10 Completely Untrue Pop Culture Urban Legends

This morning, Slate put a preemptive pin on all those 75th-anniversary posts commemorating Orson Welles’s broadcast of War of the Worlds by reminding readers that, contrary to popular belief, almost no one believed aliens were actually invading the earth at the time. Yet the urban legend will no doubt persist. Which brings us to our brief survey of rumors from around pop culture that never seem to die despite not having much in the way of truth to them. Read on for all kinds of fascinating non-facts about musicians, movies, actors, and pop cultural icons, reminding us that while truth may be stranger than fiction, fiction’s often plenty strange.

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“If You Play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Backwards, It’s a Prayer to Satan!”

As Christian right forefather Paul Crouch revealed in the early ’80s, if you play certain parts of “Stairway to Heaven” on rewind, close your eyes, and listen real hard, the high-pitched noises sound kinda like “Here’s to my sweet Satan” and “He will give those with him 666.” The only problem is that the weird squeaky playback sounds vaguely resemble any number of words in the English language, and the Satanic “message” is more a result of Crouch’s paranoia than any master plan on Led Zeppelin’s part.