If there’s one thing the Internet can’t get enough of, it’s a ratchet rumor. Even before the 24/7 blogosphere came into existence, tabloid papers and radio talk shows were spreading hearsay everywhere from barber shops to grocery-store checkout lines. But thanks to advances in misinformation technology, what we have now is a nonstop "news” cycle of gossip, innuendo, and half-baked "truthiness."
As a public service Complex decided to round up 40 of the craziest, nuttiest, most ratchet-est rumors to ever hit pop music at put them to the test. Did Michael Jackson really cop the Elephant Man’s bones? Did Suge hang Vanilla Ice off a balcony for cold cash? Did Keith Richards snort his father's ashes? Those stories couldn't possibly be true—could they?
40. Justin Bieber Got a Fan Pregnant
It was like “Billie Jean” all over again. Last winter a 20-year-old groupie claimed Justin Bieber got her pregnant after he hit it backstage at one of his L.A. concerts. Though her allegations didn't go far. The Biebs said he was ready to take any test needed to prove that he was not the daddy. After which she beat it. The kid is not his son-word to Michael.
39. The Beatles Smoked Weed In Buckingham Palace
While John Lennon once said that The Beatles did smoke marijuana in the bathroom before receiving a Member of the British Empire award from the Queen Elizabeth in 1965, George Harrison and Paul McCartney say they did not and Ringo Starr says he can't remember. It's a toss-up, so this rumor lives on. And if it's true, they're so trill.
38. Ciara Is A Man
Ciara's been dealing with rumors that she was born a boy since she popped nearly a eight years ago. She's always just brushed off the talk as haters hating. “They said I was a man! It doesn't get any worse than that,” said Ciara in one interview. Maybe some one should put a call into Bow Wow and ask if he saw anything crazy when they dated.
37. Ricky Nelson and Friends Freebased Coke and Made Their Plane Crash
While on his way to a New Year's Eve concert, pop star Ricky Nelson died in a small plane crash in Texas. Many speculated that someone onboard was freebasing cocaine, which caused a cabin fire that brought the plane down. The official explanation for the fire was mechanical problems. No evidence of drugs was ever found, but you can't keep a good rumor down.
36. Guru and "Super Producer" Solar Were Lovers
When Keith “Guru” Elam passed in August 2010, one of the more unfortunate rumors that came out was that he and manager Solar were in a romantic relationship with each other. Although he did seem to have undue influence over Guru during the rap star's final days, the romantic angle has been vehemently denied by both peers and family members. Guess we can chalk this one up to rap-game politics.
35. The White Stripes Are Siblings
Jack and Meg White helped spread the rumor that they were siblings and not a married couple. The truth is that they had divorced in March 2000 just as they became a renowned band. In a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone, Jack White said they lied about their relationship to keep the public's focus on their music. "When you see a band that is two pieces, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, you think, 'Oh, I see...,'” he said. “When they're brother and sister, you go, 'Oh, that's interesting.' You care more about the music, not the relationship-whether they're trying to save their relationship by being in a band."
34. Gene Simmons Had A Cow Tongue Transplant
True, KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons has a peculiarly long tongue. False, he did not have surgery to replace it with a cow's. It's just that crazy. "I was oblivious, for the first thirteen years of my life, that I was endowed with a large oral appendage, my superlong tongue," Simmons wrote in his autobiography. "It really was longer than everyone else's, and I was soon to find out that having a long tongue came in handy with the girls."
33. Three 6 Mafia Are Devil Worshippers
We all know that “666” is "the number of the beast." But contrary to popular belief-fueled by ratchet rumors-the Memphis rap crew Three 6 Mafia does not worship the devil. The “Three” in their name is for the original three members-DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Lord Infamous. The “6” is for the number of people in the crew with added members Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, and Koopsta Knicca. That's it.
32. Keith Richards Swapped Out 100% of his Drugged-Out Blood
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has done more than his fair share of drugs in his day. So much so that many believe the only reason he's still alive was because of a total blood transfusion that pumped all of his toxic blood out and a fresh batch in. Richards did have a procedure that pulled the toxins from his bloodstream, and he may have played a role in starting the rumor. "Someone asked me how I cleaned up, so I told them I went to Switzerland and had my blood completely changed," Richards has said. "I was just fooling around. I opened up my jacket and said, 'How do you like my blood change?' That's all it was-a joke. I was fucking sick of answering that question." And thus a ratchet rumor was born.
31. Michael Jackson Owned The Elephant Man's Bones
Has any star had more rumors about them than the late Michael Jackson? Just watch the videos for "Leave Me Alone" and "Scream" if you need a reminder. Michael was a world-famous loner who could certainly relate to the plight of Joseph Carey Merrick. Merrick lived in the late 1800s with a congenital disease, which created abnormal bone growth on his skull and some of his limbs, earning him the name “Elephant Man." Jackson apparently offered $1 million to London Hospital for Merrick's bones in 1987, but the hospital refused to sell them out of respect for the man. So yes, Jackson was interested. But no, he never owned them.
