Here’s To My Sweet Satan: The 15 Creepiest Backwards Messages In Classic Rock

Rock ’n’ roll originally had a reputation as “the devil’s music,” but these folks took it a little too literally! Since the late ’60s, rumors have run rampant that famous bands are hiding secret Satanic messages in their music, played backward so it can sneak into our subconscious mind unnoticed! From classic groups like the Beatles and Led Zeppelinthrough to the metal boom of the ’80s and even to today, the stories are endless! Sometimes it’s clearly unintentional, and occasionally musicians are just having a bit of fun at the expense of their fans. But then sometimes, the words are a little too clear…It’s spooky!

Is there some truth to these mysterious messages, or do some people just have way too much free time on their hands. Read on, give a listen, and decide for yourself!

15. “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen (1980)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvhCThWWy3Q
We’ll start off with one that isn’t too scary (unless you have asthma or something). Evangelical Christian groups were convinced that Freddie Mercury’s scat vocal breakdown at the end of the song sounded like “It’s fun to smoke marijuana” when played in reverse. We have to admit, it  does sound pretty similar. It’s interesting to note that a decent number of backwards masking tends to revolve around weed, which is probably what inspired folks to play the record backwards in the first place.

 

14. “Hotel California” by the Eagles (1976)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WodaLlkn2cU
It’s an ode to the sinister-yet-seductive draw of Hollywood, but some lyrics might hint at an even darker power. If you listen to the opening verse backwards, you might be able to make out words that sound spookily like “Yes, Satan organized his own religion,” and other messages from the Devil. And if you play it forward you get something even more terrifying: An Eagles song.

 

13. “Nightmare/The Dream Time” by Motorhead (1991)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC4iRCW58Bg
It’s pretty hard to miss the long-winded battle cry in this track. “Now tell me about your miserable little lives. I do not subscribe to your superstitious, narrow minded flights of paranoia. I and people like me, will always prevail! You will never stifle our free speech in any country in the world, ’coz we will fight forever.” The album was released on the heals of the Motorhead’s multi-year legal battle with their record company, but there are some who say that this was the band’s message to the censor-happy Parents Resource Music Center (PRMC).
12. “Final Scream” by Grim Reaper (1985)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWpu3VXnyho
Immediately after the child’s voice says “Goodnight, Daddy,” a series of low growling gibberish is heard. In reverse, it sounds an awful lot like “See you in hell!” Pretty spooky, but it could also be seen as a homage to their previous album of the same name.

 

11. “Gonna Raise Hell” by Cheap Trick (1979)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hvmgymgo0Y
The nine-minute epic contains a hidden backwards message that allegedly says, “You know Satan holds the keys to the lock.” Sadly, we can’t find a clip on YouTube, but this .MP3 should do the trick…

 

10. “Stormbringer” by Deep Purple (1974)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyRcTGDtzcQ
According to legend, this album opener kicks off with the same gibberish spoken by Linda Blair in the horror classic, The Exorcist.  Played backwards, it sounds an awful lot like “C–ksucker, motherf–er, stormbringer!” Which is just the kind of thing that we’d expect a child possessed by Satan to say.
9. “Hell Awaits” by Slayer (1985)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agM9GbdsZS4
Vocalist Tom Araya has admitted to opening their sophomore album with reversed voices chanting “Join us” forty-five times before finally culminating with “Welcome back.” But he claims that the Santanic imagery on the album art was “solely for effect” and not for genuine Satan summoning.

 

8. “Eldorado” by Electric Light Orchestra (1974)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWj2UiEIz54
The title cut of ELO’s ’74 album was believed to contain the (very specific) message: “He is the nasty one.  Christ, you’re infernal. It is said we’re dead men. Everyone who has the mark will live.” Songwriter and lead vocalist Jeff Lynne didn’t take kindly to the devil-worshipping rumors, calling it “skcollob” (read it backwards…). In addition to the denials, he slipped intentional backwards messages into a few future songs.  Our favorite comes from “Fire On High,” which appears to say “The music is reversible, but time… is not. Turn back! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!”

