Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry, episode 005: The Satanic Panic

When rock music appeared in the1950s, a lot of people were frightened by all the dancing and gyrating and hootin’ and hollerin’. It had to be the Devil’s music. It beckoned youth down a dangerous path towards immorality and destruction. It encouraged disrespect of parents and elders. It spat in the face of strong traditional values. This music could only lead to a rise in godlessness, which, of course, meant that everyone was going to hell.

This kind of opposition was seen across the western world but was particularly strong in the United States. Preachers wailed from pulpits while politicians wailed about juvenile delinquents and their music. Rallies were held, records were burned, and this new music was roundly condemned as the worst thing to ever happen to civilization. For the most part, though, young people ignored this histrionic caterwauling and keeping making and listening to rock.

The anti-rock crowd grew even more apoplectic with the rise of counter-culturalism in the 1960s and early 70s, blaming music everything from long hair to rampant sex to drug use to the opposition of foreign wars.

Rock fans took it all in stride. “Yeah, whatever. You’re over-reacting. Our souls are perfectly safe. Tell you what: Uou do you and we’ll do us, okay?” And for a couple of decades, there was this uneasy divide separating rockers from the religious anti-rockers.

Then in the 1980s and 90s, a portion of society lost its collective mind. To these people, Satan was at work everywhere, including music. His work and influence needed to be exposed and exorcised from society.

This wasn’t artistic expression. Rock was Lucifer’s sneaky way of seizing the souls of vulnerable, impressionable young people. The Antichrist was at work. Evil demonic forces were everywhere. Nothing became more important that casting out Beelzebub’s rock music once and for all.

It was the era of the satanic panic. And boy, have I got a story for you.

Get Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry wherever you get your podcasts. Both Uncharted and The Ongoing History of New Music will be heard back-to-back overnights five days a week on these Corus news stations:

Showtimes (all times local)

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  • Calgary: QR77 (770 AM and 107.1 FM) (1-2am)
  • Winnipeg: 680 CJOB (1-2am)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38164 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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