Chapter 1: Mystery Achievement (Exploring the Strange Byways of Rock)

Of all the bands I’ve ever met, the one most fully committed to the absurdity of rock ‘n’ roll is probably the Darkness. And considering that I once interviewed Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean, staying in character on the phone), that’s no small praise. But the Darkness bring a lot to the party: catsuits, an insane falsetto, and a video where a pterodactyl humps a spaceship.

This was the explanation of lead singer Justin Hawkins: “Less is more? That’s bollocks. More is more. That’s why it’s called ‘more.’ If it was actually less, it’d be called ‘less.'”

There’s something about rock ‘n’ roll that brings on smoke machines, secret backwards messages, and other strange experiments. Hawkins, unsurprisingly, had a philosophy about such matters. He told me, “My favorite catchphrase is ‘If something’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.’ Even subtlety. If you’re going to be subtle, you should really fucking be subtle.”


  1. I heard that Stevie Wonder lost his sense of smell. Is that true?
  2. What’s an MBE, anyway? Why did John Lennon give his back?
  3. Why does Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters chew gum when he sings and plays live? Is there a reason for this, or is it just a bad habit?
  4. What was the flip side to the original “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets?
  5. In the movie Moulin Rouge, Kylie Minogue is credited as “The Green Fairy,” but Ozzy Osbourne is credited as “Voice of the Green Fairy.” Can you clear this up?
  6. What are all those initials in the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK”? MPLA? UDA? WTF?
  7. Who is the dude with the umbrella in the OutKast video for “The Way You Move”? I think I am in love with him.
  8. What does that guy say at the end of the Radiohead’s video for “Just”?
  9. A friend said he heard Tom Waits has a tattoo on his chest of a restaurant’s menu. Is this true?
  10. So how tall is Bono, anyway?
  11. A friend told me that while the Clash were active, Joe Strummer ran a marathon in a chicken suit–can this be true?
  12. Somebody said there’s a secret map on Weezer’s Pinkerton, but I can’t find it. Help!
  13. I heard that John Mayer actually sees music as colors—does that just mean he gets stoned a lot?
  14. What is that guy saying at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever”? It sounds like “I’m very…” and then you can’t pick up the rest of it.
  15. How did the “Paul is Dead” rumor start? What were the major clues?