WDRB FOX 41 TV: Stephen King, John Mellencamp Collaborate On New Musical


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is the name of a new musical by literary giant Stephen King and music legend John Mellencamp.

King says Mellencamp had an idea for a musical based on some ghost stories Mellencamp had heard about a cabin he bought. King says, "He had the nut of a ghost story, and he was talking to his agent and said, 'Thing is, I need somebody to write it, and it's gotta be somebody who's got familiarity with this, somebody like Stephen King.'" Mellencamp's agent informed the singer that he was also King's agent. The agent introduced the two who agreed, on a handshake, that they could work together to make a musical.

Mellencamp joked, "I knew of him, but he'd never heard of me."

"Oh, come on," King chimed in, "I was listening to your records when I worked in a wet wash laundry."

Mellencamp said, "He was listening to my records when he was a kid."

The musical is set in Mississippi and tells the story of two brothers with a deep hatred for each other. The father takes his sons to an old cabin where they encounter ghosts who try to bring out old secrets to reconcile the family. The Bloomington cabin that inspired the story didn't belong to Mellencamp for long. He say the sellers warned him he might experience some haunting things in the cabin. His family stayed there only four nights before Mellencamp decided to sell the place.

"It was just creepy," Mellencamp said. "Creepy stuff happened. I mean, Victrolas, those old crank Victrolas...there was one in the cabin, and it would just start playin'."

King added, 'You told me that the place just felt bad; it had a bad vibe to it. I didn't want to go there, but I wanted to write about it, you bet!"

For the most part, King wrote the script and Mellencamp wrote the music.

"Well," King said," I wrote some rhymes to go with one of the songs, and John came to me and said, 'You write like expletive, deleted Dr. Seuss,' so you know, I kinda gave up."

Mellencamp said, "Well, the truth of the matter is that we decided on the first night that he could stick his nose in my business and I could stick my nose in his as long as we did it politely, And, for 15 years, it's been polite. We've never had...I love this guy...we haven't had a cross word ever, except that one day, that one day I yelled."

A musical was new territory for both men, and they wanted to break the mold of the typical musical, just as each man has broken the mold in his respective field. The music for the show comes from a four-piece band on stage with the actors, and the actors present the story in the form of an old radio play.

Both men say they wanted to create something that would work in a small theatre as well as it would on Broadway. They've collaborated on Ghost Brothers for 13 years. It debuted last year in Atlanta, and they've used the last several months to tweak the script. The show will tour mostly midwestern cities through early November.