|Peter Kürten: He's looking at the river but he's thinking of the sea|
The Axeman of New Orleans was a guy who liked to break into people's houses -- and murder them with their own axes (or sometimes a straight razor) in New Orleans back in 1918 an 1919.Most of his victims were Italian Americans. He never was caught, at least not for the six or seven murders he committed. His identity remains a mystery.
Like the Son of Sam and the Zodiac Killer decades later, The Axeman sought publicity for his crimes. In March, 1919 he sent a taunting letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. And like Charlie Manson, he apparently dug music.
Here's the infamous letter:
Hell, March 13, 1919
They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.
When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.
If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don't think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.
Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.
Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night [March 19, 1919}, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:
I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.
Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.
This inspired composer Joseph John Davilla to write an instrumental rag that year called "The Mysterious Axman's Jazz (Don't Scare Me Papa)." Years later it would inspire The Tombstones to do this song, "Axeman of New Orleans."
Ed Gein has been the subject of several rock songs. The Plainfield, Wisc. man liked to create arts and crafts with human skin -- some he dug up from nearby graveyards, and some from women who he killed. He was arrested in 1957 by police who found all sorts of grisly souvenirs in his house including Nine masks of human skin; bowls made from human skulls; human skin covering several chair seats; a belt made from female human nipples; a lampshade made from the skin from a human face ... and other fancy stuff.
Gein inspired Hitchcock's Psycho, as well as other horroe movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The character of "Buffalo Bill" in The Silence of The Lambs has a lot of Weird Eddie in him.
He also inspired several rock 'n' roll tunes, most notably Slayer's "Dead Skin Mask." But I'm going to post something I just recently stumbled on, "Good Old Ed Gein" by The Pornscars a German psychobilly band. (Thanks to Jack Samuel of the Rocking the Garage Google-Plus Group for this one.)
Did I mention Son of Sam, the 1970s New York killer who was only following orders from a demonic dog? The Dead Boys did this song not long after David Berkowitz's killing spree.
Dead Moon were at their spooky best when they sang about cannibal killer Jeffrey Dahmer, another Wisconsin maniac, in "Room 213." (Check out my post about Dahmer songs HERE.)
Finally, Randy Newman's haunting "In Germany Before the War" is the tale of Peter Kürten, the “Vampire of Dusseldorf" who committed all sorts of depraved murders and sexual assaults. Among the crimes he admitted was the killing of a nine-year-old girl in 1913. He was executed by guillotine in 1931.