“I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you …”
A proclamation made in a black-and-white video full of fire and smoke, by a singer wearing a flaming crown and decked out in corpse paint – possibly its first use in rock. In 2018, after the music world has seen the likes of Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Marilyn Manson and even more bizarre acts, it may not seem that wild or shocking. But imagine being a kid in 1968 and stumbling across the Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s “Fire” for the first time. It had to be just about the coolest thing you’d ever seen – and for parents, probably one of the scariest.
This song pops up on my shuffle on rare occasion, and it always reminds me of just how big an impact this relatively obscure artist had on my favorite music. Though “Fire” was a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and reached No. 2 on Billboard in the U.S., Arthur Brown is far from a household name. His work, however, spawned whole genres of rock and metal.