Once musicians achieve a certain level of fame, everything that once seemed out of reach has become a reality. This distorted vision of life can have mind-altering effects, leading on occasion for delusions of grandeur to set in, and a strangely common trope is for musicians to claim they have spotted unidentified flying objects.
The term ‘U.F.O.’ was initially coined in 1953 by the United States Air Force (USAF) as a broad term covering all the bases. The USAF declared that a U.F.O. was “any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object”.
Carl Jung wrote in 1957, “The problem of the UFOs is, as you rightly say, a very fascinating one, but it is as puzzling as it is fascinating; since, in spite of all observations I know of, there is no certainty about their very nature. On the other side, there is an overwhelming material pointing to their legendary or mythological aspect. As a matter of fact the psychological aspect is so impressive, that one almost must regret that the Ufos seem to be real after all.
“I have followed up the literature as much as possible, and it looks to me as if something were seen and even confirmed by radar, but nobody knows exactly what is seen,” he added.
If a great mind like Jung can’t even decipher what is and isn’t fiction, then he needn’t worry as plenty of musicians are confident that they know what they’ve seen. Here are six of the best!
6 musicians who have seen U.F.O.s:
Elvis Presley was utterly obsessed with U.F.O.s, according to his assistant Larry Geller. He did everything from style The King’s famous quiff to spend endless hours talking together about their shared sightings of U.F.O.s. Geller claimed that Presley shared a telepathic vision with an alien when he eight years old; on one occasion Junior Elvis was met by a picture of his future self in a white jumpsuit.
Geller said the pair saw bright objects in the sky, once in the desert and another time above Graceland. The spookiest sighting came courtesy of Vernon Presley, who saw a U.F.O. when his son was born. Geller said: “His father told us he’d gone out to have a cigarette at 2am during the delivery, and when he looked up into the skies above their little shack, he saw the strangest blue light. He knew right then and there that something special was happening.”
“On the 23rd Aug. 1974 at 9 o’clock I saw a U.F.O.”, Lennon wrote in the liner notes for his 1974 album, Walls and Bridges. What’s worth pointing about is in 1974, Lennon was on his ‘Lost Weekend’ with Harry Nilsson, which may have made his memory a somewhat hazy one.
Speaking to Interview Magazine later in 1974, Lennon said he was “just dreaming around in my usual poetic frame of mind”. He claimed to have witnessed “a thing with ordinary electric light bulbs flashing on and off round the bottom, one non-blinking red light on top”. The former Beatle said he was around 100 feet away from the bright object hanging over an adjacent building.
His then-girlfriend, May Pang, interjected: “As I walked out onto the terrace, my eye caught this large, circular object coming towards us. It was shaped like a flattened cone, and on top was a large, brilliant red light, not pulsating as on any of the aircraft we’d see heading for a landing at Newark Airport. When it came a little closer, we could make out a row or circle of white lights that ran around the entire rim of the craft – these were also flashing on and off. There were so many of these lights that it was dazzling to the mind.”
Speaking back in 2019, Ryder recalled one extraterrestrial visitation: “I wake up one morning and there’s this thing that looks like a spider that’s moving across the windowsill and it’s got, like, red lights going across its back and it’s got six legs, sort of like a spider.
“It was hand size, five or six inches long, and makes absolutely no noise whatsoever. Then it goes to where the window is, and then an aerial goes up and it goes up to where the window is open and then it changes shape and dives off and then as it’s moving out it completely disappeared.”
When it comes to U.F.O.s, few people in Britain have the same level of expertise as the Happy Mondays frontman, who has hosted numerous documentaries on the matter and seems to be a magnet for these strange otherworldly incidents.
The Rolling Stones man has lived a thousand lifetimes, and it should come as no surprise that he’s managed to squirm his way onto this list. His sightings have taken place at the same place, his Redlands Estate in Sussex, and Richards is under no doubt that U.F.O.s exist.
The guitarist acknowledged, “I’ve seen a few, but nothing that any of the ministries would believe.
“I believe they exist – plenty of people have seen them. They are tied up with a lot of things, like the dawn of man, for example. It’s not just a matter of people spotting a flying saucer… I’m not an expert. I’m still trying to understand what’s going on.”
Pixies frontman, Black Francis, isn’t shy about his belief towards U.F.O.s and is adamant that he has witnessed them on numerous occasions. His family had a strange experience in 1965 when his mother and cousins claim to have seen a U.F.O. floating over their house.
Francis was only a baby at this time, but he has seen them himself and believes only a few people see them, but he’s one of the select few.
The singer once recalled, “There was a flying saucer floating above the house for half an hour and everyone just stood there and watched it… it was just hovering. Then the state police came and chased it but they couldn’t catch up with it. My mother’s weird but she’s not that weird. She’s got no reason to make this stuff up.”
Whilst some people’s interest in U.F.O.s is a source of fascination, and a hobby, former Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge allowed it to become his obsession. In 2015, he quit the band and turned his back on being a stadium-level rockstar to chase U.F.O.s, which he hasn’t regretted since.
Speaking to Sky News in 2020, DeLonge noted: “You’ve got to understand, the last show that I played before I started To The Stars Academy was actually in the U.K. My band headlined Reading and Leeds. You know, it’s like, there’s a hundred thousand people there. ‘And you decided to just leave that to go chase monsters and ghosts?’ You know, I’m not stupid, I’m a pretty savvy guy.”
DeLonge went on to say that he isn’t allowed to talk publicly about a lot of it as he is “bound by my nondisclosure agreement”. Hunting U.F.O’s is now his life, and being a musician is just another note on his CV. Perhaps the most interesting part of this story comes from the US government who recently had to admit that they could not identify the craft in Delonge’s video footage and said it was “unexplained aerial phenomena”, which feels about as close as any name on our list ever got.