Now that the calendar has official turned to September and the back-to-school fervor is over, we've come upon that special time once again when big-box retailers to start rolling out their Halloween merchandise. Since we here at DC9 love Halloween, we think it's never too early to begin planning that special costume that will no doubt win you big accolades at your local bar's costume contest.
And. hey, if you don't win prizes, having a costume that no one else immediately understands is a badge of pride. It's also a great way to pick up prospective romantic interests at said bar: "What the hell are you?" is a classic conversation starter.
So where then to find that perfect costume idea? One veritable gold mine for spooky costumes is the wealth of ghost stories that abound in the music world. The rule of thumb when it comes to musicians' ghosts is that the more famous and/or controversial the musician, the more ghost stories there are. Elvis Presley's ghost purportedly makes more appearances than the King did in his lifetime. Meanwhile, Hank Williams has also kept surprisingly busy since his death.
To that end, we've collected a list of our favorite music-related ghost stories, along with a few suggested supplies if you want to try and pull off the costume. Prepare to get the shivers in spite of the 100-degree meltdown outside.
10. Buddy Holly. The Clear Lake, Iowa, field where Holly's plane went down has become a mecca for Holly-ites, and it's the source of some terrifying tales, too. Clear Lake residents report seeing a phantom plane in the area, and ghostly lights are often seen in the field.
Supplies required for this costume: thick glasses and a slick suit -- so just head on over to the hipster stores and stock up.
9. Mama Cass. This one comes from an unusual source -- namely, actor Dan Aykroyd -- who owned Cass' former Los Angeles home and then sold it in 2007. Although Cass didn't die in the house, Aykroyd remains convinced that the spirit that spooks the place is her. Apparently, Cass moves jewelry around the house, turns the StairMaster on and off, and even climbed into bed one with Aykroyd. Insert obligatory Ghostbusters joke here.
Supplies required for this costume: flowing hippie dress, center-parted wig, optional ham sandwich (Cass actually died of heart failure, not from choking on the aforementioned sandwich, as was joked about in the Austin Powers movies).
8. John Lennon. New Yorkers have reported seeing Lennon's apparition hanging out around the undertaker's door outside The Dakota hotel, where the Beatle was murdered in 1980. Several books have been written by mediums that claim to be in contact with Lennon, who appears to be having a fine time in the afterlife and is, according to the mediums, partying with John Wayne and Clark Gable. We're not sure why he'd want to hang out at The Dakota when there are John Wayne parties to go to, but we suppose he'd want to make an appearance for fans who make the pilgrimage to the storied New York hotel. Lennon is apparently nice like that.
Supplies required for this costume: long hair, glasses, hat. Bonus: Go with someone dressed as Wayne or Gable. No one will get it, but whatever.
7. Jim Morrison. His ghost apparently roams the halls of Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood, where other luminaries like Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin also recorded. The studios are still active today, and bands like DC's Dead Meadows, who recorded an album at Sunset in 2007, and Transmatic, who recorded their sole album there before breaking up in 2003, reported strange occurrences -- lights flipping on and off, instruments going out of tune, knobs being turned by an unseen hand, etc. Perhaps the Lizard King is attempting to get in some production work from beyond the grave?
Supplies required for this costume: really tight black leather pants, curly shag wig.
6. Eddie Hinton. The Mussel Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, where artists like the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Cher, and Wilson Pickett laid down recordings in the '60s and '70s, is widely rumored to be haunted. The studio eventually shut down in the '80s, and then the Black Keys opened the historic studio back up to record their 2010 album Brothers. While recording, the band was reportedly plagued with unexplained equipment malfunctions. Rumor has it that the ghost inhabiting the studio is that of Eddie Hinton, the troubled lead guitarist for the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section. Tales of an apparition clad in a blue suit -- much like the one Hinton was buried in -- still swirl around the studio.
Supplies required for this costume: Hinton-esque sideburns, blue suit circa 1995 (the year Hinton died).
