Albums with occult reputations, or which have otherwise fuelled the Urban Legend of Demonic Rock
NOTE: When ETCHED IN BLACK first appeared in 2001, it was called EYE AND EAR CONTROL. This article was one of the first to
appear on that site. As it is nearly a decade old, and has only enjoyed minimal editing, the piece is quite dated, Still,
I think it remains a great deal of fun, and remains one of my favorite items on this site. Content and layout are retained
from its original appearance on EYE AND EAR CONTROL. Heavy Metal and Black Metal albums, have been purposely neglected here
because devoting space to too many obvious entries would make for a dull article.
Copyright 2009 by Thomas W. Wynn
COMUS: FIRST UTTERANCE: Disturbing 1970 LP from a British commune/musical group championed, at the time, by David Bowie "The
first LP is rock music only by association. Taking British folk as a point of departure, the music twists and oozes as a vile
bunch of snakes, pairing gorgeous melodies and expert playing to ecstatically altered vocals and vicious lyrics. Rape, murder,
witchcraft and abuse are main ingredients to the menu, which is cooked with raging madness, but still manages to taste delicately
composed. One of the very first British folk albums that creates a totally new, dangerous and utterly unique atmosphere."
-- Marcel Koopman (from forcedexposure.com)
GRAHAM BOND and HOLY MAGICK: Graham Bond was a British Blues pioneer, and an important early fixture of the 60's scene in
London. His Graham Bond ORGANization featured both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker (their first recordings before founding Cream,)
and was built around the gloriously monsterous sound of Bond's distinctive hammond organ playing.
Bond harbored a serious interest in the occult, and claimed that he was Aleister Crowley's illegitimate son, conceived
on the beach after his mother had met Crowley on a family vacation.
Bond's next group after the 1967 dissolution of the ORGANization was called Holy Magick. The group was designed explicitly
to further Bond's study of Crowley and the occult. Bond festooned his album jackets with mystic symbols, and turned the liner
notes into step-by-step instruction manuals for various magic rituals, instructing listeners to use his music to "project
a protective circle" around themselves for safer contact with the spirit world. Bond actually performed some of these
rituals in the studio, to the bemusement (and amusement) of his often incredulous fellow musicians. Bond would regularly require
his band to arrange themselves, while recording, in accordance with astrological charts he had drawn for them. On one occasion,
Bond almost started a fire in a studio when he dropped a candle during a "water ritual."
Bond's deepening quest for magical knowledge was taken seriously by almost no one. His friends and bandmates tended to
see Bond's rituals and magical pontification as signs of an ever-worsening mental instability, brought on by his increasing
dependance upon heroin.
By 1974, Bond was considered an unreliable, drug-addled crackpot. His musical career already in a tailspin, his personal
life went South as well. Professional pressures, addiction and a divorce amidst allegations of child sexual abuse drove Bond
to throw himself beneath the wheels of a London subway train in May 8, 1974.
ELECTRIC LUCIFER by electronic/childrens' music pioneer Bruce Haack
BUDDI SATAN in an obscure jazz pianist, popular in the Florida area just after the Second World War. His real name has been
lost to posterity, and the only information I can find on the Buddi Satan Trio comes from the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall
of Fame. It seems Glen E. Wilson, who was, I assume, the group's bassist, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002:
"GLEN E. WILSON's first professional gig in Columbus was at Valley Dale in 1938, playing bass fiddle with Lancaster's
Dick Trimble Orchestra. Soon thereafter, he quit his job with Ohio Power and drove to Tampa, Florida, where he found work
with the orchestras of Bob Sylvester (Hal Kemp's arranger) and Cincinnati's Barney Rapp. He traveled throughout the south
and New England for the next two or three years until World War II intervened and he joined the Air Force Band...At the conclusion
of the war, he returned to Ohio, taking a job at the Brazil Club in Columbus. Here he was spotted by Snook Neil and Walter
Knick who asked him to join the WBNS Staff Orchestra. During the same week, he also joined the band of saxophonist Tommy
Lucas at the Palm Gardens nightclub and, later, Henry Cincione's house band at the Riviera Club. In 1946, Glenn returned
to Florida with a new bride and formed the Buddi Satan Trio. He remained there for four years before coming "home"
to Columbus, where he began working with the Frank LaRue Trio and Frankie Bush Orchestra. In 1981, he joined up with accordionist
Esther Craw and Roger Dini's Schnickel-Fritz Band. "
AC/DC's HIGHWAY TO HELL (Atlantic 1976,) was a favorite album for "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez. Ramirez would
listen to the closing track, "Night Prowler," over and over again for hours before embarking on his nightly missions
of rape, murder and necrophilia. Over a six-month period, in 1985, Ramirez would claim at least 13 victims, whom he attacked
in their beds while they slept.