30. Mama Cass Died From Choking On A Ham Sandwich
Consider this one a fat joke gone wrong. The Mamas & the Papas singer actually died at the young at of 32 because of a heart attack brought on by fatty buildup in her heart-not a ham sandwich in her mouth.
29. Elvis Was Abducted By Aliens
This rumor's just for the saps that can't come to grips with the fact the king died August 1977 at 42. He's gone. And though several journalists note that Presley had a "lifelong connection to flying saucers," often claiming to see them in the skies, aliens did not take him anywhere. The prescription drugs and peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches got to him first.
28. Marilyn Manson and Paul from The Wonder Years Are The Same Person
Joshua Saviano played Kevin Arnold's best friend, Paul Pfeiffer, in the TV show The Wonder Years. Metal singer Marilyn Manson's real name is Brian Warner. Despite some vague similarities, they are not the same people. The end.
27. Ohio Players "Honey" Cover Girl Was Stabbed and Disfigured
The naked honeyed-up model on the cover of the Ohio Players' 1975 Honey was allegedly disfigured during the photo shoot because the “honey” was actually an acrylic substance that bonded with her skin. As if that wasn't ratchet enough, the story goes on that she hit the studio later demanding justice and the band's manager stabbed her. Her screams were supposedly heard on the song “Love Rollercoaster.” The only problem with that theory is that the "screams" were actually played by keyboardist Billy Beck. The model wasn't harmed or killed-but this rumor has been deaded.
26. Slim Thug Has AIDS
Houston rapper Slim Thug had it rough in 2006 when several blogs ran quotes from unidentified “friends” claiming that Thugga was running around Texas sexing mad groupies and spreading the HIV virus. Slim, who had recently trimmed down and lost weight (because he cared about his health!), eventually saw fit to address the rumors. Six years later
25. Paul McCartney Died And Was Replaced With A Lookalike
According to rock 'n' roll lore, Paul McCartney supposedly died in a 1967 London car crash and was replaced in the band with a look-alike. Yes, he got car into a car accident. No, it did not kill him. But the rumor wasn't put to rest easily. True believes have found "evidence" in the band's Abbey Road album cover-with Paul walking barefoot while the others wear shoes. Not even Paul McCartney himself (or was it?) was able to dispell the rumor.
24. TROOP Clothing Was Owned By The KKK
The once popular urban athletic clothing brand was rumored to be owned by the Ku Klux Klan. The name “Troop” was alleged to be an acronym for “To Rule Over Oppressed People.” LL Cool J, who was a fan of the brand, was accused of knowing this and still proudly wearing the clothes. (He later bigged up FUBU during a Gap commercial, supposedly to repair his clothing karma.) Of course none of this was true, but the bad press killed the brand off in time.
23. Robert Johnson Sold His Soul To The Devil
Bob Dylan Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards all have said that guitarist Robert Johnson was a huge influence for them. Many blues heads will swear up and down that young Johnson wanted be a great guitarist so badly he went to "the crossroads" in Mississippi at midnight. There, he met with the devil himself, promised El Diablo his soul in exchange for some evil wizardry. Although Johnson didn't start recording until three years before his death-making hits like “Hellhound On My Trail” and “Me and the Devil Blues”-chances are that his amazing play was achieved the same way others get good: practice.
22. Britney Spears Got Boob Implants At 16
Britney never confirmed it herself, but many believed that her mother Lynne let her young daughter cop a new set of boobs to help pump up her career at age 16. Though a “friend” did tell Rolling Stone in 2008, saying “she regretted the implants, particularly because her chest was still growing.” The snitch added that Britney never confessed to the boob job because she “was brought up to lie about herself."
21. Frank Zappa Ate Feces On Stage
Gonzo rocker Frank Zappa supposedly got into a disgusting onstage contest with his equally bizarro friend Captain Beefheart. As the story goes Beefheart crapped onstage and then Zappa pme-upped him by eating it. Disgusting? Definitely. But the rumor? Not true. When directly asked if he ever literally ate shit, Zappa answered, "The closest I ever came to eating shit anywhere was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, N.C."
