Tag Archives: robert johnson

C Is For Curses: Ten Famous Pop Culture Maledictions

On See You On The Other Side, we deal with all kinds of paranormal and unusual phenomena. While we love ghosts, UFOs, and cryptids, which are really the big three of the paranormal, we really just can’t resist a good curse. (and who can? That’s the scary part, right?) Here are some of our favorite curses we’ve covered on the podcast, with a link to each episode.

1. The Kennedy Curse

The Kennedys are America’s royalty. They are a fabulously wealthy and beautiful clan whose children have spent generations in powerful elected positions from the East Coast. With a President, multiple Senators and House Representatives, you would think that these guys have the world wrapped around their little finger. But tragedy has followed their family for generations, from the assassinations of the two most powerful brothers to the airplane crash of JFK Jr. to the failed lobotomy of Rosemary Kennedy, somehow their incredible fotune seems tainted.

2. The Oscar Love Curse

Oh, Hollywood. Glamor, money, fame… and very little lasting love relationships. Big stars change spouses fast You’d think that if you win an Academy Award, the film industry’s biggest honor, that your loved one would want to stick by you more than ever, but it ain’t so. Best Actress winners particularly seem to have problems with their love life after winning the big award. Is the great esteem cursed somehow or might it be the jealousy of the entertainment industry causing the split (especially when the woman outshines the man)?

3. The Franklin Expedition Curse

In 1845, the British Navy launched their most ambitious mission to find the Northwest Passage to establish a trade route between the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. They sent their most technically advanced ships and two captains who were well-versed in Arctic exploration. Both ships became trapped in the ice and disappeared, prompting multiple searches for the Lost Franklin Expedition from Britain, America, and Canada over the years. Both ships were found in the late 2010s, but when the HMS Terror was discovered in 2016, the local Nunavut people felt that the spirits were disturbed on their island by bothering the sunken ship. Several untimely deaths occured in the community and they sent a team of guardians to perform a ritual to keep their community safe from the curse.

4. The Poltergeist Curse

No doubt about it, Poltergeist is a terrifying film. But the movie is fiction, what seemingly happened to the actors involved isn’t. Both of the actresses who played the daughters of the haunted family, Dominique Dunne and Heather O’Rourke died way too young. Dunne was murdered by her ex-boyfriend and O’Rourke died of a freak bowel obstruction. Julian Beck and Will Sampson, the evil and good spirits from Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died shortly after the movie’s release, hadrly unexpectedly, but unlucky at least. Some people say it was because they used real human skeletons on the set of the film, but Craig T. Nelson is still doing just fine…

5. The 27 Club

Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. All immensely famous musicians who died at the peak of their fame and way before their time. But why did it all end for them before their 28th birthday?

6. Robert Johnson and the Curse of the Crossroads

Robert Johnson was one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time and was called the King of the Delta Blues. He also died at 27, but was never as famous in his lifetime as the other members of the club. His fame came after he died and has been called the best bluesman ever by the likes of Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. His songs have been covered by everyone from Led Zeppelin to The Blues Brothers. Some of them can be dark with titles like “Hellhound on My Trail” and his most famous song, “Crossroads” people say is about how he sold his soul to the Devil at a road crossing in Rosedale, Mississippi. It gave him amazing musical talent, but it ended up taking his life early.

The Mothman Death Curse

If you haven’t heard of the Mothman of Point Pleasant, a dark winged humanoid with red glowing eyes who was seen in the late 60s in West Virginia, you might consider yourself lucky. No less than the man behind the International Cryptozoology Museum himself, the legendary Loren Coleman, wrote Mothman: Evil Incarnate, a book where he describes the Mothman Death Curse. He devotes an appendix to one hundred mysterious and untimely deaths of people who have been involved in the Mothman mythos in some way, from the original victims of the Silver Bridge Collapse to people who worked on the Richard Gere film.

The Curse of King Tut

There were supposedly nine victims of King Tut’s curse, people who were related to the excavation of the Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb. Sir Arthutr Conan Doyle, the writer behind Sherlock Holmes, even toured that there was some kind of supernatural vengeance that was being wreaked on these Western interlopers. It was featured in all the newspapers at the time, but also Egypt was a very popular topic to write about, and the financier of the King Tut Expedition gave a single paper the exclusive rights to the story. So, was the curse blown out of proportion in the interest of paper sales or was there really a curse on the wall of the tomb of Egypt’s Boy King?

William Henry Harrison and the Tippecanoe Curse

Before he became President, William Henry Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory and was behind a shady deal that screwed the American Indians there out of a good deal of their land. A great battle was fought at Tippecanoe and Harrison’s forces emerged triumphant. The brother of defeated Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, was considered a great prophet and he supposedly cursed Harrison to die in office and the presidents that every twenty years after. And they did, Harrison was elected in 1840 and dies in 1841, Lincoln dies in 1865, Garfield in 1881, McKinley in 1901, Harding in 1923, Roosevelt in 1944, and Kennedy in 1963. Seems like being elected in a year that ends in a zero is bad luck until Reagan survives his assassination attempt in 1981.

The Curse of the Billy Goat

How ’bout them Cubbies, right? They’re the most famous Chicago sports institution and are beloved by celebrities from Bill Murray to Vince Vaughn. And years afer his death, most baseball fans can still hear Harry Carey’s famous call of “Holy Cow!” perfectly in their heads. But another Chicago institution is the Billy Goat Tavern (the inspiration behind the Saturday Night Live classic “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger” sketch) and then the owner was kicked out of a Cubs game in 1945 because his pet goat smelled too bad, the rumor is that he cursed the team to never win the National League Pennant again. They didn’t get in the World Series again for 71 years and coincidentally clinched the title on the 46th anniversary of the owner’s death.

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”?

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.