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True or False?

From Snopes.

  1. Blood from KISS band members was mixed with the red ink used to print the first KISS comic book.
  2. Elvis’ backup singers walked out during a concert after his remark that their breath “smelled like catfish.”
  3. Members of Led Zeppelin once employed a mud shark on a female groupie.
  4. Van Halen’s standard performance contract contained a provision calling for them to be provided with a bowl of M&Ms, but with all the brown candies removed.
  5. Producer Phil Spector deliberately recorded an unreleasable song called “The Screw” in order to cheat his former partner out of royalties.
  6. Bobby McFerrin, singer of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” killed himself.
  7. Charles Manson auditioned for the Monkees.*
  8. John Denver was a U.S. Army sniper in Vietnam.
  9. Mariah Carey said she’d love to be skinny like “starving children.”*
  10. The band 10cc was so named because the term represents the amount of semen in an average male ejaculation (or a little bit more).
  11. Guitarist Ron Wood lost a chance to join the Rolling Stones in 1969 because he missed a phone call.

Answers:

  1. True
  2. True
  3. True
  4. True
  5. Not quite
  6. False
  7. False
  8. False
  9. False
  10. False
  11. Undetermined

This is just a small sample of the kind of rumors explained on the website, and there is many more categories besides music artists. Some false rumors are sillier than others, and not all true stories are that outrageous, but in the end there is a lot of trivia. What is really outstanding is the quality of the research employed to explain the rumors. These guys are serious about bibliographic reference. Check the story about Van Halen and brown M&M’s:

By far the most notorious of these whimsical requests is the legend that Van Halen’s standard concert contract called for them to be provided with a bowl of M&Ms backstage, but with provision that all the brown candies must be removed. The presence of even a single brown M&M in that bowl, rumor had it, was sufficient legal cause for Van Halen to peremptorily cancel a scheduled appearance without advance notice (and usually an excuse for them to go on a destructive rampage as well).

The legendary “no brown M&Ms” contract clause was indeed real, but the purported motivation for it was not. The M&Ms provision was included in Van Halen’s contracts not as an act of caprice, but because it served a practical purpose: to provide an easy way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read (and complied with). As Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth explained in his autobiography:

Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . .” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl . . . well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

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