Blackie Lawless, was born Steven Duren on 4th September 1956. He lived in Staten Island, New York, where he hung out with Ace Freley of Kiss Fame. At the age of 13, Blackie was stabbed in a fight and at 14 he was sent to Military School to learn discipline. After 18 months of a two year sentence he was thrown out after beating up a Sargent Major.
Blackie was nine when he got his first guitar and in that same year he earned 16 dollars and 35 cents in his first band called THE UNDERSIDE. At the age of 16 Blackie played with an East Coast band called BLACK RABBIT, tauting his talents around local bars. Another early band was called ORFAX RAINBOW in which he played for quite a while. When a singing vacancy came up with the legendary NEW YORK DOLLS, after Johnny Thunders leaves, Blackie takes it up - he had just turned 18.
After six months playing with the then dying NEW YORK DOLLS, Blackie and fellow DOLLS bassist Arthur Kane decide to leave New York and head to L.A. They form a band called KILLER KANE and release a 33 ½ EP. This includes the tracks MR COOL on Side 1, LONGHAIRED WOMAN and DONT NEED YOU on Side 2. Blackie is known at this time as "Blackie Gooseman". Eventually KILLER KANE breaks up, Arthur decides to go back to New York and Blackie stays in L.A.
In 1977, Blackie and Randy Piper join together to form a band called SISTER. SISTER where amongst the first groups in L.A. to experiment with occult symbolism and face make up. It is also believed that Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) also played in the band for a while. Out of the SISTER experience Blackie meets up with Chris Holmes. While browsing through the "Beaver Hunt" section of Hustler magazine, Blackie spots ex - U.S. Marine Chris and decides to contact him.
Unfortunately, the late 1970's were a bad time for Heavy Metal and SISTER failed to generate record company interest despite their loyal club following. Other bands that Blackie had played in around this time were CIRCUS CIRCUS and LONDON.
Blackie and Randy stayed in contact and in 1982, when Blackie felt that he had good enough material to form a new band he contacted Randy. Chris and Tony Richards were also added to the line up. The band also dabbled with bassist Don Costa for a while before he joined Ozzy.
W.A.S.P were now formed and in late 1982, they started live gigging. Their first gig was at a place called "The Woodstock" in Orange Country, and by May 1983, they were able to sell out the then 3000 seated "Santa Monica Civic Hall". Momentum continued with a number of sold out gigs at the "Troubador".
Late in 1983, Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood went to see the band. He was extremely impressed with the music and outrageous live performances he decided to get involved. A substantial recording contract was agreed with Capitol Records in early 1984 and the band started to record their debut album "W.A.S.P".
The bands first single "ANIMAL" was not included on the album as it would have meant it being banned from major chain stores. Capitol planned to release it as a single only in Europe, in a black plastic bag with a sticker warning of offensive lyrics. At last minute Capitol backs out and the single is salvaged when W.A.S.P strikes a one off deal with "Music For Nations", who release it in its original sleeve in April of 1984.
In August the album "W.A.S.P" (the original title was planned to be "Winged Assassins") is issued followed by the single "I Wanna Be Somebody" in September. Just before the start of their British Tour, Tony Richards decides to leaves the band. He is replaced by ex-Keel drummer Steve Riley. After the tour a further single "School Daze" is issued.
In May 1985, work begins on the bands second album "THE LAST COMMAND", working with Spensor Proffer at Pasha Studio's in L.A. The band also goes on tour without their signature of blood and guts stage show and open for such major acts as Kiss. The album is released in September, with the first track off the album called "BLIND IN TEXAS" being released in October.
Wild Child is issued in June of 1986. Around this time the band comes up with two major inconveniences. Firstly Randy Piper leaves the band and is replaced by bassist Johnny Rod (King Kobra). This enables Blackie to switch back to playing rythum guitar. Also the band starts to run up against on organisation called the P.M.R.C. This was run by U.S. senators wives and wannabes trying to protect decent society from Rock Music. They referred to Blackie as being sick.
The summer of 1986 was spent recording in L.A, with plans to return to Europe to do an Autumn tour. Their first single from the new sessions "9.5. N.A.S.T.Y." was released in September and the tour began in October. To co-inside with the tour, the bands third album called "INSIDE THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS" was released.
Before the start of their British Tour, W.A.S.P fly into London a few days early to appear live at the "Town and Country Club" for a BBC2 special called "Rock Around The Clock". Their usual grand finale with Blackie's cod piece exploding in a shower of sparks was deemed to be unsuitable and was not filmed. Also around this time there were bomb threats at arenas were W.A.S.P were playing and Blackie had his life threatened by gunshots.
In 1987 W.A.S.P were listed fifth on the bill of the Castle Donington, "Monsters Of Rock" festival in the U.K, which was headlined by Bon Jovi. Their act included the return of the "Torture Routine" in all its glory. The week before the festival, "SCREAM UNTIL YOU LIKE IT", the theme tune to the horror movie"Ghoules 2" was released. This was then followed by the release of the bands forth album called "LIVE..... IN THE RAW". February 1988 leads to Music for Nations following up the original "ANIMAL" release with a live version.
