By Leilani Corpus
Published May 1, 1989
Grimly Fiendish plays the game that never pays
sing out loud but never prayed.
Grimly Fiendish wears a coat that’s black and long
he doesn’t know that it’s all wrong.
Simply fiendish, a child caught in a grown up world,
no lies convince the court.
Once a week, I could be, found on the faces or the frowns
Hide and seek, tried so hard and just to find that crime could pay.
Just for today.
Bad bad bad boy etc.
Let me get the story straight
You never gave me a break
It’s a case of give and take
You didn’t make me good, you just painted me green
You made me part of your forgotten dream.
Grimly Fiendish, we’ll send you just where you belong,
where the children can’t be found
Hide and seek, tried so hard and just to find that
crime could pay just for today.
bad bad bad boy etc.
Just who is “Grimly Fiendish” in this rock song by The Damned? He wears a coat that is black and long and is a deceptive liar. Some may say that this is an isolated case of occult imagery in rock music by a heavy metal band known for promoting sadomasochistic sex, suicide, and murder in its songs. Others, however, such as video producer Eric Holmberg, believe that the rock music industry is caught up in a “web of Satanic intrigue” which is beyond their control, and that songs deemed as “extreme” 10 years ago are commanding the mainstream of American popular music.
Occult imagery, violence, sex, and drugs in rock music have attracted the nation’s attention through the Parents Music Resource Center’s campaign to label rock albums which contain obscene lyrics. Recently PepsiCo decided to drop Madonna’s controversial “Like A Prayer” commercial – which featured scenes of her dancing through a parochial school wearing black lingerie and cavorting with teenagers. The commercial spot, which Newsweek said “had it all – singers, dancers, sex, children, adults, schools, churches, and nostalgia,” was dropped because viewers confused it with her sexually suggestive video, “Prayer.”
“We are becoming desensitized with this constant bombardment,” said Holmberg, director of Reel to Real Ministries in Gainesville, Florida. Reel to Real is in the last stages of production of a fast-paced, 90-minute presentation on rock music called “Hell’s Bells.”
“George Orwell said, ‘Art in its final degeneration exists to shock.’ This is where we are at in contemporary music,” said Holmberg. “We have to shock to sell. We have to grab people’s callous attention with more and more perverse imagery.”
Named after the popular AC/DC song with the same title, “Hell’s Bells” focuses on occult themes in mainstream rock music and addresses the impact of rock on the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of the listener. Although it delves into the most intense occult themes, such as footage of women being carried across a stage to be sacrificially sawed in half at a rock concert, Holmberg also offers lighter moments with demonstrations of rock music’s impact on plants, eggs, and rats.
“We are taking a hard look at contemporary music and the artists,” he said. “Every point is carefully researched and documented by biographers, musicology books, and rock magazines.” Holmberg and his staff have already produced one video on rock, “Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Search for God,” which has been shown in countless churches and on campuses all over the world. But “Hell’s Bells,” according to Holmberg, promises to be technically and aesthetically superior to the first version.
The Satanic Connection
The “web of Satanic intrigue” which Holmberg traces with detective-like accuracy leads to the late Satanist Alistair Crawley. Formerly based in England, Crawley was a guru and spiritual patriarch to some of the main pioneers of the rock culture, such as Jimmy Paige (Led Zeppelin), Daryl Hall, Jim Morrison (The Doors), Ozzie Osborne, and The Beatles. Timothy Leary, darling of the 1960s drug culture, was another distant Crawley follower.
“I see a pattern developing among different rock personalities,” Holmberg explained. “Few in contemporary music are intentionally involved in it. I think the majority of them are caught up in something much bigger than they realize. They are making a buck, and don’t mean anything wicked.” “Hell’s Bells” offers pointed documentation of this Satanic connection; many rock personalities have admitted being possessed by a supernatural force:
- AC/DC guitarist Angus Young said, “Someone else is steering me – I’m just along for the ride. I become possessed when I’m on stage.”
