SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A legislative committee Tuesday listened to parts of Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven' and other rock albums - played backwards -- for hidden messages that might suggest Satan worship.
'Since the 1960s, music groups such as the Beatles have recorded subliminal messages on many of their albums,' said Assemblyman Phillip Wyman, R-Tehachapi, at a meeting of the Consumer Protection and Toxics Committee.
'The message was subliminal because it was audible only when played backwards.'
Wyman said a backwards message saying 'Paul McCartney is dead' was in the song 'Number Nine' on the Beatles' White Album.
Wyman contended the message was used to boost record sales for the Beatles, by suggesting to fans that was the last Beatles album they would ever hear.
He said there were other recordings, such as the Led Zeppelin album and Styx's 'Snowblind,' which if played backwards had words referring to satanic worship.
Wyman didn't deal with albums that have been straightforward about Satan worship, such as the Rolling Stones' 'Sympathy For the Devil.'
Wyman proposed in his bill that music companies place warnings on album jackets that a record contains 'backward maskings,' which consist of a track that can be understood only when played in reverse.
Chairman Sally Tanner, D-El Monte, called the issue 'exciting and interesting,' but delayed a vote until rock group members and others from the recording industry can testify at future hearings.
Several examples were played to the committee on a small cassette machine and the garbled words and static that came through to listeners sounded similar to the deciphering provided by Wyman.
The Zeppelin example was deciphered by Wyman as: 'I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off. There's no escaping it. Here's to my sweet Satan.'
William Yarroll, of Aurora, Colo., who identified himself as a 'neuroscientist,' said he studies how the human brain functions and asserted that subliminal messages can influence people.
'With backward masking a teenager listening to this three times has stored it as truth,' Yarroll said.
Monika Wilfley, 20, of Lancaster, brought the matter of backward recordings to Wyman's attention after seeing a Trinity Broadcasting program about the subject on television.
'I listen to a lot of rock albums,' she said. She said she manually turned many of her records backwards and could hear the offending words.
'I threw away a lot of albums -- and a lot of them were new.'
She said a friend listened to another album and reported hearing the phrase 'I like marijuana.'