UG editorial team. A group of people who are passionate about guitar and music in general.
Posted on Oct 29, 2010 12:34 pm
Rock n' roll has always attracted strange tales of ghosts and spirits. Whether they are true ghostly experiences or a by-product of copious drug abuse I'll leave that to your interpretation. Either way, here are some of the most famous stories of artists and bands being influenced by spirits or ghosts. I'm sure I will have missed some so make sure you add them to the comments below.
Rick Rubin's Haunted Mansion
Perhaps one of the most famous ghost stories in music is Rick Rubin's haunted mansion in Laurel Canyon. Made famous by Red Hot Chili Peppers' documentary, "Funky Monks", the mansion has been used to record bands including The Mars Volta, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Red Hot Chili Peppers. All of which reported ghostly encounters.
Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison claimed to have felt something walk through him whilst in the basement and refused to go down again. Vocalist Corey Taylor claimed he saw figures appear before him in his room and has since maintained, It's so weird, I don't even like talking about it.Red Hot Chili Peppers also reported ghostly sightings at the house. Bassist Flea told MTV that they had these psychics that came up and at one point they said that they saw a lady in black walking in the back and that she was a ghost. The band spent the entire recording process without leaving the house, all except drummer Chad Smith who refused to stay at the house because of the hauntings. I mean, I'm not scared of ghosts. But I felt a presence, he said.
The Mars Volta
Omar and Cedric of The Mars Volta famously claimed the inspiration for the concept behind "The Bedlam in Goliath" came from a three-way love story played out through a Ouija board. The spirits that spoke to them also began to haunt them and they experienced a number of ghostly encounters during the recording process.
Their studio flooded, equipment began to malfunction and Cedric suffered a severe foot injury. With the band about to bin the entire album as a result, Omar buried the Ouija board and kept its location secret.
At the height of his drug addiction, RHCP guitarist John Frusciante claimed to be heavily influenced by spirits. Even since being clean John often talk about how spirits influence his decisions in life and has very complex philosophies of how songs exist in different forms in different dimensions. Frusciante recalls being in a room and sitting there with a ghost, hearing their voice in your head and seeing them as clearly as I'm seeing you right now.
During the recording of his second solo album, "Smile From The Streets You Hold", he explained in an interview how he communicated with spirits. The spirits give you ideas for things, and what's important to them is what's important to me.
Killers' lead singer Brandon Flowers is convinced that he will die on his birthday after experimenting with a Ouija board during his teenage years. A spirit summoned by the board told him his death would be associated with the number 621. Flowers' birthday is the June 21. Once I had to fly to Glastonbury on my birthday, he says, that was a real mess.
Flowers is not the only one to have experimented with a Ouija board. Alice Cooper's early press releases claimed the alter-ego name came after a spirit told Vincent Furnier that he was the reincarnation of a 17th century witch named Alice Cooper.
Though not strictly a ghost story, my favourite spooky musician tale is Robert Johnson's meeting with the devil. The legend tells how the blues genius sold his soul in exchange for his expert skills. After waiting at the crossroads deep in the Mississippi Delta, the devil appeared, tuned Johnson's guitar and he returned with incredible guitar chops. It is suggested that the devil came to claim his dues a few years later as Robert Johnson died aged only 27.
Coincidence? Johnson wasn't the only musical genius the devil claimed at that age. Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin all died aged 27. The devil drives a hard bargain.
Text by Ben Brown