If there’s one word people use to describe the lush harmonies of country music, it’s “haunting.” It’s not just the music that is haunting, though. Filled with larger-than-life personalities and drenched in the tragedy of untimely deaths and misfortune, country music is itself one of the most haunted art forms in the world.
Here are the most haunted places in country music found in the forthcoming book, Ghosts of Country Music: Tales of Haunted Honky Tonks & Legendary Spectres.
10. Achy Breaky Haunt – Paramount Art Center
One of Ashland, Kentucky’s most famous haunted landmarks may include the ghost of a country music fan. According to staff members, country star Billy Ray Cyrus apparently became good friends with the center’s resident spook, “Paramount Joe,” while filming a video at the Paramount Art Center. Cyrus even signed an autograph poster for the ghost. Years later, when that poster was removed from the wall of fame, Paramount Joe went on a rampage, ripping down other photos and posters on the wall. The staff quickly restored the poster to a position of prominence.
9. Many Spooks at the Muni – Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
The careers of so many country stars exploded after performing on the Louisiana Hayride, a popular country music radio show that rivaled the Grand Ole Opry during its heyday. These stars, it seems, keep returning to the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, where the show originated. The supernatural presences of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and an unnamed custodian are among those who are still prowling the dressing rooms and corridors of the stadium. The Muni’s paranormal manifestations include apparitions, auditory phenomena – including voices and odd knocks – and poltergeist-like activity.
8. Luke the Drifter’s Misty Apparition – Hank Williams’ Grave Site
Country songwriters claim they find inspiration in Oakwood Annex Cemetery of Birmingham, Ala. at the grave of their patron saint – Hank Williams. Some of these songwriters say they can feel his presence. Others say they have actually seen his presence. At least a few witnesses claimed to have watched an eerie fog drift along the grassy fields of the cemetery and stop right at Hank’s grave site. A drifting mist may be the perfect paranormal manifestation of the guy who called himself Luke the Drifter.
7. Folsom’s Phantoms – Folsom State Prison
Johnny Cash sang about serving time at Folsom State Prison, but several former inmates and guards at the prison are apparently serving out an afterlife sentence in the joint. Witnesses, including a few former staff members, say that the building is haunted. One of those ghosts said to inhabit the jail is the spirit of a guard who died during a riot. Witnesses say they see him on misty nights at the prison’s gate, eternally vigilant, one might say.
6. Finding Chills on Cinnamon Hill – Cinnamon Hill, Jamaica
The Man in Black may be back. Johnny Cash was always at home in the spirit world during his life. He claimed to have seen – along with several other dinner guests – the spirit of a woman walk through (that’s right, through) the doors of the dining room in his Jamaican home known as Cinnamon Hill. The property is one of the island’s most infamously haunted estates. Paranormal teams have claimed to have made contact with Cash himself during recent investigations
5. The King Hasn’t Left the Building Just Yet – Graceland
Elvis Presley may be the King of Rock and Roll, but his first love was always country music. In turn, country music fans over the generations have returned the love. Elvis’s home, Graceland, is a must-see Memphis destination for country fans. The house is reportedly haunted by Elvis, as well as his mother. Witnesses claimed to have seen Elvis looking out the window of his palatial home. The King’s ex-wife, Priscilla, said she felt the spirit of Elvis’s mom, Gladys, hug her in the attic one dark and stormy — and lonesome — night.
4. Good Spirits – Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
Pull up a barstool at this iconic Nashville bar and you just might sidle up next to the ghost of Patsy Cline, who’s been seen there. Hank Williams, a frequent patron (as you can imagine) also keeps frequenting the place. Hattie “Tootsie” Bess, who once owned the club and was a near saint to the struggling country musicians who held forth there, is also said to haunt her old bar. And the convenient alley that connects Tootsie’s with the Ryman? Ghosts of country legends reportedly stalk that dark street, too.
3. Of Devils, Demons, and Decapitated Dancers – Bobby Mackey’s Music World
Ghostly apparitions of a supposed murder victim and tales of demon possession make this nightclub owned by country star Bobby Mackey one of the country’s most haunted honky tonks. One ghost story told about the club is that a woman who was decapitated on the grounds where the bar rests is trapped and continues to appear to patrons and staff. The country musician, himself, once a skeptic, claims to have seen the apparition of a dancer in the club.
2. Ghoul Finders Daughter – Hurricane Mills
Loretta Lynn, the Coal Miner’s Daughter, is one of country’s biggest superstars. She may also be country’s most supernaturally aware stars. Lynn, who has had run-ins with the paranormal since she was young, reported she was almost led to the purchase of her haunted Tennessee property, Hurricane Mills. The sprawling estate was the scene of a Civil War battle. The property is home a few spirit tenants, including the ghosts of slaves, soldiers, and the children of former owners.
1. Sacred and Scary Ground – Ryman Auditorium
The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, former home of the Grand Ole Opry broadcast, is considered the Mother Church of Country Music. And it may be the Mother Haunted House of Country Music, too. Surprisingly, at least one of the many ghosts that haunts the auditorium isn’t a country music fan. The ghost of Thomas Ryman, a businessman who built the Ryman as a megachurch, isn’t happy that secular music is performed at his church. Experts say he is behind the ghastly gray figure seen walking through the halls and heard causing a ruckus in supposedly empty rooms.