5. Bon Scott. When singer Brian Johnson was invited to join AC/DC after the legendary Scott's untimely death, he obviously had some intimidatingly big shoes to fill. The night before the band was scheduled to go into the studio to record their behemoth Back in Black, Johnson was staying in a hotel, and his nerves were getting the best of him. Johnson refuses to say exactly what happened in the hotel room that night, but he says that he experienced something that he couldn't explain, which made him feel as though he was doing the right thing by taking up Scott's torch. Although this isn't the traditional story of a haunting, it's pretty spooky -- and we like the idea of Bon Scott visiting from the other side to give his blessing to the project. Plus, Back in Black was a great album, and it's nice to know it has Bon's approval.
Supplies required for this costume: denim vest, black tooth enamel makeup.
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4. Hank Williams. One of the busiest spooks in spook-ville, Williams' ghost has made appearances at a variety of locations. However, most Williams ghost stories center around the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry and the site of many a Williams performance. Employees have reported running into Williams backstage and some have seen a white mist on the actual stage after closing. They claim it's Williams; apparently, he's sound-checking from the beyond.
Supplies required for this costume: cowboy hat, guitar, inspiration material in the form of David Allan Coe's "The Ghost of Hank Williams" to listen to while getting costumed out.
3. Elvis. The ghost of Elvis is another one of the busiest apparitions in the netherworld. He reportedly haunts a lot of places, from Graceland to some of the halls where he played during his lifetime. We're not sure if Elvis really has the time to get around to all these places while also following Marc Cohn up Union Avenue, but the stories are fun nonetheless -- especially the one where he's been seen marrying Marilyn Monroe in the Graceland chapel, which is, of course, the most serious and believable ghost story ever.
Supplies required for this costume: Elvis costumes are easy to find -- just add white makeup and you're set.
2. Liberace. During his lifetime, Liberace was an avid cook; he opened a restaurant right off the Vegas strip in the '80s called Liberace's Tivoli Gardens, which was later changed to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens after Liberace's death. Despite the name change, though, it appears that Liberace hasn't left the restaurant. Liberace's piano is the source of repeated reports of "cold spots," and there have been some creepy photos taken of a weird yellow mist. All sorts of strange activity goes on at Carluccio's, including faucets being turned on and off, lights flickering and bottles falling off shelves. Even in death, it seems Liberace has a flair for the dramatic.
Supplies required for this costume: rhinestones, lots and lots of rhinestones.
1. Gram Parsons. The dramatic story of Parsons' death is the stuff of legend, to the point that it was once made into a movie (although the film, a regrettable Johnny Knoxville vehicle, is pretty awful). Parsons, formerly of the Flying Burrito Brothers and a frequent Emmylou Harris collaborator and paramour, was a staple in the '70s California country-rock scene. He lived a wild, fast life, often accompanied in his exploits by his manager and best friend, Phil Kaufman. The duo would often spend days in the California desert around Joshua Tree National Park, taking hallucinogens and watching for UFOs. During one of these trips, Parsons told Kaufman that, when he died, he wanted his friends to take his body out to Joshua Tree, and burn him on a pyre. Parsons died in 1973 at age 26 in the Joshua Tree Inn, overdosing on morphine and alcohol during one of his desert excursions. Although Parsons' family requested that his body be shipped back to Louisiana, Kaufman, heeding Parsons' earlier request, stole the body from LAX, drove it out to the desert, and burned it. The folks at the Joshua Tree Inn claim to have seen apparitions of Parsons, still haunting room number 8, where he passed. Tourists can rent the room for the night if they want a chance at seeing Parsons' ghost. The ad copy on the Joshua Tree Inn's reservation is pretty charming in that regard: "[Room 8] is haunted - bring your guitar and write songs!"
Supplies required for this costume: groovy shag wig, white pants and jacket with burn marks.