Updated August 14, 2000 (first published December 30, 1998) (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368, firstname.lastname@example.org) - CCM defenders usually deny that there is a connection between voodoo and African witchcraft and rock music. Steve Lawhead, in his book Rock Reconsidered, quotes Tony Palmer: "That rock and its evil beat originated with the slaves of Africa is a racist notion which will not stand up" (Rock Reconsidered, pp. 55-60). Dan and Steve Peters present the same nonsense on page 187 of their book What About Christian Rock?
Such a denial is absolute spiritual blindness. Dr. William Sargent, head of the Psychological Medicine Department at St. Thomas Hospital in London, says "the Beatles and African witch doctors all practiced a similar type of brainwashing" (Wichita Beacon, Feb. 17, 1965, p. 11A). Leonard Seidel, a concert pianist and distinguished lecturer on music, has researched this topic and exposes the lie that there is no connection between voodoo and African paganism and rock music:
"The incessant, poly-rhythms pounded out on cylindrical drums [by African tribals] is the catalyst of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and todays heavy metal. It is amazing that the reactions we see at a contemporary rock concert are an exact copy of what happened in the Pinkster celebrations [black festivals in New York] or at Place Congo [black slave dancing in New Orleans] during the Antebellum Period. Any analysis that denies this fact renders the church impoverished in its understanding of the African connection to the rock movement of the 20th century.
"In Stairway to Heaven, Davin Seay quotes Robert Palmer in Rolling Stone illustrated History of Rock N Roll, In a very real sense rock was implicit in the music of the first Africans brought to North America. And implicit in their music were centuries of accumulated rites, rituals, and religious fervor. The music of those first brutalized and bewildered slaves, ripped from cultures as old as the Pyramids, those ancient chants and tribal stomps, didnt simply evoke the spirits of the forest gods; they animated and immortalized them (Davin Seay, Stairway to Heaven, New York: Ballantine Books, 1986, p. 11).
"Implications such as these lead to a deeper investigation and a focus on the slaves who were brought to the Caribbean Isles. One of the most significant books ever published on this subject is the study done by Maya Deren under the Guggenheim Foundation in 1953 concerning the history of the African tribal origins of demon gods and voodoo meetings in Haiti. The book Divine Horseman--The Living Gods of Haiti, deals with the importation of the slaves from the West coast of Africa to the Caribbean Islands. These slaves were taken from the same tribes from which the slaves in the Colonies were taken: Senegalese, Bambaras, Arades, Congos, Kangas, Fons and Fulas. The first slave shipment to Haiti was in 1510.
"As with the Colony slaves, THEY BROUGHT WITH THEM ONLY THEIR WORSHIP OF GODS, THEIR DANCES AND THEIR DRUM BEATS. Eileen Southern states: There is no question that Haiti was the central place where African religious traditions · syncretized with Catholic beliefs and practices to produce vaudou, (voodoo) · the ceremonies centered upon worship of the snake god Damballa through singing, dancing, and spirit possession (emphasis added) (Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans, New York: W.W. Horton, 1983, p. 139).
"THEIR RELIGIOUS WORSHIP WAS BASED ON DRUMS AND DANCING, and as they worshipped a god or demon, the ultimate experience was to have their bodies possessed by that demon. The rituals were grossly sensualistic and sadistic. Firmly set in the Caribbean Isles, the practice made its way to the shores of the United States primarily through the city of New Orleans. Historically, slaves from Santo Domingo were brought to the States during the Haitian revolution in 1804, but voodoo probably existed before this because the state of Louisiana imported slaves from the West Indies in 1716, and the practice was also reported in Missouri, Georgia and Florida.
"The dances of New Orleans were named for the voodoo gods of the worship rituals. The Samba was dedicated to the god simbi, god of seduction and fertility. The Conga was named after the African demon congo. The Mamba was named after the voodoo priestess who offered sacrifices to the demons during the rituals. Sheldon Rodman, author of Haiti, the Black Republic, describes these dances and relates them to the dances of today. It is interesting to note that in the 1981 rock album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, by Brian Eno and David Byrne, they coaxed African spirits from rocks own dim past.
