25 mind-melting pieces of music trivia to use for fun and profit

Brian May from September 2015. You might know that the guitarist from Queen has a PhD in astrophysics. But did you know that he also ... wait ... what? Designs sports bras? This and more music trivia from Alan Cross. AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File

Useless information can be a brilliant thing. A cow’s weight can vary by up to 75 pounds a day. As recently as the 1950s, doctors believed that exercise was dangerous for people over 40. The technical name of a hashtag (#) is an octothorpe. Fun, yes?

For the last number of decades, I’ve made a career out of sourcing strange and wonderful facts about the world of music. I now share some of this knowledge with you, dear reader, hoping that you will be able to use it to better your life. Or at least win a bar bet or two.

Let’s begin.

  1. Leo Fender, the creator of such iconic guitars as the Fender Telecaster, Stratocaster, and Precision Bass, did not know how to play guitar.
  2. For his 34th birthday, Billy Idol took over the penthouse of the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. After three weeks of partying (and $250,000 damage), he was asked to leave. When he didn’t, the military was called in. They shot him with a tranquillizer dart and hauled him out on a stretcher.
  3. Bob Marley was diagnosed with a form of melanoma underneath the nail of his big toe in 1977. While he did have the toe and the nail bed removed, he refused to take doctors’ advice to amputate the toe, saying it was against his Rastafarian beliefs. When he died in 1980, a doctor said he had “more cancer in him than I’ve ever seen with a live human being.” Marley might be alive today had he parted with that toe.
  4. Speaking of toes, Liam Gallagher has too many. He has a total of eleven with six on his left foot. It’s a condition called polydactylism.
  5. When they were touring the world back in the 1980s, Duran Duran used to have the local age of consent printed on their daily itineraries so as to avoid any “misunderstandings.”

  1. It is illegal to lip-sync in Turkmenistan. Back in 2005, batpoop crazy president, Saparmurat Niyazov declared that lip-syncing created “a negative effect on the development of singing and musical art” and therefore outlawed it forever. By the way, he banned opera and ballet in 2001, saying that they did not correspond to the national mentality.
  2. When Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton, didn’t do as well as Rivers Cuomo had hoped, he dropped out of Harvard and hid in his room, which had the walls and ceilings painted black and had the windows blacked out with layers of fibreglass insulation. The plan was to purge himself of all weaknesses so he could concentrate on writing the perfect pop song.
  3. The next time you’re shopping for wine, note the music playing in the store. A 1993 experiment showed that when classical music was played, people stopped and examined the labels more often and more carefully when compared to times when other genres of music were playing. They also bought more expensive bottles.
  4. The first documentation of surgeons playing music in the operating room can be found in medical journals in the 1950s.
  5. In 1986, North Korea held a festival called “Rock for Peace.” I have no idea who performed.
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  1. If you have a teenage daughter, beware of a condition called boy band-induced “pneumothorax.” It’s caused by screaming and singing so loud at a boy band concert that your lungs spontaneously collapse. If that happens, you need emergency medical attention.
  2. If you visit Chris Cornell’s grave in the Hollywood Forever cemetery, look across the road. He’s buried just a few feet from a memorial to Toto, the dog from The Wizard of Oz.
  3. The people at KFC — yes, the chicken place — follow less than a dozen people on Twitter. Six of them are named Herb and the other five are members of the Spice Girls. Think about that for a while and you’ll get it.
  4. In 1996, Ringo Starr went to Japan to take part in an ad for a brand of apple sauce. Why? Because “ringo” means “apple” in Japanese.
  5. Then, in 2004, Johnny Cash’s people were approached by an ad agency to ask permission to use his song Ring of Fire in a commercial for preparation H. They politely declined.
  6. Approximately 12 per cent of all of Mozart’s letters to friends and associates had at least one reference to poop. Some of the lyrics to his music also talked about poop, requiring other people to make changes. If you’re interested, get Google to translate the Leck mich im Arsch symphony. He was very scatological, something that some say was linked to a case of Tourette’s.
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  1. Canadian music treasure Burton Cummings was once on The Dating Game. It was 1970 and The Guess Who were at their peak.
  2. This was a musical trend on TikTok back in 2020. I don’t know why.
  3. Brian May, guitarist for Queen, has a line of sports bras.
  4. Stephen Morris, the drummer for New Order, has a very large private collection of decommissioned military vehicles, including a tank or two.
  5. Before they became super-famous, the Rolling Stones wrote a jingle for a Rice Krispies TV commercial.
  6. British musician Spencer Davis played the lottery every week with three sets of numbers: One for him, one for his wife, and one for his dog. In 2012, the dog hit a jackpot of $250,000

  1. Al Dorvin MCed an Elvis Presley show in Minneapolis in 1954. To get rid of the screaming kids still in the venue, he let everyone know that his boss was no longer around and was the first to announce “Elvis has left the building.” From that point on, all shows ended with Al saying that.
  2. The daughter of Joe Strummer of the Clash is named Jazz. Her passion is knitting. She even wrote a book on the subject called Queen of Crafts.
  3. The binary bumps on the surface of a CD are also arranged in a spiral, although CDs play from the inside out. A typical CD spiral runs almost five kilometres.

Got any music trivia of your own?

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.

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