Music has been blamed for a lot of things over the years. This time, it’s for murder…
Music can provoke a lot of emotion. Quite often this might be joy or happiness – but what about on the opposite end of the scale, where the listener finds a track so intense they do the unthinkable. As we are neither singer or songwriter of these tracks, we can become confused by the lyrics and misinterpret their message. In these following cases, this has led to a deadly outcome…
11. Metallica – Ronnie
29-year-old Ronald Pituch was found guilty of killing his mother, Josephine, and then stabbing an 11-year-old boy to death on October 17th, 2002. He claimed he was influenced by the Metallica song Ronnie, the lyrics on this track can are:
“Well, all the green things died when Ronnie moved to this place. He said, ‘Don’t you dare ask why I’m cursed to wear this face.’ Now we all know why the children called him Ronnie Frown. When he pulled that gun from his pocket they all fall down, down, down.”
Pituch struck his mother over the head with a 20-pound barbell at the home they shared in Huntington Circle, Lewisville, Texas. He then left the home on his motorcycle and spotted Gregory Katsnelson riding his bike through the neighbouring village of Evesham. During the trial, he admitted to grabbing the young boy, stabbing him and then throwing his body in a pond. Pituch then handed himself in to the Medford Police department. He believed that the song
During the trial, he admitted to grabbing the young boy, stabbing him and then throwing his body in a pond. Pituch then handed himself in to the Medford Police department. He believed that the song Ronnie had been directly aimed at him.
Family members claimed Pituch was no longer on his normal medication days before the killings. He avoided the death penalty by taking a plea of insanity, confessed to the murder and aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
10. Chief Keef – I Don’t Like
In 2013, 15-year-old James Edwards and 16-year-old Chancey Luna were found guilty of shooting and killing Australian baseball player, 22-year-old Christopher Lane, as he was out jogging in Duncan, Oklahoma. Their friend, 17-year-old Michael Jones, was also charged with being an accessory to the crime and driving the getaway car.
Two days before the cold-blooded killing, Edwards had posted a chilling tweet with lyrics by rapper Chief Keef from the song titled I Don’t Like, which read: “With my niggas when it’s time to start taken life’s.” Further lyrics on the track include: “Pistol toting and I’m shooting on sight”.
Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said, “These boys were more into some rapper that goes around, his music is violent, more than gang stuff. These boys have no respect for life or authority or society, it doesn’t matter who it is. By one of their own words, they saw him go by, and they said, “there’s the target” and they followed him and shot him. He could have been anybody walking down the street.”
9. Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon
On January 12th, 1986, a lawsuit against Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne was filed by the parents of John McCollum, a depressed teenager who committed suicide after allegedly listening to his song Suicide Solution. The lyrics include the line: “Why try? Get the gun and shoot!”
The charges were dropped after the defence proved that Ozzy was not responsible for the teenager’s death. His manager at the time, Don Arden, who is also the father of Sharon Osbourne, claimed, “To be perfectly honest, I would be doubtful as to whether Mr. Osbourne knew the meaning of the lyrics, if there was any meaning, because his command of the English language is minimal.”
Then in 1983, Ozzy released the single Bark at the Moon, which was the first track from an album of the same name. The lyrics of the song detail a creature who terrorizes a town, was killed, and later mysteriously returned to once again wreak havoc upon the villagers. Shortly after Bark at the Moon’s release, a Canadian man named James Jollimore murdered a woman and her two children after allegedly listening to the album.
8. Slipknot – Disasterpiece
On April 24th, 2003, 20-year-old Jason Lamar Harris and 16-year-old Amber Rose Riley, of San Bernardino, California, were charged with stabbing their friend, 22-year-old Terry Ray Taylor, more than 20 times and slashing his throat. The pair then dumped his body in Perris Hill Park.
During the trial in Superior Court, detectives claimed that Harris and Riley described the events of the killing in detail, and they had also further confessed to listening to a track called Disasterpiece by Slipknot, from the band’s 2001 album Iowa. The lyrics read: “I wanna slit your throat and fuck the wound. I wanna push my face in and feel the swoon.”
