Article by Pablo Fernández from Barcelona on Wednesday, December 22nd 2021 ·.·★ Reading takes 31 minutes or 6125 words.
Screamin ′Jay Hawkins did not remember anything that had happened the night before. He understood it little by little as he listened to the recordings. The previous afternoon he had gone to the studios to record a nice ballad but he had changed his plans due to the huge amount of people and alcohol that were there. The result on the recording was in any case far from being a ballad. The grunts, screams and obscene sounds that adorned the recording had given an unexpected turn to the song and to the plans that his investors will rebuild for “I put a spell on you” (1956). P>
Hawkins was classically trained as a pianist. Exactly like Nina Simone, who nine years later will make this song even better known. Neither of them had learned to play in taverns precisely. He had dreamed since he was a child of becoming an opera singer; But at twenty-seven he had already realized that he needed an alternative plan that would allow him to earn a living. According to himself in the documentary entitled ′Screamin ′ Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell on Me′ (2001), there was already so much competition in the music business at that early time that he needed a differentiating element to be able to find a place within .
Most of the black musicians of his time like Fats Domino, Chuck Berry or Little Richard had already adopted a friendly pose and even a more white hairstyle. Screamin ′Jay Hawkins′ new plan would therefore be to play just the opposite role, that of an African savage. During his performances he will therefore play the role of cannibal, sorcerer and womanizer with whom he will be known until the end of his days - and this despite the fact that what really excited him was the opera. Famous disc jockey Alan Freed offered him three hundred dollars to add a coffin in its staging and ′I put a spell on you′ managed to become a real success with more than a million records sold.
Screamin ′Jay Hawkins was identified not in vain as the black Vincent Price because horror movies were already an inexhaustible source of money. The end of World War II had brought a comfort to society that then allowed a middle-class American to buy more movie tickets than most can now afford and many of those films already used the Devil in the role of the villain, such as ′The City of the Dead′ (1960), ′The Devil′s Messenger′ (1961) or ′Diary of a Madman′ (1963). Boris Karloff, for example, had already acted in a whopping one hundred and forty-six films-including the one he made that same year with the title ′Black Sabbath′ (1963). P>
John Lennon was not a boy when he started using drugs in 1965. He was then twenty-five years old. The counterculture of his time used Aleister Crowley as a ram against society, especially because of the defenses that the English magician had made of drug use. John Lennon included Crowley a year later on one of the covers of The Beatles, recorded the first backward tunes in rock history and assured at a press conference that his group was more famous than Jesus Christ. John Lennon regretted having made that comment several times that same year, during a tour that seemed to go bankrupt under his feet; what happens is that by then the hordes of Americans who had occupied the streets no longer had interest in his repentance. p>
The riots, threats, or bonfires to burn The Beatles′ records, which then starred thousands of fundamentalist Christians, evoked truly sad historical moments and in fact produced exactly the opposite effect on society as desired. Vincent Furnier for example, now known as Alice Cooper, was the third generation of a family closely related to the leadership in the church The Church of Jesus Christ, had started his career doing comic versions of The Beatles and had already settled near Hollywood with his fellow dramatic art.
Today experts advise marketers to use a certain amount of controversy for their own benefit through social media. Controversy sells a lot! Vincent Furnier reached the same conviction as Screamin ′Jay Hawkins: if he wanted to find a place in the music industry they needed a differentiating and controversial factor. Reflecting on the good memories of the recent movie ′What happened to baby Jane?′ (1962), Vincent Furnier came to the conclusion that the equivalent of a villain in the category of that Bette Davis character aka Baby Jane Hudson did not exist in the rock world. Not surprisingly, Bette Davis has played two of the 100 best villains according to the American Film Institute.