"THE MOST POINTED OBSERVATION MADE IN MAYA DERENS BOOK CONCERNS THE DRUMMER, THE RHYTHMS AND THE BEAT. Of all the individuals related to ritual activity it is the drummer whose role would seem almost analogous to that of an individual virtuoso ... Haitian ritual drumming requires more explicit craft training and practice than any other ritual activity (Maya Deren, Divine Horseman--The Living Gods of Haiti, New Paltz: McPherson & Co., 1953, p. 233).
"She observes that the dancers are forced to salute the drummers first before any other part of the ritual is entered into. It is obvious that without the drum, the ritual cannot progress. What a striking parallel to the modern rock band! The drum set is always center stage, usually elevated behind the lead singer. Without the drummer (or in many cases the bass guitarist), the rock band would cease to exist.
"Further, Miss Deren writes that it is upon the drummer that the burden falls of integrating the participants into a homogeneous collective. It is the drumming which fuses the fifty or more individuals into a single body, making them move as one, as if all of these singular bodies had become linked on the thread of a single pulse--a pulse which beats ... sending the body into a slow serpentine undulation which begins in the shoulders, then the spine, legs and hips (Deren, Divine Horseman, p. 235).
"This description is a remarkable parallel to that which takes place at a modern rock concert. One has only to watch a video of the audience to be convinced. The actions would give an observer the impression that some sort of possession has occurred. Miss Deren goes to some length in her book to describe the inanimate object of the drum as being sacred, even to the place of being fed food and guarded by those attending. It is the drums and the drum beats per se, which are the sacred sound (Deren, Divine Horseman, pp. 244-246).
"Pearl Primus, long noted for her expertise on the voodoo dance, has said, The drummers keep up a terrific throb and beat which very easily takes possession of the sensibilities of the worshippers. Observers say that these drums themselves are able to bring a person to a place where it is easy for the deity (loa) to take possession of their bodies--the defenseless person is buffeted by each stroke as the drummer sets out to beat the loa (god) into his head: The person cringes with each large (accented) beat as if the drum mallet descended upon his very skull; he ricochets about the place, clutching blindly at the arms extended to support him (Lecture, Mount Holyoke College, Holyoke, Massachusetts, Mary E. Wooley Hall, 1953).
"There can be no denying that there is a strong relationship between what we have uncovered in demonic Haitian voodoo and its counterpart in the city of New Orleans and other southern cities. THERE IS ALSO NO DENYING THAT THE MODERN ROCK AND ROLL MOVEMENT EVOLVED PARTIALLY FROM SOME OF THE DANCES DESCRIBED EARLIER, PROGRESSING THROUGH A NUMBER OF STAGES: RHUMBA DANCING, RHYTHM AND BLUES, ROCK AND ROLL, DISCO, HEAVY METAL AND PUNK ROCK. There are, of course, other elements that make up the evolution of rock music; however, that is not the issue here. Concerning disco, Miss Southern says, The insistent pounding rhythms of disco pushed conventional melody and harmonies into subordinate positions ... in a manner that recalled descriptions of juba reciting to accompany dancing on the plantations in the nineteenth century (Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans, New York: Norton and Co., 1983, p. 507). ...
"Ruth Tooze and Beatrice Krone in their book relate that the same instinct for pulsating rhythms that is found in the negro songs is carried over into their use of instruments ... banjos on the plantations and later in the city where they adapted to the trumpet, clarinet and trombone. With their inate talent for improvisation, a new kind of instrumental music was created--we call it jazz (Ruth Tooze, Beatrice Krone, Literature and Music, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1955, p. 105).
