It’s that time of the year again where the pranksters are all out in force and we’re forced to contemplate some of the biggest “gotcha” moments in history. The music world alone has some pretty well-known hoaxes to its name, and we’re reflecting on some of the most impactful.

The Masked Marauders

Possibly one of the most elaborate journalistic hoaxes ever imagined, The Masked Marauders was the name of an album which Rolling Stone magazine had produced in 1969 under the guise that it was a supergroup bootleg recording of a session involving Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

Bob Dylan, 1986 / Image credit: PA Images
Bob Dylan, 1986 / Image credit: PA Images

It started out as a parodical review dreamed up by editor Greil Marcus and written under the pseudonym T.M. Christian (a reference to Terry Southern’s novel about a billionaire prankster, The Magic Christian). Following its publication, it seemed a lot of people fell for it and everyone from fans and retailers to the artists’ managers themselves wrote in to request a copy.

Rather than just admitting the prank there and then, however, Rolling Stone brought on board a band to impersonate the rockstars purportedly involved and got Warner Bros. to produce the record. Among some of the tracks were I Can't Get No Nookie by “Mick Jagger”, and covers of Duke of Earl and Season of the Witch by “Bob Dylan”.

It was the album itself that gave the game away in the end, with allusions to the spoof both in the songs’ lyrics and liner notes.

Paul is dead

Death hoaxes are probably some of the most common hoaxes that we come across, but Paul McCartney’s is arguably the most famous. It’s not so much a hoax as a conspiracy theory or an urban legend. Some believe that Paul died in a traffic accident in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike whose real name was "William Campbell" or "Billy Shears".

Paul McCartney, 2019 / Image credit: ImageSpace/Zuma Press/PA Images
Paul McCartney, 2019 / Image credit: ImageSpace/Zuma Press/PA Images

Believers thought the Beatles alluded to Paul’s death via subliminal messages in their music. However, people were less inclined to believe this theory after Paul did a rare interview with Life magazine in 1969.

The Poppy Fields

In 2004, a new teen rock band named The Poppy Fields unveiled a hit song entitled 45 RPM. However, all was not as it seemed, and it was revealed in a BBC Radio 1 interview with Mike Peters from 80s band The Alarm that they were the ones who had released the track.

The hoax came about because the band wanted to prove that they were being unfairly judged on their music because of the members’ ages and their outdated image. The Alarm were most famous for their 1983 song 68 Guns and hadn’t had a hit in over a decade by the time they unveiled The Poppy Fields.

“We noticed that a lot of bands suffer when they attempt comebacks because people generally don't believe they can ever be as good as they once were,” Mike said in the interview. “We wanted to make sure we are judged purely on the strength of the music, and not by our old hairstyles.”

Platinum Weird

Another 2004 hoax, Eurythmics singer Dave Stewart and young songwriter Kara DioGuardi collaborated for a recording session that was intended to produce music for The Pussycat Dolls, only for music more in the vein of Fleetwood Mac to come out. 

Due to the fact that Stewart and DioGuardi made for an odd pair that probably wouldn’t be accepted by the public, they instead came up with a backstory for a new musical project entitled Platinum Weird, which they claimed was conceived in 1973. 

Dave Stewart, 2011 / Image credit: Julian Smith/AAP/PA Images
Dave Stewart, 2011 / Image credit: Julian Smith/AAP/PA Images

The story was that it was a collaboration between Stewart and a made-up singer called Erin Grace, allegedly the inspiration for Stevie Nicks’ sound. Erin “disappeared” and later turned up in LA where she collaborated with Lindsey Buckingham. Then she showed up in New York as DioGuardi’s neighbour who played her some unreleased Platinum Weird songs, and by complete coincidence, DioGuardi ended up meeting and collaborating with Stewart.

It was quite the story and yet rather believable at the time, especially when they got other famous faces involved. Musicians really were rather eccentric 20 years ago.


A slightly more serious hoax than the rest on this list, Thatchergate describes a recording of a fake conversation between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan following the 1982 Faulklands War. The conversation appeared to show the political leaders admitting to some fairly incriminating acts such as Reagan’s intention to sacrifice Europe as a nuclear threat towards Russia, and Thatcher apparently sacrificing the HMS Sheffield to escalate the war.

Of course, the recording was a spliced job by an anonymous source, initially thought to be KGB propaganda. But it was the UK’s The Observer publication who managed to trace the source to anarchist punk band Crass. The band later included excerpts of the recording in their song Powerless with a Guitar.

Grunge speak

Possibly one of the most amusing music-related hoaxes, this one came about when a journalist interviewed Megan Jasper of Caroline Records about a supposed lexicon of grunge, and she couldn’t help but prank the journalist by coming up with a number of supposed grunge slang words on the fly.

MORE: April Fools' Day 2022: The best pranks and jokes from celebrities and brands that had us laughing

They were so ridiculous that it’s surprising anyone took her seriously; among them were “bound-and-hagged” meaning staying home on Friday or Saturday night, “cob nobbler” meaning loser, “lamestain” meaning an uncool person and “harsh realm” meaning a bummer.

Image credit: Unsplash
Image credit: Unsplash

The words appeared in the UK’s SKY magazine as well as the New York Times, and while they were mercilessly mocked by savvy members of the grunge culture, this language has since become a part of pop culture.

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