Born Steven Duren, Blackie Lawless is the founding member of the band W.A.S.P in 1982 and is the only original member of the band to this day. It is unknown the actual reason he
chose the band name. It is speculated to be White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, but it has never been confirmed. A couple other possibilities circulating are We Are Sexual
Perverts, We Are Satan's Preacher & We Are So Pretentious. During interviews Lawless and other members answer the same, “We Aren’t Sure Pal”.
Lawless got his first guitar at the age of 9 and officially made $16.35 that year with his first band, The Underside.
At the age of 13, Blackie was stabbed in a fight and at the age of 14, he had been sent to military school to learn discipline but after 18 months of a 2 year sentence, he was kicked out for beating up a Sargent Major.
Throughout the earlier years, Lawless played with different bands, such as Black Rabbitt and Orfax Rainbow but most notably, New York Dolls, when then lead singer, Johnny Thunders left the band in the middle of a tour. Blackie wasn’t with them for long, just for the remainder of that tour. When the tour ended, Lawless and NYD bassist, Arthur Kane, left NYD to check out the L.A. rock scene. They formed a band called Killer Kane and released a 33 ½ EP.
In 1977, he went on to start a band with Randy Piper (who was a co-founder of W.A.S.P) called Sister, Sister.This was ONE of the first bands to ever play around with occult symbolism & theatrical make-up. Sadly for them, the heavy metal scene in the late 1970’s wasn’t a good time and Sister, Sister failed at getting a record company to notice them even with their ardent club following. Following the fall of Sister, Lawless went on to play for Circus Circus & London.
In 1982, W.A.S.P was formed. The original line-up was Lawless, Randy Piper, Ric Fox and Tony Richards. This line-up didn’t survive long as Fox was let go and Don Costa took over his position. Blackie then filled the bassist shoes and brought on Chris Holmes on guitar.
In 1984, W.A.S.P. put out their debut album, “W.A.S.P.” which was noted as being a basic metal recording. This album was originally named, “Winged Assasins”.
This 10 track record is hard rocking and most definitely heavy metal. The guitar riffs and pounding rhythm coupled with Lawless’s voice surely will keep the blood pumping thru the entire album.
After this release, the band became a major U.S. concert draw. Theatrics at their shows kept people coming back for more, year after year. In the beginning, they went as far as having “torture girls”, drinking blood out of a human skull, throwing raw meat into the audience and Lawless even went as far as to wear a buzz-sawed codpiece. Tipper Gore, along with other PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center), constantly targeted them and even went as far to list their song, “Animal (F**k Like a Beast) on their “Filthy Fifteen” in 1985. Ironically, W.A.S.P. toned down their theatrics with the release of their album, “Inside the Electric Circus”. Reviews for this album were not in favor of the band. One critic stated that it was “lackluster and repetitive”. Their continuing downfall during the rest of the late 80’s and early 90’s came from Penelope Spheeris’ rocumentery, The Decline of Western Civilization 2: The Metal Years. This rocumentary exposes the L.A. metal scene. One point during this hour and a half long movie, you will see Chris Holmes drinking himself to oblivion in his full stage gear, while lying on a float in his mother’s swimming pool. In a movie full of revelry and decadence, this has been reported to be the scariest part of the entire show.
Despite going thru rough patches, line up changes and “bad blood”, this band, to date, has 16 studio albums, 31 singles, 3 live albums and 3 compilation albums. For a band who had started out as just a studio band, that never intended to play live, I’d say they’ve done pretty damn good. They still continue to tour and play all of the classics. So whether you are a fan or not, their career is pretty impressive and nothing to sneer at.
When you think of 80’s and early 90s metal it is easy to see the line of demarcation between metal and grunge. Nirvana killed the hair band. While many of the emerging grunge bands might have had long hair there was a definite change in the look, attitude and music itself about that time. Once Nirvana put Seattle and grunge on the map it seemed as if every new band was dressed in flannel and buried in their depression. While I’m personally not a fan of grunge music there were a few bands or at least a few songs from a few bands that I liked. Candlebox is one of the few that I just flat out loved the entire first album. So, because the songs of Candlebox still resonate today and still stand out from all the other grunge music at the time we’ve chosen them as our vintage spotlight band for the week.
