The Cult of Eddie Munson, The Metal Side of ‘Stranger Things,’ and the Real 1980s Satanic Panic
The unforgettable Stranger Things scene where fan-favorite metalhead Eddie Munson (played by Doja Cat crush Joseph Quinn) protects his friends from bat-monsters by grabbing his B.C. Rich guitar, cranking his amp, and playing “Master of Puppets” nudged an eight-and-half-minute long, 36-year-old Metallica song into the top 40 for the first time ever. That alone should qualify the show’s fourth outing as the most metal TV season of all time, but there was even more. While the parts with the alternate dimension and super-powered kids and monsters remain as fictional as ever, the season’s storyline drew on some very real, metal-infused 1980s history. (Eddie, meanwhile, is almost certainly named after Eddie the Head, Iron Maiden’s monstrous album-cover mascot.)
When deluded townspeople falsely accuse Eddie of murder (and start freaking out about the kids calling their Dungeons & Dragons guild the Hellfire Club to boot), showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer are riffing off the Satanic panic that rippled through the Reagan-era U.S.. Both Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne faced preposterous lawsuits for purportedly encouraging fans to commit suicide via hidden messages in their music. Preachers made the-long-since-broken-up Led Zeppelin seem cooler than ever by claiming that “Stairway to Heaven” included the words “master Satan” or “my sweet Satan” when played backwards. (“Who on Earth would have ever thought of doing that?” Robert Plant replied to Rolling Stone. “You’ve got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that.”)
Dungeons & Dragons faced its own delusional accusers, with one lawsuit accusing the role-playing game of using “demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings.”
In the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Kory Grow joins host Brian Hiatt to discuss the metal side of Stranger Things, from the new Gen-Z fans Metallica is winning to the real stories of the Satanic Panic. Elsewhere in the episode, Tomás Mier discusses the best pop music of 2022 so far. To hear the whole episode, listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or press play above.
Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, wherever you get your podcasts, and check out six years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, the National, Ice Cube, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many others — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast on SiriusXM’s Volume, channel 106.
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