Country Music Lives at World’s Most Haunted Honky Tonk! A Hellraisin’ Halloween Tale:
With the 2013 Halloween Season upon us, I thought it would be a good time to share a real ghost story with you, the readers of OUTLAW MAGAZINE. With the 1st autumn chill in the air and the skies turning to a bleak and stormy grey, the stage is set for me to share with you the tale of Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky aka “The Worlds Most Haunted Honky Tonk.” Having just performed to a SOLD OUT crowd with The Dallas Moore Band on Saturday, October 12th, I had the chance to visit and talk with both Bobby Mackey and his personal manager, R.J. Seifert about the local legends, reports of paranormal activity and most importantly the Country Music concerts and history that have taken place within the walls of this storied building that has been quoted by Zak Bagans of the television show Ghost Adventures in USA Today as “One of the ten most haunted places in America.”
Bobby Mackey’s Music World has played host to its fair share of Country Music history in the 35 years since opening their doors in September of 1978. Headlining acts such as George “The Possum” Jones, Merle Haggard, John Anderson and a host of other Country and Bluegrass legends have graced the stage in addition to Bobby Mackey and The Big Mac Band who have served as the featured House Band since the night clubs inception. In recent years, Bobby Mackey has welcomed this writer’s outfit, The Dallas Moore Band, to the stage on several occasions and he continues to bring both up-and-comers and well established traditional country acts alike to showcase for the hard core country audience that are drawn to “Get Wilder In Wilder” each weekend. Upcoming shows include the daughter of the aforementioned “Possum,” Miss Georgette Jones as well as underground Outlaw Country icon Billie Gant. (Look for an upcoming article on Billie in a future edition of OUTLAW MAGAZINE). It’s Bobby’s passion for carrying on the traditions of real, honest and authentic Country Music and its history that keep fans clamoring to each and every show. While Country Music history is alive and well at Bobby Mackey’s, another type of History has been documented at this location over the years. A Haunted History……..
Going back into the 1800’s, the site that currently houses Bobby Mackey’s Music World was home to a slaughterhouse for over 40 years. Its location, looming ominously along the banks of the Licking River (one of only two rivers in the world that flow North) reportedly attracted a hoard of satanic worshipers and practitioners of the occult with the ample supply of fresh blood from the slaughterhouse which was
used in their rituals and considered an ideal spot for their sacrificial grounds. In 1896, the grisly murder of 22 year old Pearl Bryan occurred. Her headless body was located nearby and her head was never found. Local legend speculates that it was most likely disposed of in the slaughterhouse well located in the basement that was used to drain blood into the river. When two local men involved with the occult
confessed to the murder, Alonzo Walling and Scott Jackson (Pearl Bryan’s reported lover) became the last two men hanged in Campbell County, Kentucky when they were sent to the gallows on March 21st, 1897. With his last words, Alonzo Walling vowed revenge and to torment his executioners and uttered the phrase “Die Bold,” before swinging to his death. Ghosts and apparitions of Pearl Bryan (often headless), Walling and Jackson have been reported on several occasions over the years.
In the 1950’s, the mob owned Latin Quarter Nightclub, set up shop in the location along Licking Pike. The owners were arrested several times on illegal gambling charges and there were reported to be several shootings and deaths on the premises. Most notoriously would be the tale of the young girl Johanna who was a cabaret dancer at the club. Johanna is said to have poisoned her gangster father and then taken her own life inside the building after her father had Johanna’s lover, night club singer Robert Randall, murdered over his disapproval of their relationship. In an eerie twist of irony, Bobby Mackey’s full name is none other than Robert Randall Mackey. One of Bobby’s most infamous songs tells the story in its entirety. Check out the video :
According to sworn affidavits, eyewitness accounts and local legend, paranormal activity at the club is often preceded by the scent of Johanna’s Rose Perfume. The jukebox mysteriously comes on and plays songs from the 1930’s and 1940’s which are not loaded into the jukebox. “Anniversary Waltz” seems to be an otherworldly favorite! Patrons have reported cold spots, suffocating feelings of depression, and objects moving about on their own in poltergeist like fashion. Many ghost hunters have also recorded unexplained photographic images and EVP’s while investigating. Local musician, writer and entertainer Wanda Kay, author of the book Wicked They Walk, leads ghost tours and overnight scheduled investigations of the property. As of this writing I have personally taken Wanda’s guided tour of the grounds on several occasions and found them to be eerily entertaining, informative and downright SCARY FUN! You can find lots more authoritative info at http://www.wandakay.com. Another must read on the subject is the book Hell’s Gate: Terror at Bobby Mackey’s Music World by author Douglas Hensley.
This brings us to the reported possession of Carl Lawson. Mr. Lawson was the long time care taker of Bobby Mackey’s and lived in an upstairs apartment over the club. Carl claimed to be attacked by several resident spirits and actually possessed by some including the demonic spirit of Alonzo Walling! A supposedly successful exorcism of both Lawson and the entire building took place on August 8th, 1991. The exorcism was performed by Reverend Glenn Coe and witnessed by Hell’s Gate author Doug Hensley who also recorded it on videotape. Mr. Lawson has since passed on but there is still talk among some of the weekend Honky Tonk crowd that Ol’ Carl is still hanging around enjoying the Classic Country Music that plays from the stage each night. The exorcism of Carl Lawson videotape footage is available at www.youtube.com.
For the record, Bobby Mackey himself claims to not believe in all the paranormal reports although he does not doubt the honesty and sincerity of those who claim to believe. Behind the bar, they serve up “Ghost Punch” and in the gift shop there are T-shirts proclaiming “I Partied With The Ghosts” and “Most Haunted Nightclub In America.” I for one don’t know whether or not there are ghosts, demons, entities or
the like present at the club, but I can certainly vouch for the “spirits” as I have partaken of copious amounts of “Fine Kentucky Bourbon” upon each and every one of my visits to the “Haunted Honky Tonk!”
Perhaps if there are old haints stirring around, they are working in Bobby’s favor. Mr. Mackey was recently inducted into the Northern Kentucky Musicians Hall Of Fame and in September 2013 he celebrated 35 years in business getting “Wilder in Wilder” as they say. The slogan for Bobby Mackey’s Music World is “The Way It Was Is The Way It STILL is” and that’s definitely the truth. In an age where country music radio is overrun with rap and rock/pop infused, auto-tuned mediocrity put forth by Corporate Nashville, Bobby Mackey’s remains a haven for traditional and authentic outlaw country music. Close your eyes, throw back a cold one and let the MUSIC take you back to the golden age of ’78. If your one of the lucky ones there when the Halloween moon is right, you might even catch a whiff of Johanna’s Rose Perfume! Learn more by visiting http://www.bobbymackey.com/.
See Ya Down The Road……
~ Dallas Moore
Photos by Jenna Danielle Moore
Dallas Moore is an Outlaw Country singer, songwriter and entertainer. He has penned the # 1 songs “Crazy Again” (featuring Jody Payne) and “Blessed Be The Bad Ones” and performs over 300 tour dates per year with The Dallas Moore Band. Dallas is also profiled in the book OUTLAWS STILL AT LARGE and his music is a fixture on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s OUTLAW COUNTRY, Channel 60. He currently resides in the South-Western Ohio countryside with his wife, Jenna Danielle Moore and dogs, Johnny Cash and Belle Starr. Visit DallasMoore.com and add him on Facebook.