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6 of Country Music's Spookiest Tales and Creepiest Coincidences

Johnny Cash's haunted house, Patsy Cline's deadly premonitions and other tales from country music's haunted history

By Matt SwaynePublished 6 years ago 6 min read
Patsy Cline's death is just one of country music's many mysteries - Wikimedia Commons

Country music tells stories that run the full gamut of the human experience from love and loss to heartbreaks and hard luck, and from suffering and thriving to living and dying. But, what most country fans don’t normally associate their favorite music with are tales of terror, stories about ghosts, and even whispers of the occult.

But, it’s there. And it doesn’t just live in the lyrics of the many country songs that explore supernatural themes, but in the actual lives -- and deaths -- of some of country’s most beloved stars.

America’s original popular music, in fact, has a spooktacularly rich vein of haunted lore that runs from the ghosts of country music celebrities to macabre messages from beyond the grave to eerie predictions of death.

The following are just a few of these, many pulled from Ghost Stories of Country Music.

1. Patsy Cline Predicts Her Own Death -- A Couple of Times

One of the great country music friendship stories of all time is the BFF connection between Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. Patsy served as Loretta’s mentor and promoter from the start of her career in the incredible competitive country music industry. Loretta admired the tough-minded, but gentle touch of a lady that she considered one of the premier voices in American musical history.

But Patsy always gave her friends the impression that her rule as one of the queens of country music was not going to be long. Prior to her death in a private airplane crash on her way back to Nashville, Patsy had made the ominous remark that she had nearly died in two previous crashes and that the third would be her last. Some thought she meant that would snap her unlucky streak. Others believed Patsy meant she was going to die.

2. The First. And the Last.

Patsy made another fatal pronouncement. In a burst of excitement after Patsy received the presses of her latest album, she reportedly busted into Loretta’s house. Loretta was sleeping and Patsy demanded she get up. When Loretta struggled down the stairs to greet her exuberant friend she saw that Patsy carried two albums in her hand.

“Look!” she shouted at Loretta. “The first.” And she flipped up a copy of the first album she ever recorded.

Then, as she showed her friend the latest record, she said, “And the last.”

Loretta reportedly said, “Oh Patsy” and started to cry. Patsy tried to comfort her friend and told her she was just referring to how far her music has progressed.

A few months later, though, Patsy was gone.

3. Johnny Horton Sends Messages From Beyond the Grave

An original rockabilly pioneer and, later, the master of the saga song genre, Johnny Horton joined an artistic and, some would add, a paranormal partnership with his buddies, country music icon Johnny Cash and award-winning songwriter Merle Kilgore.

The three legends of country and pop music were drawn together by both their love of music and their search for proof that a spiritual realm existed beyond the grave. When Horton died in a freak automobile accident in 1960, Cash and Kilgore said they received definitive evidence. According to one story, before Horton’s funeral, Cash told Kilgore that although it was cloudy and drizzly, which matched their dark moods, a miracle would soon shine on them and “everything will be as bright as day.”

Once the service was finished, J. Bernard Ricks, a psychic and friend of the three stars, showed Cash a message he received during the services. Along with several symbols that Cash believed indicated Horton was behind the message, Cash spotted a simple message, “Bright is this day,” — almost word for word what he said before the funeral.

4. The Drummer is a Rummer

Horton wasn’t finished chatting. According to Kilgore, he and Horton worked out a cryptic message if death ever separated the two friends: “The drummer is a rummer and he can’t hold the beat.”

For years, Kilgore expected to receive the message that would prove his friend had crossed over, but it never surfaced. While being interviewed on a New York City radio station, a bizarre caller contacted Kilgore. She said she was part of a circle of spiritualists who, while using a Ouija board, received a message from the spirit world. The woman said the board spelled out the name M-E-R-L-E-K-I-L-G-O-R-E. None of the ladies were country music fans so they didn’t recognize the name until the woman heard the name, Kilgore, mentioned on the radio. She then said they had a message for Kilgore. Right after spelling out Merle’s name, the planchet swirled across the board to deliberately spell out a most cryptic message: “The drummer is a rummer and he can’t hold the beat.”

5. The Man in Black’s Uninvited Dinner Guest

Johnny Cash was considered one of the most honest artists in country music, so, when he tells you his house is haunted, even a complete supernatural skeptic tends to believe him.

Cash said his vacation home in Jamaica -- called Cinnamon Hill -- was haunted by several spirits. In one encounter, Cash said that a group of friends had gathered in the dining room of the home. As the six or so guests chatted, they noticed they were joined by a woman who wasn’t exactly on the guest list. According to the singer, the woman, arrayed in a full-length white gown appeared at one end of the room, walked across the room, and toward the closed double doors on the opposite side of the room -- which she proceeded to walk straight through. It wasn’t the first time, or the last time that Cash and his family brushed up against the world of spirits at his vacation home.

But the events didn’t scare him.

He said he learned to live with the ghosts’ presence and he sensed they respected him.

6. I Saw The Fright -- Hank Williams’s Haunted Legacy

Hank Williams was arguably country music’s first star. He was its first shooting star, too. Flashing brightly in the sky, Williams appeared on some of the biggest stages in country’s most important venues. The songs he wrote became not just country music standards, but popular music standards. But, Hank faced some demons and his bright light crashed to earth on New Year’s Day of 1953 in West Virginia after a bizarre ride that left him just short of his destination: a gig in Ohio.

Since then, Hank’s ghost has had a tour schedule almost as busy as his earth-bound self.

Where are some places you can find the ghost of Hank Williams? How about: The Ryman Auditorium, The alley behind the Ryman, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. And a lot more.

Another place you might find Hank’s spirit is at his gravesite in Montgomery, Alabama. More than a few people say they’ve watched a misty form drift down the grassy slopes of the cemetery and pause right over the superstar’s grave. This legend has inspired lots of country stars -- David Allan Coe and Alan Jackson, among them -- to explore Hank’s haunted presence in their songs. These explorations may have even led to actual supernatural encounters, the artists say. Gary Gentry, for example, who helped write Coe’s “The Ride,” a tune about meeting the ghost of Hank Williams, said he wrote the song after an impromptu seance had conjured up the spirit of Hank Williams.

After lighting some candles, Gentry begged Hank to appear. A few seconds later, the songwriter said suddenly Hank appeared, shirtless, sulking on his sofa.

He said he looked at his hero and said, "Hank, we're gonna take a ride. I wanna write about you. I think you're the greatest songwriter and entertainer that ever lived."

And the rest is country music history.

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About the Creator

Matt Swayne

I'm a science and research writer with an interest in future and fringe technologies.

Reformed journalist and marketer.

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