As a pretty boy, hair band, cock rock, fan Tuff is very near the top of my list of favorites. Now, this isn’t to say that I dismiss the talent and focus only on the looks. I do not consider "hair band" to be an insult it’s simply the genre of music that rocks my world and that’s the easiest way to describe it. While the guys in Tuff sure were pretty they also had talent to back up that appearance. Having recently started The Manamal Streaming Radio with our team I’ve been able to learn a lot more about all of the bands we loved back in the day and find out where they are now.
Tuff has often claimed that they are the biggest unsigned band in the world. And in fact their ventures with record labels mostly resulted in disaster. Their first ep “Knock Yourself Out” released in 1986 featured Jim Gillette of Nitro fame as the frontman. Gillette would soon be replaced by Stevie Rachelle and thus begin the true journey of Tuff on the Sunset Strip.
As the music world faded from sex, drugs and rock’n’roll into the dark gray depression of grunge music Tuff kind of got lost in the shuffle. Their 1991 official full length release “What Comes Around Goes Around” on the Atlantic Records label featured the most well known lineup for the band;. Stevie Rachelle, George DeSaint, Todd Chase and Michael Raimondo. “What Comes Around Goes Around” contained tracks that tugged at heartstrings with the typical hair band power ballads, and it also had the sleazy glam sound that people were missing at the time. However despite popular MTV videos this album didn’t get the attention it deserved, the release had come just a bit too late for the hair band genre. Grunge was taking over the music scene.
Over the years Tuff has done independent releases and tried a few different record labels but mainly remained “underground”. Those who loved and followed the band were in for some surprises through the years. The band released “The History of Tuff” in 2001. This compilation album included remixes of several fan favorites from over the years as well as the parody song “American Hair Band”. The original song, “American Bad Ass” by Kid Rock was turned into a song about the great hair bands and the introduction of grunge . This is absolutely a feel good hair band anthem and it recognized so many of the bands that made the hair band era so wonderful.
A piece on Louder Sound details the rise and fall of Tuff including the side projects of frontman Stevie Rachelle.
“In 1998, Stevie Rachelle created Metal Sludge, one of the early web’s most active rock sites and the meeting/beating place for anyone on either side of the “hair metal” debacle. During it’s heyday it was a must-read bloodsport spectacle, full of the snarkiest interviews imaginable, groupie reports, and salacious news items detailing the inevitable downfall of your favourite/least favourite bandana-abusers. Rachelle’s involvement wasn’t known – or at the very least advertised – and Tuff took as many knocks as their contemporaries, maybe even more. If you can’t beat ‘em, pretend to be one of ‘em and let the shitstorm ensue. Rachelle probably deserves some kind of award for that one, man.”
Metal Sludge is still going strong today, as are Stevie Rachelle and Tuff. You can see Tuff live, in 2018 at various events including the High Vol. Music SummerBash!
If you are interested in the real history of Tuff be sure to check out Rachelle’s Tuff Diaries on Metal Sludge and read in his own words how a young boy from Wisconsin stormed the Sunset Strip and began his journey of rock’n roll decadence!
As one of our Vintage Spotlight Featured Artists for this week, Tuff is a band that many may have missed out on, and we want to make sure you are introduced to one of the least appreciated, very talented and unique bands that missed the hair band heyday but still managed to rock both then and now!!! You can hear the ballads and the rockers as well as the “American Hair Band” anthem on The Manamal Streaming Radio!