the other one concerning him impregnating his wife with his tongue is just scientifically impossible.

    Another rock myth was the one concerning Jimi Hendrix/Eddie Van Halen/Eric Clapton all being asked what it felt like to be the world’s greatest guitarist. Their response is always the same: “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Phil Keaggy.” Who knows where this one got started.


  16. BigSteve

    No one has yet mentioned the Masked Marauders hoax:

  17. BigSteve

    The Keaggy urban legend is on the snopes site:

  18. in jr. high & early high school, the big rumor was that the Smiths were getting back together.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    I’ve got that Masked Marauders album – long after the hoax. Did people really go for that in its time? The liner notes are pretty funny.

    I’d forgotten about that Gene Simmons/cow tongue rumor. Excellent!

  20. Mr. Moderator

    Does the impending release of Guns & Roses’ Chinese Democracy count as a rock conspiracy theory yet?

  21. BigSteve

    People really did fall for the Masked Marauders thing. The power of Rolling Stone in the late 60s was incredible. There was no internet and no rock press to speak of besides RS. People who grew up in the era where daily newspapers have staff writers covering rock music would be surprised how starved people were back then for information out of the mainstream. RS was the bible of the counter-culture, and I think even Greil Marcus was even taken aback by how easy it was for him to yank the chains of so many people.

  22. alexmagic

    Great flashback choice. I love the KISS/Van Halen thing. The thought of Roth secretly being Ace is beyond great.

    On the Klaatu front, what about Orion: The Man They Thought Was Elvis?

    Personal song theory that I’ve never seen anybody else back: Lennon’s “I’m Losing You” is about fighting with Harrison, hence the “don’t want to lose you now!” and “Long long long” bits at the end.

  23. Mr. Moderator

    Here’s a personal song theory that an old college friend of Sammymaudlin and I held: he used to say that Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” was about coke. He said the song title was slang for the drip down the back of a coke snorter’s throat. For a few months I thought he knew what he was talking about until he started citing other songs that he said referred to the same sensation. Then I wondered if he’d simply been doing too much coke:) I’ve never heard another reference to “locomotive breath” in this context since those days.

  24. This is a weird one, but it may actually be true: Prince did not participate in the USA for Africa project because of an existing feud with Michael Jackson. If I’m not mistaken, Prince was big star at the ’85 American Music Awards (the awards show prior to the recording session for “We Are The World”), so he conspicuous in his absence. Prince is weird dude. Give me a sec, let me look this up…

    …found it at Wikepedia. And various sites.

    Prince telephoned Quincy Jones in mid-session and offered to contribute a guitar part, but Jones said it didn’t fit into what they were doing, but did say he would accept a solo track for the album, which Prince did contribute. Patti LaBelle and Prince participated in the 1985 television broadcast performance of “We Are the World” from the Apollo Theatre, and many of the above names participated in the performance of “We Are the World” at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia in July of 1985.

    So, there. I don’t know if ties into a great feud between Prince and Michael, but it’d have been cool to them duke it out.


  25. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, BigSteve — for once, I may know more than Snopes. All (I believe it was all) of the Cavett show Hendrix appearances came out on DVD a few years ago, and I own ’em. No mention of Gibbons is made in the episodes I have. And I have a *fantastic* book by an old-time ZZ roadie, who claims the story is one of Billy’s many myths about himself he’s spread over the years.

  26. Another classic from junior high (also concerning Kiss):

    Their name stood for “Knights In Satan’s Service”. Who knows where that one started. Probably The Church itself. I grew a Kiss fan. Ace all the way! I really enjoyed the Kiss/Van Halen rumor, but it never made its way to my neck of the woods. This is the first I’d heard it.

    AC/DC stands for “After Christ/Devil’s Child” or “After Christ/Devil Comes”. With song titles like “Hell’s Bells” and “Highway to Hell”, it’s easy to see why they got lumped into Marilyn Manson territory…

    …speaking if which, he was included in a few legends. One of which had him removing one of his ribs so he could suck his own penis. Gross. The other one is that he is the child actor who played Paul on TVs The Wonder Years.

    Backwards masking, anyone? The Eagles were actually singing about hell in “Hotel California”. Don Henley worhips the devil. Is that in Felder’s book? This is what I get for growing up in the Bible Belt.

    ADIDAS stands for “All Day I Dream About Sex”.


  27. 2000 Man

    Speaking of pre-internet rock and roll reporting, one thing about Nick Kent has utterly pissed me off forever. He claimed in a review of an 82 Stones show that during the part where Mick went up in a cherry picker that Keith hijacked the cherry picker and played a 20 minute solo and wouldn’t relinquish the picker. Would this bother me? Normally, no. But Victor Bokris and Stephen Davis (Davis wrote the least factual Stones book ever) ended up repeating this absurd claim, and for years I had people asking me for “that show where Keith does the 20 minute solo.”

    Why would anyone believe Keith Richards would play a 20 minute solo in anything? I can’t even imagine him keeping it together for a 20 minute song, unless it’s a studio jam on a riff like Slave, where he can just go into a trance.

  28. So many to choose from, so I’ll relay one of the more recent ones: Mike D of the Beastie Boys is brother/cousin/related to Dustin “Screech” Diamond.

  29. in this neck of the woods it was Anti-christ/devil child

    my personal favorite is that the song by the Coug, Hurts So Good is about his love of anal sex.

    I may or may not have started that rumor myself…

  30. This is just great!

    How about Stevie Nicks having coke blown up her asshole by a male roadie so she didn’t have to snort it?!?
    anyone? anyone?

    also, in line with Mod’s suspicion that the guy with the Locomotive Breath story was himself doing too much coke, my dad, a massive drug enthusiast, Thought the refrain to Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, was:
    Mamma don’t take my coke spoon, Mamma don’t take my coke spoon,
    Mamma don’t take my coke spoon away!

    and finally, as far as coke is concerned, where the fuck is my Don Felder book?

  31. meanstom

    The story about Marilyn Manson getting ribs removed reminds me of Cher supposedly having ribs removed. In her case I believe the intent was to make her seem more like a woman than a dude in drag.

  32. I heard that there is a song by some mystic band called Autumn Carousel, that when played backwards, cures genital herpes.

    Uh…does anyone have a copy of that song?

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