Vincent Furnier′s new plan is unclear if it was really the brainchild of his girlfriend Christine from the GTO group. In any case, it was he himself who divulged his own legend. He claimed that Alice Cooper′s nickname was actually the name of a burned-at-the-stake witch who had come back to life and with this story landed an audition with the then-acclaimed Frank Zappa of The Mothers of Invention. Frank agreed to listen to them and manager Shep Gordon made an appointment at his house at seven o′clock but something went wrong in communication. The young people understood that the appointment was at seven in the morning. When they arrived at seven in the morning with his entire team at that door, Frank Zappa automatically understood that if they were able to be ready at that time he definitely had to hire them. P>
The protests of Christian fundamentalists in the United States had the effect of alcohol thrown on the fire on the counterculture. Leslie Stevens′ film ′Incubus′ premiered on October 26, 1966 at the San Francisco Film Festival. Precisely the same year that Anton Lavey took the opportunity to open the doors of his Church of Satan and the film director Kenneth Anger began preparations for his film ′Lucifer Rising.′ Kenneth planned to assign the title role of Lucifer to his lover Bobby Beausoleil. This young musician had played with many members of other groups such as Love, but looking for money he soon ended up participating in the murders of the Charles Manson family. Bobby is still locked up in the California state prison.
The Rolling Stones began recording the album ′Their Satanic Majesties Request′ in early 1967 and their song ′Sympathy for the Devil′ was in the top 10 most listened to singles at the end of 1968. Led Zeppelin released their song. first album on January 12, 1969 but where the occult aesthetic had really grown was in the cinema. Only in 1968 were films such as Jack Hill′s “Spider Baby”, Ingmar Bergman′s “The Hour of the Wolf”, “Witchfinder General” with Vincent Price, George A. Romero′s “Night of the Living Dead” or ′The Devil Rides Out′ with Christopher Lee - which will soon inspire the musicians of Black Sabbath. Even Federico Fellini directed his own horror movie in 1968 titled ′Spirits of the Dead.′ Sharon Tate had then worked for three almost consecutive horror films: ′Eye of the Devil′ (1966), ′The Fearless Vampire Killers′ (1967) and ′Rosemary′s Baby′ (1968). ′The Nights of the Wolf Man′ was also directed in 1968 by the Spanish Paul Naschy, who claimed to have seen Boris Karloff, crying after a hard and rainy day at work.
The stage name of Paul Naschy claimed he had chosen it in honor of the pope in a gesture that seemed more like a simulation to buy the silence of the censors. Not in vain the clashes between conservatives and liberals during the Spanish Civil War had already claimed more than 500,000 victims. The military general Francisco Franco had finally imposed a dictatorship where Catholic traditions occupied the category of law to his liking and many artists were forced to emigrate. Antonio Machado had died on the French border while he was fleeing, but others such as Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel or Salvador Dalí were able to express themselves freely abroad. Dalí in particular was highly esteemed in the ′The Hollywood Vampires′ drinking club, which then met at the Rainbow bar on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Alice Cooper had created this club with other illustrious members of the category of John Lennon of The Beatles, Keith Moon of The Who or Joe Walsh of the Eagles.
English musician David Sutch imitated Screaming Jay Hawkins in his Jack the Ripper show in 1963. Sutch suffered from manic depressive disorders and actually hung himself shortly after the death of his mother. Arthur Brown for his part was actually studying drama in Paris when he devised his show ′The Crazy World of Arthur Brown′ in 1967. Arthur Brown then assumed the title of ′The God of Hell Fire′, painted his face and surrounded by flames on the stage, thanks to which he suffered serious burns. His performance on the famous television show Top of the Pops was a success and according to the records that have remained, he was also a sensation at the first edition of the 1968 Isle of Wight festival. Not surprisingly, he quickly emerged as imitators such as was the case with Black Widow. The festive songs ′Come to the Sabbath′ and the recurring celebration of a black mass on the Black Widow stage will not be so easy to take in after the murders of the Charles Manson family. Naturally, they did not then get permission from customs to bring their show to the United States of America.
Charles Manson was also a declared fan of The Beatles. Charles Manson′s mind and thought remain a mystery because we are used to analyzing using habitual patterns of behavior as a reference. When a behavior deviates from that pattern or norm, we do not have enough information to use as a reference and that is when, if we are honest, we have to acknowledge our ignorance. What will we say when several such people create interdependencies? Life is wonderful precisely because it has an enormous amount of mystery, but within that mystery is also the darkest part of the human being.
