Scary Songs

Riders on the Storm

Riders on the Storm by The Doors is a scary song about a killer on the road who murders whole families. This song actually has a very interesting history. You can read all about it below.

In the early 1950s, there was a serial killer named “Cock-eyed” Billy Cook. His right eye was slightly deformed and he had the words “Hard Luck” tattooed across his fingers. He was hitchhiking one day and when a family stopped to pick him up, he held them at gunpoint and forced them to drive around aimlessly. Eventually, he robbed them and murdered the father, the mother and the 3 kids. He even shot their pet dog. After that, he went on a rampage and murdered a total of 6 people in the space of 22 days before the police managed to catch him. Billy Cook was executed in the gas chamber in 1952 and his last words were, “I hate everybody’s guts and everybody hates mine.”

In 1953, actress Ida Lupino made a movie called “The Hitchhiker” which was based on Billy Cook. It’s about two men who are held at gunpoint by a psychopathic hitchhiker. The film was marketed with the tagline: “When was the last time you invited death into your car?”

In 1953, Flannery O’Connor wrote a short story called “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which was also inspired by the Billy Cook case. It’s about a family who are driving to Florida with their annoying grandmother for their vacation. After they read an article in the newspaper about an escaped murderer called The Misfit, they get into an accident and their car swerves off the road. When they see another car coming, they flag it down and ask the driver for help. The driver turns out to be The Misfit and he murders the entire family. He tells the grandmother that there’s “no pleasure in life but meanness” before he kills her as well. Afterwards, he remarks that the grandmother would have been a good woman if there “had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors, had been a hitchhiker in his youth and his journals were full of drawings and descriptions of a lonely traveller on the road. He also read the Flannery O’Connor short story and may have known about Billy Cook. He was inspired to write a screenplay for a movie where he planned to play the part of a hitchhiking serial killer who goes on a murder spree. He called it “The Hitchhiker – An American Pastoral”. He eventually used those ideas when writing the lyrics for Riders on the Storm.

The screenwriter Eric Red was listening to this song and thought it would be a great idea for a movie. He ended up writing the classic horror flick, The Hitcher (1986). It starred Rutger Hauer as a psychopathic hitchhiker who murders whole families and tries to frame an unsuspecting young man for his crimes.

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

There’s a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin’ like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If you give this man a ride
Sweet memory will die
Killer on the road, yeah

Girl ya gotta love your man
Girl ya gotta love your man
Take him by the hand
Make him understand
The world on you depends
Our life will never end
Gotta love your man, yeah

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

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