- Former leading artist Joni Mitchell told Time magazine that she was controlled by a demon spirit: “She deeply believes in a male muse named Art who lends her his key to what she airily calls the Shrine of Creativity.”
- Guitarist John McLaughlin said, “One night we were playing and suddenly the spirit entered into me, and I was playing, but it was no longer me playing.”
Compounding the artists’ Satanic inspiration is another common theme in rock music: a vehement attack of Christian themes and symbols, such as the cross, the Last Supper, and the resurrection. The album cover of The Damned features a woman with a crown of thorns; Graceland’s “First Snack” album cover has a mock Last Supper scene with a prostitute seductively lounging on the floor with her leg raised up in front of Jesus, who is sitting with a goat’s head beside him.
The cross, which is the heart of the Christian faith and a symbol of Satan’s defeat, is the primary target of attack. Madonna told Spin magazine in 1985 that “crucifixes are sexy because there is a naked man on them.” Jim Morrison sang in his song “The End,” featured in The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” album, about a man nailed to a telephone pole: “Behold the crucifix; what does it symbolize? Pallid incompetence hanging on a tree.”
Undisputed Truth’s “Night of the Demon” album cover shows a demon crucified on a cross. Another group, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, (banned by the BBC for grossly lewd lyrics and visual effects in their videos) features a mixture of hearts and crosses as the background design for an album cover.
Jesus’ character, His name, and His ministry are also freely mocked by rock groups. Spooky Tooth’s album, “Ceremony,” depicts Jesus as a cosmic buffoon with His hand nailed into His head. Jefferson Airplane’s “Long John Silver” album described Jesus as a bastard involved in a love affair with Mary Magdalene.
Bob Dylan told an interviewer in 1966, “If people knew what this stuff was about, we’d probably all get arrested.” Satanic influence isn’t limited to demonic possession and album artwork, but rather undergirds the entire value system of the artist. Just what values does rock music promote? Holmberg asserts that the basic value system is the creed of an avowed Satanist such as Anton Levy, head of the U.S. Church of Satan: “Do What Thou Wilt.”
“‘Do it if it feels good,’ is the law of the Satanist,” Holmberg explained. “And many are unwittingly wooed by the music to follow this law. According to the Bible, the devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy, and this is encouraged in the music.”
Stuart Goldman, a former rock musician and critic, confirmed this in a National Review essay. “You needn’t go to a slasher film to see a woman being disemboweled in a Satanic ritual – just turn on your local music video station. In short, rock has trivialized evil … Rock’s sheer pervasiveness makes it the most profound value-shaper in existence today. Unless you are deaf, it’s virtually guaranteed that rock music has affected your view of the world.“1
“Music is a profound value shaper; a powerful communicatory which elicits thrills,” added Holmberg. “Its a straight pipeline into the heart of man.”
A British musicologist, David Tame, wrote in The Secret Power of Music, “The morality of the musician matters … music must always have a moral effect. Either overtly or in subtle ways which are communicated from subconscious to conscious, musicians always express through their performances whatever level of psychological harmony or disharmony they have within themselves. This is inevitable. Even the slightest inner hang-up manifesting through the slightest shake of the performing hand or through the minutest weakness in composition becomes registered upon our own subconscious as we listen.“2
Two songs by the group Slayer are prime examples of rock music’s trivialization of murder and suicide: “Spill the Blood” and “Mandatory Suicide.” The Misfits also sing “Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?” Does this mean if a person listens to these songs, he will go out and murder someone? Consider the fact that 70 percent of all violent crimes in the U.S. are committed by persons under the age of seventeen.3 Police records also link many of these murders with rock music in some way. John Hinkley, Jr., the young man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan in 1980, said his favorite group was The Kamikaze Klones.
In Motley Crue’s song, “Bastard,” we hear these words: “Out go the lights, in goes my knife, pull out his life, consider the bastard dead.” In “Murder by Numbers,” The Police sang, “Once that you’ve decided on a killing, first you make a stone of your heart. And if you find that your hands are still willing, then you can turn murder into art.”
