The Black Parade from My Chemical Romance is widely ranked among the best rock records of the past 20 years by the general public, but what is not quite as widely known is how making the album tried to rip the band apart.
During the album cycle, so many misfortunes befell MCR that fans started to refer to them as byproducts of “The Black Parade curse.” Eventually, MCR even made a cheeky T-shirt about it. “I Survived The Black Parade” was the theme of mid-2008 but, like…barely.
For the album’s 13th anniversary, we present to you several unlucky instances of The Black Parade curse.
1. The haunted mansion
The Black Parade was partially written and recorded in a notoriously haunted mansion called the Paramour—a cinematically perfect origin for a cursed album. While confined within its walls, where doors slammed and opened seemingly on their own volition and the atmosphere hung ominously overhead, the darkest moments of the album began to manifest. “Sleep,” for instance, was the result of night terrors vocalist Gerard Way experienced while staying at the house.
Bassist Mikey Way, who was already battling serious mental health concerns at the time, stayed in the estate’s most haunted room, the atmosphere of which only exacerbated his inner turmoil, which lead to him first sleeping on the floor of Gerard’s room, then to his leaving the mansion entirely to seek help.
The band ended up leaving the eerie place before their scheduled time.
2. The “Famous Last Words” injuries
On Aug. 4, 2006, during the filming of the “Famous Last Words” video, two members were seriously injured. Having spent the entirety of the previous day filming the video for “Welcome To The Black Parade,” the band found themselves in a state of tired near delirium that mixed dangerously with adrenaline, making them wild and unconcerned about bodily harm.
First, guitarist Frank Iero decided to jump on Gerard, knocking him over at a bizarre angle that ultimately tore the ligaments in his ankle. After having had a medic inspect the injury on set, it was decided that Gerard should put his boot back on before his ankle swelled too much to fit back into it and continue performing. So, when you see Gerard wobbling about in that video or screaming on the ground, you’re seeing real pain.
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During the final shot, with the float burning to its final crisp, flames started to reach drummer Bob Bryar’s leg. Knowing it was the last take and that they needed to finish it, Bryar remained behind his kit. Letting his leg burn to the end of the song, he then ran away. His perseverance through the pain lead to second- and third-degree burns that eventually became infected, resulting in gangrene.
3. Seriously. Poor Bob.
In fact, it seems like Bryar received the brunt of the curse. Later, during The Black Parade tour, he started feeling severe pain in his wrist. A massive lump began to form, and eventually he lost feeling in his fingers. This lead to a show cancellation and ultimately his departure from the tour to receive professional treatment.
While on their 2007 Black Parade world tour, the bands (MCR and Muse) and crew acquired food poisoning so extreme, they had to cancel six shows. This writer would know, having lined up at 2 a.m. May 1, 2007 in Columbus only to find out from a venue employee midday that the show was a no-go. Many of the ill were housed in a Columbus hospital, and MCR attempted to play there again the next day. Alas, they were still not well enough until May 4.
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Iero also had to leave the tour due to illness at one point. In fact, the only members who actually made it through the entirety of The Black Parade world tour were Gerard and guitarist Ray Toro. Way to go, Ray!
5. The End.
Starting with the creative dark point at the Paramour and resurfacing throughout the album cycle, The Black Parade nearly broke the band up on multiple occasions.
Initially, Gerard would later reveal, TBP was meant to be MCR’s final album, based on his creative plans for the band. Perhaps knowing that is why they ultimately ended up pushing themselves to exhaustion. By the end of their two years touring on the album, in 2008, most of the band were tired and no longer having fun. Gerard famously said at their 2008 show at Madison Square Garden, “If we never play another show again, keep yourselves alive.” And at the time, he absolutely meant it.
In the end, My Chemical Romance decided they needed to figuratively kill their alter-ego The Black Parade. And it seems that when they buried it in 2008 in Mexico City, the curse was buried, as well. Or was it?