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.