Thursday, July 9, 2020

HGB Ep. 344 - Haunted Music

Moment in Oddity - Paris' Open-Air Urinals Helped Defeat Nazis
Suggested by: Darren Koch

We are women, so we certainly are not experts in urinals or their usage. We don't know if it's typical for men to use them as a social gathering point. We're pretty sure though that they've only been used to turn the tide on an enemy during a war, once. The French came up with a creative idea to share military intel among themselves. In the 1830s, France installed open-air urinals, so that men would be able to relieve themselves easily without resorting to peeing on buildings or the street. Come on guys, we know you've all done this at some point. These urinals were used to pass information for the French Resistance during World War II. There were more than a 1,000 of these open-air urinals in Paris during the war and once the Nazis occupied the city, the Allies and the French Resistance would pass notes to each other away from the Nazis eyes. So these urinals are credited with helping to defeat the Nazi Regime and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Chris Cornell Born

In the month of July, on the 20th, in 1964, musician, singer and songwriter Chris Cornell was born. Cornell got into music from a young age, learning to play the piano, guitar and a snare drum. He also, unfortunately, got into drugs as a teenager. In 1984, he helped found the band Soundgarden. They found early success and quickly signed to an independent label and later moved onto to a major record label. Cornell had a unique style and sound and this would become what we know as grunge music. Soundgarden would be the first grunge band to be signed by a major record label. Cornell had an amazing vocal range and not only had success with Soundgarden, but his next band Audioslave. He was nominated for 16 Grammy Awards and sold over 30 million records worldwide. Rolling Stone named him on their "Best Lead Singers of All Time" list. Cornell battled with substance abuse for part of his life, but managed to get sober and help other artists to get clean as well. He had issues with anxiety and depression since he had been a kid and he would continue battling that until his death. He died on May 18, 2017, but the circumstances of his death are questionable. The cause of death was officially suicide by hanging and several prescription drugs were found in his system, but in therapeutic doses. His wife had talked to him right before he died and she said he had been slurring his words and told her he thought he took one too many sleeping pills. She became concerned and called security. Cornell had indicated to no one that he was suicidal and he was in a great place in his life. He was buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in a nice place by the pond, front and center of the main drag. Kelly and I both got to visit the grave in 2018.

Haunted Music

We've covered quite a few music related topics on the podcast. HGB has featured Ernestine and Hazel's Juke Joint, Bobby Mackey's Music World and the Cincinnati Music Hall and we've talked about the life and afterlife of Patsy Cline, John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Bonus episodes have featured haunted instruments, Gram Parsons and the Devil's Chord. We thought it would be interesting to do an episode on haunted music as a whole. This obviously won't be exhaustive, but we are going to delve into haunted radio stations, recording studios, buses and jukeboxes. We'll also look at the elements of music that lead to hauntings and curses. And wow, does music have some curses!

Music has been with humanity since the first beings probably figured out that two rocks hit together made a sound. And probably even before that, the pleasant strains of a bird chirping and singing were heard. Music has great power. A few strains from a song can transport us to another time, a moment in memory. Certain types of music can cause us to feel sad or exhilarated. Some music is relaxing, while other pieces can be downright unnerving. We obviously are going to focus on the latter. But before there were birds and before there were humans, there were angels. At least for some belief systems. These angels could sing and maybe even played instruments. There was one angel in particular that was the most beautiful, both in appearance and sound and that was Lucifer. Many people probably are familiar with him being described as beautiful, but did you know that he was basically a musical instrument all on his own.

The Bible says of Lucifer in Ezekiel 28:13, "You were in Eden, the garden of God.  Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings (timbrels) and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared." In the Hebrew, toph is the word for settings, which also means timbrel and that is a musical instrument. The Hebrew word for sockets is neqeb and that means hole or pipes. Isaiah 14:11 says, "All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps." So again, we have a reference to Lucifer being musical. Most Biblical scholars refer to him as the Director of Music in Heaven.

