Lord i'm standin' at the crossroad, babe, i believe i'm sinkin' down
February 22, 2005 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Sex, death, drugs, sharks, TV, elephants and the devil himself. Nothing sums up the ridiculous circus of rock'n'roll better than the mythology that both nourishes and devours it, vividly illustrating the impossible feats of self destruction and degradation we would have our 'rock gods' vicariously act out on our behalf.
10 Greatest Rock and Roll Myths! | Rock's 10 Wildest Myths!! | Urban Legends of Rock and Roll!!!
posted by Quartermass (24 comments total)
My favorite R&R urban legend (which actually turned out to be true) is the "spaghetti incident" that involved Motley Crue, groupies, and throwing up (the story can be found here, from a Nardwuar interview with Tommy Lee - probably NSFW - scroll down to the second last question on the page).
posted by Quartermass at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2005

Meh. I was kinda hoping that there'd be more to these than VH1-style bits. And who the hell is Richey Edwards?
posted by scratch at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2005

err, third last question.
posted by Quartermass at 8:52 AM on February 22, 2005

How do they know Robert Johnson didn't sell his soul to the devil?
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:28 AM on February 22, 2005

Whereupon I proceeded to take that mittenful of the deadly yellow snow
crystals and rub it all into his beady little eyes with a vigorous
circular motion hitherto unknown to the people of this area, but destined
to take the place of the mudshark in your mythology.
posted by phirleh at 9:32 AM on February 22, 2005

Wow, someone sure hit about.com with the ugly stick.
posted by crunchburger at 9:37 AM on February 22, 2005

Gotta love that floating scroll bar that follows you down the page!
posted by Quartermass at 9:40 AM on February 22, 2005

So Rolling Stone is completely incapable of making a list without putting something Beatles-related at number 1? My, how revelant.
posted by jon_kill at 9:41 AM on February 22, 2005

Ritchie Edwards was the guitarist with the Manic Street Preachers, who, as the article implies, had many problems. He disappeared, his empty car found at a service station close to the Severn Bridge between England and Wales.
posted by benzo8 at 9:50 AM on February 22, 2005

It should be noted that the Guardian mentions the guitarist of Manic Street Preachers because they are/were much more popular in the UK than in the States (hence your confusion, mayhaps?).
posted by basicchannel at 10:03 AM on February 22, 2005

I'd heard most or all of these, and knew that they were, by and large, false.
However, it's far more fun to believe that Keef had his blood replaced (I'd heard it was in Jamaica, not Switzerland) and that Bowie and Jagger had sex than it is not to believe this kinda stuff. Dammit, this is one of the things that makes rock 'n' roll fun!

Just to add to the Keith Richards-related urban myth pile: I've heard that there are portions of the man's arms which, due to repeated injections of heroin, are actually necrotic. Keef is the living dead! Bless his heart. I hope he lives forever.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:15 AM on February 22, 2005

How do they know Robert Johnson didn't sell his soul to the devil?

How can they prove a negative ?

The infamous story goes like this: Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Miss., in order to get "magical" guitar-playing skill. He was a rudimentary player when he disappeared for about six months, but blew everybody away upon his return. House speculated on the devil thing -- possibly in jest -- in the 1965 interview. Although Johnson colleague Johnny Shines had disputed the myth, it caught on and spread like a virus in books, documentaries and movies such as 1986's "Crossroads."

While talking to Wald, a 45-year-old author and musician, by phone from his Cambridge, Mass., home, I own up to writing stories romanticizing this part of Johnson's life and story. Wald laughs. "We all did!" he says. "My position isn't that there's anything wrong with that myth. I mean, cultures need myths. There's something exciting about the Robert Johnson myth. I just think it's important to say it's basically a myth of Rolling Stones fans -- not of black Mississippians."

"Robert came up under people like Son House and Willie Brown, and he matched them, but he also added his own style," Lockwood says. "He got this from listening to players like Le Roy Carr on the piano, and what he did was to translate the right and left hand sounds of a piano to guitar. When people ask me about if I believe all that stuff about the devil, I say 'Hell No!' It is stupid. How can an adult sell his soul to the devil? If it does happen, it happens when you are born."

Robert Jr. Lockwood

The devil you know revealed in 'Delta'

Son House--an aged alcoholic at the time of his interview and a notoriously poor informant in interviews--made one passing speculation to Samuel Charters and the ball started rolling there. The rumor started in 1965 and was spread by white rock critics. One speculation reified into fact by a series of writers. Every other contemporary of Johnson vehemently denies the rumor. It's a myth. Get over it.
posted by y2karl at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

What about the old rumor that Alice Cooper was actually Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver? (I've also heard that applied to porn star John Holmes).

I'm glad to see they included Stewart's stomach-pumping, that one made the rounds for years.
posted by jonmc at 10:38 AM on February 22, 2005

jon_kill, the Guardian writer describes "Paul is dead" as "the Adam and Eve of all rock'n'roll myths" ... and then proceeds through some tortuous logic as to why he didn't include it. In other words, even he acknowledges that it's more notable for its absence from his list.

The one that I always heard that wasn't heard was how "Bohemian Rhapsody" required so many vocal overdubs that the tape ended up clear. Which sounded neat until you stopped to ponder the physics involved.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2005

A less sexy, but oddly persistent, myth was that Elvis Presley played the guitar solo on Billy The Kid Emerson's "When It Rains It Pours," because Emerson yells what ssounds a little like "Playit, Elvis!"* before the solo. I even saw the track included on an Elvis anthology once.

*apparently he's saying "Play it Eldon!"
posted by jonmc at 10:49 AM on February 22, 2005

10: Led Zep and the mud shark
...Zep did catch sharks from the window of their hotel, but the pesce in question was actually a red snapper, while the perpetrator was road manager Richard Cole.

Well that makes the whole thing just seem boring and tame.
posted by 31d1 at 10:50 AM on February 22, 2005

Another one that made the rounds back in the day was that Mr Greenjeans (from Captain Kangaroo) was Frank Zappa's father.
I'd like to have a dollar for every time I've heard the Rod Stewart story.
posted by reidfleming at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2005

Another one that made the rounds back in the day was that Mr Greenjeans (from Captain Kangaroo) was Frank Zappa's father.

Oddly, there's a weird parallel to that in the true story that Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers is the son of Dallas kids show host Mr Peppermint
posted by jonmc at 11:12 AM on February 22, 2005

They forgot the one about how drugs and alcohol make you a better artist. [/killjoy]
posted by jokeefe at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2005

I still believe that the beatles smoked a j in buckingham palace. that shit had to happen.
posted by Kifer85 at 2:12 PM on February 22, 2005

it's pretty lame that alot of these myths, especially the one's involving "shock rockers", just get recycled over, with names replaced. Most commonly "Alice Cooper" with "Marilyn Manson". You'd think Alice was his uncle or something...
How bout some new ones?

When friends and I worked at a record store, we tried to start a rumor that a NKOTB had just died. It seemed like it was working for awhile judging from all the upset teen girls who came running in to verify it.
Man, we were soo evil back then!!

*begins getting band back together*
posted by hellbient at 2:53 PM on February 22, 2005

The best list of this sort is still Spin's 100 Sleaziest Moments in rock and roll history.
posted by euphorb at 3:01 PM on February 22, 2005

ephorb, I'm physically afraid to click that link.
posted by alumshubby at 3:15 PM on February 22, 2005

*begins getting band back together*

He's on a mission from Gahd.
posted by jonmc at 4:24 PM on February 22, 2005

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