Music is an incredibly important part of almost everyone’s life, whether you’re a magically gifted maestro, an enthusiastic strummer, an avid listener, a liker of listening to a bit of background noise whilst bathing, or simply someone who loves to sing-along to Sinatra but is oblivious to how tone deaf they truly are. Music is essential for affecting your mood centre, whether to get you pumped, perked up, levelled off, or merely to bring you down.
But how do your musical tastes differ from your neighbours, friends or family? What does it say about you? And more importantly – for Murder Mile especially - how does the much-loved musical tastes of sadistic serial killers compare to those of the world’s most respected political leaders? Do mass murderers always prefer death metal, thrash and an impossibly painful wall of noise, compared to an impeccably performed aria?
What follows is a list of the world’s most powerful people (whether notorious killers, world leaders, or both – depending on your political leanings) and what music makes them tick?
Dennis Nilsen, prior to strangling each of his victims, Dennis used to get himself “in the mood” by listening to Tommy by The Who, Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Rick Wakeman, Royal Philharmonic’s Hooked on Classics, and – his personal favourite - Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group.*
* click on any red text for more information
John Wayne Gacy, dubbed the “killer clown” owing to his part-time job as a children’s entertainer, but when he wasn’t dismembering and stashing the bodies of young men underneath the floorboards, he sang along to Keep On Loving You and Take It On The Run by REO Speedwagon.
Jeffrey Dahmer, the “cannibal”, who once stored the decapitated head of one if his victims in his work’s locker whilst working in a chocolate factory, loved Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, The Wizard and Iron Man.
Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper” loved a truly eclectic mix such as reggae, Mozart’s Requiem, Better To Have Lost In Love and I Can’t Stand It by The Eurythmics, and - oddly for a man with such a hatred of women - Joan Baez’s album Feminine Touch.
Charles Manson, cult leader of “Helter Skelter”, loved The Beatles’s White Album, which he said was a message to his followers about the upcoming race wars. Manson also supposedly was a big fan (and befriended) Dennis Wilson from The Beach Boys, the Mammas & The Pappas, and Neil Young.
Hmm, quite an eclectic mix, wouldn’t you say? But how, you might be asking, do the tastes of serial killers and mass murderers differ from the world’s most dangerous despots and dictators? Ah, well, this is where things get very interesting.
Military Despots & Dictators
As we know, Adolf Hitler, the “Nazi Nutjob”, the "Teutonic tit" and the "one-balled odd-ball" was a huge fan of Wagner and apparently carried around a copy of Tristan und Isolde in his knapsack.
Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad had his iTunes account hacked, which revealed that his favourite songs are I’m Sexy & I know it by the gold jock-strapped prancers LMFAO, I’m Too Sexy and Don’t Talk Just Kiss by the notoriously camp and openly homosexual songsters Right Said Fred, as well as Hurt by Leona Lewis, Look at Me Now by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes and A Tribute to Cliff Richard.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is not only a fan of plinky-plonky pop-synch pap such as Moranbong, who belt out such state-approved songs like Oh My Motherland Full of Hope, Our Father, We Think of the Marshal Day & Night, but apparently his favourite song is Excellent Horse-Like Lady by Hyon Song-Wol - click the red link, I defy you to watch it all.
The former Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi reportedly paid out millions of dollars to celebrities to perform for him and his family. They include: Nelly Furtado for $1million for a 45min set (who has since donated her entire fee to charity), Mariah Carey in 2010 (who hasn’t), 50 Cent at a festival in Venice and Lionel Richie at a concert to mark 20 years since the US air raids on Libya. As well as Usher, Kanye West and Beyonce. But then again, all stars make mistakes…
…even the environmentally-friendly front-man and political flag-waver Sting is not immune to performing for despots. October 2009, he was paid £1million to perform for the daughter of Uzbek president – Islam Karimov – who has been denounced for serious human rights violations, the massacre of protesters and has a dreadful environmental record.
As well as Rapper (and self-proclaimed “creative genius”) Kanye West who was paid a whopping $3million to perform a mercifully short 30 minute set at the family wedding of Kazakhstan's tyrannical President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
And Jennifer Lopez supposedly serenaded Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan on his 56th birthday, entirely unaware of his truly appalling human rights record. That said, if she could actually manage to pronounce his name, even just a little bit, she deserves to keep every penny.
And just in case you’re wondering whether the musical tastes of Eastern despots to current and former Western leaders – who are supposedly less despotic and war-mongering according to western media, but then I have had to add Tony Blair and George W Bush into this list, so you decide – here’s what our boys and girls listen to.
And if you’re unsure which way to vote in the upcoming British General Election, Jeremy Corbyn loves House of the Rising Sun by The Animals and Boris Johnson like anything by The Rolling Stones, although here’s a video of bumbling Boris attempting to sing some Bob Marley.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.