The spooks of rock, part 1: Arthur Brown: God of Hellfire!


We like musicians not just because of the way they play and sing but also for their looks and the way they actually perform on stage.  We are bringing you here the first part of the series on the weirdest musical appearances.  


The world of rock could be described as a colourful mosaic where you find various directions and genres. But if you listen to any of your favourite wildly made up artist, you can be sure that you would prefer not only a certain musical style but also become a part of a bizarre cult that a rock icon spreads around. There have always been masks in music on their own and those are said to be a dirty mirror of our society. Let’s go find out who placed the corner stone to epic stage shows that attract masses of viewers all around the world.

To understand true meaning of masks, we first have to dig in the history. Music and theatre always had a mythological function; later also relaxation and last artistic side. We all remember boring school lectures on ancient Greece, telling us about the first theatre attempts done during general celebrations of the God of Dionysus, when the dancers in masks same as the audience drunk like fish and enjoyed life greatly. The masks had an important role in allegorical performance in China, during the Middle Ages (nativity plays, Easter plays or performance on the occasion of birth of significant noblemen) and in the first opera performance in Venice.


Arthur Brown: God of Hellfire!


Where else would you find the scariest nightmare that charms you and entertains you at the same time? Unambiguously that would happen in a rock charade, which started at the sixties and beginning of seventies in the last century. After an exhausting hippies era, which was based especially on artistic creativity and protests against society the music world changed.


After the death of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison or the break-up of the Beatles the rock got into a slight spasm that ended with the coming up of the great stars such as the Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Pink Floyd.


The bands back than performed a show combining instrumental virtuosity with pompousness in an artistic way but it was simply a following of the sixties. In 1968 a video for the song Fire by Arthur Brown (later he played with Kingdom Come and Hawkwind), who as an interpret performed in a black and white picture made-up with a flaming head and weird horns, that today remained of a weird candle holder; it is obvious that regarding the musical part he was inspired by The Doors and beginning of the Deep Purple.


The song shocked and also pointed out a direction to other followers (but also Czech The Primitives Group and The Plastic People Of The Universe). Brown got massively popular due to live performances; yet today his demonic element fells a bit funny and archaically. In 1967, when theatrical rock was still in pampers but it was a brand new sensation. The head on fire sometimes led to misfortunes; the predecessor of a legendary mask was just sieve coated in methanol that uncontrollably got on fire unexpectedly. That happened for example during the festival in Winsdor, when two by-passers had to use their beers to save the singer from burning badly.


Brown was not against various provocations; he got arrested several times, even extradited from the country when he performed naked during his show. The burning horns and hellish make-up became the trademark of Brown´s work and it is clear that the singer was a pioneer of the genre that itself got later more famous by his numerous followers such as Alice Cooper, Kiss, Marilyn Manson, but also Prodigy, that got acquainted with a famous line I am the God of Hellfire. Over a million copies was sold of the single and the song also immediately appeared in a debut album called The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, that you can buy on Amazon.



This song is by Prodigy, who are the kind of spooks that we definitely cannot ommit in our future series.







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Arthur Brown SB 707_1



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