"IT IS IRREFUTABLE THAT ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC OWES SOME OF ITS ROOTS TO THE TRIBES OF AFRICA. Every analysis written on the subject acknowledges that its roots are deep in jazz and rhythm and blues. Because of the relationship between American Negro music and the African, they have coined a term that is used considerably today, Aframerican music (Literature and Music, p. 102). Joseph Machlis says in his voluminous work, The Enjoyment of Music, Jazz, by a rough definition-of-thumb is an improvisational, Afro-American musical idiom. It makes use of elements of rhythm, melody and harmony from Africa, and of melody and harmony from the European musical tradition. The influence of jazz, and of closely associated Afro-American idioms has been so pervasive, that by now most of our popular music is in an Afro-American idiom, and elements of jazz have permeated a good deal of our concert music as well (Joseph Machlis, The Enjoyment of Music, New York: W. W. Norton, 1963, p. 597).
"To declare that these are the only roots of rock music is to mislead and to be less than honest. A careful study of rock music reveals it to be more complex than that; however, TO DENY THAT AN AFRICAN CONNECTION TO THE ROCK RHYTHMS OF OUR DAY DOES NOT EXIST, IS TO BE EQUALLY MISLEADING AND DISHONEST. To declare that a certain rhythm or beat is evil cannot be proved entirely. What is far more important is THE HISTORICAL REVELATION THAT DEMONIC ACTIVITY HAS BEEN OBSERVED IN CONNECTION WITH RITUALS WHERE DRUMS AND RHYTHMIC BEATS HAVE BEEN THE CATALYST. That this possibility exists should prove a warning to the church that Satan can and will use anything in his power to turn humanity from the worship of a Holy God to himself in order that he might ultimately fulfill his evil purposes and receive the glory" (Leonard J. Seidel, Face the Music: Contemporary Church Music on Trial, 1988, p. 34-42).
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ROCK & ROLL AND VOODOO HAS BEEN NOTED EVEN BY UNSAVED ROCK MUSICIANS AND RESEARCHERS. The British rock session drummer, Rocki (Kwasi Dzidzornu), who has recorded with many famous groups and musicians such as the Rolling Stones, Spooky Tooth, and Ginger Baker, understood that the music of Jimi Hendrix was akin to voodoo music. Note the following amazing statement from Hendrixs biography:
"He [Hendrix] had gotten a chance to see Rocki and some other African musicians on the London scene. He found it a pleasure to play rhythms against their polyrhythms. They would totally get outside, into another kind of space that he had seldom been in before. ... ROCKIS FATHER WAS A VOODOO PRIEST AND THE CHIEF DRUMMER of a village in Ghana, West Africa. Rockis real name was Kwasi Dzidzornu. ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS ROCKI ASKED JIMI WAS WHERE HE GOT THAT VOODOO RHYTHM FROM. When Jimi demurred, Rocki went on to explain in his halting English that many of the signature rhythms Jimi played on guitar were very often the same rhythms that his father played in voodoo ceremonies. The way Jimi danced to the rhythms of his playing reminded Rocki of the ceremonial dances to the rhythms his father played to Oxun, the god of thunder and lightning. The ceremony is called voodooshi. As a child in the village, Rocki would carve wooden representatives of the gods. They also represented his ancestors. These were the gods they worshiped. They would jam a lot in Jimis house. One time they were jamming and Jimi stopped and asked Rocki point-blank, You communicate with God, do you? Rocki said, Yes, I communicate with God" (David Henderson, Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, pp. 250,251).
As we have noted, there are proponents of "Christian rock" music who label such an idea "racist." In Hendrixs biography, though (which is NOT written by a Christian), we see that the non-Christian son of an actual voodoo priest sees a direct connection between the music of rock star Jimi Hendrix and idolatrous voodoo. Is the black rock drummer Rocki a racist for making such an observation? His remarks cannot be dismissed conveniently as the ranting of a biblical fundamentalist!
Newsweek magazine noted the African and voodoo music connection in disco rock: "From Latin music, it takes the percolating percussion, its sensuous, throbbing rhythms; from Afro and Cuban music, it repeats simple lyric lines like voodoo chants" (Newsweek, April 2, 1979, pp. 58,59).
Well-known rock artist Peter Gabriel has no doubt that there is a direct African connection to rock & roll:
"THERE ARE THINGS LIKE THE BO DIDDLEY RHYTHM THAT IVE HEARD BEAT-FOR-BEAT IN CONGOLESE PATTERNS. Part of what we consider our fundamental rock and roll heritage originated in Africa. Period" (Peter Gabriel, interview with Timothy White, 1986, Rock Lives, p. 720).
