Since its earliest incarnation in the 1950’s, rock ‘n’ roll music has long been dubbed the devil’s music by religious groups and fundamentalists who didn’t care for the effects the music was having on the youth of the day. From Elvis’ swivelling hips causing a sexual revolution to Judas Priest inciting satanic serial killings, popular music of the last century is deeply steeped in mythology and its fare share of conspiracy theories.
The most common or popular conspiracies in rock range from the merely coincidental to the completely absurd, and today we take a look at our Top-4 Rock n Roll Conspiracies…why four you ask?
#4 – Charlie Don’t Surf – The Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson found himself entangled with the infamous Manson Family after letting a few of Charlie’s acquaintances live with him in his Malibu home. Wilson eventually met Manson and became a fan of his song writing. Manson even recorded at Brian Wilson’s studio (these tapes have never surfaced) and The Beach Boys released a Manson-penned track as a b-side. Wilson introduced Manson to Terry Melcher (music producer and son of Doris Day), who was interested in recording Manson. At some point the project fell apart and Melcher cut ties with Manson. Not long after, the Manson Family descended on Melcher’s home, which was now rented by director Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate, and committed the famous Manson Family Murders. How much did Wilson know about Manson and the murders? Those answers drowned along with Wilson in 1983 when he dove off his boat in to the L.A. harbour after a day of drinking, never to resurface.
#3 – The Fake Death – There’s a long list of music legends who some think faked their deaths in order to escape the limelight. The most common amongst this theory is that Elvis Presley faked his own death and is still living to this day (some believe in Northern Ontario). While there remain some inconsistencies in the handling of the King’s death (his middle name is misspelled on his Graceland tombstone), you have to wonder why the King would chose death by bloating and the bathroom floor as the way for fans to remember his final days. Other notable death fakers include Tupac Shakur, who seems to predict his own death as well as that of Notorious B.I.G. in his lyrics. Doors front man Jim Morrison is another fallen legend who some believe is living today as a rodeo rider in the Pacific Northwest…hmmm…Riders On The Storm?
#2 – The 27 Club – This is either a massive conspiracy or the single biggest coincidence in history. How else do you explain the tragic deaths of seven major popular musicians all dying tragically at the age of 27? Legend has it, founding member Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and made a deal with the devil, but did the deal also include the formation of the 27 Club? Beginning with Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones in 1969 and culminating with the Doors’ Jim Morrison exactly two years later, the club’s original members also included Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. The club grew to six in 1994 with the addition of Kurt Cobain and the seventh member was added this year with the death of Amy Winehouse. Great mystery surrounds all of these deaths, with Joplin and Winehouse probably being the most straightforward (drug/alcohol related deaths). Many believe Jones and Hendrix were murdered (Jones by drowning and Hendrix poisoned through his stash of drugs) and the details of their demise covered up in massive conspiracies. There are also many popular theories that claim Cobain’s suicide was in fact a murder as well – likely committed by his wife, Courtney Love, in a drunken/drug-riddled state of rage and jealousy over Cobain’s disappearance from a stint in rehab. One massive conspiracy has the government behind the original four deaths, as well as John Lennon’s murder in 1980, as a way to kill the political activism the music and musicians of the 60’s and 70’s were leading.
#1 – Paul Is Dead – This one is my favourite for the simple reason that The Beatles themselves took full advantage of the rumour that Paul McCartney had perished in a car crash/motorcycle accident (depending on the source) by perpetuating the myth with clues buried in their music and in various visuals. From the barefoot Paul on the Abbey Road album cover to the apparent backwards mumblings of Lennon on “Strawberry Fields Forever” where listeners claim to hear the words “I Buried Paul”, The Beatles never really came out and denied the rumour. Of course, McCartney is clearly alive and well, even if he no longer appears to be aging.