ROCK ON THE WILD SIDE
REVISITING THE SAME OLD SONG AND DANCE
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
I was reading a Milwaukee, Wisconsin newspaper online last night. The story that intrigued me was the story about how many of the bands I grew up with are hanging up their spurs and doing their final tours.
Elton John has been touring and is said to be extending his final tour. Ozzy Osbourne is also doing another leg of his No More tours show. Iron Maiden is ready to say their goodbye’s as is Bob Seger, Jeff Lynne of ELO and of course one of my favorite bands, KISS says that this is their end of the road tour.
The paper seemed a bit skeptical about these Monsters of Rock ending their appearances, especially KISS and Ozzy since both have said they were giving their goodbyes only to return with new band members and selling out arenas.
It just goes to show you that back when I was a kid rock stars were superheroes and they are all pretty amazing to be rocking for as long as they have and still can sell out arenas.
The reason I believe this is that back when we were kids, Rock and Roll was not only amazing and loud – it was also mysterious and with that mystery came a lot of urban legends and rumors that music certainly had its connections both real and unreal with the devil himself.
When I was a kid, music was made by superheroes. Many of them only appeared as stick figures in an arena but it was the music and the performance that made them larger than life. Albums were pressed on vinyl back then and there were usually added bonuses with the records – like full pull out posters, unreleased singles, liner notes from the band and lyrics so that you could sing along.
To my parents, the rock stars were more than men, they were far more sinister. They were devil worshippers, blood-spitting antichrists and evil incarnate.
How many of us remember the special meetings that were set up by the PTA or by our local pastors where we were told that bands like Black Sabbath, RUSH, AC/DC, STYX, RUSH, and KISS were all part of the Devil’s plan to drive us away from God.
I listened to all of those bands growing up and I still believe in God.
It was so embarrassing to hear these pastors and preachers run themselves into a frenzy over anything from ABBA to Zeppelin and how each band had something to do with the devil.
I was told by my pastor that KISS was an acronym for ‘KNIGHTS IN SATAN’S SERVICE’ and when I called him on the nonsense saying that none of the band have said this to be true, he countered with “Isn’t Satan the father of all lies and wasn’t it a KISS that betrayed Jesus?”
I couldn’t even listen to a Led Zeppelin album without being told that listening to it backwards would give you a secret satanic message. I tried it on “Stairway to Heaven” and it did have a satanic message that sounded like “Here’s to my sweet Satan.” I was also told that holding the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV to a mirror would create the face of Satan in the rocks.
So I said to my pastor that I was going to sit down and point out some of the weird stories that I have heard about his music and see what he has to say about it.
He said that we had a deal.
Needless to say, when I was finished I realized that there were some pretty scary urban legends and myths about some of the older bands and what was originally a vendetta of sorts turned into an obsession.
I started by pointing out that the 1964 hit song Louie Louie by the Kingsman was so poorly recorded that the FBI investigated the band and the song in order to determine whether or not the lyrics actually were saying something dirty or salacious.
The song was even banned in some states because no one really knew what was being sung.
Moving along I also stumbled upon a conspiracy about the Beach Boys.
Living in Utah, Radio Deejays made it a point to play the song Salt Lake City by the Beach Boys. One of my favorite Deejays at the time, Skinny Johnny Mitchell, once said that Charles Manson played in the Beach Boys and so I needed to find out the truth.
I found out that he did have a relationship with the Beach Boys as he met Dennis Wilson and Wilson released a song “Never Learn Not to Love,” which started out as a song called “Cease to Exist,” written and composed by one Charlie Manson.
Manson was not an infamous killer then, but it certainly was weird that Manson was a bussing songwriter and singer.
Later, I would find out that Manson was just one of the many of the figures related to musicians that were allegedly connected to what is now called the Military Industrial complex.
There were opportunities for me to speak with many people in the music industry because of my radio career. One that impressed me the most was when I was able to have a short meeting with Robbie Krieger of the Doors. The movie “The Doors” was in theaters at the time and it was nice to hear firsthand about what it was like to be around Jim Morrison. Morrison, of course, was complex and at times Krieger said he was scary. He would verbally attack the audience at times calling them names and excoriating them for even being in the audience.
I had a friend who actually interviewed Danny Sugarman who was manager of the Doors. Sugarman said that he believed that Morrison was more dangerous than Charles Manson, and that he was into the occult. He was married in a Wiccan ceremony and believed that an Indian spirit was inside his body. The spirit was a reptilian spirit. This is why he called himself the ‘Lizard King’.
He was found in a bathtub dead in 1971. They say he died from a heart attack and yet many people believe he faked his own death. His would have had the means to do so and his father was involved in military intelligence.
Morrison was into sex magic and was rumored to have a taste for human blood. He also was a pawn with the underworld of organized crime and the mob.
In fact it was rumored that Morrison had been assassinated in Paris by intelligence agents or that fearing for his life he faked his own death. Paris was plagued with a number of Jim Morrison sightings after his supposed death.