As most people are familiar with the story, Lucifer rebels with a third of the heavenly angels and they are cast down here to Earth with the humans. For those of us who study what is referenced as "fringe Christianity," this is the time when humans are going to make some big advancements in technology. For us, this is when the fallen angels teach humans about make-up, black-smithing, building, music and much more. While Ancient Aliens on TV presents the helpers in building megoliths and pyramids as aliens, we think of them as fallen angels. Although the movie Footloose doesn't present the evils of music coming from this, we believe that is why music ended up with a negative connotation, you know the whole, Rock & Roll music is of the Devil. No one knows what music is like in Heaven, but Lucifer got his talent and experience somewhere, which is why music as a whole is not of the Devil. But could there be some music that is of a more negative nature. Of course there is, because there is no light without the dark.

*And as a side note, irregardless of what the Church has taught for years, there is no consensus on whether Lucifer is Satan or the Devil and also that fallen angels are demons. These could all be constructs from the Roman Catholic Church. The Bible itself is quite unclear about any of these elements.*

We've all heard the tales of the musician selling his soul at the crossroads in exchange for musical talent. We'll look at this in a bit, but first, let's look at a brief history of music. We think everybody would be in agreement that drums and drumming is probably the most ancient of musical sounds, other than the voice. Nearly every indigineous culture on every continent that has humans, drums. And there is probably good reason because drums are like the beating of the heart. And you don't have to be able to carry a tune to sound good with drums. The Egyptians are credited with lots of firsts and many believe they were the first to design instruments. In 4000 BC, they started using flutes and harps and moved onto more complicated instruments like clarinets. An early form of the trumpet would be introduced in 2500 BC by Denmark. One of the first stringed instruments was created by the Hitties in 1500 BC and a few hundred years later King David comes on the scene and he was incredibly musical. The Bible describes him singing and dancing and playing the harp. During one such harp recital, King Saul tried to kill David. The Hebrews used music during daily life in Israel.

The Greeks would move music forward even more, developing Classical music in 700 BC. The teaching of music was a requirement in the schools and it would be the mathematician Pythagorus who would develop the octave scale when he treated music as a science. And this is a key element to focus on when it comes to talking about the paranormal connection to music. Can music be used as a form of alchemy? We'll discuss this further when we get to the Renaissance. Music was so popular in Greece that they regularly held musical competitions. Aristotle and Plato both believed that music was a wonderful leisurely pursuit that made students better learners. They believed it gave the soul freedom. But Aristotle also had interesting thoughts on the effects of music. Aristotle warned that certain modes of music shouldn't be studied because they stirred unhealthy emotions. He wrote in his work The Politics, "Rhythm and melody supply imitations of anger and gentleness, and also of courage and temperance, and of all the qualities contrary to these, and of the other qualities of character, which hardly fall short of the actual affections, as we know from our own experience, for in listening to such strains our souls undergo a change. The habit of feeling pleasure or pain at mere representations is not far removed from the same feeling about realities."

Boethius was a Roman senator and philosopher and he translated the works of Plato and Aristotle into Latin and brought the Greek musical notation to Western Europe. He also wrote about the idea of opera. The Common Era would see music moving forward at a rapid pace and can be broken down into eight eras. The first is Medieval and this was from 500 AD to 1400 AD. During this time, Guido D'Arezzo invented solfege, which is the vocal scale we were all taught by the Sound of Music: do, re, mi, fa, so, la ,ti, do. Also during this time, music moved away from the influence of the Church, like Gregorian chanting, and became more folk-like and the Church started looking at this music as pagan.

Next was the Renaissance Era from 1400 AD to 1600 AD. Renaissance means "rebirth" and it was as though music was being reborn, separate from the Church and music became more complicated with more moving parts. This found its footing in Northern Europe, in the future France, Belgium and Netherlands. Germany wrote a lot of organ pieces during this time. Music became more tonal. At this time, many alchemists started mixing music in with their alchemy. Michael Maier was a German physician and alchemist who wrote the 1617 hermetic book Atalanta Fugiens and in it he described fifty fugues, which are canonical with multiple voices on a theme that appears at the beginning of a composition and repeats several times throughout.  This symbolized the philosopher's stone, which was a legendary substance that could be used to turn base metals into gold and silver.

