My Sweet Satan: Elvis, The Devil, & The History Of Occult Rock (Part 1)

My Sweet Satan: Elvis, The Devil, & The History Of Occult Rock (Part 1)

Rock & roll has always been rebel music. From the libido-charged, hip-shakin’ hillbilly sneer of Elvis Presley to the devil-worshiping, serial killer-obsessed, nazi-filled horror tales of Slayer, rock music, in all its permutations and perversions, revels in revolution and trespasses into the transgressive taboo.

Of course, for those interested in rebellion, there’s one figurehead who rises above all others as the first and most fierce rule-breaker ever. I’m talkin’ ’bout Satan here, kids. He was the first villain (or, if you prefer, the first antihero), the first pissed-off punker to give the middle finger to a higher power and say “fuck you” to authority. For all intents and purposes, Satan was, and is, the original gangsta.

It’s natural, then, that the forces of darkness have long held a potent influence on the world of rock & roll. The genre thrives on chaos and controversy, and when older forms of rebellion (whether they be salacious, pelvis-swingin’ dance moves or Manic Panic-dyed pink mohawk hairdo’s) lose their ability to shock the masses, the iconography of Satan, voodoo, and black magic never goes out of style.

Evil is always evil, and rockers can always depend on the subversive seduction of supernatural imagery.

Before there was rock & roll, though, there was the blues. Nothing scared parents (and white folk in general) like this unique, passionate new genre born out many generations of transformation within the realms of African religious music and traditional slave art. Simultaneously steeped in moods both mournful and celebratory, blues musicians expressed dissent and dissatisfaction with an unfair station in life, while also taking the time to shower praise on the finer things. Namely… sex, booze, gambling, partying, and all those other verboten pleasures of the flesh.

One of the best-remembered bluesmen of all-time remains the infamous Robert Johnson, whose seemingly inhuman expertise with the guitar (Eric Clapton once referred to Johnson as “the most important blues musician who ever lived”) built up a huge mystique around him. A long-held, and now downright mythologized, bit of pop culture folklore purports that Johnson’s skill was in fact a gift from the beast below. Legend has it that Johnson sold his soul, Faust-style, to no less an unholy icon than Old Scratch himself at a crossroads in Mississippi, and in return the devil taught him to play guitar better than any man on the face of the Earth. It was a legend Johnson seemed to have no problem perpetuating, adding fuel to the fire with such songs as “Me & The Devil Blues” and “Hellhounds On My Trail.”

Johnson died in the late 1930’s, under mysterious circumstances. To this day, people whisper rumors that it was Satan who took Johnson’s life, come to collect on his end of the crossroads’ bargain.

While Johnson may be one of the most well-known icons of diabolic occult-inflected blues, he was by no means alone. Allusions to superstitions and black magic rituals abound in classic blues songs. And, in truth, legends nearly identical to those told about Robert Johnson have surrounded many talented musicians over the years, including fellow bluesman Tommy Johnson (no relation to Robert).

God-fearing folk would eventually tame the blues, transforming it into the “gospel” genre much the same way they would later render punk rock toothless in the form of “new wave.” But the sinister seeds had already been planted. The deadly danger of blues had captivated enough honky kids that ethnic crossover was inevitable. Black and white were shades irrelevant. The young on both sides were beginning (even if full-on de-segregation was still all too far off) to see the world the same way: blood red. The hungry id of America’s alienated youth has always been the proving grounds where new trends in artistic rebellion would either blossom or burn. Thus, the new generations swallowed up the musical innovations and malevolent mysticism of Robert Johnson’s blues, and marched onward into the future, where they would mutate and re-emerge in the context of rock & roll.

…to be continued…

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In addition to contributing to The Bloodsprayer, Count Wilhelm Screem XIII, the self-titled "Werewolf Of The Comic Shop," is also the moldy, morbid, macabre monster mind behind the image-blog Werewolf's Meal Inc, a creepy cavalcade of horror comics, heavy metal, scream queens, spook shows, and random related rot.

2 Responses to “My Sweet Satan: Elvis, The Devil, & The History Of Occult Rock (Part 1)”

  1. I’m not knowing what to think, I started a search for Richard (Dick) Donovan who served with Colonel Keesler in 1980, then in 2011 someone printed a photo of my mother grabbing onto Elvis while he was on stage, I know I have dreamed of a hairy creature that looked like an animal and man, kinda like that symbolism for Merv Griffin but without the hawk head, I dreamed of a shack in the woods of a cot with blood in the middle and a pile of human bones to the left, I also saw glass shelves with mirrors behind them, all this was before I learned Elvis was Richard Donovan, read JFK’s assignation book the Donovan’s trained Lee Harvey Oswald in the Army, and I found Elvis’s twin. “Enis/Jesse Garon Presley/Johnny H.”, Ashley Judd to come out with “The Identical” on the twins, Elvis’s mother related to the Kennedys thru Edward Stephen Smith who was married to Jean Ann Kennedy, Elvis would be flown to Sally Abney Rose’s home off Clemson Blvd., in Anderson, SC to meet up with the cotton tycoons, George Washington Pugh was Tammy Wynette’s father. Rose and Pugh Cotton tycoons, look up. Dark Secrets, get the book Black Mass on the cover it will say The FBI, the Italian mafia, and a Devils Deal, bright green letters, read about Consolidated Coal a leasing company in W.Virgina now called Minerals and Mines, and read about all cotton tycoons starting in the early 1900’s up to Elvis turning 42, now there is a Richard Donovan who went into the law firm with Tommy Dunaway in Anderson, SC, Tommy lied when he met me at Summary court said he had die when that Richard Donovan (80 yrs. old) is going to Freedom Hall Jehovah Witness Church in Anderson, SC off Calhoun St. he is married to a woman 20 yrs. younger than he, and his daughter goes there too, she has sandy blond hair with blond streaks, what Elvis learned was MK-Ultra mind control, they used special sound tones in his music that is used like subliminal messages, NEO-Novia not the correct spelling on that last part, you see there are people who are extremely rich and they control the lower class people, this was learned thru the CIA when Nazi’s was hired in to get them to teach our American about LSD truth serum and MK-Ultra, history is what you have to read history, through the years inventions with computers can now produce sound in a way through air waves, ugly creatures are not our demons it’s knowledgeable science and unless you do not read you will never understand. The Egyptians are who interest me for what they knew then, and the secrets kept from the world on their inventions, scrolls hid deciphered millions of years later, its all about how a psychiatrist can use mind control, maybe this was done on a large scale and maybe Elvis helped to see if it would work, but what I can’t understand is how I knew of things he saw, like his yellow bar with the mirrors and glass shelves, I believe there is a power in us that we can have telepathy so I say it has to be the all mighty God helping us to believe in him.

  2. I’m very interested in learning more about Elvis Presley a.k.a Richard (Dick) Donovan, so if you could please direct me to past or present articles to read I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you

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