For the longest time there was actually a photo ID of JAMES DOUGLAS MORRISON was on file at Bank of America. In 1973 Walt Fleischer, a bank teller at Bank of America in San Francisco claimed that a man calling himself James Douglas Morrison had been making withdrawals on an account and that he looked like Jim Morrison of the Doors.
Of course, we all know that Morrison died in 1971—right?
Morrison became part of the 27 Club, a macabre coincidence of many rock stars dying when they are 27. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and others have died at 27.
There were many of these rock stars that avoided Military service mainly because they had family in the Military Industrial Intelligence apparatus. Jim Morrison’s father was the commander of US Naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin.
According to Dave McGowan, known researcher of music and the ‘hippie movement’, musicians like Frank Zappa, John Phillips, David Crosby and Steven Stills were all a product of the military intelligence establishment.
There were also some strange coincidences with regard to some of these rock stars.
Mama Cass who worked with John Phillips in the Mamas and the Papas had an urban legend about her stating that she died from choking on a ham sandwich – this of course is untrue as she died of a heart attack.
However what is truly odd is that Mama Cass died On July 29th 1974, in an apartment she rented from Harry Nilsson. Cass died of a heart attack while she was asleep.
Almost four years later, on September 7, 1978, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who died in the exact same apartment as Mama Cass did. Cause of death? 32 clomethiazole pills he took to reduce his alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He took those pills on a doctor’s prescription, but the doctor instructed Moon to take no more than three pills a day.
In a creepy coincidence, The Who, released the album “Who Are You” on August 18, 1978 and it featured a photograph by Terry O’Neill of the band atop a stack of their own PA equipment at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England.
For the photo, Moon had insisted on sitting in a chair with the back to the camera so as to hide his distended stomach, the result of his alcoholism. Ironically, the chair is labeled “NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY.”
He was obviously taken from us weeks later.
Album cover coincidences and weirdness have always followed our Rock legends.
Rumors about album covers with subliminal sigils and hidden easter eggs were also made about the Beatles ‘Abbey Road’, The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. The rumor about ‘Thriller’ was that the UPC code on the cover of ‘Thriller’ was actually Michael Jackson’s Telephone Number. People would use a California area code to try and call ‘Neverland Ranch’. What they got instead was a beauty salon.
The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ album and the ‘Abbey Road’ album were designed by a colleague of mine named John Kosh. The rumors about the albums, according to Kosh, are that on the ‘Hotel California’ album what you are seeing is the Beverly Hills Hotel.
However, the rumor is that standing on the balcony in one of the shots is Anton LaVey the Black Pope of the Church of Satan.
There is also another shot of the courtyard where we see a janitor that looks like he is asleep and propped up by a mop – the rumor is that the janitor was either a ghost or a dead man propped up for the shot.
The next album cover designed by Kosh was the ‘Abbey Road’ album. The album is notorious because it doesn’t have a title on it, and it appears that The Beatles are in a funeral precession from Lennon being the preacher, to Ringo Starr as the funeral director, Paul McCartney as the shoeless corpse and George Harrison as the grave digger. There is also the Volkswagen bug that has 28IF on the license plate meaning McCartney would have been 28 IF he didn’t die in a rumored care crash and was replaced by a body double. KOSH said that everything about the Paul is dead clues is pure coincidence, however he did tell me that he was told by record executives to neither confirm or deny the ‘Paul is dead’ rumor.
There is also a more macabre rumor about an album cover and a song that was released by the Ohio players in 1975.
The Ohio Players’ album covers for its time were extremely provocative. One cover in particular, 1975’s Honey, featured a nude woman holding a jar of overflowing honey while dropping the sweet substance into her mouth rather sensually with a ladle.
Honey also had a hit single on it called Love Rollercoaster.
What makes this song completely unique is a featured embedded scream that is inserted into the song’s instrumental break sometime around the second verse. You can hear its cue point at 2:30 and then it goes off at 2:32.
Sometime in 1976 when the song had been released for a period of time, a popular nationwide radio program, American Top 40, with Casey Kasem reported something grave about the song.
The rumor was the scream heard on the song was that of a woman being stabbed just outside the recording studio where the song was pressed.
I remember as a kid hearing about how the model all glazed with the honey on the album cover was burned because the honey was too hot and threatened to sue the band for damages.
She allegedly showed up to the studio during the recording and that band manager stabbed her to death.
“Love Rollercoaster” was featured in a film from 1998 titled appropriately enough “Urban Legend.” There is a scene where a guy is trying to impress some girl at a party.
He plays the song to her explaining about the scream. “This was a girl being murdered and crying out for help.” She can’t believe it. He then says “it was lifted off a 911 tape.”
Well, the good news is the woman in question Ester Cordet Is alive and Is 72 years old.
So the stories of her disfiguring photo session and being stabbed by the band manager are completely and utterly false. According to Jimmy “Diamond” Williams, the Ohio Player’s drummer, the famous “scream” came from yet another band member, keyboardist Billy Beck.
When I got older and worked in music studios and was a club Deejay I knew a record producer named Bill Lewis who worked with the likes of Freddy Fender, Eddie Rabbit, Billy Thundercloud, and the Chieftones, and Billy Swan.