Next would come the Baroque Era from 1580 AD to 1750 AD and the first operas were written at this time. Composers like Vivaldi, Bach and Handel would come on the scene. The oboe, violin and double bass would appear. Baroque is derived from the Italian word barocco, which means bizarre and this was a time of experimentation. Melodies would be supported by harmony. The Galant Era would be from 1720 AD to 1780 AD and continue into the Classical Era that ended in 1820 AD. Sonatas would start at this time and music would get less complicated with the piano being the preferred instrument. Mozart wrote his first symphony at this time and Beethoven and Schubert would take music into the next era.

The Romantic Era would fall between 1800 AD and 1910 AD. This music would tell a story and composers during this time would be Johann Strauss II, Brahms, Wagner and Tchaikovsky. Literature and art were mixed with the music as well. The saxophone and flute would become more complicated. Nationalistic themes were developed and music started telling more stories.
The Modern Era would start in 1890 AD and go through to 1980 AD. The Postmodern would start in 1930 AD and continue to the present. With so many years, this covers a vast array of music from neoclassical to concert music to to impressionistic to electronic music to jazz and really, everything we know past Classical. An interesting instrument introduced during this time was the Theremin.

We mentioned that the music that broke away from the Church centuries ago was labeled as pagan. This was during the Middle Ages or Medieval times. The Devil's Interval or Devil's Chord was introduced at this time and it was considered so diabolical, that it was banned by the Church. The Devil's Chord was not harmonious like the other music of the time. Harmony has notes that flow together and share pitches and frequencies. There is a set timing to the harmony, like a waltz is 3:4 time and a march is 2:4 time and etc. The Devil's Interval is formally called the Tritone. This is the augmented fourth and the diminished fifth. According to Carl E. Gardner’s 1912 text  "Essentials of Music Theory" a “triad” in music is composed of three tones. These tones are a starting note plus the third and fifth tones found along its scale like C and then E and G. Most chords are independent, but a tritone is dependent and has “dissonant” or tense intervals. There is something about a dissonant chord that is disturbing to our spirits. If a composition ends with a tritone, it is uncomfortable. And in a singing composition, it is nearly impossible for any singer, regardless of talent, to sing. Thus, any piece of music with the Devil's Interval is thought to be creepy and chilling. Because of all of this, the church banned it and called it Diabolus in Musica.

John Sloboda, a professor of music psychology at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, was interviewed on NPR in 2012 and he explained how it is that the Devil's Interval is disturbing saying, "Our brains are wired to pick up the music that we expect, [and] generally music is consonant rather than dissonant, so we expect a nice chord. So when that chord is not quite what we expect, it gives you a little bit of an emotional frisson, because it's strange and unexpected." Many composers have used the Devil's Chord throughout history. Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde has the Tritone in its prelude. For this reason, it is sometimes called the Tristan chord. This incorporates the notes F, B, D sharp and G sharp. Wagner's "Gotterdammerung" also has the chord and some terrifying imagery which will also become a part of performances of the Devil's Interval. In this opera, there is a scene that has drums and timpani and feels evil with a scene playing out what seems to be a Black Mass. Beethoven has it in his Piano Sonata No.18 and "Fidelio." Michael Tippett's Second Symphony features the Tritone prominently. Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" was a salute to the dead coming alive at Halloween and first performed in 1875. Hungarian composer Franz Liszt used the tritone scale and images of devils playing violins and dancing in his Mephisto Waltzes.