Robert Palmer, noted rock music critic and historian, connects rock music directly with the blues, which, in turn, is connected directly with Africa: "The African music from which the blues ultimately derives came to what is now the southern United States with the first African slaves" (Palmer, Deep Blues, pp. 25,26). He observes that influential bluesman Robert Johnson used rhythmic devices that "have counterparts in West African drumming" and he used "them in an African manner, stacking rhythms on top of each other in order to build up a dense, layered rhythmic complexity" (Deep Blues, p. 64). In his book Rock and Roll an Unruly History, Robert Palmer is even more forthright about the direct connection between voodoo and rock music:
"The idea that certain rhythm patterns or sequences serve as conduits for spiritual energies, linking individual human consciousness with the gods, is basic to traditional African religions and African-derived religions throughout the Americas. And whether were speaking historically or musicologically, THE FUNDAMENTAL RIFFS, LICKS, BASS FIGURES, AND DRUM RHYTHMS THAT MAKE ROCK AND ROLL ROCK CAN ULTIMATELY BE TRACED BACK TO AFRICAN MUSIC OF A PRIMARILY SPIRITUAL OR RITUAL NATURE. In a sense, rock and roll is a kind of voodoo, rooted in a vigorous tradition of celebrating nature [that which the Bible calls "the flesh"] and spirit thats far removed from the sober patriarchal values espoused by the self-appointed guardians of western culture [this is a reference to Bible-believing Christians, among others]" (emphasis added) (Robert Palmer, Rock and Roll an Unruly History).
In a 1982 interview with one of the fathers of rock & roll, Jerry Lee Lewis, researcher Steve Turner asked what power falls on Jerry Lee when he performs. Lewis replied: "The power of voodoo" (Turner, Hungry for Heaven, p. 26).
Little Richard, another of rocks fathers, has also testified of this connection:
"My true belief about Rock n Roll--and there have been a lot of phrases attributed to me over the years--is this: I believe this kind of music is demonic. ... A LOT OF THE BEATS IN MUSIC TODAY ARE TAKEN FROM VOODOO, FROM THE VOODOO DRUMS. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, youll see that is true ... I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious" (Little Richard, quoted by Charles White, The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 197).
It would be a simple matter, I suppose, for a proponent of Christian rock music to discount the testimony of Little Richard, perhaps because of his strange personality and his on again, off again relationship with Christianity. But answer me this: Do the defenders of Christian rock really know more about the character of rock and roll than a man like Little Richard, who was one of its creators?
The Rolling Stones and other rock & roll groups have recorded tribal and voodoo occultic drumming ceremonies and incorporated these into their rock music. The Stones Goats Head Soup album allegedly contained such recordings, including the vicious drumming and the screams of voodoo adherents becoming possessed by loa or evil spirits.
John Lennon said rock & roll gets through to people because of its voodoo beat: "Because it is primitive enough and has no bull, really, the best stuff, and it gets through to you its beat. GO TO THE JUNGLE AND THEY HAVE THE RHYTHM and it goes throughout the world and its as simple as that" (Lennon, Rolling Stone, Feb. 12, 1976, p 100).
Tony Sanchez, who traveled with the Stones for many years and who wrote a book about them, described the music at their infamous concert at Altamonte, during which many people were injured and killed, as "POUNDING VOODOO DRUMMING and primitive shrieks" (Sanchez, Up and Down with the Rolling Stones, p. 184). He described the music of the Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter" as "HYPNOTIC, VOODOO RHYTHM" (Sanchez, p. 175).
Malcolm McLaren, who managed vile punk groups such as the Sex Pistols and Adam and the Ant, incorporated ZULU TRIBAL MUSIC into his 1983 Duck Rock album.