20. Jimi Hendrix's Manager Killed Him
In his 2009 book, James 'Tappy' Wright, one of the guitar god's roadies, wrote that Hendrix was murdered by manager Michael Jeffery because he was angry at Hendrix's decision to leave him. According to Wright, the manager poisoned Hendrix-as opposed to the star dying from a drug overdose-so Jeffery could cash in a life insurance policy he held on the star. The controversial manager died in a plane crash long before he had a chance to refute the claims, which have never been proven
19. Master P Had Soulja Slim Murdered
When former No Limit soldier James “Soulja Slim” Tapp, Jr., was gunned down in New Orleans in 2003, rumors swirled the the killer (who was eventually shot after being released from jail) had been sent by Slim's former general Master P. On the song “Bootin' Up,” Soulja went at No Limit: “You don't want none of me, keep it in the studio/ I wasn't gon' fuck with ya on the strength C/ But now I'ma fuck over ya on the strength of P.” It is true that C-Murder and Slim were friends, and apparently a feud was building, but this ratchet rumor has never been substantiated.
18. Lionel Richie's Wife Beat Him Up After Catching Him Cheating
In 1988 Lionel Richie's then wife Brenda Harvey was arrested for assault after allegedly striking him after finding him in bed with another woman. This one is true. Lionel got caught slipping, and he and his lady were both seriously injured. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
17. Mick Jagger Ate a Mars Bar From A Woman's Vagina
Legend has it that during a 1967 drug bust at Keith Richards' estate, Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger was allegedly caught eating a Mars Bar from between the legs of singer Marianne Faithfull. But according to her autobiography, the allegations were false. Faithfull confirmed that she was at the house at the time, but denied any naughty candy action-not even a Hershey's Kiss.
16. T.I. Is A Snitch
How did T.I., a regular in the corrections system, skate away with one year and a day in prison sentence after being caught with a huge stash of illegal weapons? Until proven otherwise, we're going to credit Tip's 2009 light sentence to having the best lawyers his trap music money could buy-and not to running his mouth to the feds. Even Black Mafia Family boss Big Meech recently said, "There is no person in the Federal or State system that can say 'T.I. Clifford Harris' snithed on them. I'm tired of people spraying his name when his plea day and sentencing transcripts is 'ONLINE.' You have access to all court documents on any person in the UNITED STATES." There you have it, folks. Do your homework.
15. Judas Priest's Music Has Satanic Messages When You Play It Backwards
In 1990 Judas Priest was hit with a court case that alleged subliminal messages in their song “Better by You, Better than Me” had led to the suicide, and attempted suicide, of two men in 1985. The case, filed by the parents of the men, claimed that, playing the track backwards released Satanic messages that encouraged listeners to commit suicide. The suit was dismissed.
14. R. Kelly Made Aaliyah's Plane Crash
Rumor has it that R. Kelly was somehow responsible for the death of R&B starlet Aaliyah, whose private plane crashed while she was on her way back from a video shoot in the Bahamas. His supposed motive was that he did not want her to be able to testify in an impending trial about his activities with under aged women. The two had been illegally married (Aaliyah was under 18) in the past. This rumor is not only ratchet, it makes no sense. How could Kells make a plane crash in the Caribbean when he was back home in the States?
13. Keith Richards Snorted His Dad's Ashes
Most of us love our parents, but how far would we go to stay close to them after they're dead? In 2007 Keith Richards joked that after the death and cremation of his father, Bert, in 2002, he mixed his dad's ashes with cocaine and snorted him up. Coming from anybody else it would have seemed far-fetched, but with the Rolling Stones guitarist-who had quite a reputation for partying hard-it was almost believable. Richards would later tell 60 Minutes that he planned to sprinkle his father's remains under an English oak tree but when he opened the urn a few ashes drifted onto the table. "I wouldn't eat him, but I snorted him," Richards said. "He's on the table-what was I gonna do? Brush him off?"
12. Lauryn Hill Would Rather Her Kids Starve Than Have White Fans
In 1996 a rumor blew up that former Fugee turned solo megastar Lauryn Hill said, “I would rather die than have a white person buy one of my albums” in a MTV interview. Considering how many white kids were digging L-Boogie at the time, such a remark would have amounted to career suicide. Although MTV confirmed that no such interview ever happened, the talk persists -mostly in the form of salty YouTube comments.
11. Rod Stewart Got Sperm Pumped Out of His Stomach
Word on the curb was that after a wild party back in the day, rock legend Rod Stewart swallowed a lot more than mixed drinks from the bar. As the story goes, he was rushed to the hospital to have a gallon (?!?) of semen pumped from his stomach. But Stewart told Rolling Stone that he never let the rumor fase him. "It was so laughable, it never really hurt me. What could it have been,” he asked. “A fleet of fucking sailors?"
10. Erick Sermon Tried to Commit Suicide
There are competing stories to why EPMD's Erick Sermon had to deal with serious injuries after a September 2011. At first his label rep at J. Records claimed Sermon was heading home after finishing a video shoot in upstate New York when he fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a wall. New Jersey police later reported the Sermon actually fell from a three-story building at the house of a lady friend he visited. The hip-hop rumor mill has even suggested that the l EPMD star tried to kill himself because he was gay. To this day, Sermon denies that he attempted suicide.