And then there was Giuseppe Tartini’s “The Devil's Trill Sonata.” Most violinists claim that this is the most difficult violin piece in the world. Tartini himself claimed that the Devil had written it and that it was through a dream that it was delivered to him. The Devil was playing it on a violin in a ferocious, mad way. What Tartini put to paper he said was but a shadow of what he had seen in his dream. And yes, I'm having visions of the Devil Went Down to Georgia. There are different claims about when it was written. I saw both 1713 and 1740. The more formal name of the piece is Violin Sonata in G Minor. About a quarter hour in length, the sonata begins in a reflective mood, with gently flowing violin lines over harpsichord accompaniment; some performances replace the harpsichord with a modern piano. Frequent double-stops, requiring the violinist to play simultaneously on two adjacent strings, increase the technical challenges, even before the tempo quickens. After this languid introduction, the sonata charges forward with the violinist offering ever-new versions of earlier melodic fragments. Some variations are more overtly challenging than others, particularly those near the end of the piece, which are replete with not just double-stops but also trills, runs, and quick alternation of pitches high and low.

This brings us to Jazz, which was some of the first music in our modern era to be deemed "of the Devil." Jazzmen used the Devil's chord throughout the '40s and '50s and even had a hand signal to pay homage to what they called 'the flattened fifth'. This was a high five but with the thumb folded in to the palm and the musician would call out "Oolya Koo, man!" When singing the tritone jazz performers would sing with a false chord technique that came off as just a sound like a scream or growl. Metal singers do the same today. In our modern era, one can hear it in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," Black Sabbath songs, Rush's "YYZ," the song "Maria" in West Side Story, Busta Rhymes’s “Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check,” The Simpsons theme song and death metal music.

The Devil's Chord is not the only way that music has been made disturbing. Poland would introduce a type of music referred to as sonorism. This started in the 1950s and featured the use of traditional and nontraditional instruments to make eerie and disturbing sounds. We imagine this is how much of the foley for horror movies is produced today. There is no rhythm and no melody. One of the most famous composers to use sonorism was Krzystof Penderecki and his most famous piece of this sort was "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima." This piece has influenced a far amount of music we hear in horror movies, including Children of Men, There Will Be Blood, Under the Skin, Shutter Island and The Shining. In his later years, Penderecki focused on the tritone or The Devil's Chord. He just passed away in March of 2020. He had said of his music in an interview with Resident Advisor, "For some pieces, like the Threnody, I prefer young people to perform it, because they are still open to learn. This piece, even though it was written over 50 years ago, is still very fresh and new. Some notation that I invented at that time is now common, but there are still some special techniques, different types of vibrato, playing on the tailpiece of the bridge, playing directly behind the bridge. These things are unusual, even after 50 years."

Hungary has had some interesting music come out of it, starting with Hungarian composer György Ligeti. He created a piece for solo organ that is chaotic and disturbing called Volumina that caused an uproar. The first thing the listener hears is the performer's forearms across the keys. This is a long piece and the first attempt at recording it caught the organ on fire. People started saying that Ligeti was the destroyer of organs. Another Hungarian piece of music with a notorious reputation was blamed for causing people to commit suicide. This was Gloomy Sunday written by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress and is nicknamed the "Hungarian Suicide Song." It was written in 1933. The original lyrics were written as if the world was ending and reflected the despair about war and people's sins. Poet László Jávor wrote his own lyrics to the song, titled le Szomorú vasárnap (Sad Sunday). The protagonist wants to commit suicide because his lover has died. More people remember those lyrics. "Gloomy Sunday" was first recorded in English by Hal Kemp in 1936, with lyrics by Sam M. Lewis. Billie Holiday performed it in 1941 making it incredibly popular. Urban legends began claiming that people were killing themselves after hearing the song. Radio networks began banning the song. Here are the lyrics:

Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of
Sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought
Of ever returning you
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you?
Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday,
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles
And prayers that are said I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul
I'll be blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

We've all heard the theory that one can sell their soul to the Devil in exchange for becoming proficient with a talent or gaining money or fame. There are many tales of musicians meeting the Devil at the crossroads and selling their souls to gain musical genius. This is the legend behind Delta bluesman Robert Johnson who seemed to know very little about playing the guitar. That doesn't make sense considering that music historians refer to him as the Grandfather of Rock and Roll. Johnson was a black man who was born in Mississippi around 1911 with little opportunities. He wanted desperately to be a guitar player in the juke joints and get the women to flock to him. But he couldn't play and no matter how many guitar pickers he pestered to teach him, he was not musically inclined. He left town for a year and when he came back, he was a better guitar player than anyone around and many rockers credit Robert Johnson as an influence. Rumors started flying that Johnson sold his soul to the Devil to gain his talent. Johnson would practice late at night in the cemeteries and then play mind-blowing riffs in the juke joints.

