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Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

  • Roy Orbison on Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

    (#3) Roy Orbison

    • Band/Musician

    The “Crying” singer's normal attire of black clothes and his stationary concerts gave him the aura of a sad, dark man. And the huge dark glasses he wore both on and off stage led to something else: a persistent rumor that the singer was either born blind or blinded from an accident at some point in his life.

    The truth is that Orbison was never blind, though he did wear thick glasses to correct his vision. As the story goes, he once accidentally left them on a plane, and the only other pair he had were prescription sunglasses, so he wore those on stage. The next day he left for Europe to open for the Beatles, and didn’t have time to find his old glasses or get new ones made, so he just kept the sunglasses on. That tour received massive press coverage, and by the time he returned home, he was “the singer in the dark glasses.” So he made them part of his persona.

  • Van Morrison on Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

    (#4) Van Morrison

    • Band/Musician

    Why would someone record three dozen intentionally bad gibberish songs? In 1967, Irish troubadour Van Morrison was stuck in a brutally unfair record deal, and tangled in a dispute with his manager’s widow. Finally, he managed to get his contract bought out by Warner Brothers, but was still bound to the terms of his old deal, which required him to write and record 36 more songs.

    But Morrison got the last laugh. Knocking out over 30 songs in one day, Morrison fulfilled his end of the deal, recording short, out-of-tune, nonsensical tracks about ring worms, Danishes, and overdue royalty checks. These so-called “revenge songs” were useless to his old record company, but they did the trick, freeing Morrison up to start a run of albums that are hardly surpassed in rock greatness.  

  • Waylon Jennings Curses Buddy Holly on Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

    (#7) Waylon Jennings Curses Buddy Holly

    While history remembers the trio of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper being killed in a plane crash on “The Day the Music Died,” most people don’t know that future outlaw country superstar Waylon Jennings played bass in Holly’s band - and might have indirectly caused his death.

    Holly had chartered a plane to take him and the band to the next show, and being a nice guy, Jennings gave up his seat to the Big Bopper, getting on the bus instead. While the band members figured out their travel arrangements, Holly chided Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” to which Jennings replied, equally, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” Which it did.

    Thinking he’d cursed Holly, Jennings blamed himself for the crash and carried the guilt with him the rest of his life. But words and curses don’t make planes crash, and in this case, it was pilot error and bad weather, not the ill-advised joke of Waylon Jennings that sent Holly to his death.

  • Judas Priest on Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

    (#16) Judas Priest

    • Band/Musician

    Virtually every popular band of the '60s and '70s was accused by fundamentalist Christians of including backwards Satanic or drug messages in their music. But few bands got as raw of a deal as metal gods Judas Priest. In 1990, the band was sued by the parents of two boys who committed suicide after listening to their music. They claimed that subliminal messages in the song “Better by You, Better than Me” urged listeners to “do it” with “it” referring to self-harm.

    The trial dragged on for a month before the judge ultimately dismissed the case, and subsequent research has shown that backmasking is ineffective at delivering subliminal messages. However, the judge bizarrely ruled that Priest HAD included backmasked messages in their music – you just had to know exactly what they were for them to work. Unasked was the question of what band wants their fans to kill themselves, rather than buy more records?

  • Michael Jackson and Prince Duet - Or Do They? on Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

    (#14) Michael Jackson and Prince Duet - Or Do They?

    Back in the mid-80s (shortly after Phil Collins didn’t witness someone drowning), Michael Jackson and Prince were at the top of their game and engaged in a fierce but mostly friendly rivalry. And while rumors swirled of the two disliking each other, they were actually friends. In fact, Jackson originally penned the 1987 smash hit “Bad” as a duet to perform with Prince. It never happened, though, and various reasons came out as to why. Some speculate Prince thought the song would be a hit on its own, which it was. Others that Prince had qualms about the lyrics, specifically refusing to have “Your butt is mine” sung at him. Whatever the case, the version on the album is just Jackson singing. However, we can’t entirely rule out that they might have recorded a demo given the vast amounts of unreleased material both artists have in their vaults.

  • The 27 Club - Not Actually a Thing on Random Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

    (#9) The 27 Club - Not Actually a Thing

    Rock’s most exclusive club isn’t on the Sunset Strip, it’s made up of musicians who died at age 27. Foremost are Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, who all succumbed to drugs and/or alcohol, around the same time and all at the same age. This coincidence lead to the media dreaming up a mythical “27 Club” where rock stars of that age go when their time is up. Later, Kurt Cobain would take his own life at the same age, and this, combined with his mother's grief at him “joining that stupid club,” revived the mythos of the 27 Club.

    While it’s true that many rock legends, including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain,  Amy Winehouse, and members of the Stooges and Badfinger all died at the same age, it denotes the occupational hazard of being a musician, not a curse. These rockers didn’t die because they were 27, they died because of drugs and alcohol. Some died in car crashes, showing the risk of spending months at a time on the road. A few were murdered. Regardless, their age had nothing to do with their death, other than that’s the age they were at when they died. Moreover, while there is a large number of musicians who died at 27, there’s a much larger number who didn’t.

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There are few things more American than rock 'n' roll. When it comes to rock music and the entire history of rock and roll, these outstanding artists or bands represent some of the best rock bands and hard rock bands of all time. Rock and roll music wouldn't be the same without these legendary rock stars. 

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