The British rock band Queen gained success by celebrating excess. But did they also try to turn fans onto marijuana? According to cannabis conspiracy theorists, the group left a hidden message in one of their most popular songs.
The theory dates back to 1981, when James "Gibby Gilbert - a youth minister at the Church of Christ in Kaufman, Texas - told the Dallas Telegraph-Herald that Queen and other bands were trying to control the minds of listeners through backward masking. Basically, he said that some songs contain hidden messages that you can only hear by playing tracks backwards.
"Your conscious mind hears one thing, but your subconscious mind can pick the other up," Gilbert said. "That's what's so aggravating. They're messing with your mind and you don't even know it. Subliminal persuasion is as close to mind control as you can get."
So what was Queen trying to tell listeners subliminally? Gilbert says that if you play the end of Another One Bites the Dust backwards, you'll hear Freddie Mercury say "Decide to smoke marijuana" repeatedly.
But the guitarist Brian May - who turns 69 today - denies the allegation. In 1998, when Q Magazine asked if the tune had a hidden message, May scoffed. "No. People seem to find these things, don't they? Wasn't there another song that was supposed to say, 'Satan is your friend'?"
To answer May's question, yeah, Gilbert also claimed that Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven has a message like that. He also said The Rolling Stones, Eagles and Fleetwood Mac also contained infernal influences. But he didn't explain why musicians were promoting drugs and devil worship.
Based on Gilbert's comments, It seems like the ultimate high for rockers is destroying the lives of young people.
"In some cases, rock stars are trying to subvert the minds of our young people, to destroy their morals and lead them into drugs and sex," he said. "Drugs wreck their home and family life. Sex leads to unwed mothers and abortion and tons of stuff that wrecks life."
So he launched a crusade by holding seminars to 'inform' kids about the Satanic influences in rock albums. Or, to put it another way, he subverted their enjoyment of pop music by implanting the idea that their favorite bands were trying to destroy the lives of listeners.
Or maybe we're wrong. Listen to Queen's 1980 hit and tell us if you hear anything suspicious.
Banner Image: Freddie Mercury sings in New Haven, CT in 1977. (Carl Lender / Wikimedia)