- Posted on Mar 11th 2011 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Jesse Lincoln Driskill built the stately Austin hotel that bears his name with money he'd earned in the cattle industry. The Romanesque hotel, built on a city block that Driskill bought for $7,500, opened in 1886. Two years later, Driskill lost his fortune when a spring freeze killed 3000 head of cattle. Forced to sell the hotel, he died of a stroke in 1890.
The Driskill's painful start might explain the restless spirits that guests have reported encountering for decades. One tale involves a senator's young daughter, who died not long after the hotel opened in a fall down the grand staircase in the lobby. Guests have claimed the girl still can be spotted playing with her ball in the corridors.
There's the ghost of a maid who died of diabetes a half-century ago. There's the ghost of the manager who supposedly handed out cash from the hotel vault during a Depression-era banking crisis. And there are the ghosts of the two women, each of them brides on their honeymooons, each of whom are said to have killed themselves in the same bathroom, decades apart: the "Suicide Brides," they call them.
Then there's the ghost of old Jesse Driskill himself, who apparently made a play for Johnette Napolitano, the lead singer of Concrete Blonde, one night in 1992, after her band opened for Sting at the Erwin Center.
Napolitano's band, named after a suggestion by label mate Michael Stipe, had a thing for the supernatural. Their 1986 song 'Your Haunted Head' was featured in 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,' and the title track of their 1990 album, 'Bloodletting,' was subtitled 'The Vampire Song.'
When the singer imagined she saw a face checking her out in the shower of her room at the Driskill, she was inspired to write a song about it. She tried to turn out the light, but "he wouldn't let me get near it/He seemed so glad to see a woman in the flesh/And I really liked his spirit."
The song, 'Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man,' reached number 2 on the Modern Rock chart in 1992. Within a couple of years, the band was defunct.
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