Halloween and rock and roll go together like peanut butter and jelly. Something about darkened rooms filled with outlandish costumes and screaming girls, we guess. Some of the rock's most ghoulish stars are also its most fun, as Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson will no doubt prove once again at Reliant Arena Tuesday.
Derided as the devil's music from its earliest days, rock and roll has always enjoyed a heavy flirtation with the dark side. After all, as the soundtrack to youthful rebellion, rock could hardly remain steadfastly on the side of the angels and still stay interesting as long as it has.
But there's a difference between the shock and horror that true artists inject into their performances and genuine, irredeemable evil. Though the rock and roll lifestyle has certainly attracted its fair share of damaged and unsavory characters over the years, surprisingly few have ever crossed the line. Those who do find not fame, but chilling infamy.
Ready for a few real-life rock and roll horror stories? Then turn out the lights, turn up the stereo and behold the Top 5 most evil rockers of all time.
5. Gary Glitter Like all the best pedophiles, Gary Glitter seemed completely harmless. Back in the '70s, Glitter challenged the likes of Slade, T. Rex and Sweet for glam-rock supremacy in the UK, and his mondo hit "Rock and Roll (Part II)" caught on here in the U.S. as an all-time great jock jam. If you don't have fond memories of screaming "HEY!" along to its chorus during the Rockets' early-'90s championship runs, then you simply weren't there.
Glitter's blinding stage costumes hid a very real, very dangerous dark side, however. In 1997, his perverse sexuality was exposed the way it always seems to be: The idiot took his laptop in for repairs with the hard drive chock full of kiddie porn. Glitter was slapped with a four-month prison sentence and began a new career as a registered sex offender.
Now a pariah, the former star fled scrutiny to the seediest places on earth, eventually settling in Vietnam. There, he was convicted in 2006 of committing obscene acts with two girls, aged ten and 11, and served three years in prison. As if that weren't enough, news emerged earlier this month that Glitter now faces police questioning in England over a woman's claim she saw him rape a teenager in the 1970s. Charming.
4. Ernie Carletti
Heavy metal music is full of male power fantasies, but for a few twisted freaks, fantasies just aren't enough. If you've never heard of Ernie Carletti, it's because he wasn't much of a rock star. The former Naughty Naughty guitarist's most high-profile gig was a short stint in the metal band Iced Earth in 2006.
Maybe it was frustration over never achieving fame and fortune that drove Carletti to do what he did, or maybe he's just a rotten fucker at the core. Whatever the reason, the guitarist is currently serving 33 years in prison for kidnapping, raping and torturing a University of Delaware student in 2003.
The poor victim testified that Carletti, a total stranger, forced her into his car at gunpoint in a Burger King parking lot in Newark. The coward then handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded her before taking her to his home in Maryland, where he hog-tied her and ordered her to call him "master" as he raped her. When he was finished, he dumped her on the side of the road.
Small comfort that the piece of shit will spend the next three decades years as a sex offender in the prison system.
3. Count Grishnackh
The early black-metal scene in Norway was full of profoundly fucked-up young people, but Varg Vikernes -- the self-styled Count Grishnackh -- took the cake. After rising to prominence in the budding scene with his atmospheric solo project Burzum, Vikernes' musical profile rose when he joined the band Mayhem, black metal's leading voice in the early '90s.
Virulently anti-Christian, Vikernes was found guilty of burning several historically significant churches in Norway, making him a legend in the scene and touching off a rash of copycat crimes. In fact, only one man's profile was higher in the Norwegian black-metal community: Mayhem's leader, Euronymous.
Whether it was petty jealousy, a contract dispute or some other reason, Vikernes got into a confrontation with his former friend outside of Euronymous' Oslo flat that ended with the Count stabbing him 23 times. When he was found guilty of both the murder and the church burnings, Vikernes smiled when the verdict was read.
He served 15 years in prison before his parole in 2009.
2. Wade Michael Page
The detestable underground strain of music known as "hate rock" is more or less founded on a philosophy of evil. Heavily influenced by hardcore punk and cruddy metal, it's often easily dismissed a hyper-macho parade of sieg heils and swastika tattoos. But it's also the No. 1 recruiting tool of right-wing extremist White Power groups.
Wade Michael Page was a six-year Army PsyOps veteran who made hate rock his life. As the leader of the skinhead band End Apathy, Page barked out his frustrations with the non-whites he felt were ruining America with their non-whiteness. After years of immersing himself in the desire for racial holy war, however, singing songs was no longer enough for him.
On August 5, Page pulled a 9 mm on a congregation at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, killing six and wounding three more before turning the gun on himself in the ultimate act of cowardice. Pity the bullshit hate rock that the fool loved so dearly didn't die with him.
1. Charles Manson
As fucked up and evil as the actions of the others on this list were, none of them hold a candle to the twisted, disturbing behavior of Charles Manson, one of America's all-time scariest nutjobs.
Institutionalized for most of his life, the charismatic freak dreamed of rock stardom and amassed a brainwashed "family" of fellow drifters -- mostly young women. Manson somehow ingratiated himself with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, who agreed to fund recording sessions of Manson's songs and introduced him to his fascinated Hollywood pals.
The terror that followed was stranger than fiction. Obsessed with the Beatles, Manson sought to cut a record inspired by the White Album that would somehow kick start an apocalyptic race war that would leave him as the king of the world. Filled with mania, this ambition was frustrated when he began creeping out his friends in the entertainment biz.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
So, Manson decided to initiate Helter Skelter the old-fashioned way. He masterminded (and participated in) what would become known as the Tate-LaBianca murders in L.A., grisly affairs he expected would be blamed on blacks. Manson's notoriety grew over the course of his bizarre trial, and he quickly became an iconic symbol of murderous insanity that endures to this day.