 

7. “As Flittermice As Satans Spys” by Darkthrone (1994)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3Pma5A5im0
Norwegian death-metal band Darkthrone was known raising the bar in being hardcore, so it’s probably not all that shocking that this album cut features back-masked lyrics that say, “In the name of God, let the churches burn.” The song was written by the notorious Varg Vikernes, who later went to prison for murder and (fittingly) the several counts of church arson.
6. “Dinner At The Deviant’s Palace” by Cradle Of Filth (2001)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3OGnBOdFFY
The underlying drone of  gibberish within the song is actually the Lords Prayer being recited backwards, which is commonly employed to summon demons. The more you know!

 

5. “Snowblind” by Styx (1981)
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1yRv196qs
Both the California State Legislature and affore-mentioned PMRC insisted that these Styx lyrics contained Satanic backwards messages. Specifically, the line “I try so hard to make it so” was said to be “Satan move through our voice” when played in reverse. Many felt that the comparison was merely coincidental, but it the organization used it as one of their prime examples while lobbying for stricter music warning labels.

 

4. “Better By You, Better Than Me” by Judas Priest (1978)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrBV0-VRkkw
The band got into some serious trouble after their alleged backwards messages tragically inspired two young men to commit suicide. In 1985, Raymond Belknap and James Vance were hanging out drinking beer and smoking a joint while listening to Judas Priest, when they sent to a church playground and shot themselves with a .12 gage shotgun. Belknap was killed outright, but Vance survived before eventually dying three-years later from complications. “We had been programmed. I knew I was going to do it. I was afraid. I didn’t want to die. It’s just as if I had no choice,” he reported later. The men’s parents filed a lawsuit which claimed the song encouraged listeners suicide with a series of backwards messages saying, “Do it.”

 

3. The White Album by the Beatles (1968)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO-xUU7iE5M
Technically, the first sinister message to appear in a Fab Four track was in the fadeout to “Strawberry Fields Forever,” in which John Lennon seems to say “I buried Paul.” This was part of the infamous “Paul Is Dead” conspiracy, which claims that Paul McCartney was killed in a brutal car crash in 1966 and secretly replaced with a double. According to the theory, the surviving members placed clues in their music and album art in order to tell the true fans what had happened.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODkmDRgat6k
“Clues” were supposedly littered throughout their Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour albums, but 1968’s so-called White Album had the motherlode. The gibberish spoken by John at the end of “I’m So Tired” is heard by some as “Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him, MISS HIM.” But the freakiest message of all occurs near the very end of the record, on the notorious avant-guarde sound-collage, “Revolution #9.” An engineer’s droning voice intones “Number nine” throughout the plus-sized track, but in reverse it appears to say “Turn me on, dead man.” Upon closer examination, we’re not entirely sure what that means, but it’s still pretty scary!

 

2. “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (1971)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tREje2t8oTc
Perhaps the most famous hidden message of them all, the connection with guitarist Jimmy Page and the occult goes way back. He bought famed Satanist Aleister Crowley’s mansion, and rumors persist to this day that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for fame. In the early 1980s, evangelical broadcaster Paul Crouch leveled accusations at several notable bands that they snuck evil hidden messages into their music. He mentioned the “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow…” segment of the Zep masterpiece, which appears to say “Oh here’s to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He will give those with him 666. There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.”
There may be no such thing as bad press, but the band were not impressed. They declined to comment at the time, but Swan Song Records issued a statement reading “Our turntables only play in one direction…forwards”. Several years later, Page did weigh in to Musician Magazine on the matter. “To me it’s very sad, because ’Stairway to Heaven’ was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that’s not my idea of making music.”

1. “665” by Soundgarden (1988) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajf9d-sIdM8

It seems like lead singer Chris Cornell didn’t get the Satan memo…or else it just misread it. That’s the only way to explain this ode to Santa! Lines like “Santa, I love you baby. My Christmas king. Santa, you’re my king. I love you, Santa baby. Got what I need,” appear throughout the song. Who knows, maybe it was just a typo on the lyric sheet.

VH1 Music Editor + Seltzer Enthusiast
@jordanruntagh