Candlebox, like so many other grunge bands began in Seattle, Washington in 1990. Original members Kevin Martin, Peter Klett, Bardi Martin and Scott Mercado were signed to Madonna’s Maverick records and produced their self titled debut album in 1993. That album featured the iconic "Far Behind" track which was written for and Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood. Wood passed away from a heroin overdose. Along with this amazing song, the Candlebox album also included hits "Change", "You", and "Cover Me".
The band released their sophomore effort Lucy in 1995, and their third full length album Happy Pills in 1998. The grunge movement was pretty much past at that point and the band officially broke up in 2000. There had been a few lineup changes during their time together and over the years there had been some performances and recording with some of the original members included. The various members of Candlebox had individual projects in the musical world including other bands.However in 2018, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Candlebox album the original lineup reunited for 2 live shows in Seattle.
While the boys from Poison still do shows together playing all of their big hits, rockin’ arenas and small venues all over the world, they all have their own personal stories as to what they are doing outside of the band.
While he hasn’t come up with any material since 2013, Bret continues to perform solo at many venues. He also is an advocate for Juvenile Diabetes and the Diabetes Association. He has been a diabetic since he was young kid. Bret also has 2 daughters, Raine and Jorja who keep him busy when he isn’t out and on the road. He has a line of pet clothing and accessories named “Pets Rock” and is exclusively sold at PetSmart. He’s also heavily involved with “Operation Homefront” which is a charity that provides emergency financial and other assistance to families of service members and wounded warriors.
Bobby has never done a “side” project like Rikki, C.C. & Bret. He said he was lucky enough to be in a band that was successful the first try, but also stated that’s not saying he wouldn’t try it out if the opportunity arose. His life revolves around his children, Zach & Zoe and staying clean and sober, which in itself is a full time job.
Rikki has been REALLY busy outside of the band. He’s done solo work, partnered up with Brian Cosivera to build custom drum kits called ‘Chop Shop Custom Drums’. Rockett went on to start a side project with Tracii Guns & Eric Brittingham called “Devil City Angels”. Who wouldn't love a combination of L.A. Guns, Poison and Cinderella? The best of the glam and sleaze 80s! Rikki is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has 2 childen, Lucy & Jude, both names after The Beatle’s songs.In 2015, Rockett announced in December that he had been battling throat cancer. Extensive treatments were implemented and in June of 2016, he announced that he was cancer free.
Deville has taken on a side project, with Samantha 7 which was a short lived band. Their song, “I Wanna be Famous” can be heard as the theme song for the reality show, ‘The Surreal Life: Fame Games’, of which he was also a cast member. C.C. also was the inspiration behind the rock n’ roll comic, “C.C. Banana”, a twisted homage to Deville. C.C. married his long time girlfriend Shannon Malone and shortly thereafter, they became parents to a son, Vallon Deville Johanneson. After the profound affect of becoming a parent, C.C. went on to find the Lord.
‘Flesh and Blood’, Poison’s 3rd studio album, was released in 1990. This record generated many hit songs, 2 of which were top 10 singles with “Unskinny Bop” & “Something to Believe In”. 3 other songs were hit singles as well. “Ride the Wind”, Flesh and Blood (Sacrifice) and “Life Goes On”. This album went Triple Platinum in 1991.
In the 90’s, after the bands release of their 1st live album, “Swallow This Live”, the band went through some line-up changes. C.C. DeVille's addiction caused a lot of problems in the band, and he was replaced with Richie Kotzen (The Winery Dogs).
Despite the grunge movement that settled in and took over the rock scene in the early 90’s, Poison’s 4th studio album, “Native Tongue” was still able to hit gold status and their first compilation album, ‘Poison’s Greatest Hits, 1986-1996’ went Double Platinum.
In 1993 Kotzen was replaced by Blues Saraceno who toured with Poison until the inevitable reunion with C.C. and the classic lineup.
