Bobby Mackey's Music World

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Bobby Mackey's Music World is a nightclub and honky tonk that is currently owned by country singer Bobby Mackey and located on 44 Licking Pike in Wilder, Kentucky, United States. Situated about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Cincinnati, Ohio near the Licking River, the building is self-proclaimed as "the most haunted nightclub in the USA."


According to urban legends and modern folklore, the location allegedly houses a "gateway to hell" and is haunted by spirits including Pearl Bryan, whose corpse was found in a field 2.5 miles from the site in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.[1][2][3] Unsubstantiated stories include Bryan's murderers being Satanists who, according to local talk, cursed the location and vowed to haunt everyone involved in prosecuting the case.[4] Also according to urban legend, sometime in the 1930s a pregnant dancer named "Johanna" committed suicide with poison backstage on the catwalk at the Latin Quarter club, which then operated inside the building currently housing Bobby Mackey's. Rumor has it that this deed was carried out after her father murdered her lover Robert Randall, a singer at the club, by hanging him in the dressing room, though investigations have failed to find police reports of this event ever having taken place. Furthermore, scholarly research into property records, newspapers, and court files has failed to substantiate most of the fanciful claims made regarding the sanguine history of the location, and no connection between the site of Bobby Mackey's and the Pearl Bryan murder has ever been established. Most who have studied the Bryan slaying have concluded any claims to either Bryan's death or dismemberment at the Wilder, Kentucky structure are unsupported by a foundation of hard fact, and place these popular accounts into the realm of the tall tale.

According to Bobby Mackey, the site was originally used as a slaughterhouse in the early 19th century and later torn down for construction of a roadhouse that took on various names, such as The Brisbane, until he purchased it in 1978.

On television[edit]

  • On December 13, 1991 Jerry Springer interviewed Bobby Mackey, his wife Janet, his employee and the building's caretaker Carl Lawson, and Reverend Glenn Cole about their experiences.[5] Lawson and Cole claim that Lawson had been possessed and later exorcized by Cole for six hours on the site which took place on August 8, 1991. Lawson's videotaped exorcism performed by Cole was aired on the talk show.[5]
  • On October 30, 1992, on his show, Geraldo Rivera interviewed Mackey, his wife, Lawson, and Cole, along with Hell's Gate author Douglas Hensley and others.[6]

The music nightclub has been featured on the following paranormal television programs:

  • A 1995 UPN special, Real Ghosts aka Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories, features recreations of the paranormal activity and interviews with the Mackeys and others who have reported paranormal phenomena.
  • A 1997 episode (#39) of The Unexplained on A&E Network
  • A 2006 episode of the National Geographic Channel's documentary series Is It Real? features the reportedly haunted location.[7]
  • The 2006 episode "Gateway to Hell" of the Discovery Channel's docudrama series A Haunting features interviews with and re-enactments of the reported experiences of Bobby and Janet Mackey and Carl Lawson.[8][9]
  • In 2008 there was a two part live interactive broadcast on which claimed to show EVP and malevolent spirit activity.
  • The 2008 premiere episode of the Travel Channel's ghost-hunting series Ghost Adventures featured interviews with former caretaker Carl Lawson, author Douglas Hensley, and some customers and staff of the club, as well as the Ghost Adventures crew.[10] The network later released a 3-part web series called Return to Bobby Mackey's.[11][12] Bobby Mackey's Music World was featured again on the program in late 2010 with the Ghost Adventures crew claiming to have made contact with the spirit of one of the suspected killers. The Ghost Adventures crew then returned in 2012 during an investigation in Cincinnati to pay their respects to the late Carl Lawson, who had died a month prior to filming. A memorial can be found inside the main entrance to the former caretaker.
  • On November 16, 2011, the SyFy program Ghost Hunters broadcast footage of an investigation conducted by TAPS at Bobby Mackey's. Early on in the segment, on-air comments were made by a senior researcher that people have "gotten many things wrong" in their accounts of the history of the site. The 2011 TAPS investigation failed to prove the presence of the supernatural at the nightclub.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hensley, Douglas (2005). Hell's Gate: Terror at Bobby Mackey's Music World. Outskirts Press. ISBN 1-59800-011-X. 
  • Stephenson, Wanda Kay (2013). Wicked They walk: A Tour Guide's Book. ISBN 978-0-578-09201-0. 


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°4′24″N 84°29′35″W / 39.07333°N 84.49306°W / 39.07333; -84.49306