Friday, 20 August 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 72 (Top Ten): AAA Conspiracy Theories

Its a conspiracy. Every time I try and write this article something seems to happen either to me or my computer, but I will not be stopped! Here are the five weirdest and wackiest AAA conspiracy theories and no, I havent made them up (I dont think even I have the imagination to thin k up some of the following...), they are all genuine theories out there on the net (well even point you in the right direction in case you want to read more, as we can naturally only feature the very bare bones of each theory here). Oh and before I start getting knocked by conspiracy theorists out there, Im one of you guys: Im half convinced that we never really did get to the moon in 1969 (Im even slightly convinced the moon is a hollow spaceship parked there by aliens on their way to create us artificially), Im quite frightened by how plausible the evidence for 9/11 being an inside job seems to be (I cant wait for the 30 years secrets act on that one) and theres a part of me that will forever agree with the allegation that Princess Diana was murdered because she was about to denounce the Royal family as a bunch of reptilian aliens. Not because the evidence backs it up simply because it would make so much sense over why we still have them at all.  But of the following only the Brian Jones story seems to have any real basis in fact (and even then its probably less likely than the tragic accident all the Stones friends were expecting in the mid 60s anyway).

1)    Codename: ‘Paul Is Dead’ (circa 1969), created and spread by American DJs. For the full story visit, which is a site as alarmingly detailed and comprehensive as our own.

As ever, the Beatles were the first – although in case they probably weren’t at all pleased at being the first group to have a conspiracy theory made up about them. The truth is that in November 1966 Paul McCartney had a rather bad accident and fell from a moped he had borrowed from his cousin, cutting his top lip and growing a moustache to cover the fact up (The Beatles being The Beatles they all followed suit in a staggering display of unity unheard of today). The rumour was that Paul had in fact been in a car, had stormed out of a Beatles session in a mood at 5am one night, picked up a hitch-hiker who after getting in the car recognised the driver and screamed, causing a collision with a yellow lorry. Paul, unable to get out the car, died in a fireball and Brian Epstein, afraid of how fans might react, paid off the policemen and kept the whole thing quiet. (Surprisingly, I’ve yet to read the idea that Brain Epstein was murdered to keep the secret quiet – although it has to be said his death was much more mysterious than any of these theories).

 So who was that guy we saw from 1967 onwards? Well, at first there was nobody – hence the fact that The Beatles mysteriously stopped touring, for the first time ever used an illustrated sleeve on ‘Revolver’ (with a photo of Paul screaming, no less) and used a cut-out for the Sgt Peppers sleeve (Paul is in the same position on the rear sleeve, with his back to the camera). The band then got in a replacement, either Billy Shears (as per the mention in ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’) or William Campbell depending on who you believe (a William Campbell really did go missing from his job as an Ontario Police Department around 1966 and did look a bit like Paul so we’re told – hence the OPDept patch on Paul’s sleeve on the Peppers cover).

The Beatles, well practised in the art of leaving random messages for fans in their records, are then meant to have left over 300 clues on their records: the most famous is the Abbey Road cover which represents a graveyard, with Paul as a bare-footed corpse out of step with the others, George in scruffy denim jeans as a gravedigger, John in white as the preacher and Ringo in an unusually smart suit as chief mourner. The car numberplate of the ‘beetle’ behind reads LMW 28IF – a sure clear about McCartney’s age had he lived allegedly, although his true age in September 1967 when the album came out was 27. Other album clues include the ‘graveyard’ scene of Sgt Peppers, complete with several disturbing images such as Shiva the Destroyer (a result of George’s dalliance with Hinduism) and a left-handed bass guitar made out of floral wreaths. 

Other clues include some ‘backmasking’ (hidden messages revealed when tracks are played backwards) which are extremely spooky I have to say, especially the ‘I buried Paul’ mumbled speech at the end of ‘I’m So Tired’ and the ‘Paul has no shoes’ hidden in ‘Blue Jay Way’. (But surely even the Beatles weren’t talented enough to make songs sound ‘normal’ when heard backwards – even psychedelic genius Syd Barrett couldn’t do it and boy did he try!)The infamous ‘walrus’ clue (John may have written ‘I Am The Walrus’, but often claimed it was Paul in songs like Glass Onion and a mention in the Magical Mystery Tour booklet) – walrus allegedly was an Eastern sign of death (as revealed to the Beatles in Rishikesh, perhaps?, although nothing I’ve read or heard about pre-1969 ever even mentions this – Lennon may seem to have chosen the animal at random but in fact got it from Lewis Carroll) and the most eerie of all, the ‘mafia’ sign of impending death with an open palm held over the citim. This is the clue that holds most sway for me as there are literally a dozen instances of it on Beatles records and photos including Revolver, Peppers and Yellow Submarine, not to mention four times in the Magical Mystery Tour booklet – and at no time is an open palm seen being held over John, George or Ringo. Oh and Lennon himself ‘admits’ to the conspiracy in his Paul-bashing song ‘How Do You Sleep?’, although that was just mischievous John being mischievous John.

