take a walk on the dark side

R. Gary Patterson
Fireside Press
2004

Updating, revising, and expanding on material from his cult classic Hellhounds On Their Trail, Patterson offers up a delectable feast of strange and occasionally frightening rock and roll tales, featuring the ironies associated with the tragic deaths of many rock icons, unsolved murders, and other tales from the “fell clutch of circumstance.” Beginning with the fateful place where it all started — a deserted country crossroads just outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil — through the Buddy Holly curse (rock and roll’s first great tragedy) and beyond, this incredible volume uncovers some of rock and roll’s most celebrated murders, twists of fate, and decades-long streaks of bad luck that defy rational explanation.

Urban legends has been a source of intrigue for myself since I heard my first ghost story by campfire light as a lad. Those that involve pop culture are some of the more enticing points of curiosity, especially that of rock music. Although, admittedly, most of what I’ve read concerning weird and sinister happenings within the realm of rock n’ roll stem mostly from well-meaning Christian authors using scare tactics to prove the evil of the genre.

Take A Walk On The Dark Side is written by journalist R. Gary Patterson, who seems to have the title “The Fox Mulder of Rock And Roll”. His other works include investigations into the whole “Paul Is Dead” phenomenon, and mostly looks at the bizarre stories, rumors, and urban legends behind pop music. This book, basically an update on a previously published work, documents the various lifestyles and deaths of the notable players within rock and roll history, starting with the legend of Robert Johnson, the blues player that allegedly sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads one night in order to become the greatest blues player there is. His brief life (both real and otherwise) is touched on, as is the “Buddy Holly Curse”, the musicians who died young, especially the ones who died at the age of 27, the connection to the dark arts and satanism, magick, backmasking, and general coincidences that, to the author, don’t seem all that coincidental.

Take these reports as you will. Personally, I’m not one to just buy into the claims of the dark underlying of these stories and reports. This is, however, an interesting read, and unlike the many Christian books I’ve read, Take A Walk On The Dark Side doesn’t give in to blatant sensationalism. A word of caution, however: As I was reading this, I did sense a dark oppression on my mind, so there might be something to this that’s best left untouched by anyone who’s not very strong in mind and spirit…

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