by Charles Lear
When people in the UFO community refer to To The Stars Academy founder, Tom DeLonge, more often than not, the words, “rock star” precede his name. This seems to serve the purpose of distinguishing him from “normal” UFOlogists but the truth is that he is but one of many rock musicians who have had or have a serious interest in the subject. What’s unusual about DeLonge is that he has managed to gather the highly credentialed people he has staffing TTSA and that his group has stormed to the forefront of the field overshadowing other long existing research organizations. For a “rock star” to manage this he has to overcome the big issue all UFOlogists are concerned with and that is credibility. If a witness was drunk or on drugs during a sighting, a case will most likely be dismissed by an investigator. As many rockers throughout history have been notorious for their often, extreme indulgence, well, you get the idea of what DeLonge is up against.
Going back to the beginning of rock and roll, founding father, Elvis Presley was a believer and a witness according to his hairdresser/spiritual advisor, Larry Geller. Among Geller’s claims is that at Elvis’ nativity, his father saw a strange blue light in the sky and knew something special was happening. Geller also claimed that Elvis was telepathically contacted by aliens at eight years of age and shown his future as the King of Rock and Roll. Rockers who were witnesses and spoke for themselves include: John Lennon, who, along with his girlfriend, May Pang, saw a craft with a dazzling display of lights in 1974 over a New York apartment building, Jimi Hendrix, who witnessed a UFO in the State of Washington with his brother, Leon, Lemmy Kilmister who had a sighting of an object that hovered and then suddenly accelerated to an extreme speed in 1966 and Keith Richards who not only claimed sightings but was convinced his estate was a UFO landing spot.
One rocker who claims to have had up close and personal alien contact is Sammy Hagar. Before becoming famous, he experienced a strange sensation while lying in bed that “felt like someone was tapping into my brain.” He was convinced that two aliens, who he could see in his mind, were connected to him and were either uploading or downloading something from or to his brain. Hagar revealed this in an interview with MTV Hive during which he also claimed to have seen a “car with no wheels” floating across a field when he was four years old. He said he threw rocks at it and then blacked out. A 2011 Washington Post article recounts the interview with a bit of humor at Mr. Hagar’s expense which is a tone adopted by many writing about rock star UFO experiences.
Seeing and reporting a UFO is one thing but becoming active in the community is another and there were others before DeLonge that might surprise some readers. David Bowie was active as a teenager putting out a UFO newsletter with his friends and had a sighting over London in 1967. In 1968, Bowie attended weekly UFO spotting and meditation sessions with girlfriend, Leslie Duncan, who was a backup singer on Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon” and one participant, Jeff Dexter, claimed that, “We did see UFOs – absolutely.”
Reg Presley (no relation to Elvis) was the singer for the Troggs, the group that came up with rock classic, “Wild Thing” and he developed such a passion for crop circles that, according to his own estimate in a 1994 interview with the Independent, he was spending 5000 pounds a year on research. He was a member of the group Circles Phenomenon Research, had a cable television show, “The Reg Presley UFO Show” and, in 2002, wrote a book titled, “Wild Things They Don’t Tell Us” that covers a wide range of UFO related topics.
A rock star with a similar story to DeLonge’s is Robbie Williams. Williams had a very successful career starting in 1989 with the group, Take That. In 1997 he began a solo career and became the best-selling British artist in the U.K. with seven number one singles and ten number one albums in the U.K. charts. In 2006 he released a record titled, “Rudebox” which, despite mixed reviews, became the fastest selling platinum album of the year. He then disappeared from public view and indulged in a passion he’d developed for UFOs, aliens and abductees. Reporter Jon Ronson tells a story in The Guardian of a trip he took with Williams to Laughlin, Nevada to attend an abductee conference there. Williams had explained that he wanted to get out into the community, meet fellow enthusiasts and make a contribution. Ronson flew out to Los Angeles to meet Williams and upon seeing him with a full beard became immediately concerned about his friend’s sanity. After Williams reassured Ronson that he was all right, they traveled by private jet, attended the conference and Williams’ journey had begun. He eventually befriended George Knapp and Jeremy Corbell and made an appearance in Corbell’s film, “Hunt for the Skinwalker.” Williams returned to his music career but to this day, Williams is still fielding questions about his UFO beliefs and many of them are hostile.
When rock stars stick to rocking, they are treated with a certain amount of respect in the media. When rock stars see UFOs the chuckling starts and when they start investigating there is a mixture of chuckling and concern for their mental health. Though DeLonge and TTSA have made a significant impact on UFOlogy and the media’s perception of UFO believers, getting out from under being “rock star” Tom DeLonge is probably never going to happen.