In March of 2000, the band put our their 5th studio album, ‘Crack a Smile...and More’. This record actually started in 1994 but came to a precipitous halt when frontman, Bret Michaels lost control of his Ferrari. As a result of this accident, Michael’s suffered a broken nose, ribs, jaw and fingers along with 4 teeth. Shortly after recovery, they went back in the studio but management put the album “on hold” and opted to release the greatests hits album instead.
‘Hollyweird’ was their next album that came out in May of 2002.
This record sold 11,000 copies in the first week. Their sound was much different from albums from their past. It had a more pop/punk rock feel. The coolest part of this album is the song “Home (C.C.’s story)” which Deville also lends his vocals.
In 2007, Poison put out their final studio album, ‘Poison’d’. The band asked on their official MySpace page for fans to pick their favorite songs. This record features 14 of the band’s & fan’s favorite rock classics. The first single dropped was The Romantics song, ‘What I Like About You’. Some of the other tracks they did were interesting to hear them sing like The Cars,“Just What I Needed”, The Who’s “Squeeze Box” & Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry”. There is also an exclusive Walmart track featured and that’s Justin Timberlake’s, “Sexy Back” (which by the way is AWESOME!).
Poison has toured extensively all over the world. Their fans stretch from the US to Japan to Russia. They are one of those rare bands who have remained relevant for the span of their career. Not only do they have loyal fans who have been with them every step of the way, the are impacting the younger fans as well. That is a testament to all the hard, diligent work they’ve done through the years. Despite personal issues the band had suffered periodically, especially the medical issues with Michael’s, they still persevered and continue to tour to this day.
This band will always be one of my favorites and I hope they’ll be around for a long time.
How did a band from Pennsylvania become one of the longest lasting and most well known 80s hair bands out there? In a story that is pure rags to riches and filled with a lot of ups and downs Poison somehow became the “last band standing” as it is 2018 and the guys are still touring together!!!!
In the beginning Poison was called Paris, and the guitarist was Matt Smith. The boys left Pennsylvania in 1983 to find their way in Los Angeles. The hair metal scene was hot on the sunset strip and they knew if they wanted to find success they had to go to the center of that flame.
Success looked good from the outside. Fans swarmed to shows, watched their videos and bought albums left and right. From the inside things were beginning to fall apart.
We'll have more POISON throughout the week!
Read Part 1 Here
Our vintage spotlight artist this week is RATT. As one of the sleaziest of hair metal bands back in the day these guys had quite a reputation for debauchery. When the band began coming apart at the seams it was hard to watch and was terrible for fans of the band. The early 90s were not good for RATT.
At the end of 1991, just months after their album “Detonator” came out, American rock band Ratt, released the final single of their career, with all 5 members of the band. “Nobody Rides for Free” which was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Point Break.
Each of the 5 band members fought demons such as alcoholism, drug addictions, unprotected sex, just a plethora of bad habits. It’s quite understandable why, after some time, they fell apart.
When I think of Ratt, I think sex, drugs, rock and roll and the Sunset Strip. If you’ve seen them live or on Mtv, you can clearly tell what they are all about.
The beginning of the Ratt saga dates back to the early 70’s. Stephen Pearcy founded a band, Firedome. They disbanded in 1974 and Pearcy formed a new band, Crystal Pystal. This band changed names a couple of times to Buster Cherry which then went onto become Mickey Ratt in 1976. Mickey Ratt went thru various line-ups. In 1981, they shortened the band name to just Ratt. In late 1981, guitar player, Robbin Crosby joined the band. In 1982, 18 year old guitarist, Warren DeMartini, joined Crosby & Pearcy, followed by drummer, Bobby Blotzer & bassist, Juan Croucier. This line-up is what I call, the “dream team”.
What can you say about the Crue outside of their music? They are 4 very interesting guys who have racked up some major headlines and infamy throughout the years. If you have not yet read The Dirt it is definitely a must-read! Here are a few highlights from Nikki, Tommy, Vince and Mick although it would require another book or two to cover all of their stories!
Read Part 1 Here
While the scandals, marriages, crimes and drama surrounding Motley Crue are definitely newsworthy we’re gonna tackle that ball of yarn later in the week. For today let’s look at the discography that has made the Crue one of metal’s most loved bands. There are several live and compilation albums that have been released, but the following are the individual studio albums released by the band.
