Rock Center   |  April 05, 2013

Beatles, Jagger, Dylan recorded secret album?

The Masked Marauders recorded the “record of the year” in 1969 according to New York Magazine.  The band  John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan formed the ultimate super group and recorded a super-secret album together. But it never really happened – it was all a joke. Brian Williams reveals the true story behind The Masked Marauders; how rock critics Greil Marcus and Langdon Winner from Rolling Stone magazine fooled everyone.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

else? our next story has to do with what may be the last great mystery of the music business , an album that came out over 40 years ago that seemed too good to be true, and yet a lot of us bought it and then bought into it. and this one's personal. i stand before you tonight as a victim. i was 10 years old at the time. my brother, who was my musical influence, was 18, old enough to know better. as i remember it, one day he comes flying in the door from the record store . there was this new album, he said. a supergroup of the biggest artists of the time secretly recorded. and as he dropped the needle, i looked at the album, so mysterious, so exciting. i was holding in my hands the masked marauders . 1, 2, 3, 4

>> it was the work of a supergroup of musicians that got together one time only. it says so right here on the record near the old hudson's bay colony in canada. and on the record you can hear the voice of mick jagger . jagger was just one of the artists assembled for the recording session. dylan was also there. you can hear him clearly. and then there were the beatles, john, paul, george, and an unnamed drummer, but for all we knew, it could have been ringo. and we learned about this double bootleg album shrouded in nis mist tri because we all read the review in " rolling stone ".

>> i'm the music editor at " rolling stone " magazine.

>> the very same " rolling stone " portrayed in almost famous . it was the bible of music at that time. you had the moon landing , woodstock, the vietnam war . music was huge and it had the power to change the world . then comes the review by the record reviews editor greer marcus. he called the album powerful, provocative and stunning, a masterpieces. it can truly be said this album is the way of life .

>> people began calling the rolling stone offices, record stores . when is this record coming out? how do we get in touch with the distributor?

>> the only problem was there was no album. the review was made up. there was no supergroup, no dylan, no beatles, no jagger, there were no songs or lyrics, but there sure was a lot of interest. greil marcus was just making fun of record reviews, especially the over the top record reviews of " rolling stone " back in the day.

>> it was just an attempt to say, this is stupid and let's make it even stupider.

>> so here are your two leading perpetrators, greil marcus , the rolling stone veteran who went on to become a prolific author and is still writing, and phil langdon who back then was also writing for rolling stone and didn't know he was about to become a songwriter.

>> it was a time when it seemed anything was possible.

>> people believed in the masked marauders , even though no one had heard a note. and these two marauders suddenly had a big problem. they realized since all they had was a made-up record review, they now had to actually come up with a record. so they hired some friends, the cleanliness and godliness skiffle band from california. remember, thfls tis was the '60s and that was a perfectly normal name. they started making up songs for the bad review.

>> i made up a song called "can't get no nookie" basically the same as "can't get no satisfaction."

>> at this point bob dylan was doing all this nashville, countrified music. he did a song called "country pie" while i did a song called " cow pie ."

>> they recorded three initial songs and managed to get them on underground radio . that made them instantly cool and sought after. and once new york magazines called it this year's album, the masked marauders were off and running to make the album that didn't yet exist. they signed a real record deal with warner brothers for $15,000. they came up with a fake record label to cover their tracks. deity records sounded like a good idea. actual contracts were drawn up. they hired a lawyer. they even listed their expenses. $20 for beer, et cetera . $46 to move a piano into the garage studio. internal memos, and yerks there were internal memos about the album, talked about the demands from record stores , the need for signage and window streamers. and there it is in print. it's imperative we discuss this group in vague terms. on another memo, this record could very possibly be our very biggest this year. and across the land, you could almost hear music fans saying, i want that album. hart perry was one of them. he was in the thick of the music world back then. he holds the distinction of being the youngest camera man at woodstock, and back in '69 he was very excited when he heard about the masked ma ts rarauders.

>> they sounded great. a supergroup where all these guys couldn't wait to get the album.

>> adam brown is another innocent victim . he runs a media company now, but back then he was a teenager in brooklyn when he bought the record and pored over every note.

>> it had something illegal about it, something magical about it, and we literally dissected it like a lost insect. you literally were informed as a young teenager by what they had to say.

>> and the victims didn't stop there. a lot of us believed what we were hearing.

>> i am hear today as a victim. and i had better hear something from one or both of you gentlemen that addresses the victims of this hoax. when i was 10 years old, this was a lot of money. you had me listening in a darkened bedroom to what i thought were professional musicians, and now i learn the truth.

>> back then the relationship between fact and fantasy was a little bit more loosely connected, so you could have rumors like this that would go on for weeks or even months. and people had trouble checking the backs and seeing what was real.

>> the masked marauders spent 12 weeks on the billboard charts right there above johnny mathis until somebody decided the joke had gone on long enough. even though it was told it was a joke, it kept on selling. rolling stone even wrote it in print, but it kept on selling. perhaps because people wanted to believe. today our marauders have grown older and are unmasked. arthur sat down at the piano and belted out a poor version of the classic song he wrote. can't get no nookie can't get no nookie

>> rewind to 1969 and that's a younger langdon at the piano, and behind him is phil marsh , another co-conspirator, an original member of the cleanliness and godliness skipper band, aka the masked marauders . we found him barefoot, admitting his role on the album. cow pie

>> and what was this masked marauders ' adventure back in the time before social media when there was love and weed and a fold folded-over paper called rolling stone .

>> if you take an opportunity of a last era with a fake album and a fake review and the conspiracy of science all in good fun was possible.

>> we'll find out. we'll find out. there are many hoaxes down the road that we will all fall victim to if we haven't already.

>> and now you know the story of the masked marauders . by the way, we don't know if any of the real superstar artists ever knew they were being imitated. there are no figures on how many records were actually sold or how much money was made. while nobody got rich on this, it is still selling. it was remastered and reissued a few years back on rhino records , and it's right there on itunes. one more thing, i'm looking for fellow victims. if you bought the masked marauders back in the day and you bought into it like i did, find us on our website or twitter or facebook tonight and tell us your story so we won't feel so alone.