This isn’t actually about April Fools, I wouldn’t participate in any of that nonsense. More of a coincidence that the other day I was reminiscing about some of the unsubstatiated tales I’d heard when I was a youngster about the crazy antics of these pop stars.
These days there are no inaccurate stories circulating about popstars – the internet has made this impossible. If you hear an unlikely story about a favourite star, eg that Dave Mustaine wasn’t really born in the US, you just have to check Wikipedia. If a story goes round that Justin Bieber set light to one of his own farts on stage you can check for footage on youtube. If it’s not on youtube it didn’t happen. Simple.
When I first started listening to pop music in 82-83 it was a different world. Instead of the internet we had the playground, a cesspit of lurid rumours about the pop world. We had no way of knowing if what we heard was true or not.
So do you remember any tall tales you heard about favourite artists back in the dark ages? Did you believe them or did they seem just too outlandish even then? (Marc Almond fans have Spill points deducted as a handicap).
Here’s some that I remember, mainly from my youth although some are more recent.
Gary Numan: Unavailable for comment
WARNING: Some of these stories are VERY UNPLEASANT INDEED. Whatever degenerate depths the rock & roll has sunk to, it can’t seem to compete with the imaginations of a bunch of teenagers trying to outdo each other.
WARNING # 2 – Some of the others are a bit rubbish, not the sort of thing you’d actually even bother to make up. All part of the fun though . But I’m sure you lot can come up with some better preposterous tales that you’ve heard.
THE CLASH – Back in 83 I was watching robot dancers Tik & Tok supporting Gary Numan along with some classmates, one of whom was a Clash fan a good couple of years before me. During one song Tik & Tok appeared wearing gas masks. Clash Fan immediately denounced this as a rip off of the Clash who apparently also came onstage wearing gas masks. Whether this was as some kind of “political” statement, protection against tear gas, or due to Mick Jones’ flatulence wasn’t clear
Prof Wyngate concludes : sounds like a good “military chic” look but I have never seen, read or heard anything of the gas masks since, so I doubt it happened. Its not as if we are short on info about things The Clash wore is it?
THE CLASH part 2 – Clash Fan once told me that “the last time the Clash played Leicester” the violence at the gig was so extreme that it involved people being force fed broken glass. A few months later he asked if I wanted to go and see The Clash – I declined.
Prof Wyngate concludes : Gig violence was rife at the time, particularly at punk gigs but I have never heard of anyone being force fed broken glass – not even at the most violent oi gig. Wild exaggeration.
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES According to Clash Fan the Banshees had a song called I Screamer that was “banned”. Intrigued I asked the obvious question -“why?” “Because of the lyrics” replied Clash Fan helpfully.And what did “banned” mean. By Radio 1? Outlawed by the government and the mastertapes seized by armed police? Information was thin on the ground.
Prof Wyngate concludes : I suspect he meant Mad Eyed Screamer by Banshees side project The Creatures. It featured the line “your balls are freezing in the breeze” so perhaps it didn’t get played on daytime Radio 1.
DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS– Some classmates told me that when he was young Kevin Rowland was so poor he drank urine. He had revealed this in an interview. No doubt as a Dexys fan I was being smeared by association with this story – “see that dirty man drinking wee – that’s singer of your favourite band, that is”
Prof Wyngate concludes : Never heard this story since, it seems a bit “4 yorkshiremen” to me. I know Kevin Rowland was keen to point out he wasn’t middle class, but this is silly. Kids taking Dexys scruffy image a bit too seriously.
DEXYS Part 2 According to the same classmates, Rowland had sex with an “old woman” when he was a teenager, It would throw a new light on at least one track on Too-Rye-Ay.
Prof Wyngate concludes : No idea, but I suspect it may have been an older woman. At that age 30 was “old” as far as we were concerned.
SEX PISTOLS – According to Clash Fan, at one Pistols gig Johnny Rotten took a dump on stage and challenged “beat that”! A fan got on stage and ate it!
Prof Wyngate concludes : I’ve never heard this story since , about the Pistols anyway. I have heard it about Frank Zappa…and Lou Reed with Iggy as the “eater”. Possibly true but certainly not about the Pistols. Most likely an urban myth.
SEX PISTOLS Part 2 – A recent one. According to a mate who has no interest in rock music, and certainly not punk, he was doing a computer course and found out that someone involved in the course used to be in the Pistols, but got kicked out because he was “banned by the Queen”. This made no sense – royal prerogative doesn’t extend to band line ups, surely? When I quizzed my mate the story was that he was kicked out of the Pistols by Malcolm McLaren because he had a criminal record.
Prof Wyngate concludes : If members were kicked out for criminal records they would probably be reduced to Glen Matlock busking. There was of course the tantalising prospect that my mate had come across founder Pistol Wally Nightingale, until someone pointed out to me that he had died in 1996. I’m pretty sure no other Pistol has got involved in IT education. Sorry, don’t believe a word of this.
THE STRANGLERS –In 1987 myself and a Stranglers fan mate were told by a fellow 6th former that Stranglers drummer Jet Black had died and was being replaced by Stewart Copeland… which sounded sort of plausible to me. But Stranglers Fan wasn’t having any of it. The Stranglers would never replace a member he said. If a member died or left they would just split up…
Prof Wyngate concludes : Clearly not true! But not for the reason given by Stranglers Fan.
GARY NUMAN – A mate once told me that one night, before he was famous, Gary Numan decided to go to his local chippy in a full spacesuit – where he had the piss taken out of him and went home very upset.
Prof Wyngate concludes : Your guess is as good as mine. But me and the mate in question were reduced to fits of laughter in the pub talking about it. What was he buying at the chip shop? NASA style food powder for astronauts? Or maybe it was space robots favourite food product , Smash? We were laughing so much we could hardly breathe. You had to be there really
TOM JONES / SISTERS OF MERCY Someone I knew insisted she had seen the man known as “the voice” on TV covering Heartland by the SISTERS OF MERCY. Now I know Tom Jones will cover almost anything and I can imagine him belting out Temple Of Love, but the AA-side Heartland? I like it, but surely to many it would just sound like a repetitive dirge, not suitable material for Jones.
Prof Wyngate concludes : I wanted it to be true, I searched the internet to no avail. But I think I’ve resolved this. Also on the Temple Of Love 12” is their cover of Gimme Shelter – and I recently stumbled across this