The Devil Wants Souls For Talent
It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing color (everywhere except in Florida at least), and people are getting ready for their favorite holiday, Halloween. Halloween actually has rich and long history, dating back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The main purpose of ‘All Hallows Eve’ which is the night before Halloween, was to ward of spirits and ghosts that were haunting towns. Traditions have altered, and today, people dress up as their favorite characters and go door to door asking for candy, or they just lurk in the corner waiting to scare people. It’s pretty awesome.
Everything from witchcraft and black magic to ghouls and the devil come up frequently this time of year. These things have also been attributed to music or specific musicians at some point in history. There is always a suspicion, especially against metal musicians or music that sounds satanic. Highly fueled rumors even go so far as to suggest that some inexplicably and innately gifted musicians have signed a contract with the devil himself. Most of these coveted deals involve the selling of one’s soul in exchange for boundless talent and proficiency on their instrument or fruitful success throughout their career.
I’m sure a few musicians or bands popped in your head. This is an interesting topic and we love to invent creative stories like this to go along with their overall mystique. Today, we will look at three musicians who have allegedly danced with the devil or have been linked to the dark arts in some fashion.
Niccolò Paganini is one of the most revered violinists of his time and cultivated vital groundwork for the instrument that is still utilized in modern times. Paganini was born in Genoa, Italy in 1782. He began playing the violin at age seven and was instantly recognized as prodigy. He was and still is known as one of the greatest violin virtuosos to ever pick up the instrument.
Paganini performed with staggering technical proficiency and was even one of the first classical musicians to play without the aid of physical music. He would perform pieces in town squares or theaters completely from memory.
Paganini’s relation with the devil sprouted for several reasons. First of all, the violin was, even in those days, considered ‘the devil’s instrument.’ This idea came from ancient Greece when people those that the violin “was not an instrument that expresses moral character and is too exciting.” The main reason was because of his unexplained monstrous talent on the violin. Since he was so gifted, there was no other logical explanation other than a devious deal with the devil. We know now that in reality his virtuosic playing level most likely came from a rigid practice schedule. But, the former sounds so much cooler. This idea was also supposedly coupled with the fact that Paganini was “diabolical” in appearance and omitted a rather “dark aura.” Stories about lightening striking his bow and an instance where he played the rest of his show with only one surviving string on his violin have become popular tales surrounding this fantastic musician.
This idea was believed so intently that after Paganini died in 1840, priests refused to bury his body near a Catholic church. After heavy debates, he was finally laid to rest in 1876 in Parma, Italy.
You can’t talk about the blues without at least mentioning the name Robert Johnson. He is the undisputed grandfather of blues guitar and music. His legendary collection of recordings has been a benchmark for all blues artists and demonstrate the highest level of guitar playing, songwriting, and singing. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first ceremony in 1986 and is included in almost all “top blues musicians” lists.
Robert Johnson completely changed the game when it came to blues music. He entered the scene like a tornado, impacting everyone around him and changing the landscape forever. Sadly, we lost this musical genius at the young age of 27. The cause of his death continues to be a mystery and many rumors have come about surrounding this event.
Due to his high level of skill and various events that happened, Robert Johnson became a major figure who supposedly conspired with devil. This particular story is very deep and has stood the test of time and remains as one of the most popular tales of our topic.
There are many interpretations and versions of Johnson’s supposed devilish deal. The basics are that he met someone at the crossroads of highways 49 and 61 in the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. The man listened to Johnson’s ambitions of becoming the best blues musician any one had ever seen. After, he pulled out a guitar, tuned it, played a few tunes, and gifted Johnson with the skills he needed to take on the world. References to the devil do appear in Johnson’s music, which only further fueled conspiracy theorists’ fire.
Despite the reasoning for his sudden talents, Robert Johnson is still one of the most talked about blues musicians in history and has influenced some of our favorite musicians like Eric Clapton, Albert King, Jeff Beck, and many others.
Led Zeppelin was one of the greatest bands to grace music and all of the members were freakishly talented, the surviving ones still are. The guitarist, Jimmy Page who was known as the greatest session musician at the time, went on to be one of the most revered guitarists in history.
Of course, like many other bands and musicians, Page and Zeppelin were often tied to dark arts, witchcraft, and devil worshipping. Again, what other explanation is there for Page being god-like on the guitar? The allegations that Page was an avid devil worshipper and that he made a secret deal with the devil are extremely loose and have grown more absurd over the years.
It is believed that Page was a great admirer of black magic and even summoned demons in his spare time. These rumors exploded especially when Page purchased the former home of the infamous dark oculist, Aleister Crowley, who many bands including Black Sabbath referenced in their tunes. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Page mentioned that the home had several other occupants after Crowley and that “it was also a church that was burned to the ground. The bad vibes were already there.”
Page always got a kick out of these rumors and thoughts and even said that “I don’t really want to go on about my personal beliefs or my involvement in magic.” Like we needed another reason to constantly talk about Jimmy Page.
By Patrick Ortiz