7. Slipknot – Wait and Bleed
The name Slipknot was mentioned in court once again, this time when 18-year-old student Morné Harmse attacked four people with a samurai sword, at The Nic Diederichs Technical High School, Krugersdorp, South Africa on August 17th, 2008. 16-year-old student Jacques Pretorius was killed, and two gardeners and another pupil were seriously injured.
Harmse was reported to have “followed” Satan and practiced Satanism. Criticism of Slipknot was also heard in court, as Harmse was in possession of a mask that resembled the same one belonging to a Slipknot band member and he dressed very similar to the band’s drummer, Joey Jordison. It was also heard that during the morning of the attack, Harmse had been listening to the band’s track Wait and Bleed.
Harmse later pleaded guilty to murder and three charges of attempted murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
6. U2 – Exit
Robert John Bardo, born in 1970, is currently serving life imprisonment without parole after being convicted of killing American actress Rebecca Schaeffer on July 18, 1989. Bardo wrote several letters to Schaeffer hoping to gain access onto the set of her CBS show My Sister Sam. He managed to obtain her home address after hiring a private detective agency, who tracked the information through the California Department of Motor Vehicles records.
On the day of Schaeffer’s murder, Bardo arrived at her apartment and she signed an autograph for him before heading into her home. An hour later, Bardo rang the bell to her apartment and when Schaeffer opened the door, he shot and killed her.
At the time, the prosecutor for the state was Marcia Clark, who is well-known as the lead prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson murder trial. During the trial, Bardo claimed the U2 song Exit drove him to murder. Clark played the song in court as part of the evidence and Bardo lip-synched along to the lyrics: “Hand in the pocket, Finger on the steel, The pistol weighed heavy, His heart he could feel, Was beating, beating, Beating, beating oh my love.”
Bardo was sentenced to life in prison and the law was changed so now the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act prohibits state Departments of Motor Vehicles from disclosing the home addresses of state residents.
5. Drowning Pool – Bodies
In February 2003, 19-year-old Joshua Cooke shot and killed his parents at their family home in Fairfax, Virginia. Three years ago, in an interview for Piers Morgan Live from his prison cell, he called for the ban of assault weapons, claiming, “If I had an assault weapon, things would have been much worse.” He added, “I thank God I didn’t have an AR-15, because the way I was back then mentally, I would have gone to the mall that night or to one of my old high schools the next morning and killed as many people as I possibly could.”
On the day of the murders, he helped his father, 51-year-old Paul Cooke, and his mother, 56-year-old Margaret, shovel snow off their drive before returning to his bedroom to play violent video games Grand Theft Auto and BloodRayne. He remembers picking up a shotgun and thinking, “That was it, there was nothing left in my life.”
The prosecution heard that Cooke had listened to Bodies by Drowning Pool for more than a year, the lyrics included the repeating line: “Let the bodies hit the floor.” He was then sentenced to forty years for double murder.
4. Linkin Park – In The End
Linkin Park fan, Charles Andrew “Andy” Williams, was just 15-years-old when he killed two students and injured thirteen others, during the Santana High School shooting on March 5th, 2001, in Santee, California.
Weeks before the shooting, Williams attempted to speak to a school counselor about the emotional difficulty he was having at the hands of bullies. He was turned away from the counselling session as they were too full and he instead seeked to self-soothe through listening to songs by his favourite band, Linkin Park. The lyrics for In The End include: “I’ve put my trust in you, Pushed as far as I can go, For all this, There’s only one thing you should know, I tried so hard, And got so far, But in the end, It doesn’t even matter.”
Williams spoke on two occasions to friends about his plans to “pull a Columbine”, but nobody reported these threats to the school. He also claimed that he would get on top of the school’s roof so that he could hit people more easily and he warned his friends to leave the school on the date of the shooting. He took his father’s .22 caliber long-action revolver and later told investigators went on his shooting spree because he was “tired of being bullied.”