Johnson embraced the rumors that he had met the Devil and included the narrative in a song. He sang about Satan in six of his songs. One of his songs was titled "Hellhound on my Trail" and in it he claimed that an evil spirit was following him. Something did indeed catch up with him and he either drank himself to death or was poisoned with strychnine by a jealous man in 1938. He was 27 at the time and would be the first to start a legend about a special club for musicians known as The 27 Club. We'll talk about this club a little later, but we wanted to touch on another virtuoso whom people felt had sold his soul the the Devil for his talent too. This was violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini. Paganini came from a poor family and none of them were musicians. People claimed that Paganini seemed to almost overnight become an expert on the violin. Even more stunning to listeners than just the music he conjured, it was the way in which he played. Like he was possessed. He writhed and flailed about, breaking strings as he violently played his violin. People claimed he sold his soul for his talent and that when he played, he was possessed by the Devil. And yes, the violin and fiddle definitely seem to be a theme with Satan here.

The 27 Club is an exclusive Rock & Roll club that no one actually wants to be a member for the simple reason that it means you are dead, at the age of 27. Clearly, rock stars have died at a number of ages and we could compile enough in each age category to have a club for each, but what makes this club unique is the level of talent included within it. Robert Johnson is considered the first and the last, as of the production of this podcast, would be Amy Winehouse. Brian Jones was a founding memebr of the Rolling Stones and died from drowning in his pool while under the influence of drugs and alcohol in 1969. Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson was a member of Canned Heat and died of a drug overdose in 1970. Jimi Hendrix choked on his own vomit after overdosing in 1970. Janis Joplin also died that year from an overdose on heroin that was bad. The same drug took Jim Morrison in 1971. Founding member of the Grateful Dead, Ron McKernan, died in 1973 from internal bleeding due to cirrhosis caused by his heavy drinking. Kurt Cobain died in 1994 after shooting himself with a shotgun...maybe. And then Amy Winehouse overdosed in 2011. Was this some kind of curse that felled these 27-year-old musicians. Clearly, they lived hard and fast, but had they made a deal with the Devil? We think this is mostly confirmation bias. If there is a curse realated to a rocker, it would probably be whatever curse is keeping Keith Richards alive.

Haunted Jukeboxes

Paul Seaburn wrote an article on the Mysterious Universe website about a haunted jukebox. This was a 1954 Seeburg Model HF100R owned by Richard Loban. Loban restored the jukebox, replacing a stripper plate and he added a collection of his own 45s. In slot G-5, he placed the song "If You Leave Me Tonight I Will Cry." Strangely, the jukebox started playing the song in G-5 all by itself. Loban replaced some old parts that he thought were causing the problem, but the jukebox kept playing G-5. The former owner told Loban that he thought the jukebox had been a prop in an epsidoe of Night Gallery. In this episode, a character pushes a button and the song "If You Leave Me Tonight I Will Cry" plays. Only the character didn't select that song. No matter what button he pushes, that song plays. The camera finally zooms in for one last song and the character pushes the G-5 button. Was this the jukebox from the television show? Whether it was or not, that is a really bizarre story and the jukebox does seem to have something paranormal going on.

The jukebox at Bobby Mackey's is reputedly haunted and seems to attract spirits. These include a ghost dog, a ghost without a head and a filmy white apparition. The jukebox turns on by itself. A police office responded to a security issue and found the jukebox on when he entered the empty building. The staff claimed that everything was off when they left. The craziest stories include claims that the jukebox plays even when unplugged and one staff member claims that the jukebox played without being plugged in, without a record on the spindle and the song playing was not on any record in the jukebox!