Too Fast For Love as mentioned in the previous post was the guys’ first release both on Leathur and Elektra records in 1981 and 82.
The next release was the epic Shout at the Devil album. The one that introduced a young me to the Crue and started a lifelong obsession. There is no denying that while many of the Sunset Strip bands were getting noticed in those years the Crue had something unique and really stood out from the crowd. Lodged firmly between Quiet Riot and the next big bands Guns n Roses and Poison the Crue put their mark all over the mid-80s. Shout at the Devil was released in 1983 and featured a cover of The Beatles’ hit Helter Skelter as well as 10 other tracks written by Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Mick Mars.
In what appeared to be a major change up the Crue guys went from leather and spikes to fishnet and spandex in a more glam look for their next release. Theatre of Pain was released in 1985 and came out swinging with a Smokin’ in the Boys Room cover and the iconic ballad Home Sweet Home. Motley Crue became more of a household name with this “friendlier” release. Despite what may have been going on behind the scenes Theatre of Pain was a solid album, albeit different from what fans of Shout at the Devil may have been expecting.
The year 1987 brought about yet another change with the guys going for a sleazy leather look and a more bluesy and gritty sound for their Girls Girls Girls release. The title track and video took the airwaves and MTV by storm. But there was more to this album than just debauchery. Fans found a cover of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, the simple and heartbreaking Nona in tribute to Nikki’s grandmother and a great mix of hard rockers and the necessary ballad.
As the lifestyle was taking its toll on the Crue they all worked toward sobriety before recording their next release. Dr. Feelgood was released in 1989 and had been eagerly awaited by fans. Would the boys be as amazing when sober? To answer that question critics claimed that the Dr. Feelgood album was the best work the guys have done. The music itself as always thanks to Nikki’s songwriting told stories of the things they guys had been through and for the first time did not include a cover song. The title track and Don'tGo Away Mad became MTV staples and the Crue’s fandom grew even more.
The first “Greatest Hits” album release by the Crue was Decade of Decadence in 1991. As always the guys don’t play by the rules and included not only their greatest hits but also remixes, covers, and new songs.
The next release was in 1994, and was an album with a lot of changes. Instead of a title and concept this album was self titled, simply Motley Crue. Instead of Vince on vocals the group now included Nikki, Tommy, Mick and John Corabi. While the music and songs were still great, for a fan like me it just wasn’t the Crue without Vince up front. The music and voice were harder and not the Crue sound that fans were used to. That is not to say that Corabi isn’t an amazing musician and vocalist. I love his work with other bands, but I just couldn’t accept the Crue without Vince. The major difference was that the songs had a different source as Corabi and Sixx handled the songwriting as a team.
After releasing the self titled album and working with Corabi to write songs for the next album that were very different from anything the Crue had released before Vince was brought back in for vocals. Just as Corabi’s voice didn’t go with the traditional Crue sound, Vince was not the voice for the songs Nikki and John had co-written. The album released in 1997, Generation Swine featured a lot more electronica and alternative sounds and in my opinion was probably even worse than the self titled album. This album ended the Crue’s long recording history with Elektra and was the last album Tommy Lee would play with the Crue for a long time.
In the year 2000 the Crue guys released the album New Tattoo on Motley Records and Eleven Seven Music. While missing Tommy Lee, the Crue sound was back and in full force with Nikki writing the songs, Randy Castillo on drums, and Vince in front where he belongs. Critics had moved past the “glam” “hair metal” sound, it was the new millennium and the album didn’t exactly get rave reviews but fans like me loved the return to the way the Crue was supposed to sound. They even went back to featuring a cover song on this album and did a helluva job on The Tubes’ White Punks on Dope.
In 2008 the Crue released Saints of Los Angeles. The return of Tommy Lee and songwriting help from Nikki’s friends from the Sixx A.M. band helped make the next release Saints of Los Angeles a great album. The tracks on the album go along with parts of the book The Dirt which tells the story of Motley Crue. Having all 4 original members back in the group after various and sundry reasons kept them separated for way too long is part of what made Vince tell That Metal Show that Saints is his favorite Crue album. Many fans feel the same way.
I'll be back later in the week with more Motley Crue!!!