It isn’t any surprise that the effect of such heavy metal songs which blared day and night in Gary Heidnik’s “house of horrors” influenced him to commit several murders. Chief Inspector James Gallagher of the Philadelphia police department described the house as “ghastly.” When police raided the house, they found three half-naked women; two chained to sewer pipes and one imprisoned in a shallow open pit covered with plywood weighted down by bags of dirt.4
According to Time magazine, April 6, 1987: “The captives told police that one woman had been electrocuted when Heidnik stood her in the basement earthen pit, and used a garden hose to flood it and touched a live wire to her chains. Her body was found in a New Jersey state forest near Camden.”
A 14-year-old Canadian boy who murdered three members of a family told the court that his alter ego, “Eddie,” made him commit the murders. Eddie is the skeletal figure featured on Iron Maiden’s albums which is the band’s “mascot.” Police Sgt. Joseph Cziraky told the Toronto Sun that “When they (Iron Maiden) do a concert this is a central theme: he supposedly died and they’re bringing him back.” He testified that several Iron Maiden posters were on the boy’s bedroom wall, including a hand-drawn picture of Eddie.5
Suicide is another prominent theme in rock songs. An Ozzie Osborne fan committed suicide in response to the song, “Suicide Solution”: “Suicide is the only way out … why don’t you kill yourself cause you can’t escape the Master Reaper …” Eric Anderson, 14-years-old, told his father that he couldn’t cope with the pressure. He then went into his room and took a .22 rifle and killed himself. When questioned about the suicides, Osborne defended himself by saying, “Parents have called me and said, ‘When my son died of a drug overdose, your record was on the turntable.’ I can’t help that. These people are freaking out anyway, and they need a vehicle for the freak-outs.“6
The Music of Sexual Perversion
Besides violent crime, rock music openly promotes “every sexual aberration known to man, from masturbation to copulating with dead bodies,” Holmberg said. Alice Cooper’s “Cold Ethyl” describes an intimate relationship with a dead body in a refrigerator.
Rock star George Michael, the first white man to make it to the top of the Soul music charts, took rock lyrics to new depths of explicitness with his Top 40 hit, “I Want Your Sex.” In that song, he sings in a gutteral and seductive voice: “What’s your definition of dirty baby, what do you consider pornography, don’t you know I love you til it hurts me baby, don’t you think it’s time you had sex with me?” Another George Michael song, “Father Figure,” is about child molesting: “That’s all I wanted, but sometimes love can be mistaken, for a crime. That’s all I wanted, just to see my baby’s blue eyed shine. This time I think my lover understands me …”
Another Top 40 star, Prince, is known for sexual lewdness in his recordings and during concerts. His “Glam Slam” album, which features an erotic portrait of himself, is preoccupied with “LoveSexy” in his songs – which he says on his album is “the feeling you get when you fall in love not with a boy or a girl, but with the heavens above.” His song, “No” is a litany of moral confusions which concludes with an acknowledgement that there is a heaven and a hell. However, in his next song, “Alphabet St.,” he abandons his moralizing and sings, “I’m going down to Alphabet Street, I gonna crown the first girl that I meet, I’m gonna talk so sexy she’ll want me from my head to feet … “
The sexually wanton lifestyle of rock stars was accurately described in the hard-rock fan magazine Creem: “There’s gonorrhea, syphilis, crabs, NSU, venereal warts and herpes … I mean you’d simply be amazed at the number of times one has to schlepp (go) to the V.D. clinic; it’s almost a regular stop for some groups on the way to or from a gig … the wallowing through the muck and mire of sleaze is all part of the rock and roll lifestyle … “7
Can rock music get anymore degenerated? Holmberg says he hopes not. “It’s hard to believe that rock music can go any farther. These companies are without a conscience.” Holmberg points out in his video that rock ‘n’ roll is one of the most lucrative industries in the world, with $15 billion in annual sales. In the U.S., record sales are larger then the combined grosses of motion pictures, television, professional sports and Broadway theater.
