We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at some of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest mysteries, from Radiohead to Paul McCartney we look back at some of the biggest question marks in music.
It feels like these days, surrounded by surveillance and camera phones as neatly as we all are, that the mystery of music is lacking a little. We have such an immediate and intimate connection with our favourite modern artists that the idea that we wouldn’t know the validity of a story feels almost impossible. However, for much of music’s greatest legends, the lack of information is what keeps us coming back.
For example, perhaps one of the most famous acts of rock star behaviour—Keith Moon driving a car into a swimming pool—is one of the most debated events in The Who’s history. Was it a Rolls Royce or a Lincoln Continental? Did he drive the car into the swimming pool or just attempt to? Was the swimming pool on the second floor as some people remember?
The issue often is that while there may be many people in attendance when the event was said to happen there ability to recall such an event is usually prohibited by a concoction of narcotics and booze. It means that some mysteries are destined to remain just that.
Below, we’re taking a look at six of rock’n’ roll’s greatest mysteries and trying to have a guess ourselves too.
6 of rock’s greatest mysteries:
What is being said in Radiohead’s ‘Just’ video?
This one is a little more tepid than the rest of the mysteries but we thought we’d take it easy on you to start with. Anybody who spent their formative years watching endless music videos on MTV and beyond will remember Radiohead’s 1995 single ‘Just’.
You’ll most certainly remember it for the poignant video which sees a man take some space up on the pavement and lie down, refusing to move. As people gather around him trying to figure out the root cause of his seemingly debilitating condition. As they continue to swell around the lifeless man he finally gives in.
He says: “I’ll tell you why I’m lying here… but God forgive me… and God help us all… because you don’t know what you ask of me.” He then begins speaking but with subtitles removed and no sound it becomes impossible to known what it is that is said. Soon enough, the man in question is joined by the spectators on the floor as they all lie down.
It may not be the most crucial mystery in rock but it certainly has us scratching our heads. Much like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, we think this one will hang around forever.
Pink Floyd & The Wizard of Oz
There are plenty of legends attached to Pink Floyd. When you’ve spent much of your career deliberating moving toward the fantastical and free-spirited you’re bound to gather a few mysteries as you go. This one addresses another stalwart of popular culture, The Wizard of Oz.
The theory goes that if you begin the classic album The Dark Side of the Moon as the MGM lion roars at the beginning of the 1939 film that the album is perfectly synced and the film reflects the sentiments of the songs and vice versa.
One particular moment of this alignment is when ‘Money’ begins and Oz suddenly is shown in full technicolour. Put simply, there’s no real mystery here but it is a little bit spooky. Try it out tonight and you won’t be disappointed.
The disappearance of Manic Street Preachers’ Richey Edwards
Richey Manic, AKA Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers, has been missing since he was last spotted on February 1st 1995 in Newport, South Wales. Edwards was the driving force behind the band, the group’s guitarist and lyricist, he possessed the wild streak which initially endeared fans to the band.
Famed for when, after being asked if he and the band were for real, he carved ‘4 real’ into his arm with a razor blade in front of the interviewer, Edwards was the wildcard of the group.
He also struggled with depression throughout his life and when police found his car empty by the Severn Bridge, fears he had jumped to his death were too strong to ignore. Since his rumoured death there have been several “sightings” however. Richey Edwards was declared legally dead in 2008.
Keith Richards used a blood transfusion to kick a heroin habit
We could have genuinely written a whole list on the mystery of Keith Richards. The Rolling Stones guitarist is an enigma in the rock world, plainly because his stories are so far-reaching and wildly expansive that they can’t all be true, can they?
This is one of the more ludicrous mysteries surrounding the guitarist but it may well have some grounding to it. The story goes that while Richards was in the peak of his drug use in the seventies he decided that he needed to clean up his act, or at least his heroin addiction.
He apparently travelled to Switzerland to have a blood transfusion to help him kick the habit. It was a story that Richards later moved to deny but having flip-flopped on many of his tales of debauchery (having once admitted and then denied snorting his father’s ashes) we’re not so sure whether this is so far out of the reach of possibility.
Led Zeppelin, the groupie and a mud shark
It’s easy to get caught up in the modern era of rock and roll and find it a little tame, a little clinical, perhaps even a little boring. However, while many of us may think it’s because today’s stars are all too media-friendly, it’s actually because yesterday’s rock stars were too outlandish to be matched. One forefather of rock and roll antics were the empirical rockers Led Zeppelin.
The mythology surrounding Led Zeppelin knows no bounds but there’s one story in particular which had us spitting out our morning coffees. The legend, or perhaps more correctly, the myth of Zeppelin, the mud shark and the groupie will ring around the annals of the hall of fame for eternity.
According to Hammer of the Gods, a biography on the band which allegedly got a lot of its info from the band’s road manager Richard Cole, “A pretty young groupie with red hair was disrobed and tied to the bed,” wrote author Stephen Davis. With a fresh catch of mud-shark in the vicinity things got a little twisted, “Led Zeppelin then proceeded to stuff pieces of shark into her vagina and rectum.”
While the entire band were in the hotel only John Bonham has been rumoured to have been around for the incident. So, did Led Zeppelin actually use a mud-shark in a sexual act? Probably not.
Paul McCartney Is Dead
The theory goes that Paul McCartney died during The Beatles rise to fame and, rather than reveal the truth and share the news, Brian Epstein and the rest of The Beatles decided to hire a doppelganger to replace Macca and continue as if nothing had happened.
There’s so much to unpick about this longstanding conspiracy theory but before we begin the long and arduous task, it’s worth adding a comment from John Lennon, Paul McCartney’s songwriting partner: “[Charles] Manson was just an extreme version of the people who came up with the ‘Paul is dead’ thing or who figured out that the initials to ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ were LSD and concluded I was writing about acid,” the point being they were all wrong.
However, that hasn’t stopped it becoming one of the most fervent musical conspiracy theories around. Whether it’s the references in songs “blew his mind out in a car” and Ringo Starr referencing apparent Macca replacement Billy Shears in ‘A Little Help From My Friends’ or indeed the countless “clues” in the Abbey Road artwork, it’s almost inescapable. When you add to these clues that Lennon can also be heard singing “Paul is dead”—when you play the record backwards—then you have a full-blown conspiracy theory.
Let us all assume for the moment that Paul McCartney did really die before The Beatles truly exploded. Let’s assume that Billy Shears, the doppelganger we now call Paul McCartney did replace him, isn’t it surely more impressive that he has been able to not only look like Macca but also co-write some of The Beatles best ever songs?