David Bowie, Muse and the Klaxons: talents so huge it’s only logical that aliens would want them for research
Why do extraterrestrials seem so keen on our rock stars? The truth is, like, way out there, man
When aliens tire of abducting, internally investigating, memory-wiping and giving a three-day hangover to the prime specimens of our species – ie meth-addled hicks driving drunk near air force bases at midnight – their second most popular group of test subjects tend to be rock musicians. Particularly those who overdid it in the 60s and have books to flog. Last month was typical, revealing ex-Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar to have been a victim of the Venusian Butt Blender since age four. Rock history, however, is dotted with extra-terrestrial encounters, inter-dimensional communications and getting, like, really freaked out by blimps.
An absolutely-sober-honest Bernard Sumner says he saw the mothership hovering over Glastonbury’s Sacred Space one year. The Troggs’ Reg Presley became so obsessed with crop circles in his post-fame years that he wrote a book about it. The autobiography of the Kinks’ Dave Davies tells of being contacted – by smell, no less – by five alien intelligences in a Virginia hotel. George Clinton and Sun Ra have purported to be aliens among us, and only partly as a metaphor for racial discrimination.
It might be reasonable to assume that all these stars were receiving scrambled messages from Space Station DRUGS. But with so much evidence orbiting rock’s stratosphere, can they all be wrong?
Hagar’s first encounter with UFOs came, he claims, at the age of four, when a spaceship descended over a field near his family’s home in Fontana, California. “At the time I thought it was a car with no wheels … floating across a field, creating this big dust storm,” he recently told MTV Hive. “I threw rocks at it … And I don’t know what happened after that.”
Clearly these visitors found Hagar a rich source of biological interest, since in 1968, they returned in a dream, explained they were from the planet Zeeba and set about brain-mangling the poor chap. “They have used me in an experimental fashion,” he told Guitar World. “They downloaded my brain information. And I caught ’em doin’ it! I woke up in the middle of the night, thinkin’, ‘What’s goin’ on?’ They were like, ‘Oh, my god, he’s waking up!’ But this was all telepathy; there were no words being spoken. And as soon as I woke up – it was probably three o’clock in the morning – my whole room was so bright that I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was wide-awake, I could not move – they were still disconnecting – and when they did, it just went bang! Everything went back to normal, back to black.”
Hagar claims he’s since been visited by the same group of ETs, whom he calls The Nines “because they’re from the ninth dimension”. A few dimensions too many for Hagar? Perhaps, but when he was examined by John Malley, a renowned expert on extraterrestrials, Malley claimed: “Sammy has the mark of the alien on his left arm.” So the Daily Sport-style Weekly World News website reported, anyway.
His Spiders were undoubtedly from Mars, but were the rest of his friends as well? According to Paul Trynka’s new Bowie biography Starman, Dave’s on-off squeeze around 1968 was one Lesley Duncan – a songwriter who sang backing vocals on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon – who would invite him to weekly UFO-spotting meditation evenings at her Hampstead flat. “We hoped the flying saucers would come and take us away,” says Jeff Dexter, a fellow cosmic traveller present at those sessions. “We did see UFOs – absolutely.”
Creem writer Bruno Stein overheard Bowie himself telling a UFOlogist in 1975: “I made sightings six, seven times a night for about a year when I was in the observatory. We had regular cruises that came over. We knew that the 6.15 was coming in and would meet up with another one. And they would be stationary for about half an hour, and then after verifying what they’d been doing that day, they’d shoot off.”
Mind you, in practically the same breath around that time, Bowie could be heard extolling Adolf Hitler as “a perfect figurehead” for the “real” leaders of Nazism, and “a marvellous morale booster” whose “overall objective was very good”. Which may undermine his position as a credible witness a little.
On a flight back to the UK from Australia during the writing period for their second album Surfing The Void, James Righton and Simon Taylor-Davies swear they were involved in a near-miss with an alien craft.
“We were going over the channel from Scandinavia,” says James with a geographical specificity that only adds credibility to the tale, “I looked out and there was this fucking light and it flew really, really close.”
“I remember seeing it dart very fast that way, then dart that way, then dart directly under the plane,” adds Simon. “No plane could do those manoeuvres. We were so fucking scared. The whole of the flight we were shaking with the blind down, sweating, thinking, ‘Let’s land as soon as we can and speak to the pilot.'”
James picks up the story again: “They denied there was anything close to [us]. He said there was no chance anything could have come that close to the plane without them knowing.”
The experience inspired the song Flashover, which the band hoped would become “the theme song to the arrival of the aliens!”
“I read somewhere that around about now the government were going to turn around and admit there had been alien contact,” says Jamie Reynolds. “I wanted it to coincide with that event.”
A compelling tale, then, and corroborated by each band member. Sadly, its credibility is undermined by the fact that the band were at the time knocking back so many narcotics they thought their album was being produced by an apple called Mr Tabernacle.
“Four of us saw [a UFO], in Yorkshire,” Lemmy told Bizarre magazine in 2005. “It came across the horizon like a streak and stopped dead in mid-air, hovered there for half a minute and then went off at a right angle. It reached its original speed almost instantly. We were just made up to have seen it. So yes. I believe in aliens.”
Lemmy, lest we forget, was once a member of Hawkwind.
Muse’s frontman has long been fascinated by the more outlandish theories about the mysteries of the universe. The Exogenesis suite of songs from 2009’s The Resistance focused on the concept of human life being carried to Earth via alien “seeds” dispersed throughout space. These ideas were refined from Zecharia Sitchin’s 1976 book The Twelfth Planet which claimed that humans were ape/alien clones genetically engineered by a super-intelligent race from the planet Nibiru to mine Earth’s gold. Which makes perfect sense when you look at it. These ideas were further explored by Bellamy’s band on 2001’s Origin Of Symmetry.
It was when touring that album that Bellamy believed he had his own intergalactic experience. He began hallucinating that he was on a red desert planet, being impaled by skull-piercing alien shards as thick as spears flying through the air.
Sadly, Bellamy’s doctor told him his visions were simply the result of dehydration from too much on-the-road booze. He prescribed Bellamy some water and at that point the hallucinations stopped.
A real beam-me-up mystery, this one. In 1969, west coast folk singer and Easy Rider extra (he had one of those moustaches) Jim Sullivan quietly released his debut album, entitled UFO. Now a much sought-after rarity (recently reissued by Light In The Attic), the album barely tweaked the record industry’s radar on release and – one album later, with his marriage broken – Sullivan left Los Angeles to start a new life as a session player in Nashville.
The only thing was, he never made it. Sullivan’s VW bug was found abandoned in the road outside Santa Rosa, New Mexico, all the doors open with none of his possessions removed. Search parties found nothing. No buzzards gathered to indicate a body. Locals told of a bearded hippy spotted living off the land near a local ranch, but there was never a confirmed sighting.
Others came up with stranger theories, suggesting he was kidnapped by a local mafia family. Or even that he was abducted by aliens, angered by the contents of his long player. It seems unlikely we’ll ever know the truth.