Musicologist John Chernoff studied drumming in Africa, even participating in animal sacrifices and other pagan ceremonies to appease the drum spirits. After these demonic ceremonies, he claimed that his arms did not tire and he "seemed never to make a mistake." Chernoff noted the close connection between voodoo-type African cult drumming and rock and roll: "· great drummers, aficionados, and scholars can trace the rhythms of the Latin dance halls of New York to Cuban and Brazilian cults and then to West Africa. In Haiti, I demonstrated for some drummers several Yeve Cult rhythms which were familiar enough to have Haitian names·" (Chernoff, African Rhythm and African Sensibility, p. 29).
David Byrne of Talking Heads produced a documentary film, The House of Life (1981), on THE DRUMMING AND CHANTING RITUALS OF THE AFRICAN-ROOTED RELIGION CANDOMBLE in Brazil, during which the followers are taken over by their gods. "If you go back in the history of American popular music, youre constantly finding elements of Yoruba [voodoo] influence. The RHYTHMS are there· Even Little Richard. If you grow up with that, youve already got a taste of it. So when you see Candomble, you say to yourself, hey, this is part of where it all comes from" (Byrne, Rolling Stone, July 13-27, 1989, p. 78).
Before his death, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones spent time in Morocco recording the trance music of Moroccan dervish brotherhoods, "who were reported to heal sickness and soothe troubled minds with their HYPNOTIC DRUMMING, singsong drone, and bluesy lute playing" (Stairway to Heaven, p. 178). Jones "trekked into the Rif foothills south of Tangier to capture the ancient MUSIC, OFFERED TO THE GOAT DEITY PAN, and for the next several months lost himself in producing what would eventually become the posthumously released Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka" (Ibid.).
David Szatmarys book A Time to Rock: A Social History of Rock n Roll traces rock to African rhythms. Under the section on "the Birth of the Blues," this secular rock historian says: "THE BLUES WERE AN INDIGENOUS CREATION OF BLACK SLAVES WHO ADAPTED THEIR AFRICAN MUSICAL HERITAGE TO THE AMERICAN ENVIRONMENT. Though taking many forms and undergoing many permutations through the years, the blues formed the basis of rock-and-roll. · Probably most important, the slaves, accustomed to dancing and singing to the beat of drums in Africa, EMPHASIZED RHYTHM OVER HARMONY" (p. 2).
Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, has studied the connection between rock music and African paganism extensively. He says that rock and roll is "the latest extension of the African backbeat" (Mickey Hart, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, p. 64). He also says that the "mother rhythms from West Africa mutated into rock and roll" (p. 91). He traces a direct connection between rock & roll and the rhythms of witch doctors and voodoo practitioners. "· when the slave ships began playing the waters between the New World and West Africa, everyone though they carried just strong, expendable bodies. But they were also carrying the Counterplayer culture--maybe even the mother goddess culture--preserved in the form of drum rhythms that could call down the Orisha from their time to ours. In the Caribbean and South America, slaves were allowed to keep their drums and thus preserved their vital connection with the Orisha, though the sudden mingling of so many different tribes produced new variations like candomble, santeria, and vodun. · AND OUT OF THIS SEVERING CAME JAZZ, THE BLUES, THE BACKBEAT, RHYTHM AND BLUES, AND ROCK AND ROLL--SOME OF THE MOST POWERFUL RHYTHMS ON THE PLANET. · It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I awoke to the fact that my tradition--rock and roll--did have a spirit side, that there was a branch of the family that had maintained the ancient connection between the drum and the gods" (Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, pp. 209,210,212).Michael DAngelo Archers 1999 album is entitled Voodoo. He says he called it that "because the myriad influences found on it can be traced through the blues and back deeper in history through songs sung · in religious [voodoo] ceremonies" (USA Today, Jan. 25, 2000, p. D2). Thus Archer readily acknowledges the intimate connection between African pagan religions and todays rock music.
Music is not neutral. There is music that encourages demonic activity, and there is music that encourages Holy Spirit activity. There is music which ministers to the carnal side of man, and there is music which ministers to the spiritual side of man. Rock music has always been associated with the carnal and demonic. It has no legitimate place in Christian life and ministry.
"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?" (1 Corinthians 10:21-22).
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17).