memories of the ’70s – Backmasking

Were we listening to Satan’s songs? Was the Devil infiltrating our thoughts and we didn’t know?

For music lovers of the 1970s, the undercurrent of rock ‘n’ roll was the secrets of backmasking, and the hidden messages on albums that were apparently encouraging a love for the underworld.

Backward masking is a recording technique to record a sound backward on the album. Popularized by The Beatles on their album Revolver in 1966 but going back as far as inventor Thomas Edison to the 1800s, there were many claims of the secret messages that were found if you played a record backwards.

All these claims centered on the same thing – that the band was trying to quietly communicate the words of Satan to the listener and influence the fans to consider his dark words.

With much of this erupting in the late 1970s and early 1980s, albums from the 1970s were targets and specific songs, such as Hotel California by The Eagles, Stormbringer by Deep Purple, Gonna Raise Hell by Cheap Trick, Eldorado by ELO and Better By You, Better than Me by Judas Priest.

As the fans strained to hear the apparent words of the devil in the jumbled sounds of playing an album backwards, the Christian groups felt that this was a secret invasion to the homes of good people and the bands needed to be stopped.

As the stories swirled in the media, it came to a point where even Dan Rather played three albums backwards on the CBS Evening News and a youth minister published a book “Backward Masking Unmasked”.

Despite this wave of distrust of rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal albums, the proof never appeared and the technology swept the claims aside.


About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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