Hanging out backstage with Ronan Harris of VNV Nation last Sunday, his synth-excellency imparted a tale that Rocks Off hoped to the gods was not true, and led us down the path of myth and rumor to bring you a list of five of the most horrifying legends in pop-music lore. The tale Ronan told is this. Back in 2000, Germany had a reality show called Popstars and Nadja Benaissa and four other young girls beat out a pool of 4,500 to become a group called No Angels. They sold more than 5 million albums, eventually burned out, reformed again minus an original member in 2007, and continued to basically be the German version of the Spice Girls. Oh, and purposely spreading HIV. Benaissa had reportedly been having unprotected sex while knowing she was infected, and was arrested last April for causing bodily harm to a man who contracted the disease. Though AIDS groups spoke out against criminal charges against the singer, fearing that criminalizing her actions would stigmatize other victims, Benaissa was formally charged this past February for not telling her sexual partners she had HIV. DEBBIE HARRY's WILD RIDE WITH TED BUNDY
You all know who Deborah Harry is, right? The singer from Blondie? Good. Well, to hear her tell it, Harry almost became a victim of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. She was walking to an after-hours club in Greenwich Village in her pre-band days when a man in a white car pulled up beside her and offered her a lift. Once in the car, Harry realized that the car had no handles on the passenger side, and that the driver had changed from very friendly and personable to extremely quiet. Harry quickly reached her hand through the crack between the top of the car, and the top of the window which ahd been let down a bit in the August heat, and shoved the window down to open the door from outside. The driver quickly spun the car around a corner when he saw what she was doing, but Harry managed to spill out of the car and escape. 15 years later, she would read about Ted Bundy's death in the electric chair, and conclude that he and her almost-abductor were one and the same. As far as is known, Bundy never lived or killed in New York City, but Harry swears she was almost another victim of the most notorious serial killer of the time. "YOU WANT TO MEET A BEACH BOY?" In a similar vein is a tale Meat Loaf tells about driving through California and picking up a hitchhiker. The young, bearded man claimed to be staying with the Beach Boys, and asked Meat if he wanted to meet one. He then began babbling about the end of the world and holy war, and Meat was only too glad to let him out in front of a mansion his passenger claimed was his destination. Later, Meat saw the hitchhiker's face on every newspaper and magazine in the country after he and accomplices murdered several wealthy Hollywood residents in hopes of starting a race war called Helter Skelter. His name was Charles Manson. THE LESSON TODAY IS HOW TO DIE
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The massacre at Columbine High School was a national tragedy that thrust school shootings into the front of the public mind, but it was hardly original. In January 1979, a 16-year-old girl named Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire with a rifle her father had given her as a gift on students arriving at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego. She wounded eight students, and killed two men including the school principal before she was captured. When a reporter asked Spencer what prompted the shooting, she replied simply, "I don't like Mondays." That same year, Irish future Live Aid impresario Bob Geldof's Boomtown Rats would release a song based on the incident named after Spencer's quoted motive. EXCUSE THE BLOOD
Gangsta rap may as well be Yanni when you put it up against the members of Norway's early metal scene. The whole thing was, to put it mildly, out of control. Bands like Emperor, Burzum and others were part of a Satanic-themed inner circle that was, among other things, responsible for the arson of over 50 Christian churches between 1992 and 1996. But few acts top the death of Mayhem vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin, who was better known as Dead. (No, not a joke. Thanks for asking.) Dead committed suicide in 1991 in the house owned by the band by slashing his wrists, then shooting himself in the head with a shotgun. His note read only, "Excuse the blood." His body was found by fellow member Euronymous (Oystein Aarseth). Instead of calling the police, Euronymous went out to buy a camera and take pictures of the body. He is rumored to also have made stew with parts of it, and distributed necklaces of other parts to the worthy. The picture eventually became the cover of the bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts.