Paranormal author EDDIE BRAZIL – an old rocker himself – reveals real-life chilling tales of rock bands and their paranormal brushes with the other side!
Led Zeppelin and the haunted house ghosts of Headley Grange
Led Zeppelin is rightly considered one of rock’s greatest bands.
From 1968 till the sad death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, Led Zeppelin strode the world as unassailable rock giants with album sales totalling millions. Formed and led by superlative Middlesex-born guitarist Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin reshaped rock music and laid down the template for a myriad of rock bands who would follow in its footsteps.
It wasn’t only Led Zeppelin’s music which would come to inspire other rock hopefuls. The mystery and aura which surrounded the group was no marketing ploy.
Page’s interest in the occult and the works of black magician, Alistair Crowley gave the band an almost mythical status which verged, many fans believed, on the paranormal.
Perhaps this supernatural link was best demonstrated when the band recorded its celebrated fourth album at Headly Grange, an 18th century English manor house in Hampshire in 1971.
Jimmy Page recalls that the house was dank and spooky, and was convinced the place was haunted.
Vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham hated the brooding atmosphere of the house.
One night Page was going up the main stairs when he saw a grey shape standing on the top landing.
The guitarist was certain that the apparition was not his imagination.
Page concluded that he wasn’t surprised the Grange had ghosts when he learned that it had formally been a workhouse for the poor and insane.
Fleetwood Mac meet the giant roadside phantom
Night phantoms of the road are a far more common occurrence than one might expect.
The countless miles bands travel up and down the country enroute to gigs in clapped out transit vans have resulted in many a group experiencing things they can’t explain.
In 1965, two members of the future superstar rock band, Fleetwood Mac, had their own strange encounter with a road side apparition.
Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood, were then members of the little known group, The Peter Bs, the leader being Peter Bardens.
Following an engagement at a club in Portsmouth, England, the band was returning to London in a van driven by the fourth group member, David Ambrose, by way of the A3.
All four were seated in the front of the van as they were proceeding through Cobham at about 2.30am.
The night was clear with a few mist patches in some places along their route, and, as would be expected at that hour, the neon lit streets were deserted.
As the van rounded a bend a figure came in to view on their side of the road.
The group saw it simultaneously and realised it wasn’t a normal person. The figure was walking along the pavement towards the van with his gaze fixed straight ahead.
The group described the person as being abnormally tall, possibly over seven feet, wearing a long mackintosh overcoast, which hung almost down to his ankles and radiating a kind of pale light.
All observed that the face of the figure was that of an old man with a blank, expressionless stare, with eyes which were nothing but black sockets. His hands were down at his sides, and he seemed to be not so much as walking as gliding.
As the van passed two of the group members sitting nearest to the figure screamed in terror. So unnerved were the band at what they saw that they immediately sped away from the scene.
Their strange encounter later came to the attention of renowned parapsychologist, George Owen, who interviewed the group. Although Owen initially considered that the boys had experienced a collective telepathically-relayed hallucination, possibly brought about through tiredness, he ultimately concluded that the group had probably observed a paranormal apparition. Yet who or what the phantom was remains a mystery.
What is this that stands before Ozzy Osborne and Black Sabbath?
Perhaps no band in rock history has become more associated with the occult than Black Sabbath.
It is a title which has plagued the group ever since, resulting in followers who fervently believe that the band are in league with the devil.
Over the years, the group has probably not helped to dispel such an image.
The title track of its debut album, “Black Sabbath”, complete with a backing track of rain, thunder, a mournful tolling bell and doom laden power chords set the scene for a music genre which would become known as heavy metal.
Such music demanded appropriate lyrics, and lyricist, bass player Geezer Butler, didn’t have far to look for inspiration.
Butler, obsessed with the occult at the time, painted his apartment matte black, placed several inverted crucifixes around the room, and put many pictures of the devil on the walls.
Bandmate, Ozzy Osbourne had given Butler a black occult book, written in Latin and decorated with numerous pictures of Satan.
Butler read the book and then placed it on a shelf beside his bed before going to sleep.
When he woke up, he claims he saw a large black figure standing at the end of his bed, staring at him. The figure vanished and Butler ran to the shelf where he had earlier placed the book, but it was gone.
Later Osbourne would write the words in the song Black Sabbath:
“What is this which stands before me,
Figure in black which points at me?”
Come to the Sabbat: Black Widow collaborates with the devil
Black Sabbath wasn’t the only group of the late 1960s to combine rock music with the occult.
Black Widow was formed in Leicester, England, in September 1969. The band was mostly known for its early use of satanic and occult imagery in its music and stage act.
They were probably best known for their collaborations with Alex Saunders, who at the time was known as “King of the Witches”.
Black Widow’s albums illustrate where the band was going with titles such as “Sacrifice” and “Come to the Sabbat”. Their stage act concluded in what was thought to be a symbolic sacrifice of a young woman.
Although the climax to their shows included what many would later see as, “rock and roll show stopping”, Sanders warned the group that they were playing with fire, and that they were in danger of evoking a “she devil” with their antics. The band split in 1973.
A post script to this to this little tale concerns myself. In 1981, me and my band, “Scarecrow Ruins”, were signed to a record deal by an ex member of Black Widow, vocalist Kip Trevor. He was, and I believe still is, a very nice chap with not a hint of devilment about him. When I asked him about all the black magic stuff concerning the band he just looked at me and smiled.
Alice Cooper and the Amityville Horror
It was said that the band, Alice Cooper, obtained its name following a séance in which the group members was contacted by the spirit of a young woman named Alice Cooper.
To christen your new rock band after a dead teenager would appear to be inviting trouble, but on the contrary, Alice Cooper and its founder founder Vince Fournier, who also took the name Alice Cooper, have become one of America’s favourite bands/rockstars.
Despite the story concerning the origin of the band’s name being a load of baloney (I so much wanted it to be true) Alice and pals have embraced all that rock’s weirdest stage show nightmares can put you through, including a boa constrictor hugging Cooper, the murderous axe chopping of bloodied baby dolls, and execution of the lead singer by hanging. So much for show business.
However, if the séance and stage theatrics are tongue very much in cheek, an incident experienced by Cooper and band mate, Joe Perry in an old house in Copake, New York, in 1984, was very much shiver up the spine.
Cooper and Perry were writing songs at the house, but were continually plagued by items going missing for no apparent reason. They would put things down only to find them gone the next moment. Later the objects would be found in another part of the room.
Things came to a head one night when the band members sat down to dinner.
From the basement came the sound of furniture being moved around as if 20 people were rearranging the area. On investigation the basement was found to be empty. They soon vacated the house.
Cooper was intrigued by the experience and asked the owner, his manager, Shep Gordon, what is wrong with your place?
Gordon explained that one night his mother had a dinner party and the table moved a foot to the left on its own.
“What do you think it could be?” asked Cooper.
“I don’t know,” replied Gordon. “Perhaps it’s because the previous owner was the guy who wrote The Amityville Horror.”
Do you know any more tales of rockstars experiencing the paranormal? Tell us in the comments section below!