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Liberace and Other Seriously Surprising Musicians With FBI Files

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Overall view of large file room at FBI headquarters. (George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
View of file room at FBI headquarters. (George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

 

It’s long been known that the FBI has investigated many musicians, a practice started under J. Edgar Hoover. (It was during his tenure that the G-Men spent extensive time trying to decipher the lyrics to “Louie Louie.”) It continues to this day. Indeed, between 1999 and 2004, they aggressively looked into the Wu-Tang Clan. The decision was particularly odd since by that point member Method Man had emerged as an unexpected movie star in 2001’s How High and group founder the RZA was spending much of his time on acclaimed soundtracks for films like Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.

Yet it made a certain amount of sense the Clan would be targeted: their music was aggressive and often profane. Likewise, it made sense that the FBI was increasingly interested in John Lennon as he became more and more political.

Their concern with five artists below, however, defies easy explanation. Here are five seriously surprising objects of FBI interest.

 

John Denver

Yes, the man who sang “Country Roads.” Turns out Denver’s pot use triggered the Feds’ interest. (Denver himself later said he wrote “Rocky Mountain Highway” while on both marijuana and LSD.)

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 08: John Denver performs live at the Jaap Eden Hall in Amsterdam, Netherlands on July 08 1979 (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
John Denver performs live at the Jaap Eden Hall in Amsterdam, Netherlands on July 08 1979 (Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

 

 

Liberace

He wound up amassing a 400-page file, primarily filled with reports investigating the theft of his jewelry worth over $24,065. (Don’t worry, the incredibly flamboyant entertainer had plenty more of it.)

NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1984: Liberace and the Radio City Rockettes circa 1984 in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/IMAGES/Getty Images)
Liberace and the Radio City Rockettes circa 1984 in New York City. (Sonia Moskowitz/IMAGES/Getty Images)

 

 

 

Nine Inch Nails

A balloon-camera used to film a video in which lead singer Trent Reznor falls off a building floated off, was found by a farmer, and triggered an investigation of whether they were making snuff films. It ended when it was revealed that Reznor was, in fact, still alive. (Indeed, he went on to win an Oscar for the score to The Social Network.)

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 14: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center on October 14, 1994 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center on October 14, 1994 in Oakland, California. (Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

 

 

 

Jimi Hendrix

Dying at just 27, the guitar great inspired an FBI report speculating that his bandanas were lined with LSD, which dissolved as he began to sweat and fueled his epic concert performances.

Jimi Hendrix performs on stage at Woburn Pop Festival, Woburn Abbey, UK, August 1968. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
Jimi Hendrix performs on stage at Woburn Pop Festival, Woburn Abbey, UK, August 1968. (Michael Putland/Getty Images)

 

 

The Monkees

Hey, hey, we’re the target of an FBI investigation. Reports reveal an agent attended a 1967 Monkees concert and reported “four young men who dress as beatnik types using a device that displayed ‘subliminal’, ‘left wing’, and ‘anti-US’ images about the war in Vietnam.”

To read about more investigations, click here.

The popular band, The Monkees, are taking a break from their show.
The Monkees taking a break from their show. (Getty)

 

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