Young actress Sharon Tate and four other people were cruelly murdered six days before the ′3 days of peace and music′ scheduled for the Woodstock festival. Alice Cooper, Arthur Brown and Coven met on the same stage in Detroit precisely on October 31, 1969, celebrating Halloween under the significant name of ′Black Magic & Rock & Roll Festival.′ Barely two months had passed since the Charles Manson family murders had occurred. Some cartel groups such as Pink Floyd did not appear and others were directly forced not to participate. The year that sought to bring peace and freedom to men culminated in the brutal murder of a young man who was attending the Rolling Stones performance in the front row at The Altamont Festival on December 6, 1969, at the hands of precisely one of motorcyclists in charge of safety.
Esther ′Jinx′ Dawson says she also had no interest in rock music in particular when she was hired to sing at Coven. Young Dawson had received a strict upbringing in a family with a deep affiliation to Left Hand Path black magic. Her particular upbringing forced him to stay away from rock music and also from the publicity that she, despite everything, always gave to that form of religious thought so exclusive called Left Hand Path. Dawson confronted her family and then began to perform black masses on stage and apologize for Satanism with rock music until Esquire magazine published a photo of Charles Manson buying precisely her album. That photo naturally forced the Mercury record company to withdraw their album ′Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls′ (1969).
Alice Cooper′s fame as a provocateur was planned. What happens is that the success of each of his campaigns almost always occurred accidentally. Alice Cooper confirmed that, for example, the entire famous chicken scandal in particular was an accident and that it started at the Toronto concert in September 1969. The plan was that a chicken would go on stage with the feathers of a pillow in the shape of open wings. Alice Cooper had no idea of farm animals and he presumed that because he had wings he could fly too. He scooped it up and tossed it into the crowd confident that he would fly off but instead the chicken plummeted into the front rows occupied by wheelchair users. Those bystanders with reduced mobility were the ones who reportedly accidentally crushed the animal. The next day an exaggerated version of the incident appeared on the front page of many national newspapers. His mentor Frank Zappa then called him on the phone and asked if the story that he had bitten the chicken′s head and drank his blood on stage was true. Alice Cooper denied the rumor but Zappa told her, ′Well, whatever you do, don′t tell anyone you didn′t!′
The musicians of the English group Satan did not have a particularly elaborate opinion on religion and changed their name when observing the first signs of opposition. Names like Black Widow, Arthur Brown or Coven must necessarily have inspired Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler were also fans of The Beatles and at that time they survived as a rather unoriginal psychedelic rock group called Earth. The Black Sabbath musicians were then looking for a new approach to their music that would have a larger audience and they say they found their inspiration by watching the long lines of spectators waiting to buy tickets to see horror films. On June 1, 1970, the musicians of Black Sabbath entered the studios to record their first album, the album that is now turning fifty years old.
′All of us Black Sabbath musicians were Christians,′ Geezer Butler recently said. ′But we weren′t interested in talking about the good things in the world, which was just what everyone else was doing.′ ′We wanted to introduce a bit of reality into the music.′ This went completely unnoticed by his fans but especially for many Christians: ′At home I must have twenty-five Bibles that they sent me with underlined verses that I had to read,′ said Ozzy Osbourne. When another media outlet asked Geezer Butler if he still holds any spiritual beliefs today, he assured that not at all: ′You live and die and that′s it.′
The roots of heavy metal are inevitably linked to The Beatles. Most of the early heavy metal musicians were teenagers when The Beatles occupied the attention of girls, the headlines of newspapers, and the concerns of many of their parents. The Beatles song ′Run for your life′ (1965), for example, had exactly the same charge of seduction, domination and terror that we will see later in musicians like Axl Rose from Guns N Roses: ′I would rather see you dead little than see you with another man, so you better run for your life. ′ What is clear is that this was not new under the sun either. John Lennon himself recognized in fact that to write it he had used as a basis a phrase by Elvis Presley in ′Baby, Let′s Play House′ (1955), which in turn he had previously used the bluesman Arthur Gunter with no little success.
