He started life in medieval Romania as a sadistic warlord best known for impaling his enemies on spikes skewered through the anus and mouth. By the 1980s, he was inspiring chocolate breakfast cereals, maths-mad puppets and anthropomorphic duck cartoons; such is the power of Bram Stoker’s 1897 masterwork Dracula. He turns up just as regularly in rock and metal songs, so here’s 10 to sink your teeth into.
MARDUK – Dracul va Domni Din Nou in Transilvania
Swedish black metal pioneers Marduk developed an early obsession with Dracula’s real-life inspiration – notorious 15th century Romanian conqueror prince Vlad the Impaler – stretching across three albums. 1998’s Nightwing devoted half an album to his life story, but this stately death march from 1996 was its eerie wellspring.
BIRTH CONTROL – Count On Dracula
These German 70s prog eccentrics entered the 80s with this funky, Deep Purple-esque hard rock title track, with lyrics weaving a strange tale concerning a goth girl who implores the protagonist to “bring me to the cemetery”, where she anticipates being swept away by Count Dracula “in his long black gown”. Smooth.
NOTRE DAME – Dracula Sucks!
A quick, cheeky lovebite from these Gothenburg vampire fetishists, masterminded by ex-King Diamond drummer turned multi-instrumentalist Snowy Shaw. Second only to Type O Negative in the deadpan goth piss-take stakes, Dracula Sucks! pokes fun at the immortal Count with a Lloyd Webber-baiting lift of the Phantom Of The Opera soundtrack.
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MACABRE – Dracula
It took these Chicago nutjobs 26 years to write a song about Dracula’s impalement-happy medieval antecedent. However, the ’murder metal’ power trio made up for the delay by putting him on the cover of their 2011 compendium of historical atrocities Grim Scary Tales, quaffing a goblet of blood, flanked by unfortunate impalees.
ENGLISH DOGS – Nosferatu
Having launched as a punk group, debuting with 1983’s Mad Punx & English Dogs EP, these spiky-haired anarchists soon found themselves pioneering a rugged form of epic Gothic thrash. From a 1985 record with artwork depicting naked women riding dragons, this forceful narrative about “The Vampire King” was a rambunctious career highlight.
BRUCE DICKINSON – Dracula
The 19-year-old Bruce Dickinson’s first recording – from 1977 (though it sounds older) – was a quirky one-off demo with the band that became Shots. “My ghoulish sense of humour’s in a jugular vein and your neck is on the menu tonight!” sings Cap’n Dicko in this tongue-in-cheek homage to midnight movie horror fun.
CRADLE OF FILTH – Lovesick For Mina
Dracula was always a key figure in Cradle Of Filth’s aesthetic, Dani swiping Stoker’s “children of the night, what sweet music they make” line for two songs circa 1994⁄95. But this is their most unambiguous, full-blooded tribute, reframing the Count as smitten romantic, cherry-picking details from multiple sources, even shit-sandwich blockbuster Van Helsing.
ELECTRIC WIZARD – The Satanic Rites Of Drugula
Electric Wizard penned their own unique take on the tale with this 2007 live favourite, in which the strung-out Count is revived by dope smoke and administers drugs to his victims before getting high on their blood. Jus Oborn is rumoured to have written a Drugula movie script, so if any brave film studios are reading…
BAUHAUS – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
The single that kick-started the goth sound – written within six weeks of Bauhaus’ formation – Bela Lugosi’s Dead was an arch reminder that the actor who played the undead Count so memorably in the 1931 Universal movie (and on Broadway) had died 23 years earlier. Brilliantly, he was buried in his Dracula cape.
ROKY ERICKSON & THE ALIENS – Night Of The Vampire
Returning from a period of psychiatric incarceration, the troubled ex-13th Floor Elevators frontman specifies “Castle Bran, Transylvania” – traditionally styled as Dracula’s ancestral home – in this creepy-crawly horror-blues classic. He even offers us a date for the vampire’s birth: St Swithin’s Day (June 15th; the singer’s own birthday).