|Dan Peters (I think: there was also|
an older brother Jim sometimes
involved in their side-show).
I have no idea whether these guys are still around, and their influence has certainly waned over the last 35 or so years, but they are absolute legends of fundamentalist insanity, so we have to cover them just in case.
The Peters brothers were seminal figures in the 80s fundamentalist anti-rock movement (a good overview here), and produced an impressive amount of strikingly self-congratulatory and self-advertising books (including Why Knock Rock?and Rock’s Hidden Persuader: The Truth About Backmasking– with one Cher Merrill), tapes, lectures, TV appearances and what amounts to their very own traveling circus, starting with a widely publicized 1979 record burning event in Minnesota. Their success seems largely to be based on the strategy of taking everything Bob Larson says and going one step further (Jacob Aranza and Jeff Godwin would then go one step beyond the Peters Brothers again.) Their main complaint is what they perceive to be the fundamental themes of rock: nihilism, humanism (not a very profound understanding of that one), hedonism and occultism. And yeah, sometimes rock musicians appear to go in other directions, but things like LIVE AID won’t fool the Peters Brothers: “Many of the stars of LIVE AID got there by helping destroy the moral fiber of America's youth.” Besides, it doesn’t matter so much what rock musicians profess to say, or what it sounds like they are saying – there are also the subliminal messages: The Peters Brothers are very concerned about the subliminal messages in rock music that are either backward-masked (apparently the unconscious mind can still interpret messages like “Here’s to my sweet Satan” in Led Zeppelin) or that they can identify by applying a solid dose of ill-will, motivated reasoning and something resembling numerology to the lyrics (interestingly, what they claim to find is usually related to sexual acts, like promoting “intercourse” and “oral sex” – the interpretations they find seem to tell us more about the “researchers” than the musicians they research). In fact, the Peters brothers don’t really think the musicians consciously put the messages there – rather, Satan himself is speaking through them and conveying his own messages through the music.
Their main data point is the alleged “epidemic” of suicides among kids involved in rock music, and their books tend to go on about the same number of highly mythicized stories about good teens ending up with drugs and shotguns after exposure to rock music (their circus often featured John Tanner – this story – performing for them and supporting their ideas.)
The most obviously lasting legacy of the Peters Brothers’ work “dedicated to exposing the TRUTH about rock” is probably the video titled Truth About Rock. In the video, you will ostensibly learn a lot of things, including:
- That “Mick Jagger is an avowed homosexual!”
- That “the cover of an Alan Parsons Project album has girls with syphilis sores on their faces cloaked by veils!”
- That “John Denver says that with the help of his guru, he will become God!”
- That “KISS stands for Kids in Service to Satan. Look into the eyes of Gene Simmons. The Bible tells us that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Nobody’s home there!” The Peters Brothers apparently once interviewed Gene Simmons.
- That “The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ is about the Church of Satan. I mean, I don’t know any other hotel where they’ll let you check out but you can't leave!”
As opposed to some anti-rock figures, the Peters are fine with Christian rock: As long as the lyrics (and artist lifestyles) conform to the Bible, it is OK.
Diagnosis: Again: we don’t really know where they ended up, or whether they are still around for laughs and pointings, but if they are they really need an entry. This is pretty much as delusionally insane as fundamentalism comes.