While most of the mainstream music has always been filled with lyrics about falling in love, relationships, broken hearts and whatnot, rock ‘n’ roll musicians decided to dive into some darker subjects. Stuff like wars, drugs, pollution, poverty, nuclear holocaust, and all of the other delightful goodies. Including serial killers, which have been an inspiration to countless rock and metal artists throughout the years.
The Smiths – Suffer Little Children
The song “Suffer Little Children,” written by Morrissey and Johnny Marr, was inspired by Moors murders. These horrible crimes were committed by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady in the area of Manchester, England between 1963 and 1965. There were five victims in total, all aged between 10 and 17.
The song caused controversy and the families of these victims were not happy about the song being released, ultimately banning it from several stores in the UK.
The Sex Pistols – No One Is Innocent
The Smiths were not the only ones who sang about the infamous couple. The Sex Pistols mention Hindley and Brady in their song “No One Is Innocent.” The lyrics refer to the band’s legendary song “God Save the Queen” with each verse beginning with “God Save…” and then followed by various criminals. Besides the aforementioned murderers, the song also mentions the head of the Nazi Party Chancellery Martin Bormann and African Dictator Idi Amin.
The Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler
Even The Stones had some interest in this subject. Their song “Midnight Rambler” is about Albert DeSalvo – a man who confessed to being the infamous Boston Strangler, responsible for sexual assaults and murders of 13 women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964. Not really a typical song for The Rolling Stones.
Steven Wilson – Raider II
Steven Wilson is a guy who can write some of the most depressing stuff on Earth. And the next day he’ll be out celebrating life with a joyful pop album. “Raider II” off his 2011 record “Grace for Drowning” tells the story about Dennis Rader, known as the BTK Strangler, and his murders. In this case, BTK stands for “bind, torture, kill.
Marilyn Manson – The Nobodies
Columbine High School massacre took the lives of 13 people and left 24 injured. This killing spree was done by two of the school’s students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who ended up killing themselves in the school library after their crimes. And who else than Marilyn Manson would be up for making a song about it? The lyrics “We are the nobodies/Wanna be somebodies/When we’re dead/They’ll know just who we are” explain the situation quite well.
Sunn O))) – Bathory Erzsebet
As some of you may know, Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed – or Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian – is considered to be the biggest female serial killer of all time. The exact number of her victims is unknown, although the highest number cited on her trial was 650. She and four other collaborators were found guilty of torturing and killing of hundreds of young women. These crimes took place during the late 16th and the early 17th century. Sounds like a perfect setting for a Sunn O))) song.
Ghost – Elizabeth
And, of course, a perfect scenario for a Ghost song. Tobias Forge and his band dedicated this one to the infamous Countess on their 2010 album “Opus Eponymous.”
Cannibal Corpse – Addicted to Vaginal Skin
What else would you expect from Cannibal Corpse than to dedicate a song to one of the best known serial killers of the 20th century – the infamous Edward Theodore Gein, known also as Ed Gein or The Butcher of Plainfield. This particular track contains an audio excerpt from an actual interview with Gein, in which he explains some of the atrocities he did to one of his victims. Gein was also known for keeping trophies of those who he killed and even using their skin as clothes or furniture covers.
Judas Priest – The Ripper
By now probably everyone knows the story of Jack The Ripper, the infamous London mass murderer whose identity will most likely remain unknown forever. The five murders which were attributed to the infamous killer have been researched by many historians and have inspired numerous works of fiction. And a bunch of heavy metal songs, including the Judas Priest’s “The Ripper” from 1976.
Motörhead – Jack The Ripper
Motörhead also dedicated one of their songs to this unknown murderer, naming it simply “Jack The Ripper.” The track was released on the 1992 album “March ör Die” and features Tommy Aldridge on drum
Slayer – 213
Slayer has a whole bunch of songs filled with violent content, “213” being one of those. It tells the story of Jeffrey Dahmer and its title is the reference to the number of Dahmer’s apartment in Oxford Apartments, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he performed most of his crimes. Details of these horrible acts can be found on the official Wiki page here. It’s the perfect material for a Slayer song.
Ozzy Osbourne – Bloodbath in Paradise
Charles Manson and his followers have been a subject of many films and songs throughout the years. Even though Manson never killed anyone himself, he’s still regarded as one of the biggest criminals of the 20th century for instructing his followers to commit these crimes. These events are what inspired Ozzy Osbourne and his band to write the 1988 song “Bloodbath in Paradise” for the 1988 album “No Rest for the Wicked.”
Macabre – The Ted Bundy Song
When it comes to serial killers and music, Macabre is probably the ultimate band to go to. Every single one of their albums includes multiple songs about real-life killers. “The Ted Bundy Song” is, of course, about the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. The song is off their second album “Sinister Slaughter” and its cover is a parody on The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s.” Not much of a famous band really, but certainly worth checking out.