Beware, playlist connoisseurs – these well-known musicians deleted their own albums from existence
By the mid-90s, Pantera were one of the baddest thrash metal bands on the planet, on their way to selling over 20 million albums worldwide. But a decade ago, the young Texans were just another bunch of poodle-haired dudes doing their best to emulate glam-metal.
hits from Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister and more. Over the next few years, Pantera was so ashamed of their first four albums – metal magic, Projects in the Jungle, I am the night and power metal – that after changing their sound and hitting hard, they deleted them all. Unfortunately for these headbangers, photos of their big ’80s perms proved harder to erase from history.
Can a successful album ever turn out to be too successful? It’s possible if it’s the chaotic and influential cult classic of West German experimental rock band Faust The tapes of Faust. In 1972, melody maker The magazine reported that the album was being removed because the copies cost more to make than they earned at checkouts. Faust’s label, Virgin, had sold it for just 49 pence as part of an unexpectedly effective promotional gimmick – the price of a seven-inch single at the time. Out of 60,000 sales, Virgin would have lost £2,000 (almost £30,000 in today’s money). A ranking at number 12 was also canceled due to the unfairly cheap price tag. “Some chose to play frisbee with the LP,” said Jean-Hervé Peron, founding member of Faust, “others said it changed their lives.”
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In what has become synonymous with music industry scandal and tampering, in 1990 the Los Angeles Time revealed that handsome but vocally challenged Franco-German R&B superstar duo Milli Vanilli didn’t sing a note on their 1989 album that sold seven million copies Girl, you know it’s true. For violating all the values of artistic integrity and the American way – or so many have chosen to believe in a puritanical way – the industry dumped the book on poor Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus. The album was not only deleted, but a US court ruling went so far as to promise anyone who purchased the record a full refund. Milli Vanilli even had to return a Grammy Award. In 1998, Pilatus died of a drug overdose. In the 2000s, thanks to autotune, vocal counterfeiting was normalized in pop.
When you’re best known for burning a million pounds in cash on a remote Scottish island in the name of art, or something, then deleting your entire catalog upon your breakup as a band is surely enough small beer insofar as creative self-sacrifice goes away. These anarchic chart-topping electronic pop radicals had pre-announced their departure from the music industry three months earlier in February 1992 with a performance at the BRIT Awards which saw them firing machine guns blank at the audience and throwing a dead sheep at the after-show party. . For years, the KLF’s multimillion-selling catalog – which was riddled with unauthorized samples (KLF stood for “Copyright Liberation Front”) – was unavailable. But since 2021, their albums have started appearing on streaming and download services for the first time – albeit re-released, with copyright-infringing samples removed. Old, and now officially justified.
Secretly Society podcast episodes on Jens Lekman are now available on all major podcast platforms; Jens Lekman’s new albums are out on vinyl june 3.