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Believe it or not: London’s top ten music myths

Posted at 6:30 pm, February 9, 2014 in Fun London

© John Ritter

1. Sid Vicious’s ashes were scattered at Heathrow
The jury’s still out, but this could well be true. The mother of The Sex Pistols bassist claimed she scattered his ashes over the Philadelphia grave of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen (which would have been quite romantic if he weren’t the prime suspect in her murder). But several witnesses claim she brought his ashes back from the US to the UK, only to slip and unintentionally drop them while getting off the plane. Somewhat fitting for a man who spent most of his life getting high.

2. Mama Cass choked on a sandwich
Like Stevie Nicks’s bottom and that straw, a half-eaten ham sandwich has haunted the memory of The Mamas & The Papas singer ever since her death in a Mayfair flat in 1974. Largely because Cass was a ‘bigger’ lady, early speculation by investigating officers about a sandwich found near her body quickly became the accepted truth. In fact, the 32-year-old died of a heart attack – probably caused by crash dieting – and no food was found in her windpipe.

3. Bob Holness, sax god
What ‘B’ refers to both the male gonads and an outrageous untruth? No doubt the late ‘Blockbusters’ presenter wouldn’t have struggled with that question, having been the subject of a classic ’80s music myth: that he had played the roaring sax solo on Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’. This was probably to the annoyance of the actual sax player, Raphael Ravenscroft. But good old Bob – wag that he was – played along, also claiming to have been responsible for the guitar solo on ‘Layla’.

4. Aphex Twin lived on a roundabout
If his music videos are anything to go by, electronic pioneer Richard David James is a long way off-centre on the sanity spectrum. So when rumours circulated that he was living inside the weird cubic silver structure on Elephant & Castle roundabout, most people probably just shrugged and thought, ‘Yeah, makes sense.’ In fact, the metal box is a monument to scientist Michael Faraday, and James was living nearby in a disused bank.

5. The Beatles got blazed at the Palace
It’s nice to imagine a red-eyed Fab Four giggling their way up to the Queen and asking if she had any snacks. But, alas, the legend of John, Paul, George and Ringo smoking a joint in the Buckingham Palace toilets before collecting their MBEs in 1965 is probably false. John Lennon initially made the claim, but it was later refuted by both Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who said the band smoked a cigarette before meeting Her Maj but saved the weed for later. Of course, if young Harry had been around at the time, things might have been different.

6. Danny Baker killed Bob Marley
It is sometimes suggested (by people who don’t really understand cancer) that the cancer that killed Bob Marley was partly caused by an old football injury. So when burly broadcaster Danny Baker admitted to having tackled and injured the reggae legend in a charity footy match in London in the late ’70s, the idea that Baker was indirectly responsible for Marley’s death quickly took hold. The only problem: Baker made the whole story up for a laugh, and never even played against Marley. Next he’ll be claiming he made Mama Cass a ham sandwich.

7. The KLF invented Pete Doherty
Acid house pranksters The KLF might have burned a million quid and fired a machine gun filled with blanks at the Brit Awards audience, but did they really take a gangly Buddy Holly impersonator called Trevor McDermott and turn him one of the biggest figures in noughties indie? No, they didn’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t admire the audacity of the 2006 press release that claims they did. If nothing else, the idea of the hoax Libertine is much more enjoyable than the farcical reality.

8. Marc Almond: jizz guzzler
Like Bowie, Jagger, Britney, Elton, Alanis and numerous others, poor old Marc Almond fell victim to a scurrilous rumour about a stomach pump and a pint of nutritious mansap. For the record, it never happened in any of these cases, and we’d like to see the people responsible for such silly rumours cum to a sticky end.

9. David Bowie and Mick Jagger were lovers
Did they get it on or were they just sharing a bed after a heavy night? Bowie’s ex-wife claims she came home to their London pad in the mid-’70s and caught the two rock gods under the covers, and others have suggested they were involved in a long love affair. Suffice to say it was a very experimental time, and both men’s individual sexual exploits would make Russell Brand blush.

10. All grime artists are Satanists
Move over, Sabbath: Beelzebub has a new crop of musical recruits. According to the meticulous and well-substantiated research (read: nonsensical conjecture) of several deluded God-botherers, every grime artist from Wiley and Dizzee to Chipmunk, Tinchy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful and Doc is a fire-eyed prophet of Hades. Their evidence for such claims? The fact that all the rappers use the ‘devil horn’ hand sign. This would mean that dear little Justin Bieber is also the devil’s faithful acolyte, which is of course not true. Compiled by Dan Frost

Read other London’s top tens.

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