Rock music isn’t the only subject under scrutiny by Holmberg. He also examines the impact of rap music and Top 40 “neutral” music. “There is no overt Satanic element in rap music,” he said. “However, there is idolatry of sex. Ton Loc’s “Wild Thing” is basically an act of sex. Its a prevalent theme with rap artists along with fighting and drinking.”
He considers Top 40 or “pop” music the most dangerous form of music. “It’s full of subtle lies. Whitney Houston, who calls herself a Christian, is featured on several sensual videos. Yet she told Parade magazine that her favorite book is Hollywood Wives, which is full of adultery. She presents a Christless Gospel. We need to examine the lives of the artists to see what is in their music.”
Rock ‘n’ roll, pop, and rap music is a mirror of 1980s morality and culture. George Orwell once described the process of an artist who solves the problem of creative mediocrity by inserting that which is culturally and morally debasing to elevate the value of the work:
“There is always one escape: into wickedness. Always do the thing that will shock and wound people … throw a little boy off a bridge, strike an old doctor across the face with a whip and break his spectacles – or, at any rate, dream about doing such things … gouge the eyes out of dead donkeys with a pair of scissors. Along those lines you can always feel yourself original. And after all, it pays! … You could even top it all up with a religious conversion, moving at one hop and without repentance from the fashionable salons of Paris to Abraham’s bosom.“8
This seems to be what rock and Top 40 pop music artists are doing today: trying to defeat mediocrity with shock value.
What Are Their Motives?
What are the motives of the rock and soul artists who attack the deity of Christ, eat the heads of bats during rock concerts, or croon about child molesting? Are they out to make money, or is there an underlying agenda to indoctrinate their fans in their immoral values? Mick Jagger, a former student at the London School of Economics, has shown that money is a definite incentive for proliferating his music, message and lifestyle. On one tour, carefully planned by Jagger, the group broke all previous records and made $40 million.
However, during one of his interviews, Jagger echoed the sentiments of his fellow artists when he revealed other motives: “We are moving after the minds, and so are most of the new groups.” David Crosby, another former 1960s rock star, said, “I figured the only thing to do was to swipe the kids. I still think it’s the only thing to do. By saying that, I’m not talking about kidnapping, I’m just talking about changing their value systems, which removes them from their parents’ world very effectively.”
Jimmi Hendrix, the late 1960’s rock idol, said, “… (M)usic is a spiritual thing of its own. You can hypnotize with music and when you get people at the weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious what we want to say.”
What Are the Solutions?
What is the solution to this widespread cultural debasement? Is it a crusade to put warning labels on albums with obscene lyrics? More parental guidance at concerts? Another government commission, task force, or study? This is where Holmberg holds no punches in presenting the solution to the moral crisis exacerbated by the lucrative rock industry.
“I believe there is a spiritual war waging right now among the youth. According to John 10:10, Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy. But Satan is an overachiever, and he is hellbent on perverting this generation. He has overplayed his hand and we have the goods on him. If we dust the lyrics of rock music, we can find his fingerprints all over it.
“The beginning of the solution is to diagnose the problem, and I believe it’s a spiritual problem,” he said. “The only one who can set the person free from the snares of the music is Jesus Christ.”
Holmberg’s 90-minute video presentation is now in the last moments of production in their Gainesville, Florida, studios, and will be completed by June 10, 1989. Families, church groups, and youth and campus ministries are all encouraged to purchase this excellent tool. For ordering, see the advertisement on page 23. “Hell’s Bells” is The Forerunner’s featured selection in this month’s Resource Center Library.
1 Stuart Goldman, “That Old Devil Music,” National Review, February 24, 1989, pp. 28-31, 59.
2 Tame, David, The Secret Power of Music (New York: Destiny Books, 1984) p. 155.
3 Campus Life, March 1984, p. 61.
4 “House of Horrors,” Time, April 6, 1989.
5 Michael Smee, “Trial Told: ‘Eddie made him do it,’” Toronto Sun, Nov. 1, 1985.
6 Ann Fadiman, “Heavy Metal Mania,” Life, December 1984.
7 Creem, October 1975.
8 Goldman, p. 31, 59.
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