The Wackiest Conspiracy Theories from the World of Music


A couple of weeks back, we surveyed some fascinating conspiracy theories about literary characters, pondering everything from whether The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway was gay to whether Dorothy was a witch all along. We’re generally not big believers in conspiracy theories, but if nothing else, they do make for amusing reading, and the whole literary characters idea has got us thinking about similar whisperings from other parts of the pop cultural spectrum… like these ones, for instance, which hail from a place where truth is often stranger than fiction: the music industry! Click through and read some of the most weird and wonderful conspiracy theories the world of music has thrown up over the years, and let us know if you have any to add.

Andrew WK is not Andrew WK

Or, at least, he’s not the Andrew WK that used to be Andrew WK, who was quietly replaced at some point during the mid-2000s with the new Andrew WK. Confused? You should be. Bizarre rumors have long surrounded the career of party-starter Andrew Wilkes-Krier, involving allegations of brainwashing, corporate conspiracies, and a nefarious puppetmaster called Steev Mike. If you want to go down the conspiracy rabbit hole, you can start here, or here, or here. Curiously enough, there does seem to be at least some sort of substance to all this — Wilkes-Krier discussed some of the stranger aspects of his career with your correspondent a couple of years back, and seemed to imply that Steev Mike was a pseudonym for people involved with his career who he was bound by a non-disclosure agreement not to name, and that he was also forced against his will into his motivational speaking career by these very people. Truth is, as they say, often stranger than fiction.

The Illuminati, generally

No post on conspiracy theories would be complete without a mention for the Illuminati, the shadowy sect who are apparently orchestrating the world from behind a veil of secrecy. Quite why doing so requires the participation of Jay-Z has never really been made clear, but that’s never stopped anyone speculating about how he has recruited other alleged members, like Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. And then, of course, there’s minor MySpace/reality TV celebrity Tila Tequila’s amazingly unhinged rant at the “evil fucks” of the Illuminati, which does become somewhat less amusing when you read the rest of her blog and realize that she probably actually needs legitimate psychiatric help (other recent disclosures include that she used to be Joan of Arc in a past life, that George W. Bush died in 1987 and was reanimated as a zombie at Area 51, and that the Illuminati are trying to kill her.)

Gangsta rap was invented to fill prisons

Or, at least, it was if you believe this anonymous letter, which claims the gangsta-centric direction that hip hop took in the early ’90s was part of vast conspiracy orchestrated by the owners of private prisons to boost their share price. It’s an idea so nefarious that it could almost be true. Almost.

Paul McCartney is dead

One of the oldest and most persistent conspiracy theories, based around the idea that McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1967 and replaced by a lookalike. The rumor started in September 1969 and spread as quickly as it could in a pre-Internet world — by mid-October, the band was forced to issue an official statement to the effect that their bassist was very much alive and well. This by and large put paid to the whole thing, but humanity being what it is, there are still some corners of the Internet where the Paul-is-dead flag is still flown with gusto.

Tupac is not dead

Of course, rumors that someone is dead are fairly easy to refute. Rumors that someone isn’t dead, however… Well, short of exhuming the body, that’s a lot more difficult, which perhaps explains the persistence of rumors about dead stars not actually being dead. Elvis is the classic case, but it’s the Tupac-is-alive theory that’s really attracted the crackpots over the last 15 years or so, spawning a gazillion message board debates and at least one hilarious website, which cites a wealth of “suspicious facts” in support of its arguments, including “Friday the 13th is a very suspicious day” and “All Eyez on Me was released on February 13, 1996, [and] Tupac ‘died’ on September 13, 1996… it is quite a coincidence that the two dates are exactly seven months apart.” EXACTLY SEVEN. Quod erat demon-fucking-strandum, kids.

Brian Jones is definitely dead, because someone killed him

If you’ve seen 2005 film Stoned, you’d be forgiven for believing it was accepted fact that Jones was murdered by builder Frank Thorogood. It’s not — the official verdict on the Rolling Stones founder’s death was “death by misadventure,” a verdict left unchallenged despite new evidence being presented to the UK police in 2009. This, of course, hasn’t deterred the conspiracy theorists one little bit.

Kurt Cobain is dead, because Courtney Love killed him

Honestly, this one only makes any sort of sense if you’re Nick Broomfield, a man whose film Kurt and Courtney managed the remarkable feat of making Courtney Love look sane by comparison.

The Polyphonic Spree is a cult

Well, if it looks like a cult and dresses like a cult and acts like a cult… it could still just be a band with a penchant for wearing wacky robes and taking lots of acid together. We’re not entirely sure we’d feel great if one of our friends announced they were joining Tim DeLaughter’s merry band, but still, they’re not exactly the Church of Scientology. (We have heard stories of departing members having to turn their robes in at the door, though.)

“Gloomy Sunday” will make you kill yourself

Have you heard the story of the Hungarian Suicide Song, the cursed melody so depressing it was responsible for the death of both its composer and subject, and was banned for being a risk to public health? The story sounds more like a fairytale or a maudlin Eastern European musical theater version of Infinite Jest than the truth, but it’s at least partly true — composer Rezso Serress did indeed kill himself, and as per Snopes, and Hungary does experience a disproportionately high suicide rate. Go on, click play if you dare.

Dr. Dre started Burning Man

And finally, could it possibly be true that Dr. Dre came across the nascent Burning Man festival when location-scouting for the “California Love” video, saw a business possibility, and penned a missive to his wife outlining his idea to “get behind this shit and make some loot off of these fools”? Well, no, probably not — but by god it’d be hilarious if it was. (Also, how’s this for comical and thoroughly NSFW photographic “proof”?!)