Just in time for Halloween, we’re looking at some of the most frightening myths and legends in music history. Did Debbie Harry narrowly miss being killed by Ted Bundy? Did Marvel print Kiss comics using the band’s blood? Did Ozzy really eat rodents on stage? Our truth-meter separates fact from fiction.
Ozzy Osbourne Eats Bats
There was no rumor too big to believe about Ozzy Osbourne, especially once the religious folk decided that Black Sabbath were actually agents of the devil. Ozzy certainly had his fun fanning the flames of blasphemy. At some point, we’ve all heard the story that dangerous Ozzy bit the heads off live bats during his stage shows.
Truthmeter: Myth. Despite how much us oldsters want this to be true, it’s actually mostly myth. Ozzy wants accidentally bit into a live bat onstage, but it bit him back. Ozzy thought the bat was a rubber prop. The rounds of rabies treatments kept him from ever attempting such a thing again.
Harry Nilsson’s Cursed Flat
Harry Nilsson was considered one of the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation (Everybody’s Talkin’). He owned a flat in Mayfair, London back in the 1970’s, which he rarely visited because he was always on tour. The story is that he lent the flat to his famous friends, and two of them died there: Mama Cass and Keith Moon.
Cass was in London for a run of shows with The Mamas & The Papas. After the last concert, she returned to Nilsson’s place and died. She did not die by choking on a ham sandwich, that is an urban legend. This happened in 1974. Four years after Cass’ death, Keith Moon, The Who’s drummer, was staying in the flat when he overdosed and died. They allegedly died in the same bed. Is this true?
Truthmeter: True. Believe it or not, this scary story is true. Nilsson was too distraught to ever go back to his old apartment. He sold it to Pete Townshend, who had already been paying for his bandmates rent, as Moon was trying to quit drugs and booze.
Debbie Harry Almost Killed by Ted Bundy
This rumor got so huge that Snopes.com got involved to determine its truth or falsity. The story starts in 1989, when Harry told a newspaper of a harrowing experience she had in New York during the 1970s:
“A little white car pulls up, and the guy offers me a ride. So I just continued to try to flag a cab down. But he was very persistent, and he asked where I was going. It was only a couple of blocks away, and he said, ‘Well I’ll give you a ride.’
“I got in the car, and it was summertime and the windows were all rolled up except about an inch and a half at the top. So I was sitting there and he wasn’t really talking to me. Automatically, I sort of reached to roll down the window and I realized there was no door handle, no window crank, no nothing. The inside of the car was totally stripped out.
” … I got very nervous. I reached my arm out through the little crack and stretched down and opened the car from the outside. As soon as he saw that, he tried to turn the corner really fast, and I spun out of the car and landed in the middle of the street.”
Harry recounted this story shortly after Bundy was executed in Florida. She believed the man might’ve been Bundy. “It was right after his execution that I read about him,” she said. “I hadn’t thought about that incident in years. The whole description of how he operated and what he looked like and the kind of car he drove and the time frame he was doing that in that area of the country fit exactly. I said, ‘My God, it was him.’”
Truthmeter: Mostly false. Probably. Snopes said that there was no evidence that Bundy had ever visited New York City. Harry dates the unsettling encounter to a time before she was in a band, which means it had to have been prior to 1973. Moreover, Bundy had never driven a stripped out car, nor did he ever say he was in NYC. As creepy as this encounter was, the Blondie singer did not survive a near-miss with Ted Bundy, but the story is still scary.
Gene Simmons and His Cow Tongue
Kiss’ Gene Simmons has a long, curly tongue. This is established as fact, as anyone who has ever gone to a Kiss concert can easily verify. Kiss formed as a band in the mid-1970s, and taking a cue from David Bowie, they dreamed up the most fantastical and theatrical stage show they could muster. That meant that Simmons, who was once a teacher, took on the role of demon, resulting in hilarious acts of faux-blood spewing. Paul Stanley’s role was Starchild, while Ace Frehley was an alien, and Peter Criss, the drummer, was a demonic cat.
The sight of Simmons spewing blood and wagging his extra-long tongue was the subject of constant debate and rumor by a generation of children who were transfixed by the band. A persistent urban legend is that Simmons had his tongue removed and replaced by a graft of a cow’s tongue.
Truthmeter. Nope. Sorry everyone: this is just too good to be true. SImmons did not have his tongue replaced. Not only did the procedure not exist at the time, an actual bovine tongue is much bigger than what Simmons is packing.
Marvel’s Kiss Comic Printed In Blood
Kiss has always been amazing at promotion. It was their use of face paint, after all, that really earned them the attention of the music world. They’ve also never been shy about merchandising their stuff. You can find just about any item in the world with an officially licensed Kiss logo, including a casket (known as the Kiss Kasket). But what about the first ever comic book, which was published by Marvel?
There’s quite a story behind it, which goes like this: When Kiss decided to do the book in 1977, they went to Marvel’s special printing press in upstate New York, where they dumped vials of their own blood into the red ink. The bloody ink was used to print the comic. The tale includes the detail that the entire process was witnessed by a notary public, who also witnessed a nurse drawing the blood.
Truthmeter: Totally true. This is another legend that just so happens to be true! The photos of the event were published in the comic itself.
Keith Richards Replaced His Entire Blood Supply
We could fill a book with strange tales involving Keith Richards and his bandmates. One of the most popular is the idea that Richards had his entire body drained of blood and replaced with fresh blood. This rumor starts right before the band went on tour in 1973, when Richards allegedly traveled to Switzerland to have his alcohol and drugs contaminated blood removed and replaced. If he did get his blood drained, that might explain his current appearance.
Truthmeter: Mostly false. There’s more fiction here than fact. Although Richards did have a procedure to remove toxins from the blood, he did not replace his blood altogether. Even Richards admits this is a story he made up after getting bored with answering questions. He should have gone the extra mile and claimed the procedure took place in Romania.