Paul McArtney wrote the song ′Helter Skelter′ (1968) inspired by the song ′I can see for miles′ by The Who, which was then considered the loudest, crudest and dirtiest song Pete Townshend had ever recorded. ′Helter Skelter′ inspired Charles Manson in his famous mission and will eventually be considered by critics as Ian Fortnam precursor of heavy metal but according to Paul McArtney himself the perfection of the impact of good and evil will not occur until the appearance of Black Sabbath on Friday, February 13, 1970.
The members of KISS were also fans of The Beatles. The specialty of these young children of migrants in New York was not exactly music but design and advertising, so that the aesthetic result of the group was more than premeditated. The objective in his first performance on January 30, 1973 was intentionally provocative and incendiary, as those of Arthur Brown, The New York Dolls or Alice Cooper were then but with the differentiating factor that his show was intended to be much more seductive, brilliant and festive. As a result, it didn′t take them more than five years to publish their own Hanna-Barbera Productions audience-friendly fantasy horror film “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park” (1978).
Hard rock had by now become an embarrassment to the counterculture and even Alice Cooper himself had given up alcohol by regaining his Christian faith. Michael Jackson′s pop with the help of Vincent Price on ′Thriller′ was scarier than any of those groups. Conrad ′Cronos′ Lant was also bored with his own career as a cover musician, when he thought he could take the Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath or KISS show a step further. Cronos was precisely one of those who least supported that inclination to Christianity that Black Sabbath had. His new plan was therefore to make the performance more believable and presumably generate a more shocking feeling of terror in the audience. The throaty voices from beyond the grave that will serve as a reference for hundreds of other extreme metal groups are clearly inspired by the voices of actors in films such as ′The Exorcist′ (1973).
The Possessed group began their first album precisely with the soundtrack of the movie ′The Exorcist′ (1973), by Mike Oldfield. ′We were in show business and we used themes like Satanism and paganism to entertain the public,′ Cronos told The Guardian newspaper. ′Listening to a Venom album is like watching the movie′ Evil Dead. ′ Killing virgins in my spare time! It′s frustrating when people can′t make that distinction; I mean, it doesn′t occur to anyone to think that David Bowie is from Mars, right? But the press was always confusing him. ′ Nor did Mark David Chapman show that he understood his role in the world too well when on December 8, 1980, he shot John Lennon′s body four times.
Only four months before the murder of John Lennon and in the same city of New York, the group KISS had started the tour that they would share in Europe with Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden then presented his first album, also full of references to horror movies. Since then Steve Harris has not stopped imprinting on the songs the imprint of his love of books and horror films, mythology, history and science fiction. Proud of never having written a love song, he claims that the group′s own name was taken from an instrument of torture that he saw in the movie ′The Man in the Iron Mask′ (1977). Bruce Dickinson had studied at a local Catholic school called Catholic Comprehensive School, was studying Ancient History at Queen Mary and Westfield College of the University of London, and prior to joining Iron Maiden he had been involved in the production of John′s haunting horror film. Cassavetes entitled ′Incubus′ (1982).
Bruce Dickinson′s fondness for reading Aleister Crowley also inspired him during the composition of the song “The Number of the Beast” (1982). Steve Harris on his side insisted that the song had been composed based on a nightmare he had had after seeing the movie ′Damien: Omen II′ (1978). Both parts could be true if we take into account that we always speak of collaborative work but what was not doubted is the reaction of fundamentalist Christians in the United States of America. Hordes of protesters were once again throwing themselves into the streets trying to boycott the performances as if nothing like this had ever happened.
Several generations of metal musicians have taken their names directly from films like ′Fantomas′ (1911), ′Witchfinder General′ (1968) or ′Shinning′ (1980). Alice Cooper has acted for countless movies taking on the role of villains as Freddy Krueger′s stepfather. But it has also happened in the opposite direction when, for example, Christopher Lee recorded his own heavy metal songs. Rob Zombie has taken his nickname from the movie ′White Zombie′ (1932) and even produces his own horror movies. Kirk Hammmett of Metallica has one of the largest collections in the world, which he takes advantage of to show annually at the festival that he organizes as Fear FestEvil. P>
Many of the musicians have also found inspiration in original concepts from the Bible such as Nazareth, Judas Priest or Mercyful Fate. The vocalist of the English group Hell is a professional actor and his stage is still transformed today into an authentic Christian altar for his performances. What happens is that many of them had exclusively the knowledge of the Bible that gives the visualization of a good amount of horror movies. Group names such as Morbid Angel, Megadeth or Slayer point precisely to episodes of the end of time more frequent in the cinema than in the Bible.
Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman of the Slayer group also consulted Anton LaVey′s ′The Satanic Bible′ to document the horror stories they were already writing but concluded that there was not a big difference between Christianity and Satanism. Slayer was therefore especially against any religious institutionalization including the religious cult of Satan from the beginning. Tom Araya by his side has recently left the group but for many years he has kept a Christian faith. That faith that he actually learned from his father, a Chilean immigrant volunteer in one of Los Angeles′ Catholic parishes, confronted him especially with his partner Kerry King. P>
Danish musician King Diamond had no childhood related to religion but as a teenager he discovered the charms of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper. He was seeing in the front row one of Alice Cooper′s performances that he decided to dedicate to show business in 1975; but it was thanks to Jimmy Page′s references to the magician Aleister Crowley that King Diamond incorporated Satanic ideas into his way of life and of course into his own spectacle. Aleister Crowley′s clue automatically led him to Anton LaVey, whom he claims to have gotten to know personally and from whom he still has a handwritten letter. Anton LaVey actually detested rock music and ′The Satanic Bible′ has often been denounced as fraudulent especially in the veracity of the supposedly autobiographical facts that its author Anton LaVey describes. King Diamond claims, however, that he is more interested in supernatural experiences than in written theories of Satanism.
Most of the stories he tells himself seem more like panic attacks than anything else but who knows? Experiences always have that subjective element. Now King Diamond is in his sixties and protects his weak heart with a quiet life in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. In the 1980s, however, he had a clear goal of being the most controversial music group on the planet and today he confesses that his anti-clerical initiatives had a clear commercial objective. Of course, something commercial does not necessarily have to be false. When a priest publicly confronted him for including a crucified nun in the illustration of his album ′Nuns have no fun′ (1982), King Diamond′s response could not be more timely: ′You did it to people of flesh and bone. ”
King Diamond then took every opportunity to invite acquaintances and journalists to his Copenhagen apartment. He loved to beat them at the table tennis table, make them sleep next to his particular satanic altar, and then spend years telling stories about alleged paranormal activities, some of which he claims to have lived with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield of Metallica. The guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner who started the group Mercyful Fate are now Christians but all three bury the ax that has faced them so much in the past to collaborate often on stage. King Diamond is shocked today by what young people have done in the name of black metal.
Norwegian Øystein ‘Eurynomos‘ Aarseth, known in 1984 as the Destroyer, dedicated four years of his life to making versions of Motörhead, Black Sabbath and Venom under the name Mayhem. To get black metal to take root in Norway, he opened a shop and a record label in Oslo in parallel, which were definitely crucial in this task. It is still open. When he was twenty he joined vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin, aka Dead, and began composing his own songs as well. Visions of his own death and the drama that Dead brought to Mayhem′s performances were only surpassed by his own suicide in 1991. P>
The enterprising guitarist found Dead′s corpse when he returned to the flat they shared. Eurynomos automatically ran to buy a camera with which he made a series of photographs that he intended to use in his plan to promote the group. His plan also included the idea that Dead had committed suicide because the movement had become too commercial but the message he had left before he died was quite eloquent: ′Forgive the blood, greetings,′ said Dead′s note. . To distance himself from groups like Metallica, Eurynomos said in interviews that ′true metal should be something feared by normal people, not something that even your own mother can listen to.′ In his efforts to make himself heard, he participated in the popular burning of historic churches in Scandinavia: ′Christians have to feel that there is a dark, evil power that they have to fight with,′ Eurynomos assured. ′This will make them more consistent.′
After Dead′s death, Eurynomos adopted the young Varg Vikernes as a disciple. Varg already had experience in the industry like Burzum and a series of differences that included of course the economic benefits made them grapple from the beginning. An argument on the night of August 10, 1993, following Varg′s visit, resulted in Eurynomos′ body lying on the stairs of his apartment with 23 knife cuts to his back, neck and head. After fifteen years in prison during which he was only allowed to use the synthesizer, Varg Vikernes had time to deepen the racist ideologies that he shared with other musicians such as Jon Nödtveidt and new forms of music closer to ambient music. To this day he lives with his wife and his children in France, where his movements are followed with great interest by the police. P>
If you think that the satanist aesthetic has stopped attracting the attention of the spectators, I suggest you pay attention to the careers of groups like Marilyn Manson, Zeal & Ardor or Ghost. The Swedish group Ghost in particular has been awarded three consecutive Grammys in the Best Hard Rock / Metal Album category since 2014. All their songs, their aesthetics and their interviews revolve around the value of opposition to Christianity, despite the fact that They assured SF Weekly that they do not have a militant plan and are doing what they do to entertain their audience, their elaborate and brilliant show still puts old unpaid church bills on the table today.
