Do little green men and flying saucers truly exist? While there’s still no definitive proof of alien life, it sure has been invading rock songs for years and years. Close encounters with the third kind by legendary rock stars are actually not an uncommon story. Those stories have certainly inspired many song lyrics, highlighting that the age old question “are we alone in the universe?” serves as an artistic inspiration for many rock stars. In these songs, these UFO encounters somewhat represent the concept that there is something else that exists beyond our forsaken world. Whether these life forms are a threat or a hope for us earthlings depends on how these rockstars portray these encounters in their music. Eerily enough, many of these rock star UFO encounters share a common element or two. Time and again, these bizarre UFO experiences always find their way to become art through music. Here are 10 songs that were inspired by UFO encounters:
Oh, it came out of the sky, landed just a little south of Moline
Jody fell out of his tractor, couldn’t believe what he seen
Laid on the ground and shook, fearin’ for his life
Then he ran all the way to town screamin’ it came out of the sky
In 1969, with the historical moon landing, space was definitely a trending topic. Creedence Clearwater Revival certainly took advantage of the concept of the extra-terrestrial and wrote a song about something coming out of the sky. While songwriter and lead singer John Fogerty didn’t exactly define what that “it” was that came out of the sky, context clues from the whole song tell the story about an unidentified flying object landing on earth. While Fogerty didn’t exactly claim to have had a personal encounter with aliens, the song was inspired by the story of a UFO sighting in Moline, Illinois caught on film in 1967. Fogerty lays it down that humans have varying views and interpretations of alien sightings and encounters. Just as humans crave for the meaning of things, when something comes out of the sky, scientists will seek a natural explanation, religious figures view it as a divine sign from God, while Hollywood turns it into big-budget movies and profits from them.
Jimi Hendrix himself was a mysterious artists with a penchant for the euphoric psychedelia that invaded his era. It wouldn’t come as a surprise that he was also a widely avid fan of aliens and outer space. His fascination with the world beyond began with his own experience with seeing a UFO outside his window when he was a young boy. Hendrix was sort of open about his own UFO encounters. He even told a New York Times Reporter that he himself was an alien, saying, ‘I am a spiritual messenger, sent from another place.’ Either that’s true or it might just be the drugs talking.
His penchant for the extra-terrestrial was written in the mostly-instrumental track “Third Stone from the Sun” which featured a alien-like sound Hendrix produced on purpose. When played at a faster speed, the track will sound like there are alien voices in the background which was actually Hendrix and his manager’s voices, talking about Star Trek, another UFO sci-fi reference. The title “Third Stone from the Sun” reflects Hendrix’s wide fascination in sci-fi. It’s also a reference to Earth as the third planet away from the sun in the solar system.
The great John Lennon never shied away from his own UFO encounters. He’s gone on the record a couple of times on the topic of alien life beyond the universe. In 1973, Lennon reportedly confessed to magician Uri Geller that he had been visited by aliens in his New York apartment. Lennon even reportedly gave Geller a golden object shaped like an egg that he claims was given to him by the aliens who visited him. Another story of his alien encounters happened on the balcony of a Manhattan building in 1974. Lennon said he saw a spacecraft that was hovering above the New York skyline before suddenly vanishing into the sky. Lennon claimed that the photographs he took did not develop properly that’s why he couldn’t give any proof of his sighting. While there was no clear photo, there was a song that came out of his experience. In his song “Nobody Told Me” he sings the line “There’s UFOs over New York, and I ain’t too surprised.” For the artwork on his album Walls and Bridges, he drew a sketch of the spaceship he saw from his apartment and inscribed “On the 23rd Aug. 1974 at 9 o’clock I saw a U.F.O.”
You can’t have a list about UFOs and aliens without mentioning David Bowie. Bowie exemplifies alien fascination as proven by his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Bowie’s obsession with outer space was very obvious. In fact, we can even make David Bowie’s own list of songs about aliens. He has an entire albums about UFOs, the most notable one would be 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. In the song “Starman”, Bowie claims that his character Ziggy Stardust is messenger of aliens to bring a message of hope to Earth’s doomed youth through music. He drew his inspiration from several personal alien encounters. The most notable one was that which happened in 1968 when he claimed to have at least six to seven sightings a night during his UFO-watching sessions with his girlfriend. It was also reported that during his tour for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie would look out the windows to check the skies flying saucers while doing interviews with reporters. David Bowie was an androgynous alien messiah personified in a rock star.
Before Sammy Hagar became the red-rocker-Van-Halen-former-singer-Tequila magnate-Mexican club mogul that he is now, he was abducted by aliens. Or so he claims to have been. When he was just four years old, Hagar said that aliens plugged in their extra-terrestrial technology into his brain. He says,
“I was just lying in bed when I felt something weird going on, like someone was tapping into my brain…At the time, I didn’t know how to fucking explain it. But they were downloading or uploading – that’s the simplest way to put it… They were playing with a numerical code but it wasn’t from our numerical system. And then, suddenly, this telepathic connection broke. And I could actually see them go back to their ship in a beam of light – zap, like lightning. For a second there was an infinity of white. I couldn’t move. And then it was over. It scared me nearly to death. It was an experience I couldn’t understand.”
