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Stephen King and John Mellencamp Make Creepy Music Together

Adam L. Brinklow | December 4, 2014 | Story

One day, out of the blue, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp approached horror titan Stephen King with an idea: Let’s write a musical. The result, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, about a family haunted by victims of a murderous love triangle in a remote cabin, opens at the Curran Theatre tomorrow. Here, Mellencamp divulges the secret ingredients of this wild collaboration. Dec. 5–6,

One Haunted Cabin
The “crumbling foundation” of the project, says Mellencamp, is a real Indiana cabin that he owned. “I bought this place, and a few days later we get a note from the old owners: ‘By the way, the house is haunted.’ This guy hit his brother in the head with an ax in front of my fireplace.”

17 New Songs
“I had to write songs about being a little kid, being a young woman, being a mother. But I’ve never written songs about myself anyway. You know what I do? I make shit up. That’s my job.”

16 Years
Mellencamp called King in the late ’90s, but the show didn’t premiere until 2012. “Steve’s probably written 50 books since we started. I’ve probably played 1,000 shows. But we own this thing, so we had the opportunity to write, rewrite, and restage everything, because we’re in charge.”

One Haunted Theater
Legend has it that the ghost of a ticket taker murdered in the ’30s haunts the Curran. “Don’t tell me that. I hope this story doesn’t encourage the spirits in this place. We’ll be run right out.”

Originally published in the December issue of San Francisco

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