The history of rock and roll is both long and storied, and it’s peppered with a number of wild myths, from the lurid to the absurd and everywhere in between.
Here’s a look at the five most infamous myths in rock history.
Rock history is littered with various conspiracy theories including ones where people believe certain rock stars are still alive. Over the years, the two most prominent theories involve Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison, with many reports claiming there have been sightings of the two out and about. These alleged "sightings" have been going one since both Presley and Morrison's deaths in 1977 and 1971 at the ages of 42 and 27, respectively. There are various theories that claim both Presley and Morrison faked their own deaths so they could live more peaceful lives away from public scrutiny.
This is a myth that has gone on for decades even though it's long been debunked. Cass Elliot, one quarter of The Mamas and the Papas, died on July 29, 1974 at the age of 32. At the time, it was reported she was found dead in her London apartment after choking on a ham sandwich. Sue Cameron, a close friend of Elliot's who was a columnist at 'The Hollywood Reporter' at that time, told 'People' in 2020 that when she heard the tragic news, she called Elliot's apartment in London. She said, "Her manager Allan Carr picked up the phone and he was hysterical. Allan said, 'You've got to tell them that she died choking on a ham sandwich. You must go to your typewriter and write that. There's a half of a ham sandwich on her nightstand.' I didn't ask any questions. I knew she didn't choke on a ham sandwich. I didn't believe Allan but I thought just do it because something was wrong. The ham sandwich went worldwide. Many people don't realize that it's not even true. Even though I have said — and written — it's not true, it still goes on. I never thought it would last as long as it has." Elliot's actual cause of death was due to a heart attack. While drugs weren't a factor in her death, Elliot did have issues with substance abuse. Many believe that and her often going on crash diets led to the weakening of her heart.
One of rock's biggest myths is thanks to Phil Collins' hit 1981 song "In The Air Tonight." Many believed the track was about Collins witnessing from a far distance someone drowning while someone closer to the victim just watched them die without helping them. This is not true with Collins himself saying in an 2016 appearance on 'The Tonight Show' that he wrote the song while he was going through a nasty divorce.
This is definitely one of the most graphic rock myths, and there's no subtle way to explain it. Simply put, the rumor was Stewart had to go to an emergency room to have his stomach pumped after performing oral sex on a number of sailors at a gay bar, and a large amount of semen was removed. In his 2012 autobiography, Stewart said the rumor was started by his former publicist Tony Toon after he was fired. He wrote, "Toon’s revenge was absolutely inspired...I have never orally pleasured even a solitary sailor, let alone a ship’s worth in one evening. And I have never had my stomach pumped, either of naval-issue semen or of any other kind of semen...This story has stayed with me ever since. Say what you like about Tony Toon — and God rest his soul — but he was good at his job."
The most iconic myth in rock history is, of course, "Paul is dead," the wild urban legend that claims Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash in November 1966 and was replaced in The Beatles by someone who won a McCartney look-alike contest. The myth was propelled by claims the Beatles hid clues in their music and their album artwork that informed their fans that the myth was, in fact, true. Of course, McCartney didn't die in 1966 and is still active today. He even had a bit of fun with the myth and named his 1993 live album 'Paul is Live.' What a cheeky, Scouser!