Ramirez' trial hit the media just as fundamentalist Christians and TV talk show hosts were first enjoying success in spreading
unsubstantiated rumors of a vast, satanic crime network. Ramirez, a self-proclaimed Satan worshipper, played to this rising
paranoia at every turn. In jail, he invoked the dark one's name constantly and drew a pentagram on the floor of his cell in
his own blood. In court, he drew another pentagram, on his palm, shouted out, "Hail Satan," and frequently flashed
the "horned hand" salute associated with devil worship and heavy metal. Propagandists latched on to these demonic
overtures and overstated AC/DC's peripheral connection with Ramirez' crimes to cast him as the embodiment of the type of murderous,
hard rock obsessed, satanic terrorist they could not otherwise prove existed. Thus, Rimerez became one of a select cadre of
killers who rose to celebrity under the auspices of TV shows like Oprah and Geraldo - programs with a vested interest in building
urban myth from bloody tales of rock-fueled satanic mayhem.
MISTER ED THE TALKING HORSE: In 1987, minister Jim Brown of Ohio organized a mass burning of records containing
"A Horse is a Horse," the theme song from the vintage TV show, Mister Ed. According to Brown, a voice singing "someone sang
this song for Satan," could be heard when the record is played backwards.
GIUSEPPI TARTINI: THE DEVIL'S SONATA : Black Sabbath sold their souls for Rock and Roll. Guiseppe Tartini sold his soul for
In 1765 the Devil visited Tartini in a dream. We can imagine the scene; the darkness of the room, the smell of sulfur,
an eerie glow enshrouding a black figure whose breath is so hot you can see it, even in the warm Italian night.
The bargain is an old one: your soul in exchange for anything you desire:any power, any woman, any throne on Earth. Anything.
Tartini, often called Europe's greatest violinist by his contemporaries, had only one request: that the Devil should take
up his violin and play.
"To my astonishment," Tartini wrote a friend, "[Satan] began to play a sonata, so strange and so beautiful,
and executed in so masterly a manner, that I had never in my life heard anything so exquisite. So great was my amazement that
I could scarcely breathe. Awakened by the violent emotion, I instantly seized my Violin in the hope of being able to catch
some part of the ravishing melody which I had just heard, but all in vain."
Tartini was able to remember enough of what the Devil had played to write "Il trillo del Diavolo," or "The
Devil's Trill," his most famous composition. An odd, complex work, "The Devil's Sonata," challenges even the
greatest virtuosi to play its frantic runs and hand-straining chord changes. It remains, to this day, a testament to the composer's
prowess and an obstacle course which only the very best attempt to run.
"The Devil's Sonata is so treacherous that it almost seems to spite those who might dare attempt it. Andrew Manze,
dubbed "the Grapelli of the Baroque," in his interpretation of this composition rips through this obstacle course
of trills and finger stretches at lightning speed; he saws away with such vigor that occasionally the violin runs actually
sound more like a burning bluegrass fiddle or a Hendrix guitar riff than a Baroque sonata, only to drop back into controlled
quietude once again. The textures and mood changes that Manze pulls out of Tartini's work are phenomenal for such a short
piece (the entire work is only 18 minutes). It's hair-raising, thrilling stuff due not only to the content of the work but
to its insane, perfectionist execution." (IstriaNet.org, see link below)
Everyone knows the legend of how, in the 1930's, Robert Johnson, in exchange for fame and talent, sold his soul to the Devil
at the crossroads. Few remember, however, that Robert Johnson stole the story from TOMMY JOHNSON, an earlier delta bluesman
who claimed to have sold his soul to the Dark One back in the 1920's.