The part where this theory falls down is the idea that the others calmly went on with the idea, never even hinting at it in the remaining 40 years and that John, as the remaining chief writer of the Beatles, ended up writing not just 90% of the Beatles songs from 1966 on but actually handed over most of the best ones to the mysterious new Paul to sing. Surely they’d have just made up the fact he’d got laryngitis and had run out of ideas would have been more believable, especially after Lennon’s domination of the group on records like ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (10 songs to Paul’s three). It’s also questionable who ended up writing the songs for McCartney’s solo career, especially after Lennon died, although those of you who’ve heard such awful albums as ‘Flaming Pie’ might well question whether Paul really is the same genius who came up with such pre-1966 classics as ‘All My Loving’ and ‘We Can Work It Out’. Overall, though, it’s a puzzle why this theory just won’t go away in the 41 years since it was first formed and how the creators of this epidemic got so many people to believe them in the first place...

2)    Codename: ‘Lennon’s Assassination’, created and spread by various people including some fans after Lennon’s death in 1980, although at its peak since the arrival of the internet. I resent the use of the word ‘oldie’, but apart from that has a lot more info that may be of interest...

There’s something tremendously unsatisfying about the idea of a lone, random murder of a famous victim. Like JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln, Lennon has his own conspiracy theory, that speculates that far from being a lone, mentally ill killer Mark Chapman was a patsy hired by the FBI/CIA/government officials who were worried about remarks the great man might make. On the side of ‘evidence’, Lennon was genuinely troubled that someone was after him in those last few months of 1980, with many of his close friends remembering him telling them that he feared he wouldn’t live very long and that someone might ‘get him’. Now, Lennon’s intuition was spot-on in 1972 when he first moved to the USA and claimed his phone was being tapped and he was being followed by Government agents, afraid of his influence and anti-establishment friends. John was dismissed as being a paranoid rock star at the time but after the official 30 years’ secrets act released the documents in 2002 the world was astonished to see that it was Richard Nixon who was the paranoid one, even getting several men to infiltrate Lennon’s concerts that year dressed as hippies. Lennon, fighting for the green card that would allow him to stay in America after a minor drugs conviction saw him threatened with deportation several times, reportedly backed down from his political stance deliberately (or perhaps because of the poor sales of the political album ‘Some Time In New York City). Fans have speculated ever since that the sheer change in style between ‘New York’ and the toothless ‘Mind Games’ may have meant have Lennon was warned off with a much bigger threat than deportation (although 1973’s ‘Bring On The Lucie (And Freeda People)’ would hardly have gone down well in this context).

So who did give the commands to shoot Lennon? Even the conspiracy theorists don’t know, although names like George Bush senior and even, hurtfully and unbelievably, Yoko have been banded around. The claim is, though, that Mark Chapman – who was, after all, a Beatles fan – was brainwashed by some big and secret firm to murder Lennon. Chapman’s own statement claimed that he heard a voice telling him to ‘do it do it do it’ and a ‘dead silence in his brain’ before he shot the Beatle and he is said to have acted dazed and confused at the scene of the crime (very similar to Lee Harvey Oswald after JFK). In a little known twist, Chapman originally pleaded ‘not guilty’ to Lennon’s murder at first before a ‘little voice’ in his head told him to change his plea. As for the timing of the assassination, Lennon was barely two months out of retirement and the powers that be thought me might get back in touch with his old anti-establishment contacts. There is also evidence that the police took a particularly blaissez-faire attitude with the murder, questioning few witnesses or accepting that it was anything other than an open or shut case.

The downside of all this is that anyone who reads the full tragic statement made by Chapman can see that this was the work of a textbook mentally ill person. Chapman identified with Lennon early on in his life, seeing in him the strengths of courage and overcoming a difficult background to become important and influential. The only trouble is, Chapman never had the musical talent of Lennon and without a Paul, George Ringo or Brian Epstein to back up any talents found himself increasingly jealous rather than overwhelmed by his idol. The timing of his death is also given as an opposite reading of the above events – that far from being a revolutionary gun-toting star, in 1980 Lennon was praising house-husbandry and children. Chapman, far from ending a thorn in the side of the Government, shot Lennon partly because he felt betrayed by the man he’d looked up to for so long and feared that for low-income struggling nobodies like himself there really was no way out. Chapman, far from being brainwashed, knew exactly what he was doing – and after so many disappointments in life had turned his head upside-down truly believed that what he was doing was his most sensible course of action and almost ‘revenge’ for Lennon’s ‘betrayal’.  Lennon, then, died out of jealousy and bitterness rather than Government orders, although you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody from the Government was keeping an eye on Lennon’s comeback, just in case he did pick up on old ways again...