Behemoth is another good example. After several years fighting leukemia, Behemoth′s Nergal returned to the stage in 2016 apparently more excited and stronger than ever: ′We could not have created the last album if he had not had the near-death experience,′ he assured the magazine. Metal Hammer. ′That experience has had a profound effect on the music I write and the way I think about everything. Overcoming leukemia has made me understand that there is a lot I have to do.′ ′Satan is the most misunderstood figure in the world′, this Polish musician also said recently. ′He represents the truth and the spirit of man, the freedom and the honesty of who we are. I grew up Catholic and had heard a lot about Satan, but it was not the truth. Satanism has to do with life and with liberation and with the love of freedom. I have Satan in me, flowing through my veins and through my music. ′
It is still striking that precisely these specialized magazines were also dealing with another case of near-death experience. The same experience, however, had produced the opposite reaction: ′I was clinically dead for 3 hours,′ says Austin Carlile, leader of the group Of Mice & Men. ′I was finally baptized this past Sunday, after taking 28 years to understand God′s place in my life, get out of the way, and really follow him.′ ′Trying to do things by myself had left me unable to continue,′ Austin also said at another time. ′Resting in my own ability to persevere and strive was not enough. His grace has been overwhelming and in every obstacle I have faced, I am proud to say that it has been the hope that I have in him that has pushed me to move forward and fight. By his grace, I am now complete. ′
′All things are tiring more than man can express,′ writes the unknown author of Ecclesiastes in the Bible with devastating reason. ′What was it? The same as it will be. what do what has been done? The same will be done; and there is nothing new under the Sun ”. ′The God who made the world and all things in it,′ writes the author of the Book of Acts, ′being Lord of heaven and earth, he does not dwell in temples made by human hands, nor is he honored by the hands of men, as if in need of something; for he is the one who gives everyone life and breath and all things. And of one blood he has made all the lineage of men, so that they may dwell on all the face of the earth; and he has fixed for them the order of the times, and the limits of his habitation; so that they may seek God, if in some way, by feeling, they can find him, although he certainly is not far from each one of us. ” p>
The apostle Paul then quotes literally the poets of his time by writing: “For in him we live, and move, and are; as some of your own poets have also said: Because we are his lineage. Being, then, lineage of God, we must not think that the Divinity is similar to gold, or silver, or stone, sculpture of art and imagination of men. But God, having overlooked the times of this ignorance, now commands all men everywhere to repent; because he has established a day in which he will judge the world with justice, by that man whom he appointed, giving faith to all with having raised him from the dead. ′ p>
It makes sense that younger people are more optimistic about the possibilities we have in opposing God. They have not yet had a chance to get bored with sin. God however provides rain and sun to young and old, just and unjust of any age, race or religion. An honest look at history teaches us that we cannot do what we want to do. God twists or straightens the roads according to his will as Homer himself said. God is no respecter of persons: ′because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.′ The creator′s desire and intention is that we turn to him, not traveling a long and complicated path precisely: “Because God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost. but have eternal life ”, the apostle John also writes in the Bible.
This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as La verdadera relación entre el rock y el satanismo