Shots thoroughly enjoyed The Intrusions from London based journalist and thriller writer Stav Sherez – Click Here to read the Shots Review
We were delighted when Stav provided a thought provoking essay, for our readers.
What is it about serial killers and cheesy pop music? While researching my latest novel, The Intrusions, I went through a lot of true crime and serial killer biographies. Most of what I read was pretty horrific, leaving a really bad taste in the mouth – but one thing kept popping up that couldn’t fail but to intrigue me: the music serial killers listened to while stalking or killing their victims. The best and worst of human actions seemed encapsulated by these two poles. I'm sure the music says something about the killer's state of mind or psychology but you'd need someone far more qualified than me to tell you what. Instead – and without meaning to stumble too far down the path of bad taste – here's some of the strange and unlikely music that serial killers listened to.
1. Richard Ramirez
Ramirez conducted one of the most bizarre, baroque, and truly depraved killing sprees in American history. The sheer repetitiveness and obsessive compulsion manifest in these crimes says a lot about serial killer pathology. The "Night Stalker" cruised the LA streets in the mid-1980s searching out victims at a terrifying rate. Several sources state that he would crank up AC/DC on his car stereo as he did so. At the home of one of his victims, he inadvertently left behind an AC/DC cap.
2. Fred West
One of the most degenerate serial killer couples in history, the Wests turned their house on Cromwell Street into a De Sade-ian experiment in depravity. Gordon Burn's Happy Like Murderers documents the terrifying descent into dark sex, murder and incest with chilling, hypnotic prose. It's probably the best true crime book I've ever read – but the most incongruous detail to emerge from its pages was how Fred would often whistle Susan Vaughn's "I Want to Be Bobby's Girl" as he was committing his atrocities.
3. Charles Manson
Manson isn't, strictly speaking, a serial killer but more along the lines of crazed cult leader sending his disciples out to do his killing for him. But he's perhaps the most famous example of not listening to pop music properly. In his Mojave desert hideaway, high on acid, Manson reportedly listened to the Beatles "Helter Skelter" for 24 hours straight. During this epic session, Manson worked out what Paul McCartney was trying to tell him: Jesus was coming and the Beatles had seen it; but Jesus first wanted Manson to make his 'song' – America would descend into race war and it was Manson's job to initiate it.
4. Dennis Nilsen
The Muswell Hill Murderer's spree of slaying and necrophilia was put to an end when the remains of several bodies were discovered clogging the drains of his house. Nlsen picked up vulnerable gay men, spiked them with drugs then strangled them and kept their bodies under his floorboards. He would often take them out and place them on an armchair and chat with them. What music did he listen to while he did this? Doom Metal? Thrash? No, apparently, it was the soothing sounds of Clannad.
5. Dean Corll
One of the most savage and sadistic serial killers ever recorded, Corll hunted young boys in 1970s Houston with the help of two accomplices (one of whom would later end up shooting him). Jack Olsen's superb The Man with the Candy details this bizarre and ritualistic killer who would strap young men to a tortureboard as the Stylistics' "Betcha by Golly Wow" played in the background.
© 2017 Stav Sherez
The Intrusions is out on 2nd February, 2017 and can be ordered from the Shots Bookstore HERE