Tag Archives: robert johnson

199 – The Rock & Roll Twilight Zone: Musical Mysteries with Richard Syrett

Richard Syrett didn’t start off being a weirdo, he was a radio host who stumbled onto a Sunday night talk show in Toronto whose audience shot through the roof when they broached paranormal topics (much like Art Bell and the original Coast to Coast AM did, and now Richard is a frequent guest host of Coast to Coast as well!)

But that shift proved auspicious, because Richard Syrett has been tackling the strange and unusual each week on Canadian radio with The Conspiracy Show and that even lead to four seasons of a television program as well on Vision TV.

Richard SyrettBut just because Richard Syrett waited some time in his profession career to start exploring the paranormal, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t felt that cold strange grip of the strange. He was close with with rock n’ roll author R. Gary Patterson who had spent decades exploring musical mysteries and the dark side of rock n’ roll pop culture. Gary was a frequent guest on The Conspiracy Show and Richard and Gary were planning to work together on their program when Gary passed away in 2017. Richard goes into detail on his own strange encounter with what might have been R. Gary Patterson’s ghost in our conversation!

Syrett’s new show is called The Rock & Roll Twilight Zone and you can hear it on Chris Jericho’s Podcast One network. It is a deep dive into some of Rock’s greatest mysteries and you’re bound to hear some conspiracies and strange stories that you’ve never heard before. I’ve been listening to it all week an it’s a lot of fun.

In this interview, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Richard and I in discussing some of the great topics that he’s been covering on The Rock & Roll Twilight Zone:

  • Was Elvis murdered?
  • How Jim Morrison could have faked his own death
  • Robert Johnson’s deal with the Devil and the curse of the Crossroads

The song this week is called “Rock & Roll Heaven” but it’s not quite as hagiographic as the Righteous Brothers’ 70s’ song of the same name. While the “live fast, die young” aesthetic of the 60s and 70s rock stars certainly contributed to their mythological stature, it’s more sad than anything else. Would you sacrifice decades of your life (even if it’s the old crappy part) to amplify your legacy? Are you good enough to get into “Rock & Roll Heaven”?

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=251398409 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small track=4148454657]

When I die will I go to Rock & Roll Heaven?
Am I good, am I good enough to get into Rock & Roll Heaven?
Where the high lasts forever, all the amps go to eleven
When I die I wanna go to Rock & Roll Heaven.

Is there a chart in the skies for all your
albums that went gold?
Is that your consolation prize
because you’ll never grow old?

When I die (when I die) will I go (will I go) to Rock & Roll Heaven?
(to Rock & Roll Heaven)
Am I good (am I good), am I good enough (good enough) to get into Rock & Roll Heaven?
(to get into Rock & Roll Heaven)
Where the high lasts forever, the amps go to eleven
(all the amps go to eleven)
When I die (when I die) I wanna go (wanna go) to Rock & Roll Heaven.

Is there a chart in the skies for all your
albums that went gold?
Is that your consolation prize
because you’ll never grow old?

When I die (when I die) will I go (will I go) to Rock & Roll Heaven?
(to Rock n’ Roll Heaven)
When I die (when I die) I wanna go (wanna go) to Rock & Roll Heaven.

1 – Making a Deal with the Devil: The Musicians Who Sold Their Souls to Satan

Across the ages, musicians have purportedly made a deal with the devil to be able to more masterfully compose and/or play their instruments. Today’s episode explores this idea, and Mike and Wendy discuss what things they consider worthy of a deal with the devil.

Mike and Wendy then dip into famous cases of making a deal with the Devil.  Musicians like Giuseppe Tartini who was born in 1692, his work is still popular, particularly his work, “The Devil’s Trill”, which was said to be inspired by a dream that he had that he was the Devil’s servant. It has been covered by Itzhak Perlman and a version by Vanessa Mae has over ten million hits on YouTube.

Niccolo Paganini is probably the first great example of legendary musicians who make a pact with Lucifer. He was said to be able to do supernatural things like sight-read music incredibly. His solos were notoriously difficult to play and his effect on audiences was said to be hypnotic and supernatural, like he was possessing the crowd.

The most famous American story of making a deal with the Devil is Robert Johnson, who died of poisoning at 27 years old and wrote the immortal blues classic, “Crossroads”. The Crossroads is a place in Mississippi that blues aficionados come to visit, that it is rumored where Johnson met the devil to sign the contract for his soul. They made a movie about it in the 80s called Crossroads starring The Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio. Johnson also wrote other songs like “Me and The Devil” and had a superstitious and dark vein in his music.

Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin also had rumors of Satan worship. Jimmy Page is a known occultist and bought Aleister Crowley’s house in Scotland (We’ll cover Crowley extensively sometime because he figures into the lives of Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, he’s in a Top Ten UK single in the 1970’s, and he’s even on the cover of Sgt. Pepper, he was an emblem of the rock n’ roll generation and we’ll get into him when the time comes!) They coveredRobert Johnson’s “Travelin’ Riverside Blues” and their were rumors that Led Zeppelin signed a pact in their own blood.

Speak of the devil, the Church of Satan was founded by a musician. Anton LaVey was an organist that would often entertain by playing Jazz and Pop standards. Modern Satanists aren’t really occultists as much as they just use the imagery in their marketing, like Marilyn Manson’s shocking Christians in the late 90s or Mötley Crüe’s crossdressing Satanism in the early 80s (before they went with the biker look, there were pentagrams all over their albums, Shout At The Devil and Theatre of Pain).

Links about making a Deal With The Devil:

Listverse – “10 People Who Sold Their Soul To The Devil”

Crossroads movie Guitar Duel (Steve Vai vs. Ralph Macchio) [YOUTUBE LINK]

Vannesa Mae – “The Devil’s Trill” [YOUTUBE LINK]

Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding Blog – “Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in Rosedale, Mississippi”

The Human Marvels – Niccolo Paganini – The Devil’s Violinist”

Featured Song: Ol’ Scratch Blues

Lyrics:

Enjoy your time now,
enjoy it while you can,
you signed that paper,
you signed it with your hand.

And when you die,
you’re gonna fry,
for nothing but a lie.

The fortune and the fame,
and the ladies too,
But can you see that old black dog,
coming after you.

Enjoy your time now,
enjoy it while you can,
you signed that paper,
you signed it with your hand.

And when you die,
you’re gonna fry,
for nothing but a lie.

And when you die,
you’re gonna fry,
for nothing but a lie.

Nothing but a lie.