A parish priest that I know, like a good shepherd, ever vigilant for his flock, recommended, Turn Off Your Mind, to me to gain a better understanding of the depths of the cultural and moral crisis afflicting our society.
This book was written by the founder of the rock and roll group known as Blondie. For those who may have already researched rock and roll and its underlying philosophies, there is not a tremendous amount of new information here. If, however, you are one of a growing number who are beginning to ask themselves what has gone wrong with the last couple of generations, this book is very enlightening.
Mr. Lachman does not address the issues of the more obvious problems of rock and roll, such as the beat and the volume, or even the words. What he does do, is reveal to us what kinds of people were involved in rock and roll and who their role models were. I will inform you right up front that Our Lord Jesus Christ was not one of the role models mentioned for any rock and roll musician. The author has simply written the story of rock and roll, and the dangerous philosophies that fuel it. He rarely gives his opinion, just the well-researched facts and quotes, with 24 pages of notes and bibliography.
He traces the philosophies that have infused rock and roll back to the nineteenth century. He begins with Madame Blavatsky, described as the founding mother of the occult in America. There is not enough space in this review to mention the many very bizarre influences upon the rock and roll philosophy, so I will only highlight the most notable and their main themes.
The philosophy behind rock and roll contains several currents of spiritually deadly thought: occultism, Eastern mysticism, psychedelic drugs, revolt and complete license.
Sadly, some of the most notable influences on the philosophy behind rock and roll are like a Who’s Who list. In addition to Madame Blavatsky, this is the German author, Herman Hesse who wrote in one of his essays of a concept of man that is “amoral and who turns away from every fixed morality and ethic.” Next comes, Jiddhu Krishnamurti, bizarre Eastern occultist who developed quite a following in California and included among his acquaintances such notables as Igor Stravinsky, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Bertrand Russell. There is also the psychoanalyst, C.G. Jung who wrote a commentary about, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Aleister Crowley, infamous satanist and drug addict, became one of the leading influences of many of the most famous rock and roll groups. His photo is on the cover of the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. Aleister Crowley enjoys the distinction that many of his followers ended up mad, destitute and or prematurely dead.
The “Three Musketeers of the Beat Generation,” Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs Jr., all shared the renown of having occupied both mental hospitals and prisons. It was William S. Burroughs who recommended the extermination of all rational thought. Carlos Castaneda consumed peyote and smoked psychedelic mushrooms. His books enjoyed immense popularity, despite glaring inconsistencies and falsehoods. Dr. Timothy Leary became the LSD guru and promoter of violent revolution. Mr. Lachman also mentions L. Ron Hubbard’s philosophy of Scientology as an influence.
Another influence was Anton La Vey, the founder of the Church of Satan in San Francisco. Many involved in the rock and roll movement, as well as Hollywood stars, at one time or another attended his “services.” Finally, there is Charles Manson. Charles Manson was not just some transient who drifted around California. Charles Manson knew many of the big names in the circles of rock and roll, the Church of Satan and Hollywood. Charles Manson’s “philosophy,” if you could call it that, was based upon his studies of Scientology, Masonic ritual and the occult. It could be said that Charles Manson took all of the above philosophies to a logical conclusion.
As can be seen, this book is a thorough search into what is behind the music and the individuals who composed and produced it. One of the other interesting aspects of the book is the thread that connects each “inspirer” of rock and roll. Many of the above names had some connection with each other, either personally or by inspiration.
The last few chapters deal with some of the big names in rock and roll and some of their bizarre beliefs and practices. Elvis Presley dabbled in Madame Blavatsky, Krishnamurti, and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Mick Jagger once sported a tattoo of Lucifer; Jimmy Page was a devoted Crowleite; Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys befriended Charles Manson and even put him up for a couple of weeks; Jim Morrison wrote, “I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos …”
Due to space constraints, I am not able to address the leftist political influences upon rock and roll, which are substantial even today. Rock and roll eventually became a big promoter of leftist causes.
By way of a warning, this work does contain some disagreeable aspects, as both the philosophers and the practitioners of rock and roll can be described minimally as hedonists.
With such underlying philosophies is it any wonder that there are growing numbers of public blasphemies, mental breakdowns, violence, STD’s, abortion, euthanasia and suicides? These problems are continually nourished by those who expose themselves to repeated doses of rock and roll. Rock and roll may not be the only contributor to these catastrophes, but it has definitely been a significant influence.
If some of the most important reasons why our society has suffered such a moral and cultural crisis interest you, then this book will be an eye opener. I believe that one can profit from the information this book has to offer, if, as a result, one is able to see more clearly how far we have sunk. It is my hope, that the shock of this book will inspire readers of good will to work towards turning our culture away from its present, deadly path. May we also desire to restore that virtuous society which loves and desires to follow the laws as well as the customs of God and the Christian civilization that He inspired.