9. Led Zeppelin Sexed A Groupie With A Live Shark
This one is another level of nasty. Rumor has it that one July 1969 night in Seattle at the Edgewater Inn, members of led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge fished out some guppies from Puget Sound and stuffed them into a naked groupie (sidebar: not in her mouth). It's referred to as the “Mudshark Incident.” Yuck.
8. Suge Knight Hung Vanilla Ice Out A Window
Though Vanilla Ice has describes his meeting with Marion "Suge" Knight as more as a gentlemen's conversation, legend has it that the former bodyguard and future Death Row exec hung the white rap star off a 20th story balcony by his ankles as a way of making him sign away publishing rights to his smash hit "Ice Ice Baby." Cold, indeed.
7. John Lennon Was Killed By The Government
Conspiracy theorists have long suggested that John Lennon's killer-Mark Chapman-was not just some common nut who shot down the revolutionary former member of The Beatles outside his New York apartment in 1980. They suspect he was sent by the U.S. government. Apparently John's son Sean believes it too. He told The New Yorker that his dad “was dangerous to the government. If he had said, 'Bomb the White House tomorrow,' there would have been 10,000 people who would have done it. These pacifist revolutionaries are historically killed by the government. Anybody who thinks that Mark was just some crazy guy who killed my dad for his personal interests, is insane. Or very naive. Or hasn't thought about it clearly. It was in the best interests of the United States to have my dad killed. Definitely.”
6. Marilyn Manson Removed His Ribs to Give Himself Head
Rumor had it that the goth god Marilyn Manson had the lower pair of his ribs removed. Why? The pesky things got in the way of him performing oral sex on himself, silly. The rumor, of course, was proven false-mostly because it's not possible.
5. Jay-Z Is Down With The Illuminati
In rap, success breeds jealousy, envy, and sometimes accusations of Illuminati affiliation. Jay-Z has been dealing with these rumors for years now. But in 2010, he brushed the hate off his shoulders, using Rick Ross' “Free Mason” to deny any connection with repping for Satan. “Niggas couldn't do nothing with me/ They put the devil on me/ I would have preferred niggas squeeze the metal on me… I said I was amazing/ Not that I'm a Mason.” When that failed to dead the talk, he addressed the illuminati issue again on "Hot Toddy," rapping "I'm Godbody, y'all better ask somebody."
4. Ozzy Osbourne Bit Off A Bat's Head
This is one of the few rumors that's actually true. But Ozzy didn't bite the head off a bat on purpose-the whole thing was a gruesome accident. While on stage he was handed what he thought was a fake rubber bat and attempted to rip its top off. "Immediately, though, something felt wrong," he wrote in his 2009 memoirs. “Very wrong. For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine. I could feel it staining my teeth and running down my chin. Then the head in my mouth twitched." Yikes.
3. Lady Gaga Is A Man
She was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Not Stefan. But even though the facts are the facts, rumors have circulated for years that Lady G was born a he. She has frequently dismissed the remarks, saying, “It's too low-brow for me to even discuss.” But there is one YouTube clip that keeps the rumor alive. Some viewers who look extremely hard just can't stop asking themselves "Is that a peen?"
2. Courtney Love Killed Kurt Cobain
There are several theories surrounding the tragic 1994 shooting death of Nirvana lead Kurt Cobain-which has been officially ruled a suicide-each more ratchet than the next. One of the most persistent rumors is that his wife Courtney Love was the one who used a shotgun to off him. According to police reports there were no fingerprints found on the gun, but that fact hasn't stopped the speculation. A sketchy singer named Eldon Hoke come forward claiming that Love offered him $50,000 to kill her husband and make it look like a suicide. In 1996, Hoke passed a polygraph test, and then eight days after telling his story on film, Hoke was found dead in Riverside, California. Odd, to say the least. But Cobain reportedly had more than three times the lethal dose of heroin in his system when he was found. Some suggest that he attempted to kill himself with an overdose, failed, and then asked Love to finish the job. No evidence has been found to support any of these claims-all of which Love has vehemently denied.
1. Tupac Had Sex With Faith Evans
We all know the lyrics from “Hit 'Em Up,” 'Pac's venomous 1996 diss record aimed at B.I.G. “You claim to be a player/ But I fucked your wife…” Tupac was referring to Biggie's lady Faith Evans. He also alluded to sleeping with Faith in various interviews, and Biggie tried to play it off by joking about the rumor in "Brooklyn's Finest," his classic collabo with Jay-Z. Although it's true that Pac and Faith recorded a single together while she and Biggie were estranged, Faith denied ever sleeping with Pac in her memoirs, and still does to this day.