He also claimed he never intended to shoot anyone but instead, “Make a lot of noise and then the cops would show up” and they would shoot him. But he later changed his mind at the last minute, dropped his revolver and surrendering. Williams is currently serving life in prison.
3. Pearl Jam – Jeremy
On February 2nd, 1996, 14-year-old Barry Dale Loukaitis shot and killed his algebra teacher and two students, then held his classmates hostage before a gym coach managed to take him down, at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, Washington.
On the day of the shooting, Loukaitis went to school dressed armed with a .30–30 caliber hunting rifle and two handguns (.357 caliber revolver and .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol), and carried 78 rounds of ammunition he had stolen from his father. When he entered the classroom and started shooting, he yelled, “This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?”
After killing the teacher, Leona Caires, he planned to use a hostage and leave the school. Gym teacher Jon Lane volunteered, when he was held at gunpoint by Loukatis’ rifle, he managed to grab the weapon and wrestle him to the ground. He then restrained Loukaitis until the police arrived at the scene.
Prosecutors argued that Loukaitis had carefully planned the shooting after he had the idea from the Pearl Jam song Jeremy. The music video shows a troubled youth committing suicide in front of his teacher and classmates, due to MTV’s strong anti violence imagery rules, it was misinterpreted that “Jeremy” had opened fire on the class. The only images allowed to air were those of the children covered in his blood, so the storyline was misunderstood by Loukatis.
He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, and 16 counts of aggravated kidnapping. He was sentenced to serve two life sentences and is currently imprisoned at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center in Washington State after his request for a new trial was denied in 1999.
2. The Beatles – Helter Skelter
Charles Manson led a cult named the Manson Family, who were based in the California desert. Manson and his followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations over a period of five weeks in the summer of 1969.
The victims were actress Sharon Tate and four other people at Tate’s home; and the next day, a married couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, then another couple Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea. In 1971, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders, after they were all carried out by members of the group who were under his instruction.
In the months leading up to the first murders, Charles Manson spoke to the members of his “Family” about Helter Skelter. This he believed was an apocalyptic war arising from racial tensions between blacks and whites. Manson, during his appeal, involved reference to music of The Beatles, using songs from The White Album. Manson and his followers were prosecuted based on the claims that they were planning to trigger a Helter Skelter scenario.
1. AC/DC – Night Prowler
Richard Ramirez, terrorised Los Angeles during 1984 and 1985, breaking into homes through windows and unlocked doors, before brutally assaulting and murdering his victims. He was named the “Night Stalker” and frustrated authorities who failed to capture him. On March 17th, 1985, Ramirez left behind a crucial piece of evidence at one of his murder scenes – a hat with AC/DC’s band logo.
After he was eventually captured and named, Ramirez’s childhood friend Ray Garcia, who grew up with the killer in El Paso, Texas, confirmed that the serial killer was “obsessed” with AC/DC, which he believed stood for “Anti-Christ/Devil’s Child.” A devote Satanist, Ramirez also misunderstood the lyrics of the band’s track Night Prowler.
He believed the lyrics were about stalking people at night. They read: “Too scared to turn your light out, Cause there’s somethin’ on your mind, Was that a noise outside the window, What’s that shadow on the blind, As you lie there naked, Like a body in a tomb, Suspended animation as I slip into your room, I’m your night prowler, asleep in the day, Night prowler, get outta my way, Look out for the night prowler, watch out tonight.” Band member Malcom Young corrected the meaning of the song, as he told VH1: “That song is not called ‘Night Stalker’. It’s called ‘Night Prowler’ and it’s about things you used to do when you are a kid, like sneaking into a girlfriend’s bedroom when her parents were asleep.”
Band member Malcom Young corrected the meaning of the song, as he told VH1: “That song is not called ‘Night Stalker’. It’s called ‘Night Prowler’ and it’s about things you used to do when you are a kid, like sneaking into a girlfriend’s bedroom when her parents were asleep.”
Ramirez was sentenced to execution and lived on death row for 23-years before dying of complications to B-cell lymphoma at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California. He was 53-years-old.