Sixty-second installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
When I look back, it’s amazing how my love for all things Rock and Roll and Metal made me discover a lot of others. For example: it was Metallicas’ video for “One” that made me want to read Johnny Got His Gun and it was the Iron Maiden song “Where Eagles Dare” that made me want to watch the movie.
But none of that had the same impact in my life than the citation on the cover of my favorite Heavy Metal album of all time, the one who actually changed my life for good: “There is not dead/ Which can eternal lie/ Yet with strange aeons/ Even death may die”. That was on the cover of Iron Maiden’s Live after Death.
At the bottom of this inscription on Eddie’s tomb, the name: H.P. Lovecraft. In pre-internet and Google days, I almost took it as my life mission to find out who he was.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the only child of Winfield Lovecraft a traveling jewels and precious metal salesman and Sarah Susan Phillips. When he was only three his father became psychotic and was placed in Providence’s Butler Hospital where he died in 1898.
He was raised by his mother, two aunts and maternal grandfather. He was a prodigy, managing to recite poems at the age of three and writing complete poems at six. He read voraciously and was encouraged to do it by his grandfather who provided him with books like The Arabian Nights. His grandfather also stirred his interest in weird stories telling him his own Gothic tales.
As a child, he was constantly ill and barely attended school till he was eight. After that he had to be withdrawn again after a year and his readings turned to astronomy and chemistry. Since his early life, he suffered from sleep paralysis. He never received his high-school diploma and had, according to him, a “nervous breakdown” after his grandfather died.
As an adult he lived an isolated existence with his mother until his letters to a pulp magazine called The Argosy caught the attention of Edward Daas president of the United Amateur Press Association who invited him to join in 1914. He started writing for the Association and his first published story was The Alchemist, in 1922.
After the death of his mother he met his future wife Sonia Greene in Boston and they went to live in New York. In New York he contributed to Weird Tales magazine, but financial difficulties made his wife move to Ohio and Lovecraft went to live in the run down area of Red Hook. One day his apartment was burglarized leaving him only with the clothes he was wearing. Around that time was that he wrote his masterpiece The Call of Chtulhu with the theme of insignificance of humanity.
And from the Chtulhu mythos, which he spread though a lot of stories, is where the quote from Live after Death came from. When I found out about that, I became obsessed with Lovecraft stories and managed to read as much of them as I could. Even years later in college, I often had a Lovecraft book with me. Of course, Metallica has an instrumental song called “The Call of Ktulu” and also one called “The Thing That Should Not Be” based on The Shadow over Innsmouth. Not to mention countless other who are inspired by Lovecraft words.
Lovecraft terror from beings under the Earth (not from space) and unnamed faceless entities were unheard of when he wrote them. He broke new ground and practically invented a form of telling Horror stories.
Stephen King says he is “the twentieth century greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale”, was responsible for his fascination with horror and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. If The King is saying, who are us to argue?
Therefore, there is not dead/ which can eternally influence, captivate and enthrall Mr. Lovecraft. You’ll live forever within us an in the Hall of Idols.
Now I Can Die in Peace – Bill Simmons
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