With the Halloween season upon us, we’ve taken a look at the creepiest, spookiest and most haunting rock and roll myths, legends and conspiracies. Below are the top five most ominous accounts of superstition in the world of rock.
1. Led Zeppelin Backmasking
Known as one of the earliest hard rock bands to come out of the ‘60s, Led Zeppelin’s somewhat gothic symbolism supposedly has hidden, demonic messages attached.
Zeppelin released their fourth album in 1971, but in 1982, a religious broadcaster named Paul Crouch Jr. revealed what he believed to be secret messages in one of the band’s infamous tracks. By playing “Stairway to Heaven” backward, satanic messages are said to be heard at certain points throughout the song.
Lyrics such as “Here’s to my sweet Satan” and “He will give those with him 666,” allegedly appear when the song is backmasked.
2. Street Survivors Album Cover
One of the most unfortunate and criticized album covers ever, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors has an underlying supernatural presence to it. The cover features all of the band members standing in the street with buildings on each side, engulfed in flames. As destructive as that may seem, it’s not what made people so upset.
Just three days after the release of Street Survivors, a plane carrying the band from South Carolina to Louisiana crashed just outside Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines.
What makes this event so surreal is the symbolic nature of the flames on the album cover. While the entire band was aboard the plane, the ones who were visibly consumed by fire – Van Zant and Gaines – were the only ones who lost their lives in the accident.
3. Paul is Dead
Disregard the over two dozen albums Paul McCartney has released since his supposed death in 1966, the myth that “Paul is Dead” is still regarded by some fans as true.
Beginning in 1969, a group of conspiracy theorists had begun speculating that Paul McCartney may actually have died in a car accident and been covertly replace by an imposter. Detroit DJ Russ Gibb essentially broke the story 44 years ago when he took a listener call about the rumor and set out to see if there was any truth to it.
Clues of McCartney’s death are thought to have been left behind in some songs and pictures. On the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Paul mysteriously takes on the fictional persona of Billy Shears – thought by theorists to be his replacement. By playing the record backward, hidden lyrics such as “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him” and “I buried Paul” can supposedly be heard.
If those spooky lyrics aren’t enough to convince you, hold the Sgt. Pepper’s album up to a mirror. The words ‘Lonely Hearts’ on the drum could be read as “1 ONE 1 X HE DIE 1 ONE 1.”
Or check out the Abbey Road album cover, as the band seems to be walking in a funeral procession: John Lennon in front – dressed in all white – symbolizing the priest, Ringo Starr second in line – wearing all black – signifying a mourner and George Harrison bringing up the rear, dressed in all denim as if he’s the gravedigger. Paul is third, out of step with the rest of the group, wearing no shoes, and is said to be representing a dead man.
4. Forever 27 Club
There have been too many instances of famous Rock and Rollers dying at the age of 27 for this to just be a coincidence. The Forever 27 Club is made up of a group of musicians that didn’t live to see their 28th birthday.
Between 1969 and 1971, four of Rock and Roll’s most influential stars passed away of various causes, each of which was 27 years old. In 1969, guitarist and Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool in England, less than a month after being kicked out of the band he helped start.
Just one year later, in 1970, we lost two more of rock’s biggest stars. Near the end of the year, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died within a month of each other. Hendrix – arguably the greatest guitarist to ever live – passed away of asphyxiation on September 18, while Joplin succumbed to a heroin overdose on October 4.
As if the Rock and Roll community could bear to overcome another death, Jim Morrison of The Doors died of heart failure on July 3, 1971 while vacationing in Paris.
Fast-forward to 1994, and there was another haunting addition to the Forever 27 Club. Ruled as a suicide, grunge pioneer and Nirvana founder, Kurt Cobain, died on April 5 above the garage of his Seattle home.
5. Jim Morrison Fakes His Death
Former frontman of The Doors Jim Morrison is thought to be a member of the ‘Forever 27 Club’ by many. However, some choose to believe Morrison is still very much alive and actually faked his death in order to escape the attention that came with being a celebrity, which he reportedly despised.
Morrison apparently joked with friends about faking his own death and taking off to Africa, where he’d live under his new name, Mr. Mojo Risin’ (an anagram of Jim Morrison). Throughout the years, it has been said that Morrison has been sighted at various places around the world, including the Midwest, the Australian Outback and even Tibet.
Nobody knows for certain what happened to Jim Morrison. The official report is that he passed away on July 3, 1971 of natural causes, but fans and skeptics alike choose to believe he is still out there, roaming the world as he once dreamed.