3)    Codename: ‘Brian Jones’ death’, 1969. Created and fanned by many Rolling Stones down the years, although the police files themselves reveal a great deal of ‘doubt’ over Brian’s cause of death. has more...

For those who don’t know, founding Stone Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool at the home which formerly belonged to Winnie The Pooh author AA Milne on July 3rd 1969. Brian was well known for his liking for drugs and had indeed been kicked out of the Stones at the end of 1968 for being so far gone he was getting in their way of touring and recording. Add in the fact that Brian suffered from asthma quite badly and that as recently as 1967 a police report described him as ‘an extremely vulnerable young man’, prone to suicide if investigations were not handled carefully, and on paper you have an open and shut case of either tragic accident or equally tragic suicide. But in mid-1969 Brian was more than back on his feet, had pretty much denounced his drug past and was well on the way to finding his own feet as a musician again. Had Brian died in 1968 we may well have shrugged our heads and said ‘oh well’, but the Brian of 1969 was reported by many friends to be genuinely happy and back in control of his life again. Add in the fact that Brian’s asthma was more under control than it had been, the fact that there were no drugs and only a small quantity of alcohol in his body according to the inquest and that Brian was a champion swimmer, winning many medals in his youth, and things start to look a little weirder.

Things got truly strange earlier this decade when builder Frank Thorogood allegedly signed a deathbed confession that he had murdered Brian over a pay dispute. Even though police had rejected him as a suspect, the builder had indeed been there the day Brian died and had reportedly been seen rowing with him a few hours earlier, after a beam Thorogood had fixed had come crashing down from the scene and nearly hit Brian’s girlfriend Anna Walhin on the head. Brian was, understandably, furious and also disputed the amount of wages and accessories like groceries that he was paying the elder man, who reportedly didn’t take kindly to having a millionaire 27-year-old boss. Brian, thinking the matter had cleared, invited Thorogood into the pool later on that night, when he was allegedly murdered. Two witnesses are also said to have come forward later and reported seeing a man in ‘workman’s clothes’ holding somebody’s head under water.

It has to be said, though, that all the ‘clues’ for the murder have come forward retrospectively. The police felt that they had covered all possible ground in their investigation and certainly the other people there at the house that day treated Brian’s death as a tragic accident, not believing the rift between master and worker to be anything more than a slight disagreement. You also have to question the motives of the killer – whilst the more I learn about Brian’s lifelong tantrums the less I like him, I find it hard to believe that even Jones could taunt an employee into murder, especially a famous man whose death would be world news. If the story about the beam and money passing hands is true than Brian is also, arguably, in the right – any person employed solely for building work and is housed and fed on the premises should surely get a ticking off if his work is dangerous. 

Brian himself seems to have thought he had made up with Thorogood, too, and he wasn’t stupid – he had one of the highest IQs of any AAA member in fact – there’s no way he’d have got into a pool with someone who had murder in his eyes. What seems more likely to me is that a still smarting Thorogood simply refused to hand Brian his asthma inhaler when the Stone had a sudden attack in the water, believing his namby-pamby employer was putting it on for sympathy. Afraid of the fallout from his act, Thorogood never mentioned this to police and, feeling guilty, carried the secret to his deathbed when he felt he ought to tell someone. That’s only speculation of course – the only person who knew the truth was Brian and he is unable to tell us – but there’s certainly something mysterious about the inconclusive nature of the case and the quite seriously reported confession, which even made the national news some 38 years after Brian’s death. 

4)    Codename: The CIA were Grateful to the Dead, 1965. Rumour first spread via the internet 1990s. is the most comprehensive guide, although there are a couple of other listings out there...

Truly the weirdest conspiracy theory of all, right up there with the ‘Paul Is Dead’ one, is the idea that the revolutionary, counter-culture Dead were crted specifically by the CIA and FBI (no one agrees quite which) to draw attention away from the other truly revolutionary and anti-establishment bands which were really posing a threat to the powers-that-be in 1965.Sme fan gossip even has the Dead down as Satanists, simply on the back of the song ‘Friend Of the Devil’, although the theory with (comparative to the others) the most legs is that the Dead were a bunch of freemasonists who loved putting symbols into their music to brainwash fans.  

