Formation and Opus Eponymous
Ghost was formed in 2006, when future band leader Tobias Forge wrote the song "Stand By Him". He said, "I said that this is probably the most heavy metal riff that has ever existed ... When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams. Every time I picked up the guitar, I ended up playing that progression, and when I fit the words in, it seemed to cry out for a Satanically-oriented lyric." Forge then contacted his former Repugnant bandmate Gustaf Lindström to record the song. In early 2008, the two entered the studio to record three songs: "Stand by Him," "Prime Mover" and "Death Knell". Afterwards Forge remarked to Lindström: "This definitely does not sound like two dudes that look like you and I". Thus Forge decided that they should be an anonymous "theater band", and use their love of horror films and "the traditions of Scandinavian metal" in the band's imagery. While other members of the band would wear black hooded robes and be called "Nameless Ghouls", Forge would go by "Papa Emeritus", dressed in Papal regalia and his face painted to resemble a skull. Forge then chose the name Ghost for the group. Initially Forge had no aspirations on becoming the band's vocalist, instead wanting to play guitar. He offered the position of lead vocalist to Messiah Marcolin, Mats Levén, Christer Göransson and JB Christoffersson, all of whom passed. As a result, Forge became the band's lead singer by default. On 12 March 2010, Forge posted the first three Ghost songs on MySpace and within two days was contacted by records labels and managers wanting to work with the group.
Ghost spent a few weeks in a basement studio in the band's hometown of Linköping recording their debut album. In June 2010, the band released their first single "Elizabeth". Ghost released their first studio album, Opus Eponymous, on 18 October 2010, on the independent record label Rise Above Records. The album reached number 50 on the Sverigetopplistan and was well-received by critics, being nominated for the 2011 Grammis Award for "Best Hard Rock" album. Ghost played their first concert on 23 October 2010 at the Hammer of Doom festival in Würzburg, Germany.
Ghost live at Roskilde Festival 2011
Ghost supported gothic metal band Paradise Lost on their "Draconian Times MMXI" tour in April 2011. On 29 May, Ghost made their United States debut at the Maryland Deathfest. The band played at the annual Download Festival in the United Kingdom on 11 June. Following their performance, Phil Anselmo, lead singer of the band Down, performed wearing a Ghost T-shirt and invited three members of the band to join him on the main stage, where they performed Down's "Bury Me In Smoke" together. In December 2011, Ghost took part in the "Defenders of the Faith III" tour with Trivium, In Flames, Rise to Remain and Insense. The band then embarked on their first United States tour, "13 Dates of Doom," beginning in New York on 18 January 2012, and ending on 2 February in Los Angeles. Afterwards Ghost joined Mastodon and Opeth as the opening act on the Heritage Hunter Tour throughout North America during April and May 2012. In June, Ghost received the award for "Breakthrough Band" at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards.
In February 2012, a Nameless Ghoul revealed that the band had completed writing their second album. Ghost entered the studio in October to record their second album in Nashville, Tennessee, with producer Nick Raskulinecz. The band had planned to record the album at the turn of 2012, but after starting their US tour in January, they were offered another tour immediately after. At the same time the band, their management and Rise Above Records all agreed that the group's next album should be released on a different label. Thus Ghost signed with Loma Vista Recordings in partnership with Republic Records—a division of Universal Music Group.
On 15 December 2012, Ghost played a show in Linköping, where they debuted a new song titled "Secular Haze", which was released online earlier that day, as well as their cover of ABBA's "I'm a Marionette". During the same show, the band introduced Papa Emeritus II as the successor to the first Papa Emeritus. On 20 December, the band announced that their second album, Infestissumam, would be released in early 2013. On 5 February 2013, the band announced a name change to "Ghost B.C." in the United States for legal reasons. A Nameless Ghoul said: "B.C. is obviously a pun on ‘Before Christ’, but it's just an amendment. In our world, we're just gonna be called Ghost ... The B.C. is silent, and as soon as we can, it's gonna be taken away forever." They officially dropped the amendment from their name in 2015. From 23 February to 4 March 2013, Ghost toured Australia as a part of the Soundwave Festival.
Ghost performing in Utrecht in 2013
Infestissumam was originally scheduled to be released on 9 April 2013, in the US, but the band could not find a US company that would manufacture the CD. Four US CD manufacturers rejected the job because the artwork for the deluxe edition of the album was described as "basically a 16th century illustration of an orgy."  Rather than delay the album further, the band decided to use the artwork from the regular edition for the US pressings of the deluxe edition and announced the new release date of 16 April. All European copies and the US vinyl versions include the controversial artwork. Infestissumam charted in seven countries, including at number one in Sweden, eventually going gold. The album was also well received by critics, winning the Grammis Award and the P3 Guld Award for "Best Hard Rock/Metal Album" of 2013.