I remember sharing with him my interest in Rock Urban Legends and he told me one about Billy Swan.
Billy Swan was famous for his one hit wonder “I Can Help.” Apparently, while Swan was recording the song he was singing the chorus and the song seems like it goes on and on as if he couldn’t finish for some reason.
According to the legend—during the recording of the son a big dog got loose in the recording studio and as he was playing and singing the dog bit him and began gnawing on his leg.
I thought that like all of the stories – this one sounded outrageous.
But it was partly true.
Swan often took his medium-sized dog to his recording sessions. While Swan was recording “I Can Help,” the dog became playful and started tugging at Swan’s pant leg. He finished the take and earned the applause from the bandmates which is heard at the end of the released song.
There was also another remarkable rumor about the song “One Tin Soldier” that I learned was fact: One Tin Soldier was, in fact, a song that was featured in the movie the legend of Billy Jack and was recorded by the band, Coven.
The members of Coven were actually Satan Worshippers.
I interviewed Jinx Dawson the leader of the band and she told me all sorts of stories about how Black Sabbath was formed, how KISS was a creation of Casablanca records and how many of the darker songs of my childhood were actually recorded as teen tragedy epics that apparently sold well with young women who missed their boyfriends who were in Vietnam.
Songs like Billy Don’t Be A Hero, by Bo Donaldson and the Haywoods and Seasons in the Sun were especially sweet songs with dark meanings.
Billy Don’t Be A Hero was about a guy who goes off to war, and despite his fiancé’s pleas to stay safe, volunteers for a dangerous mission and is killed. The girl receives a letter telling her that Billy died a hero, which is specifically what she asked him not to do.
So she just throws the letter away without caring about his sacrifice — pretty cold.
Seasons in the Sun, by Terry Jacks, is allegedly about a man who is dying at a young age but the rumor was that many people believed it was about a man who was about to kill himself.
The song is translated from Jaques Brel who wrote many morbid songs about death dying and suicide.
The song which “seasons in the sun was translated from was called “Le moribond” which was about a dying man’s farewell. The translation was done by the singer songwriter Rod McKeuen.
David Bowie had recorded two songs that were translated from Brel.
He recorded “Amsterdam” about filthy sailors and their antics at that port and “My Death,” about the singer’s relationship with death.
Bowie also cleverly recorded his last album Black Star after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
In a bit of synchronicity on the day David Bowie died, the song Lazarus from Black Star hit the pop charts and aired on the radio.
Lazarus, of course, was the character from the Bible who rose from the dead.
The song Lazarus actually in a creepy way resurrected Bowie and the lyrics left a ghostly message:
Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below
It is as if he is saying, Now that I have told you and shown you who I really am, I have left this planet and I am now in the stars, I am in heaven.
When I heard it on the air the same day has his death, I thought this is Bowie speaking from the grave.
There was another occasion where a dead singer was resurrected for a song. Jeff Lynne of ELO produced a song where he reunited the Beatles in the song “Free as a Bird.”
The song is simply a demo of a Song that Lennon recorded in 1977; the other Beatles recorded around his tracks to complete song in 1994.
However, there is another rumored story that during the recording the ghost of John Lennon was heard speaking in the recording.
At the end of the song we hear the sound of a Ukulele. It is a tribute to George Formby who was a musical hall entertainer who played the ukulele and is represented in the closing scenes of the video. At the end of the song you hear “Turned Out Nice Again” Which was Formby’s catchphrase that he said at the end of a show. George Harrison played the ukulele and was a member of the George Formby Appreciation Society. The phrase “turned out nice again” can be heard on the song at the end.
When played in reverse it says “made by John Lennon.”
It is always nice to remember our favorite Rock Stars after they die in fact the new film Bohemian Rhapsody has been very popular and is now up for an academy award.
The reproduction of Freddy Mercury and the Band in the film is amazing.
This has put Queen back on the charts and Of course, the song, Bohemian Rhapsody, has entered the charts again and new generations can appreciate the music of their genius.
‘Another One Bites The Dust’ was a massive 1980 hit for the band Queen. But there is yet another urban legend about the song.
TV evangelist Gary Greenwald, who hosted a religious television program called, The Eagle’s Nest, crusaded against rock music, and told his flock of teens the evils of rock and related a lot of the urban legends I have talked about. He especially had it in for Queen.
He was not only appalled by Freddy Mercury’s bisexual lifestyle but he also said that he detected that the song Another one bites the Dust has a secret Backwards message about smoking Marijuana.
Arguably, the phrase it is fun to smoke Marijuana can be heard in the chorus when it is reversed.
This brings me full circle to the reason why I investigated rock urban legends in the first place – it was a vendetta I had with a pastor who tried to take the fun out of Rock and Roll by telling me I would go to hell for listening to it.
Well, last year I saw Alice Copper – I got my KISS tickets and I am will be seeing Ozzy in the summer, I am not ready to hang up my rock boots yet – and I am not quite ready to give up some of the great mysteries of Rock and Roll.