Often cited in books as an originator of heavy metal, aligning themselves with satanic iconography long before it was commonplace. Jinx was sighted using the Sign of the Horns on stage since 1968 and the band can be seen on the cover of their ‘69 release, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, holding up the now well-known metal salute. Where did the idea of utilizing aspects of the occult first come from and why did you first adopt the Sign of the Horns?
I was born into a very long lineage of Occult Adepts and Practitioners of the Ancient Arts starting in France then to Ireland, England, then onto to America. Some of them were members of the U.A.O.D. (United Ancient Order of Druids). Others were members of the Rosicrucian group Ordo Aureæ et Rosæ Crucis (Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross). Members of my family were also active in Freemasonry. My father was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason, and my grandfather, a former Lt. Governor of Indiana, was High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons.So I became steeped in esoteric illuminati. So it was natural for me to want to mix my heritage with my music. As a child, I saw certain people coming to the door of the family mansion that displayed the Sign of the Horns. Then my family members would give it back. It was a secret greeting so that those certain guests were allowed entry. I was brought into this world under the Sign of the Goat on a Friday the 13th by a Dr.Jinks. Many decades ago, I became the first rock music performer to come forward openly as a Left Hand Path High Priestess and Ceremonial Mage. And I was the first to reveal secrets long concealed in esoteric circles (as in the horned hand gesture known as “The Sign of the Horns”).I bear the Sign of the Left Hand Path, an inverted pentacle, in the natural folds of my left palm. So I thought it most natural to greet my rock audiences,starting in 1968, with this hand sign, though no one back then had a clue as to what I was doing.
Despite the fact there was a considerable pause in Coven’s career you still must be credited with being one of metal’s most stable lineups. What is the
secret to the longevity of being able to work with the same people?
Tis of course, our deep connections, not only in music but in beliefs. The men in Coven are my Brothers in Arms. We are indeed a brotherhood. And most of the members have remained very close. We never disagree for the most part. We work as a well oiled machine, knowing immediately what each is going to play. I am a ‘sensitive’ and believe most of them are too. I feel that music is a Magick ritual that is shared between the players, then shared in turn with its listeners.
Coming together in the late ‘60s and carving the path for hard rock with bands like Alice Cooper, The Yardbirds (Jimmy Page era), Vanilla Fudge and more. No other band was able to bring such dark satanic imagery to popular music culture at that early of a time, reaching the top end of Billboard charts more than once as you toured. Were you made to feel like an outsider in the scene because you took the performance to the extreme? Did you ever feel as though your life was genuinely in danger on account of your connection to Satanism?
We were indeed shocking for 1968 and people seemed afraid of us. That included most of the bands we played with, even though we would become friends with most of them. They were very curious and interested in what we were doing, though many asked at that time if we thought we were too extreme and would not be able to draw enough material from the subject matter nor become mainstream hard rock. Most were worried for us and our longevity. And for good reason. One who cuts a new path, even though eventually that path is followed by many, usually gets lost to the many. But at that time, they had no idea what a well travelled path it would become. As for danger, there were shallow threats. I did not ever feel that they would come to anything physical, though our record companies and management always felt uneasy, that we were pushing the envelope way too far. Mostly, these haters had our records banned and kept us from touring in many spots. So the real danger was in us getting muzzled, being denied our freedom of speech, and not being able to get out our musick.
Classically trained in opera, High Priestess of the Occult, Jinx Dawson, is a prime example of a strong woman who went for her dream even though it may have been viewed as unconventional and Coven provided a dark iconographic that band still model themselves after today. Do you ever feel underrated and as though there are some bands that could at least give a nod in your direction, considering you were heavily into Satanist imagery from your very conception? What bands properly acknowledge your rightful place in metal?
I would say I was more of a ‘woman who went for her nightmare’, because coming out during the peace and love generation, I knew full well that doing a black witchcraft band would be a rough road and a tough sell. I could have gone many ways back then in music, become rich and famous and been quietly amused doing my LHP rituals in private. But I grew up in money, so that was never a concern. Fame, that never was a concern either. I felt that I had an important message that needed to be illuminated whatever the price.
Coven came before there was ever a genre so named ‘metal’. At the time we began, the few genres that existed did not really fit Coven. We were called everything from ‘HUM’ (heavy underground music) to ‘acid soul’. We simply presented eerie, authentic and scholarly LHP witchcraft sounds and stories in a rock band format, which had not been thoroughly addressed before. The ‘metal’ bands that came after us in the 70’s do indeed try to overlook us somewhat, even though we personally knew and hung out with most of them on the road and at the Hollywood watering holes. I just think it stems from the times and the music business back then. It was like a race. Everyone wanted to be first. Everyone was taking cues from everyone else and since there was no internet, it was easier to lift directly and swiftly and say it was their own. Enough so, that the public thought the more well known bands had come up with everything. But today in the internet world of information, people seem to be interested in genuine music history not PR music history. The younger generation of bands now seem to acknowledge Coven more, as a band to seek inspiration from, which indeed pleases me greatly…We send out Many Hails to all our Cherished Friends…So Must it Be…\m/
Jay Rollins / Metalheads Forever Magazine