“Rock ‘n’ Roll Myths” by Gary Graff and Daniel Durchholz

c.2012, Voyageur Press
$21.99 / $23.99 Canada
240 pages, includes index



It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be.

That rumor you heard about your favorite rock & roll star?  It had to be fake. It was made up. Completely untrue, you were sure of it. Mick didn’t do things like that. Sid’s mom would’ve been more careful. Gene, well, it’s not possible.

Even all these years later, you kind of wonder… what about Elvis, Michael, and Frank?  You’d really like to know, and in “Rock ‘n’ Roll Myths” by Gary Graff and Daniel Durchholz, you finally will.

Okay, so you can’t deny that rockers do weird things. They love it when fans talk about them, and the best way to start buzz is to be outrageous. But, for instance, must one become a Knight in Service to Satan to achieve that?

Apparently, no, says Graff and Durchholz. “KISS” is not an acronym and doesn’t have anything to do with the devil. Neither does Black Sabbath. And Robert Johnson?

Maybe. Probably not.

Then there’s John Lennon. He denied the rumors about Brian Epstein, but we’ll never know the truth. Led Zeppelin says it wasn’t a shark, but a snapper that the groupie snapped up. Donna Summer was not a Bad Girl in the studio. And the Jagger-and-Bowie thing?  Depends on who’s talking…

Puff and Lucy, by the way, were totally innocent of all drug charges. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Willie or The Beatles.

Alice Cooper claims that the chicken incident in Toronto was an accident, just like Ozzy says the bat incident was unintended. Keith Richards admitted it’s no accident that he and his dad are, um, very close. Frank Zappa didn’t eat what he’s accused of eating, but Van Halen will eat brown M&Ms (just not backstage). And it’s true that a sandwich was in the vicinity of Mama Cass’s body, but it’s possible that the ham was innocent.

There is an eerie “27 Club” that several stars have joined, unintentionally, upon their early deaths. Nobody, however, died in the making of The Ohio Players album, but Kurt Cobain and Brian Jones might’ve been murdered. Bobby McFerrin is still alive and well. So is Paul.

And Elvis?  Still dead.

Probably. Maybe…

You gotta love a good scandal, especially when it comes from the very people you expect to misbehave.  But admit it: the did-they-or-didn’t-they question has always been on your mind.

Authors Gary Graff and Daniel Durchholz have the answers to your doubts, but only more or less. That’s because, like many of the people involved, the rumors in “Rock ‘n’ Roll Myths” may never fully be laid to rest. Still, it’s delicious fun to read about admissions and denials, limp explanations, and lame reasonings behind the things you whispered about, then and now.

I liked this book for its nostalgia, its tabloid-ish feel, and for the brand-new scandals that I didn’t even know about, and I think you’ll like it, too. If you’re a rock fan, a gossip lover, or a head banger from way back, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Myths” will hit the right note.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.