"Armed with a powerful voice that could go from a growl to an eerie falsetto range and a guitar style that had all
of the early figures and licks of the Delta style clearly delineated, Johnson only recorded for two years -- from 1928 to
1930 -- but left behind a body of work that's hard to ignore. The legend of Tommy Johnson is even harder to ignore. The stories
about his live performances -- where he would play the guitar behind his neck in emulation of Charley Patton's showboating
while hollering the blues at full throated level for hours without a break." (Cub Koda, All Music Guide)
Tommy's supposed deal with the devil was a fable Johnson played up with relish. He shared the story of his nocturnal deal
with Lucifer whenever he could, and displayed a huge rabbit's foot, much like a Louisiana voodoo wizard.
Tommy Johnson was an alcoholic much of his adult life, drinking Sterno and strained shoe polish when he could not afford
bottled alcohol. His habit began to get the best of him by the 1930's, when ill-health affected his ability to travel and
perform. Still, he continued to play small parties and gatherings around Jackson, Mississippi until his death in 1956.
Johnson's music and personality would influence many later bluesmen, particularly Howlin' Wolf, who emulated Johnson's
sinister howl, as well as Tommy's larger-than-life, Prince of Darkness persona.
ASA A., or A. A. ALLEN was a tent revivalist from Arkansas. He became inspired at an Oral Roberts Revival in 1949 and had,
by 1955, become one of the major evangelists in the American South and Southwest. Allen's tent meetings were so large, that
they could only be held in a special tent, designed to shelter 10,000 people. These huge gatherings were among the first
integrated revivals in the country.
Like many of the travelling ministers of his day, Allen was a faith healer and exorcist. In the days before the public
had become so skeptical of dramatic displays of Holy Power under the Big Top, healing and casting out spirits were hugely
successful tools in stirring the emotions of devout crowds. Live exorcisms could be particularly effective, as they allowed
the evangelist the opportunity to do actual battle with fearsome demons, right in front of his congregation. They were dramatic,
frightening affairs, as both sides usually hammed it up pretty hard, with a lot of loud talking, bible slamming, wierd voices
issuing from the "possessed," and various other theatrics piled on for good measure.
Since many of his sermons were recorded for radio broadcast, Allen was able to assemble the most dramatic exorcisms on
these LPs. Both were released on the Miracle Revival Recordings label some time in the late 50's / early 1960's.
Show and Tell Music says of CRYING DEMONS: "The whole thing is so extreme, and so overboard you can hardly believe
It starts off spooky 'cuz you don't know quite what to expect, then half way in it kinda morphs into an unintentional
comedy album. The thing that strikes you though, is the participants conviction. There is no doubt in the mind of any of the
people involved that what's taking place is 100% certified, bonafide, sure-as-I'm-standin'-here Devil activity. And it shows."
BLACK WIDOW: SACRIFICE: Black Widow were among the first openly satanic rock bands in England. They predate even Black Sabbath
by at least a year - in fact, it was at a Black Widow gig in Birmingham that Geezer Butler first spoke to his bandmate, Ozzy
Osbourne, about their own band's possible use of black Widowish occult themes.
"The band had a small amount of success with "Come To The Sabbat", taken off their first LP Sacrifice (1970).
The band had an extravagant mystic show (centred on the female demon Astaroth and choreographed by members of Leicester's
Phoenix Theatre Company) and outrageous effects. The live show initially featured the mock sacrifice of a nude woman, which
in itself, was enough to cause uproar in the press, and coupled with the fact that they were receiving advice on the art of
witchcraft from Alex Sanders, the self professed "King Of The Witches" - the Sunday tabloids had a field day!"