1The Masked Marauders
The Masked Marauders weren't exactly believed to be the Fab Four, but they were thought to a supergroup with members of the Beatles, Stones, and Bob Dylan participating.
In reality, the Marauders were an elaborate joke by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine. Legendary rock writer Greil Marcus created the band by writing a review of their debut LP and hyped the collab as 1969’s "record of the year.” He and colleague Langdon Winner wanted to parody the trend of supergroups and the overwhelmingly gushing reviews such bands garnered.
The fake review, however, created a real demand—Marcus and Winner decided they needed a legit album with actual music. They wrote a few songs, hired friends from Berkeley's Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band to record them, and signed a deal with Warner Brothers. The album sold more than 100,000 copies and spent twelve weeks on the Billboard charts before the hoax came apart, leaving some disappointed fans in its wake.
“Have You Heard The Word” sounds so much like a Beatles’ song, even Yoko Ono was deceived!
The song frequently appeared on bootlegs throughout the ‘70s as a “lost” Beatles track, but it was recorded by Bee Gee Maurice Gibb who showed up at a recording session for Tin Tin, a band he was working with in the late ‘60s. Gibb, who had a broken arm from a fall at his mansion, was trashed on painkillers and booze when he decided to jam with the other musicians in attendance; his brother-in-law, Billy Laurie, and the two members of Tin Tin, Steve Kipner and Steve Groves. Together, they did a single take of “Have You Heard The Word” with Gibb doing his best John Lennon impression.
The song wasn’t supposed to see the light of day but was somehow released in 1970 on the Beacon label in the UK and credited to a band called The Fut. About 15 years later, Yoko tried to register a U.S. trademark on “Have You Heard The Word” as a John Lennon composition, but she was denied—a 1974 copyright had already been granted to the composers, Kipner and Groves.
The song "Peace of Mind" (aka, "The Candle Burns") is of unknown origin and is rumored to have been recovered from the trash at Apple Corps in 1970. While the techniques used in the recording are said to be similar to what the Fab Four were using at the time, its connection with the group remains speculative at best. No copyright, claim of ownership, recollection, or documentation has ever been uncovered.
There are some other theories on who recorded the extremely rough demo—Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett has been suggested, as have The Pretty Things, who, like Pink Floyd, were recording at Abbey Road Studios while the Beatles were making Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Another theory that seems plausible (and to us, is the most likely) rather than being found in the trash, the song was an outtake from a group named Trash. The company was flooded with tapes after a 1968 ad campaign, and it may very well have been a rejected demo from one of a number countless hopefuls whose members quickly abandoned their musical aspirations.
In February 1977, a review of Klaatu’s 3:47 EST in Rhode Island’s Providence Journal suggested that the anonymous Canadian band might be a secret project by the Fab Four. The Toronto trio had no photos, wasn’t granting interviews, and the album was released by Capitol (also the Beatles’ American label), which helped fuel the fire. The band members knew of the rumor and, while flattered, didn’t take it seriously. Perhaps they should have.
Speculation spread and radio stations began playing their music. The album crept into the Billboard Top 200, where it peaked at No. 32. The songs “Calling Occupants” and “Sub-Rosa Subway” were played on FM rock stations everywhere.
Their second LP saw Klaatu go in a more progressive direction and by the time of the release of the band’s third album, Sir Army Suit, the identities of the members had been revealed, almost immediately killing their radio airplay. A backlash began against the group and by 1981, unable to forge an identity of their own, Klaatu called it quits.
5The Beatles Themselves
What if The Beatles' weren't who we thought they were, and, in fact, never existed at all? A website known as The Beatles "as they were presented to us" Never Existed, claims to have blown the lid off of one the biggest conspiracies of all time. According to the folks behind the site, the band did not consist of just the Fab Four that we know and love, but a larger group of individuals playing John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The people behind this controversial theory believe that it took more than four guys to be as prolific as The Beatles were—not to mention keeping up all of their personal appearances and media demands. So, look-alikes were employed to further the ruse, allowing the guys to achieve a superhuman level of productivity and creativity. Using “clues” including discrepancies in height, ears, teeth and eyebrows, the site goes into amazing and intricate detail. No word as to who composed and performed the songs, however, which are pretty big details to overlook.