12 Great Music Urban Legends: True Or False?

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12 Great Music Urban Legends: True Or False?

Phil Collins Urban Legends
Words by Christie Eliezer

There’ve been some great ones. Paul McCartney and Avril Lavigne died just as they were getting successful and were replaced by lookalikes.

Jimmy Page and Robert Johnson made pacts with the Devil for success, and Keith Richards drained his blood in a Swiss clinic to cure his heroin habit. Some other urban legends include that Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison are still alive, KISS stands for Knights In Service of Satan, The White Stripes were brother and sister and Rod Stewart had to have his stomach pumped of semen after a night out partying with sailors.

Urban legends

Now let’s look at 12 which are not totally ridiculous and see if they have an ounce of cred.

Read all the latest product & music industry news here.


Why?: White BIC cigarette lighters were found in the pockets of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain when they died.

True or False?: The BIC lighter came on the market in 1973, long after Jimi, Janis and Jim cancelled their subscription.

There were BICs in the room where Kurt shot himself but not in his pocket.


Why?: In Metallica’s early days, drummer Lars Ulrich was going to be its singer and frontman because James Hertfield was very nervous about singing in front of people.

True or False?: True. Jon “Jonny Z” Zazula, who gave them their first record deal with his Megaforce Records, admitted he and Lars did consider it …” but only for five seconds”.


Why?: Becker was a TV sitcom from 1998 about a grouchy New York doctor, Dr. John Becker, played by Ted Danson.

The show’s creator Dave Hackel and theme composer Bruce Miller decided they needed gritty guitar bursts through each episode to reflect Dr. Becker’s crusty personality.

True or False?: False. Miller played tracks by his favourite guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Hackel to give an idea of how the guitar breaks should sound.

But the actual playing on the show was by Miller’s son, Jason, who was still at school. 

By then Vaughan had died in a helicopter crash after a gig.


Why?: Because those gold hot pants on her “Spinning Around” video and concerts at the time were considered a huge part of her appeal.

True or False?: Must be true ‘cos she’s never denied the urban legends, unlike Jennifer Lopez going on TV to pooh-pooh stories she’d insured her caboose for $25 million.


Why?: Because his stage name was Makaveli, similar to the ancient Italian political manipulator Niccolò Machiavelli who pretended to fake his death.

True or False?: Tupac was shot up in a car in Las Vegas in September 1996 by a hitman, but escaped to Cuba to escape gang violence.

His death certificate did not include his social security number, and the man paid a substantial money to cremate his body has disappeared.

Stairway To Seven

The 7 Day Theory album saw him featured on the cover as Jesus Christ whom Christians believe came back after seven days.

Tupac had a thing about the number seven.

He was shot on September 7, died at 4.03 pm (4 + 3 = 7) at the age of 25 (2 + 5 = 7) and his birthday is June 16 (1 + 6 =7).


Why?: “Accidental drowning” was the official reason after he’d gone for a night swim in the Mississippi on May 29, 1997 singing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” when a passing tugboat kicked up waves.

It was the night before he was to start recording a sequel to the acclaimed Grace which sold 3.5 million copies and put pressure on him.

True or False?: a former manager Dave Lory claimed in the 2018 book Jeff Buckley From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye he’d been “acting erratic” for two weeks before.

After relocating to Memphis from New York (“because it was too crazy”) apparently he’d tried to buy a house that wasn’t for sale and a car that wasn’t for sale, and applied at Memphis Zoo to become a butterfly keeper.


Why?: A pic taken of her at the Glastonbury festival showed her with a bulge that clearly due to roughed-up undies or a photo angle.

True Or False?: Gaga “admitted” to Bossip.com she did have a penis – but only because she wanted everyone to feel comfortable in their own bodies and feel sexy.


Why?: He drinks six raw eggs in one go on flights.

True or False?: True. “I like to get rid of the whites so I just do the raw yolk. I find it gets rid of jet lag.”


Why?: At a 1969 concert at the Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival festival, Alice Cooper ripped the head off a live chicken throw onto the stage and drank its blood.

True or False?: False. Thinking it could fly, the Coop had thrown the squawker back into the audience only to have fans rip it to shreds.

Next day’s headlines claimed: “Alice bites head off a chicken and drinks the blood.”


Why?: Bon Scott got the AC/DC gig when he was driving them around in Adelaide. 

Angus sniffed, “I hope you’re a better singer than you are a driver.”

True or False?: Jimmy Barnes was already starting to become known around Adelaide for his voice.


But he dismissed the story, saying, “Bon and I were mates and I thought he was the perfect front man for them.”

The confusion probably began when Barnes sang in Scott’s earlier band Fraternity (which included his brother John Swan) for a couple of months in 1975 before returning to Cold Chisel.


Why?: Phil Collins’ 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight” was about the time in his teens the singer/drummer witnessed a man drowning and calling out for help.

Collins was too far away to help and another man refused to help.

Years later when he was famous, he hired a private investigator to find the man, and sent him tickets to his show.


Collins premiered “In The Air Tonight” at the show, and had the spotlight shone on him throughout.

Another version is that the original man didn’t drown and was the one who attended the show.

When he was invited backstage, he told the star, “You could have done more to help.”

True or False?: False, says Collins, who wrote the song after he came home after a tour to find his first wife Andrea Bertorell had left him.

About Drowning

The stories began because the song contained a line, “Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand”.

 The rest of the verse fitted into the narrative:

“I’ve seen your face before, my friend

But I don’t know if you know who I am

Well, I was there and I saw what you did

I saw it with my own two eyes

So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been

It’s all been a pack of lies”

Eminem Song

More famous than other urban legends, this one made it onto Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan” in which the character sings, “You know that song by Phil Collins, ‘In The Air Tonight,’ about that guy who could have saved that other guy from drowning but he didn’t?

“Then Phil saw it all then at his show he found him?

“That’s kind of how this is. You could have rescued me from drowning.”

Angry Song

Collins explained to the BBC: “When I was writing this, I was going through a divorce. 

“The only thing I can say about it is that it’s obviously in anger. 

“It’s the angry side or the bitter side of a separation. 

“So what makes it even more comical is when I hear these stories, which started many years ago, particularly in America.”


Why?: Aerosmith could have died in the same plane crash that wiped out southern boogie band Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Free Bird”, “Sweet Home Alabama”).

The old 1948 Convair 240 took off at 4:02 p.m. on October 20, 1977, bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

The flight was expected to take about three hours. The fuel indicator stated it had 400 gallons of fuel, enough for five hours flying.


Once in the air, the pilots radioed for help, saying they were running out of fuel.

The crash wiped out three members of Skynyrd (as well as the pilots and a roadie) with the others spending time in hospital.

True or False?: False. Aerosmith were never on that flight. But a few weeks before, their tour manager had checked the plane and found it unreliable.

He also noted that the two pilots were drinking before the flight and refused to let the band board, fuelling the urban legends.

Music aside, keep reading about urban legends here.