Ghost began their "Haze Over North America" tour on 14 April 2013, at the Coachella Festival, which continued until 18 May. On 27 July, Ghost began the "Still Hazing over North America Tour", which ended in Chicago at the Lollapalooza festival. Immediately after, Ghost toured South America supporting Iron Maiden and Slayer, which included a performance at Rock in Rio. In October 2013, Ghost opened for Avenged Sevenfold and Deftones on their US tour. In November, the band toured the UK with Alice in Chains, before a tour of Europe. On 20 November 2013, Ghost released the EP If You Have Ghost, consisting almost entirely of cover songs. It was produced by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame.
In January 2014, Ghost received six nominations at the Loudwire Music Awards. From 17 January to 2 February 2014, the band toured Australia as a part of the Big Day Out festival. They then embarked on the "Tour Year Zero", which lasted from 17 April until 17 May 2014, in North America. In July, the band performed at the European Sonisphere Festival.
Ghost's third studio album, the follow up to Infestissumam, Meliora was released on 21 August 2015. In an advertisement for the album that aired 28 May on VH1 Classic, it was announced that Papa Emeritus II was "fired" and that his successor Papa Emeritus III is his younger brother by a full three months. The song "Cirice" was released as a free download from the band's official site on 31 May, and won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. Papa Emeritus III was officially unveiled with a debut performance in Linköping on 3 June 2015, where the band also performed new songs from the upcoming album.
The album was first promoted in August by a five date acoustic tour named "Unholy/Unplugged" of record shops in the US. Here Papa Emeritus III sported slicked-back jet black hair without his trademark mitre, and performed alongside the two guitarist Nameless Ghouls; accompanying them on the kazoo. A tour of the US titled "Black To The Future" began on 22 September and ran until 1 November. This was quickly followed by a European tour of the same name that ran until 21 December, including a full UK tour and two other tours in North America that took place in the spring and mid-summer of 2016.
On 12 September 2016, the band released a new track on a radio show titled "Square Hammer" and a new EP, Popestar, was released on 16 September, the same day the Popestar Tour began. Following the conclusion of the North American tour that concluded on 12 November, was the European tour of the same name which started in late March and finished in late April 2017. They were the opening act for Iron Maiden on their 2017 North America tour from June to July 2017. A Nameless Ghoul stated that after the tour was over, they would be writing and recording the new album which they stated would be much darker than Meliora, with Tobias confirming in a recent interview that the fourth album would be released in 2018.
In early 2017, Tobias Forge was sued by former Ghost members Simon Söderberg, Mauro Rubino, Martin Hjertstedt, and Henrik Palm as part of a royalties dispute. The four, who left Ghost in 2016, filed the suit in the district court of Linköping, Sweden and accused Forge, who was in charge of the band's business affairs, of withholding financial information and payments to the other members. The former members also claimed that "Our vocalist and former friend is now attempting to, in an underhanded and shameless way, transform Ghost from a band into a solo project with hired musicians." Forge claimed that "no legal partnership" ever existed between the other members and himself; they were paid a fixed salary to perform and execute the band's image as he instructed as "musicians for hire." He also stated that he refers to Ghost as a solo project, "Even though I've never wanted it that way, but at the end of the day, that is what it is. I mean, I started it in 2006, and no one that was ever in the band in 2016 was even on the first record. Call it solo, if you want to, but I call it a project."
On 24 August 2017, the band released their final music video from Meliora for their song "He Is". It premiered at Saint Vitus Bar in New York City the day before. The band released their first live album titled Ceremony and Devotion digitally on 8 December 2017, with a physical release following on 19 January 2018.
Ghost performing at Wacken Open Air 2018
On 13 April 2018, Ghost released a new single, titled "Rats", along with an accompanying music video. This marked the first release from the band, with their "new" frontman Cardinal Copia. Additionally, the band welcomed a new character, saxophonist Papa Nihil, extending Ghost into a septet. The album was titled Prequelle, and it was released on 1 June 2018. A second song, “Dance Macabre” was released ahead of the album on 17 May, and was later released as the album's second single.
To promote the album, Ghost began the Rats! on the Road tour in the United States which ran from 5 May until 1 June. The band was an opening act for Guns N' Roses in Oslo, Norway on 19 July 2018.
Ghost began A Pale Tour Named Death in London, England at Royal Albert Hall on 9 September 2018. A North American tour of the same name began later in the fall that year featuring two headlining arena shows in Los Angeles and New York City. An early 2019 European tour of the same name was announced on 10 September 2018. In March 2019, the band performed in Australia and Japan as part of Download Festival. Ghost was later announced as the opening act for Metallica's WorldWired Tour from May to August 2019. A second North American tour was announced on 1 April 2019, with Nothing More as support. A European tour at the end of 2019 with All Them Witches and Tribulation was announced on 8 July 2019.
The band released their second music video for the song "Dance Macabre" on 17 October 2018. A third music video, "Faith" was released on 20 December 2018 following the band's first North American leg of their tour.
Ghost announced their standalone single Kiss the Go-Goat / Mary on a Cross which was released on 13 September 2019 under the title Seven Inches of Satanic Panic. They released a video for "Kiss the Go-Goat' was released at midnight on September 12 as "Chapter 8" of their ongoing web series.