Haunted Tour Buses

Country musician Whisperin' Bill Anderson claims that he and his band toured for twelve days abaord a haunted tour bus. In the back of the bus was the state room and almost from the moment the band set off on their tour, they started hearing moaning coming from the state room.

Haunted Radio Stations

Radio stations have powerful transmitters. There was a time when getting a disc jockey to play your record could launch you into stardom. Is this why so many former and current radio stations are reputed to be haunted? The Wolf is a country station that broadcasts out of Tallahassee, Florida on 103.1 FM. A DJ there named Big Moose had a startling experience. He was alone one morning prepping the traffic report when he heard the voice of a little girl say, "Can you hear me?" He thought perhaps it was bleed through from another station, but the voice was really clear. And then he heard it again ask, "Can you hear me?" He shrugged it off until it happened again the next day at the same time. And then it happened again the next day. He had been experiencing doors opening and closing on their own before this, so he started to believe that the station was haunted. Then the station caught a weird orb zooming around the station on the security cameras. So what could be behind this? Big Moose did some research and found that a home had been in the spot where the radio station was now located. A brother and sister had been jumping on a bed on the second floor when the little girl was bounced out an open window and she fell head first to the ground. Could this be the little girl wondering if she can be heard?

Jennifer Waits wrote about her radio station in 2014 on the Radio Survivor website, "Luckily I don’t get the sense that the station that I call home (KFJC-FM) is permanently haunted, however there was one night when I wasn’t so sure. I was sitting in the KFJC lobby one evening when the front door knob started rattling for no reason. I have no idea if it was a ghost, but it happened soon after one of our DJs died tragically, so I assumed that it was him (Ken “Spiderman” Hamilton) making his presence known."

Tim King wrote in 2012 for, "And it all began at that radio station, when I came in early to bring the AM signal up for the day. This “powering up” of the station was done in a narrow room in front of the DJ booth. We called this “the rack room” and that is a term often used in both radio and television stations, “racks” hold all of the broadcast equipment. Each morning when I arrived at the station, I always felt a little uneasy and better after reaching my office and turning the lights on. All night after they closed up at midnight, the place sat in total darkness. The first thing in the rack room was turning on the “plates” so they could warm up 15-minutes prior to starting the actual transmitter. Then a couple more switches, information entered in the legal documents on a clipboard, and the main switch is activated bringing the station to life. But it was always during that 15-minutes that strange things happened. It started with the uncomfortable feeling. It was always cold, hard to pin that on anything but living in Oregon during the colder months I suppose, but there were sometimes more goosebumps than usual. I felt like I was sharing space with someone and neither of us liked the other very much. There was never anybody else around during these hours of the day. I think now that the spirit if that is what it was and I had a very similar agenda, we both wished the other was long gone. As I activated those switches in the rack area, or waited the last minutes before doing so, I would often see what I would describe as fleeting images in my peripheral vision. I would turn my head, but there was never anything there. But there was something there, and I would have this happen every day. I became used to it eventually and I only discussed it with my wife. It caused no fear, and over time caught my interest."

Meximo70 wrote on the website Hot Dish Hell, "When I worked at local radio station KFMT, i started out on the 9pm to 5am shift. We were the only radio station around doing 24 hour live radio, the rest was automated. If you called me at 2am wanting to hear Brittany Spears, by God i’d get her “oops”-ing for you at 2am. When you work after 5pm at the station, you’re the only one there. The door gets locked and in order for anyone to get in if they don’t have a key is to press the doorbell which would set off a strobe light in my studio and i would come with the handy dandy studio key and let you in (if i liked ya). The FM studio’s control board faced a window looking out to a sheep pasture. At night you could see your reflection and everything behind you. Your back was to the door, which is a little unnerving when you’re at an empty studio by yourself in the middle of a sheep pasture. One night, while i had just put on the song of the second set, i heard rustling paper behind me and then i felt a cold breeze go by me. i always kept the studio door open since there wasn’t anyone else in the building. The strobe wasn’t going off, so i thought maybe the owner came in a different way and was doing some late night work. it was 1am. i walked around the entire radio station, knocked on Charles Woody’s office door, and looked out in the parking lot. i was alone. So i went back into the studio, did a commercial break and went back into the music set again. I went into the production studio and updated the weather report which would play on our sister station KSOM country. While i was in there, i heard a small knock on the production studio door. I believe at that point i shouted out an expletive. I ran for the FM studio, closed the door, and because of security reasons, the door does not lock; so i propped my stool against the knob. About an hour later, after i had announced upcoming events and went into a commercial break, I looked up and i saw a shadowy figure walk past the studio door window. I heard the papers rustling too. At 4:30am, morning show host Dark Cigar came in to start his prep. When he came into the studio he asked how things were. I asked him, 'Can I ask you something without you thinking i’m freakin’ crazy?' 'Sure.' he said not really sure if that was the right answer. 'Anyone ever…I don’t know…witness anything strange around here?' 'Oh, you mean the ghost?' 'What?' 'This place is supposedly haunted. Some DJ here i guess killed himself and supposedly walks around here and reveals himself to certain people. I’ve never seen him, but plenty of others have.'"