Well it was certainly an experience that inspired a number of songs, one of them being “Silver Lights” from his 1976 album Nine on a Ten Scale. The song talks about the story of a group of aliens visiting Earth. The aliens then abducts only a some of the population while those that remained “fought for the broken bits”. His entire personal account of his UFO encounter can be read in his memoir Red written by Joel Selvin.
Blink-182 was massive in the ‘90s. Naturally, with the fame they acquired, so did their fortune. Guitarist and vocalist Tom Delonge’s first splurge as a rock star was buying his own computer to use for one bizarre purpose. In his own words he said he wanted to buy a computer “specifically to go on the Internet and research UFOs.” His wide fascination with the existence of extra-terrestrial creatures was materialized into a song very aptly titled “Aliens Exist”. The song was the third track from the band’s third studio album Enema of the State released in 1999. “Aliens Exist” is Delonge’s ode to alien abduction of humans. Delonge himself claims to have encountered aliens and that the government is trying to cover up all signs of their existence. He’s even created a website on 2011 called “Strange Times” all dedicated to alien conspiracy theories and paranormal sightings. The song may sound goofy but Delonge’s belief in aliens is as anything but.
It took two decades for 90s rock band Modest Mouse to release the single “The Best Room” but that’s because conspiracy is the root of the song. Front man Isaac Brock wrote the song in 1997 and has recently revealed that the song is about his own personal encounter with a UFO. Brock claims that in 1997, while he was on a plane flying from Montana to Arizona, he witnessed the “Phoenix Lights” incident. Brock recalls,
“[The Phoenix Lights] was the most widely reported and noted UFO sighting ever…I was in a plane in a holding pattern while that was going on”
He adds that he didn’t tell anyone about what he witnessed except his mother because he says,
“I didn’t want to be that dude with the alien, with the UFO.”
Well, two decades after he’s told the world through his song whose lyrics doesn’t really talk about UFOs rather the hotel room he landed in after, which was surrounded with police tape. Coincidentally, while they were playing a set at the 2014 Fun Fun Fun Fest, a large meteor appeared in the night sky above them in Austin, Texas.
When meteorites hit the neon lights
Spaceships travel at the speed of light
A million stars in the sky
I here the Queen’s on the alien’s side
This one is from the rock icons The Ramones’ 1989 eleventh studio album Brain Drain, which was also the last Ramones album Dee Dee Ramone was involved in. Along with their paranormal-themed hits such as “Pet Semetary” (which was written for the classic Stephen King movie of the same name), “Zero Zero UFO” wasn’t necessarily about The Ramones’ own personal encounter with a flying spaceship and aliens but it talks about a real man from Idaho who witnessed an alien spacecraft landing on his potato farm. The Ramones gives light to these tales that are laughed at by the public.
One of Rolling Stones Greatest Guitarist’s of all time, Dave Davies has influenced many people not only through his incredible music but also through his beliefs in the New Age and his personal encounters with what he claims to be aliens. He reports that he has had multiple encounters with the third kind in his lifetime and started going public about his stories in the 1980s. He’s even claimed that he has a telepathic connection with the aliens up to this day. Though he continues to be ridiculed for his open beliefs, the public teasing doesn’t seem to deter him. He says when asked about his UFO encounters,
I’ve had several experiences seeing UFOs. It was really interesting. I saw them in north Devon in England — lights and zigzags in the skies. Then when I started to dig deeper into my experience, I understood I was also getting communications — psychic impressions — from aliens.
Well that must’ve been the inspiration for The Kinks’ song “Supersonic Rocketship”. His supersonic guitar playing must also have something to do with his lifelong faith that extra-terrestrial beings exist among us.
With the ethereal art quality of Radiohead, it’s not surprising that they believe in aliens. The band’s single “Subterranean Homesick Alien” from their third studio album OK Computer would be evidence of this belief. The narrator of the song talks about his dreams of being taken on board a spaceship to be liberated from Earth and to search for the meaning of life. Maybe life beyond the known universe. Lead singer and song writer Thom Yorke says of writing the song,
“Do I really hope to be on a spaceship? Why not. I believe there are aliens under the ground. I want to see them. I want to see ghosts. I want to walk on the street smiling, knowing that there are little green creatures with incredible large brains and big, beautiful, black eyes, that are filming us with their video cameras.”
In fact just recently at the Coachella Festival 2017, Radiohead, who was headlining the first weekend of the festival, experienced some technical difficulties on stage during their said. Them Yorke blamed the aliens for the sound issues saying, “F–ckin aliens again.”
Surely it was said in jest to lighten the mood of the audience, but it’s not too far out that the Yorke said some truth in the joke.