Filed under: Media Pranks
Hoax is where the art is: music biz scams
by Jane Graham
24 April 2010
With the story of how rap-scallions Silibil N’Brains fooled America hitting shelves, Jane Graham looks at some more music industry hoaxes
As international fraudsters, they had brassier balls than the Enron board and more starry-eyed optimism than Bernie Madoff. But like most myopic voyagers’ tales, Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd’s adventure ended in humiliating exposure, broken relationships and empty pockets. Not great news for their families or psychiatrists, but their brilliant scam does make for a ripping yarn, published this month in the form of Bain’s mea culpa, California Schemin’ (Simon & Schuster).
California Schemin’ documents the ridiculous but entirely true story of how two teenagers from Dundee seduced the music industry in 2003 with little more than a pair of Converse, an LA twang and a pack of lies. Scalded by a London showcase gig in which their Scottish-accented act had seen derisively dubbed “the rapping Proclaimers”, Bain and his buddy Boyd studied their Eminem and Jim Carrey DVDs, re-invented themselves as potty-mouthed American hip-hop duo Silibil N’ Brains, rubbed shoulders with the likes of Madonna and Eminem and set the controls for vengeance.
For Bain and Boyd the rot set in when their rising profile put their new identities at risk. Previous committed hoaxers have shown more mettle, however, and valiantly seen their fraud through to the end. After his breakthrough in the 1930s, “Billy Tipton” enjoyed three decades of success as a jazz saxophonist and pianist, sharing his glittering career with a number of devoted girlfriends and his three adopted sons. It was only when he died, aged 74, that it was discovered that “he” was in fact, the lesser-spotted jazz-saxing female of the species. Even lovers of Dorothy Lucille, AKA Billy, claimed to have been kept (literally, one presumes) in the dark.
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