For starters, the dead’s beloved skeleton symbol was actually a key freemason symbol stretching back years (the most famous Dead skeleton – the ‘steal your face’ logo – is also meant to come in the freemason’s favourite colours, allegedly). There’s also the (originally unreleased) song ‘Mason’s Children’, which was actually written about Charlie Manson but is such a deliberately vague song it certainly could be interpreted as a mason song with its strange images and tales of bricking the dead up in walls. The Dead’s early days with the ‘Merry Pranksters’ has also come under observation, as many of the pranksters allegedly seem to have US intelligence connections, not to mention the fact that the FBI seemed in a bit of a hurry to help the Dead when counterfeit copies of their 1973 LP ‘Wake Of The Flood’ went on sale or that the Dead are still the only band given permission to play at the site of the Egyptian pyramids, even though their anti-establishment reputation hardly makes them a front-running candidate. Perhaps most interesting theory of all is that despite numerous smaller busts and the pretty much common knowledge that they were all into drugs only fans got busted at Dead concerts, not the group themselves.

However, in reply, skeletons are surely an obvious image for a band named ‘Grateful Dead’ and the other supposedly ‘illuminati/new world’ images such as inverted triangles and eyeballs are hardly more common on Dead artwork than it is for other bands (you might also have noticed that we use a pyramid as a symbol for our site. I swear we have nothing to do with the illuminati and knew nothing about them till after stating the site. It was simply the nicest looking logo on clipart and one I thought was relevant as it resembled something long-standing with the power to pass on knowledge to future nameless generations from the past unchanged. As you can tell, I was in one of my pretentious moods when I chose it). It also seems pretty daft that either the tradition-loving and exclusive masonists are supposed to have secretly converted millions of fans to the cause over the years (even after owning all the albums and sitting my journalist exams in a freemason lodge, I still have no desire to become a member) or the pro-government agencies should have ‘created’ a band quite this anti-establishment and other-worldly (even if they were trying to create an extreme version of this to cover things up, they did it blooming successfully – why not create a ‘safer’ group like Herman’s Hermits or the Dave Clark Five? Or perhaps they did?...No only joking!) And why would musicians as clever and talented as the Dead agree when they surely stood a chance of success on their own? One to file under ‘not very likely’.

5)    Codename: ‘Dark Side Of The Rainbow’ (1995-ish), reportedly first mentioned back in the 1970s but only really big since the 1990s, fanned by internet speculation and American DJs yet again. See for the full list.

The Floyd only have themselves to blame. Not content with being one of the most impersonal and ‘faceless’, mysterious bands out there, the band crowned everything with a website that was set up to deliberately cause speculation over the cover artwork of the Floyd’s last album ‘The Division Bell’ (the band still claim not to have known EMI had set it up). But fans came up with a weirder idea – if you play the 1939 film ‘The Wizard Of oz’ at the same time you play the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ album, you see one heck of an amazing synchronisation.

For instance: the opening black-and-white portion of the film ends at the exact same time as side one of the album; ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ lasts the exact length of the ‘tornado’ sequence, ebbing and flowing at the same rate; we hear ‘Brain Damage’ at the exact time the Scarecrow sings about wanting a brain; the track title ‘Time’ is highlighted during the opening credits for no apparent reason (although this one means the film makers were in on the act a full 33 years before the album was made...); the alarm bells of ‘Time’ ring out as the wicked Miss Gulch first appears on screen; the band kick into the line ‘home...home again’ as Dorothy tells us she wants to go home; most hilariously, the good witch of the North enters to the line ‘don’t give me that goody-good bullshit’; the closing heartbeat of the record coincides with Dorothy leaning in to listen to the Tin-Man’s empty chest and  finally you could also consider that the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ could be ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ or that the ‘dream’ Dorothy has is actually her ‘brain damage’ from the pressures of living as per the album (certainly, she’d not having a very nice time of it in the first half of the film). There are plenty more, but these are the ones that work best – and I couldn’t see any after putting the CD back on again after the 42 minutes were up as you’re supposedly meant to.

Well, I tried doing using this ‘new soundtrack’  a while ago and while some things did link up, particularly the ‘clues’ outlined above, an awful lot of ‘clues’ were tenuous at best. Surely the Floyd would have made a more obvious link had they meant us to view the record in this way, such as including a rainbow on the cover, not just a prism, or naming one of the band members ‘Toto’ or something. One hell of a lot of fans seem to have gone overboard for it, though, and to the best of my knowledge no other record or film combination has ever been given the time and dedication that this one has. There is, however, the sad fact that even the technologically-minded Floyd would have found it hard to synch up the music to the film given the technology of 1973 (the effect in their own films/soundtracks is a bit hit-and-miss) and certainly many of the ‘clues’ would suggest that the Oz film-makers were in on the conspiracy, which given that the film was made before any of the Floyd were born seems to be pushing it a bit. The only time the band themselves have ever commented on it is when an amused Nick Mason told reporters ‘we definitely never based the album on ‘Wizard Of Oz’ – we nicked it all from ‘The Sound Of Music’ instead’! So, this theory just seems a to be a bunch of ‘cosmic coincidences’ but who knows – perhaps somebody above planned it that way?...

Don’t have nightmares. Normal service will be resumed next week! (And if we’re not here, then you’ll know we really were onto something with this top five...)

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