Haunted Recording Studios

As music moved out of the 1980s, glam rock faded into a shabby look incorporating flannel shirts and roughed-up jeans that came to be known as grunge. One of the pioneers of this music was Robert Lang. Lang set up a studio in Seattle in 1974 and many groups have recorded in the mansion that seems to jut out from hillside overlooking the city. Nirvana produced their final album here. Before the grunge groups recorded here, the blues men partied and recorded at the Robert Lang Studios. And somewhere along the line, the studios became a home for a spectre. The official website for the studios features a picture of the bassist from the group Drown Mary inside a sound booth with a misty white mass beside him. Robert Lang claims this is a ghost that he calls Dubby. Dubby was Lang's friend whose real name was Walter Westley Leonard who died after drinking too much and choking on his own vomit. Dubby had stashed a bunch of cash in a plastic barrel and buried it on the property where the studios were going to be built. Lang had no idea where the money was, but as they dug out the ground to build the studio, he found it and it was a lot of money that was poured into the construction. And that's why he thinks Dubby is here in the afterlife. Music groups claim to experience cold chills, doors open and close on their own and recording equipment goes on the fritz. The band Afghan Whigs had an issue with the tape recorder and they also watched as the lights flickered many times in what they described as a violent way. A member of the band called in a psychic friend and she encouraged them to work with the spirit, so that it would allow them to finish their recording session. She burned some sage and they got the recording done without further issues.

Chris Cornell was our subject for the This Month in History segment. One of the bands he performed with was Audioslave and one of the studios they recorded at was Rick Rubin's mansion in Laurel Canyon. Now Laurel Canyon just seems to be haunted like Hell, so it isn't surprising to hear that this place is said to be haunted. The reputation of this haunting had the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith, so fearful that he would not stay overnight at the studio. The spirit is said to have been caught in photos taken for artwork for the group's Blood Sugar Sex Magik album. This was an orb with a face in it. The band Slipknot also experienced the ghost via several weird experiences. Drummer Joey Jordison claimed that he felt a spirit walk through him. Who could this spirit be? Before this was a recording studio, it was a wealthy family's mansion and the spoiled son of the owner as said to have pushed his lover from a balcony, killing her. This former mansion burned to the ground and then the current mansion was built. Many bands believe this studio has more than one ghost hanging around.

The former RCA Studios in Nashville are said to harbor the ghost of the King himself. Anytime someone would mention the name Elvis in the building, things would go haywire. Lights would act weird and strange noises would be heard. Some of those noises would be caught in the recordings and could only be heard during playback. Elvis recorded some of his hits here and that is why people think his spirit visits. But there have been lots of greats who recorded here that might want to return to a place of their creative greatness.

Music speaks to our very souls. It can bring back a tender memory or turn our calm countenance to anger. Music can push us to do that one more rep or inspire us to dance. Could there be something else within the strains of peculiar notes? Something disturbing? Something haunting? Are these curses real and could these locations be haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Matt Swayne's Books: Haunted Rock & Roll and Ghosts of Country Music

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