It was a cold November night in 1966 – or maybe it was January of ‘67, depending on whose account you choose to believe – when a car crash fatality forever changed the course of popular music.
Or did it?
Okay, there’s no real mystery here. The reality is that there was no car crash, or if there was, the bass player and co-creative force of the greatest band in the history of recorded music was most certainly not decapitated. But there was a time when legitimate news outlets needed to point this out to an apprehensive world. And not only was there no fatal wreck, but that band didn’t surgically alter a look-alike to carry on in the artist’s place, fooling throngs of adulating fans for the ensuing 40+ years.
It was a hoax. Perhaps the most entertaining hoax our media has seen outside of a work of fiction, because the so-called evidence supporting it as truth had been seeping into the public’s eyes and ears all this time and no one had noticed. Photos and music that had not only become fully integrated with popular culture, but had come to define the very zeitgeist of the era. Album covers that were iconic upon arrival, songs that hundreds of millions could sing by heart.
And even once the dust of speculation had been billowed away by a cool gust of truth, that evidence remains as a perpetual quirk.
On September 17, 1969, the above article appeared in the student newspaper at Drake University in Iowa. It speculates that Paul McCartney was indeed dead, that the Beatles had cleverly sprinkled clues throughout their music and album packaging, and states that these concerns were spreading rampantly around the campus gossip vine. Three and a half weeks later, Detroit radio DJ Russ Gibb was discussing the rumor over an hour’s worth of airtime, his listeners calling in to pick apart the clues. This continued at various American stations for another couple of weeks before Derek Taylor, press officer for the Beatles and their Apple Records label, issued a statement that insisted that the Paul McCartney in the band today was the same guy who’d been in the band three years earlier. Read more…
There was a time, long ago, when going to the circus meant more than eating questionable food from even questionabler vendors. More than cultivating the fertile ground of potential nightmares with the acts of deranged clowns, swallowing up the air around them and coughing them back out in maniacal, psychologically scarring laughter. In Victorian England, the circus entered a golden age. A night under the big top was about as thrilling as things got. Sure, there was theatre, but outside of London your selection became a lot more limited.
Not a lot of big names came from the circus – well, not names that have carried on to modern lore. P.T. Barnum was quick with the catchphrase, and the Ringling Brothers are still ringling their way around the world, or at least their brand is. England can boast one circus star who not only rose to national fame, but rose to own his own traveling show. Also, he was black. And though his fame may only carry on today thanks to a single lyric in a 1967 pop song, there’s still a lot of love in England for Pablo Fanque.
He was born William Darby in either 1796 or 1810 – records back then were sketchy, and you couldn’t always trust a person’s own account. Not wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps as a servant, Darby began his apprenticeship in 1821 with this guy:
Well… okay, that’s not a picture of the guy. But noted equestrian performer and circus proprietor William Batty never had a proper portrait made, or if he did he never uploaded it to the internet. Inconsiderate bastard. Read more…
Today’s helpful article from the trusty e-quill of Mr. Handy serves to remind you that your music collection may in fact be larger than you think. Your favorite album may contain a hidden track, concealed from the general public by its omission from the album’s packaging, and designed to incite a squeal of ‘insiderness’ for those True Fans who make the effort to hunt it down.
Like almost everything innovative that ever happened in rock music, this can be traced back to the Beatles.
They also invented guitars, harmony, cowbells, and moustaches.
If you have never listened to “A Day In The Life”, the final cut on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you need to first telephone your parents and declare that you now have evidence that they failed in your upbringing, then listen to the track immediately. Many consider this song to be among the Beatles’ finest achievements, and if you haven’t been blasted into unconsciousness by the triumphant final piano chord, you’ll hear what may be the first hidden track in album history.
After a quick 15-kilohertz tone that your dog will likely hear more clearly than you, there’s a two-second loop of laughter and gibberish that repeats and fades out. Most importantly, it only fades out because you likely listened to the CD track or a digital download. This snippet was actually laid into the vinyl album’s middle groove, so people who had turntables that didn’t automatically lift up and re-dock after the end of a side (which was most people) would hear that loop endlessly.
Also, if you play it backwards, it allegedly kind of sounds like they’re saying “We’ll fuck you like Superman.” I’m not making that up. Read more…