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Top 10 Urban Legends in Music

In every aspect of pop culture exists a propensity for urban legends. Even when proven false, urban legends can become a part of an identity, whether it’s the identity of an artist or one of their works. Music has a rich history of urban legends. These ten music urban legends are some of the most interesting:

Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil
The pioneer of Delta blues, Robert Johnson is renowned as an integral part of blues music. Still, much of his legacy has dealt with an urban legend that alleges Johnson made a trade with the devil, trading his soul for his renowned music abilities, which he apparently acquired from the devil. It’s a story that adds to the great guitar player’s mystique, though one that obviously can be taken with a grain of salt.

Marilyn Manson was an actor in his childhood
Shock rocker Marilyn Manson has always sported a slight resemblance to Josh Saviano, the actor who played lovably geeky best friend Paul Pfeiffer on The Wonder Years. Someone started a rumor that Manson was indeed the actor who portrayed Paul, and it spread like wildfire on the internet, despite the obvious differences in character. Debunking the urban legend was easy, though. Anyone who knows how to use Google can see that Saviano is a lawyer in New York.

Led Zeppelin’s mud shark orgy
Rock stars have a lot of sex, especially when they’re in their primes. So it’s no secret that the members of rock greats Led Zeppelin were quite active in that regard. One of their most bizarre sexual exploits apparently came in 1969, when at least some members of Led Zeppelin stuffed pieces of shark into a groupie’s lower orifices. Apparently taking place at The Edgewater in Seattle, the exact details of the shark orgy are unclear, but it seems pretty certain to have taken place in some form.

Paul McCartney died, awhile ago
The “Paul is dead” hoax was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s first prominent urban legends. Conspiracy theorists allege that the real Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1967, and was replaced by an identical twin of some sorts. This is obviously disproved now, seeing that the living McCartney has written many great songs beyond his Beatles days, but with lyrical analysis conspiracy theorists have never quite let this urban legend die, like they think McCartney did.

Keith Richards snorted his dad, like cocaine
It takes a lot for Rolling Stones member Keith Richards to shock people. Fans have come to expect anything from his multiple decades of performing. But one of his truly shocking acts came when he admitted to snorting some of his deceased father’s ashes. “As I took the lid off of the box, a fine spray of his ashes blew out on to the table,” Richards wrote in a 2010 autobiography. “I couldn’t just brush him off so I wiped my finger over it and snorted the residue.”

David Bowie’s wife found him in bed with Mick Jagger
David Bowie has been out as bisexual since his 1976 interview with Rolling Stone. In addition, an urban legend exists that the glam-rock god was caught in bed with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, and caught by Bowie’s wife no less! Bowie’s wife later clarified that they were in bed naked together, and not fornicating, so the urban legend holds some weight.

Ted Bundy almost captured Deborah Harry
Blondie frontman Deborah Harry claims to have once been abducted by notorious serial killer Ted Bundy in New York. Although later evidence suggests that it was some other wacko, and not Bundy, Harry certainly evaded trouble when she exited a man’s moving car when realized there was no window handle or door handle.
“Puff, The Magic Dragon” is about smoking weed
Well, this is one of those urban legends that many assume to be true. Peter, Paul and Mary’s 1965 hit seems to have several allusions to smoking marijuana, but in reality it was written by a Cornell student in 1959 who was simply yearning for his childhood. It’s more fun to pretend it’s about weed, though.

You can hear a woman dying on The Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster”
When The Ohio Players heard the urban legend that a woman’s death scream was recorded in “Love Rollercoaster”, they took a vow of silence. But it wasn’t because the rumor was true. The urban legend helped them sell records. The scream is actually the voice of keyboardist William “Billy” Beck. No person was killed during the recording of “Love Rollercoaster”, whose sales were boosted by the allegation.

Ciara was once a man
R&B singer Ciara expressed distress in 2005 over a rumor that she had previously undergone a sex change, transforming from a male to female. There was no basis for the rumors, and Ciara found it somewhat amusing. “You know what’s funny? The rumor that I used to be a man,” she told The New York Daily News. Mark this one, and many others, as an urban legend that’s interesting yet illegitimate.

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