List: Rock bands that scared us

July 10, 2012

When my husband was a kid, he found the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead extremely frightening.

He confessed this to me recently, while we were listening to a Stones song. Also stoking the fears of his younger self? A terrifying RATT poster his cousin had on his wall.

I thought this was funny until a day or two later, when I heard “Oye Como Va” on the radio. I remembered the first time I heard it, and how surprised I was to hear that this was what Carlos Santana sounded like; as a youngster, I had assumed that a band with the name “Santana” must be some sort of devil-worship music.

I asked around to see if anybody else had rock bands they feared when they were young. This was what I heard in response:

  • INXS, because of "Devil Inside" (thanks, Catholicism).
     
  • KISS:
    • The SCARIEST clowns ever.
    • Gene Simmons’ tongue scared me! It still does!
    • My brother put up a poster to keep me out of his room. It worked.
    • I still get the heebie jeebies looking at them -- moreso now that they've aged. I also remember someone giving me a KISS doll when I was a kid. An appropriate gift if you want to scar a ten-year-old girl for all time.
       
  • My now 29-year-old daughter was creeped out by "Dark Side of the Moon" when she was little. She didn't like the heartbeat coming from the speakers and the screaming/singing that followed.
     
  • In the late ‘70s the Sex Pistols toured the southern U.S. These news stories would circulate about all the weird stuff they did: "They SPIT ON PEOPLE in the audience?!" "I heard Sid Vicious killed a guy with his bass!" This was, of course, mainstream media filtering though parents to their kids to their friends, conspiring to keep people listening to Debbie Boone and John Denver.
     
  • I was pretty afraid of Alice Cooper, thanks to the Muppet Show.
     
  • Michael Jackson in the Thriller video -- especially Vincent Price's spoken-word part. I used to put it on my Fisher-Price turntable and hide in the closet.
     
  • I was actually a little scared of Al Jourgensen -- even in college -- until I moved to Chicago and saw him around. Then I realized what a dork he was.
     
  • Ozzy Osbourne: There was a rumor that he bit the heads off live chickens onstage. In some indirect way, maybe he inspired PETA.
     
  • I think I might have been bothered by a Scorpions album cover because the dude had forks in his eyes.
     
  • My sister had a sparkly Iron Maiden mirror hanging on her bedroom wall. I believe she won it playing skeeball at the Jersey Shore. I was terrified of that mirror. 
     
  • In junior high, I was scared of Iron Maiden's album covers; however, they turned into a weird obsession. I bought an Iron Maiden t-shirt (The Killers album cover) cut the sleeves off and wore it to my 7th grade Catholic school end-of-year picnic. It didn't go over well.
     
  • I remain (ir?)rationally terrified of the Insane Clown Posse.
     
  • Led Zeppelin: Even talking about listening to Stairway to Heaven backwards freaked me out.
     
  • ZZ Top still creeps me out and make me feel gross and dirty inside.
     
  • Quiet Riot because of the horrifying album cover to Metal Health.