One of the arenas where thelema has had it’s greates impact is in the wacky and wonderful world of rock ‘n roll. Aleister Crowley has become one of the icons of today’s popular culture, even if this is not necessarily indicative of any deeper understanding of his work or of thelema. Various bands in the various different varieties of ‘metal’ – death, black, trash, speed, heavy – has found Crowley and his image to be an ideal ‘design element’ – but rarely more than that. But for a long time, even before Beatles put Crowley on the cover of ‘Sgt. Pepper’, serious musicians have used Crowley’s work as a source of inspiration. Mention here should primarily be made of the late, great Graham Bond (1937-74). A troubled individual, he was nevertheless a musician of genius who stood godfather to British rock in the early sixties.
He was a dedicated thelemite long before this was ‘fashionable’, as is evidenced by several of his recordings (‘Holy Magick’, ‘We Put Our Magick On You’, ‘Love Is The Law’ and others). Later thelemic musicians like axe-hero Jimmy Page can be seen as coming from a tradition stemming directly from Graham Bond. Page’s music has never shown any direct evidence of his adherence to thelema, apart from the ‘Love Is The Law’ quote on the run-out groove on the first pressings of Led Zeppelin III (1970). Speaking of guitar-aces, the almost forgotten Lon ‘Licks’ DuQuette is a musician that definitely merits further attention. His seminal work on the Johnny Rivers album ‘Homegrown’ is classic – not least because of the pics of this elusive character on the cover. With the growth of thelema in the seventies and eighties, mention of Crowley and thelema by artists in recordings and interviews became more frequent. It’s well known that David Bowie and Mick Jagger shared this interest – Bowie recorded ‘Quicksand’ and Jagger provided soundtrack for Kenneth Anger’s ‘Invocation of My Demon Brother’. Sting has been known to read Crowley when touring.
And when we’ve now entered a new millennium, there are more bands and artists than ever who give subtle and not-so-subtle evidence of their allegiance to the thelemic heritage. It can be seen very explicitely in bands like Cassandra Complex, and are more implicitely evidenced with outfits like Coil and Psychic TV. The Magick Musick Museum is dedicated to collecting, cataloguing and researching musical recordings with references to thelema and Aleister Crowley. With ‘references’ is meant 1) a direct mention or use of such matters in lyrics, sleevenotes and/or design and iconography, and 2) music that has otherwise been inspired by ‘the 93 current’ one way or another.
The MMM is the project of Frater Evmaios of the Norwegian OTO. The collection at present consists of recordings – CDs, vinyl and tapes – by 100 plus artists, from the famous to the decidedly obscure. Even if thelema provides the focus for the MMM, we have found that to exclude other relevant recordings would be unnecessary. We have therefore included recordings relevant to the greater Western magical tradition (recordings inspired by the tarot, by the Golden Dawn etc.) as well as relevant spoken word recordings. We are at present working on a bigger and better separate site for the Magick Musick Museum. We plan to publish a newsletter of some sort somewhere in the future. Stay tuned!
We would like to thank all those who have made the M.M.M. into what it is by generously donating recordings and other material.