Coven (band)

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Coven band logo.jpg
Background information
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Psychedelic rock, Doom metal / Gothic metal
Years active 1968–1975, 2007– present
Labels Mercury, Warner Bros. Records, MGM, Buddah, Nevoc Music
Members Jinx Dawson
Oz Osborne
Steve Ross
Rick Durrett
John Hobbs
Chris Neilsen
David Wilkerson

Coven is an American Psychedelic Rock band formed in the late 1960s, composed of vocalist Jinx Dawson, bassist Oz Osborne (not to be confused with Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath), Chris Neilsen on guitar, Rick Durrett and later John Hobbs on keyboards, and drummer Steve Ross. They are recognized as being the band that first introduced the "Sign of the Horns" to rock, metal and pop culture (as seen on their 1969 debut album release Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls).

Top 40 hit[edit]

They had a top 40 hit on Warner Bros. Records with "One Tin Soldier," written and composed by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter of Canadian group The Original Caste, which was also used as the theme song to the 1971 movie Billy Jack. Jinx Dawson, sang the song at a 1971 session with the film's orchestra as part of the film soundtrack, and asked that Coven be listed on the recording and film, not her name as a solo artist.

Jinx Dawson[edit]

Dawson (born 1950) was a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. The difficult delivery of twins, one dead in the womb, was performed by a Dr. Jinks, so her model mother named her Jinx. She began studying opera and the occult, following in her family's secret society footsteps. She, Ross, and Osborne formed Coven in Chicago in the late 1960s.[1] In 1967 to 1968 they toured on concert bills with Jimmy Page's Yardbirds, the Alice Cooper band, and Vanilla Fudge, among many others. Dawson began and ended each Coven concert with the sign of the horns, being the first to introduce this hand sign into rock, metal and pop culture.[citation needed]

Recording contract[edit]

They were signed to Mercury Records, where they put out their first album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls in 1969. The music on the album was considered underground rock; what made it distinctive was the heavy emphasis on diabolical subject matter, including songs such as "The White Witch of Rose Hall" (based on the story of Annie Palmer), "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge", and "Dignitaries of Hell". The album concluded with a 13-minute track of chanting and Satanic prayers called "Satanic Mass" (written by their producer, Bill Traut, of Dunwich Productions).[2] This Satanic Mass was also the first time Latin phrases such as "Ave Satanas" (Hail, Satan) were used in occult rock music, and later Satanic and Black Metal bands continued this innovation (see List of songs with Latin lyrics for some examples). Also included inside the album, was Coven's infamous Black Mass poster, showing members of the group displaying the sign of the horns as they prepared for a Satanic ritual over the naked altar.

This is the first photographed use of the Horned Hand Salute and the Inverted Cross,[citation needed] as well as the first use of the phrase "Hail Satan", in rock music pop culture. They also made a video for the title track of their third album, Blood on the Snow in 1974, seven years before MTV started in 1981.

Satanic acts[edit]

According to Dawson, "The satanic thing actually was something we were interested in and were studying at the time. When you're younger, you're looking for answers, and a lot of members of the band were looking into the same books at the same time. We studied it, we practiced it." This content was considered highly unusual for the time. Starting with their first contract with Mercury in 1969, the Coven members signed all their record contracts each in their own blood.[citation needed]

Modern Satanism and Satanic practices are usually described today as originating with Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan (founded in 1966). However, Coven's first album, and some of the 1960s trends and styles associated with it (reflected in the Esquire article mentioned below), are an indication that there were also other unique, and sometimes more underground, trends within Satanism. Coven and Anton LaVey did actually almost cross paths, at the October 31, 1969, Detroit Black Arts Festival, which also included Arthur Brown, Peter Hurkos, Timothy Leary, and numerous others. While Coven did perform, Anton LaVey, although scheduled, did not appear[3]

Unwanted publicity[edit]

Then called heavy underground rock, Coven is now considered a pioneer of dark heavy metal and gothic rock.[4] Unwanted publicity came to the band in the form of a sensationalistic Esquire magazine issue entitled "Evil Lurks in California" (Esquire, March 1970), which linked counterculture interest in the occult to Charles Manson and the Tate-La Bianca murders, while also mentioning the Witchcraft album and its Black Mass material[5] As a result of this unwanted publicity, Mercury withdrew the album from circulation.[6]

Good fortune[edit]

Luck returned to Dawson when Tom Laughlin asked her to record the "One Tin Soldier" song for his Billy Jack movie. It was written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, and originally released in 1969 by the Canadian group The Original Caste (#34). Coven's recording charted three times, first in 1971 (#26), in 1973 (#79), and a re-entry of the original version in 1974 (#73) on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a top 10 hit in the Cash Box chart. The song was named No. 1 Most Requested Song in 1971 and 1973 by American Radio Broadcasters. Coven released a self-titled album in 1972 which featured "One Tin Soldier" along with "Nightengale" penned by Dawson, which charted as a hot pick on Billboard & Cashbox; a third album, Blood on the Snow, was put out on Buddah Records in 1974. One of the first music videos ever made directly for an album title song was produced by Disney Studios.[7](new citation needed)


In 1990 Coven appeared in the film Heaven Can Help with Dawson in a starring role. She wrote all the music and, along with original drummer Steve Ross, new members were added to the Coven which appeared in the film.

Dawson continued to pursue a career in acting with a minor, uncredited role in the movie Cool World.[8] She returned to music after several years as caregiver for her terminally ill father. She is set to film a PBS Special called The All time Biggest Movie Title Songs.[9]


On November 5, 2007, Dawson announced via her MySpace page that three of the original Coven members were planning to reform the group and record a new studio album to "finish what they started". She added that the band were "dying to tour". In May 2008, Coven released a new CD, Metal Goth Queen~Out of the Vault with music spanning decades. Some of the guest musicians on this CD included Michael Monarch, formerly of Steppenwolf, Glenn Cornick, formerly of Jethro Tull and Tommy Bolin, formerly of Deep Purple, in some of his last recordings.[10]



  1. ^ Occult Rock Library: Coven
  2. ^ WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Kiss the Goat
  3. ^ Black Arts Festival site; Another site
  4. ^ See Witches USA 1971, The Occult Explosion 1972, Lords of Chaos 1999, Lucifer Rising 1999.
  5. ^ "Have you heard this new album?" says a Strip hippie. "It's called Witchcraft. Destroys minds and reaps souls it says on the jacket...full of Black Mass stuff." Esquire, March 1970, page 119
  6. ^ Relevance: Then and Now
  7. ^ Mr. Blues Train: Metal
  8. ^ IMDB
  9. ^ Jinx Dawson, chapter of Little Stars
  10. ^ MySpace: Official CovenJinx Dawson Site 3 1968–2007, Blog Entry under NEVOC Musick Press Release

External links[edit]