By the end of the year the band were putting finishing touches to their forth studio album called "THE HEADLESS CHILDREN" in Baby O Studios in L.A. Before recording had began, Steve Riley leaves the band and Frankie Banali drummer from Quiet Riot was borrowed for the album sessions. The finished record had a better sound than its predecessors, with the addition of Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) on keyboards and string arrangements being used on certain tracks.
Mean man was issued at the end of February 1989 and becomes the bands first U.K. Top 30 Hit. The actual album was issued in April and they planed to tour that month too, but the bands inability to find a suitable drummer lead to the tour being re-scheduled for May, when Frankie was free to join the band after finishing touring with Quiet Riot. Their British tour was supported by Zed Yago and was completed at the end of May. Also in May "THE REAL ME" (a cover of The Who's classic from Quadrophenia) was issued. FOREVER FREE was also released and gets to number 25 in the U.K. singles chart.
Rumours start to amount that Chris Holmes has left the band and this is confirmed. Blackie announces that he is working on a new project, a rock opera, which is to be called "THE CRIMSON IDOL" without Chris.
In March of 1992 the single "CHAINSAW CHARLIE" (the first single in three years) is released followed by the album "THE CRIMSON IDOL" in June. It was recorded at Blackie's Fort Apache studios and was written and produced by the man himself.. Frankie Banalli left the band during the recording sessions and Stret Howland took over on drums, also Johnny Rod does not play on the album, but he is later re-recruited for the tour . Bob Kulluck is included and takes over on guitar for studio work only.
August 1992 W.A.S.P play Castle Donington, Monster of Rock festival in the U.K, headlined by Iron Maiden, and also tour later that year. The touring line up included Blackie, Johnny Rod, Stret Howland and Doug Blair.
The single "SUNSET AND BABYLON" is issued in October 1993, followed by the release of the album "FIRST BLOOD….LAST CUTS" in the same month. Around this time Blackie declares that he has disbanded W.A.S.P to pursue a solo career.
Blackie signs a new record deal with Castle records and in June 1995, the album "STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH" is released still under the name W.A.S.P. Blackie stated that at the time that he had began writing the album, he had intended to put W.A.S.P behind him, but as the album come together there were songs in the classic W.A.S.P style and it seemed natural to call it a W.A.S.P album, anything else would not have been true to the many legions of W.A.S.P fans who had shared the experiences. "BLACK FOREVER" a CD single was also issued too. W.A.S.P do not tour, but Blackie makes personal appearances to promote the record.
March 1997 leads to the release of "KILL FUCK DIE" through Raw Power and a one track limited edition CD of the same name was released a month earlier. The album has a much darker mood to it and has included the return of guitar player Chris Holmes to the band. Stret Howland is also in the band and Mike Duda is added on bass guitar. The band tours and their stage show is very outrageous, it included the raping of a nun and the cutting up of a pig.
W.A.S.P sign a new deal with CMC International Records and Blackie wins a court case against Capitol and contains full control of the W.A.S.P back-catalogue. He re-masters the catalogue and re-issues them with B sides and live performances added.
"DOUBLE LIVE ASSASSINS" is released in the U.K. in February 1998 and in the U.S. in June. This is a live album which was recorded on their world tour in 1997. They join the Metal Manics tour with Iron Maiden, but due to problems with the tour they pull out.
In January of 1999 Blackie announces the name of the new album which is called "HELLDORADO" it is to be released in May followed by a European tour.
After completing a successful European Tour in June 1999. Blackie at to postpone the U.S. Tour due to a injury on his elbow.
February 2000, W.A.S.P embark on their long awaited American Tour. A Best Of CD entitled 'The Best Of The Best' is released in March. The CD included classic songs such as Animal, L.O.V.E Machine and Wild Child. Also there were two extra tracks on the CD, a version of the Elton John hit 'Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting' and a new track entitled 'Unreal'.
The band play a show at the Key Club in Los Angeles on April 22nd 2000. This show was broadcasted live all around the world via the internet. This was an historic event in W.A.S.P history and fans came together from all over the world to watch the same show. It was amazing.
In May of 2000 W.A.S.P took part in charity show sponsored by Concreate Marking in which all proceeds of the ticket sales went to the T.J. Mashal foundation. Other bands that took part in this event where Great White and Megadeath. Parts of this show was also recorded for an Hollywood film.
October 2000 saw the release of a CD called 'The Sting'. This CD is a recording of the Netcast show that took place at the Key Club Los Angeles on April 22nd 2000.
W.A.S.P. released Unholy Terror through the Metal-is label, on April 9th 2001. It was Recorded in Los Angeles with W.A.S.P main man Blackie Lawless at the production helm, 'UNHOLY TERROR' dealt with many issues that Blackie sees in the world today, and never being afraid to comment on these issues through his music said: ''One subject that this album deals with is socio, religious, and political hypocrisy. I had a fundamentalist Christian upbringing and I grew up seeing the world through a different pair of eyes''. In the song 'Charisma', Lawless, who has constantly been the target of religious zealots throughout his career, explains: ''There's a dark side of charisma that mesmerizes all of us when we look at the world figures who possess that dark gift. In the song there's a line that goes 'Preaching fear and using religion with the Bible and Koran', as often organised religions wield a mighty power over it's congregations in the name of God''. That said, this is still a Rock n' Roll record, and sees W.A.S.P's trademark high octane brand of relentless, driving rock, standing shoulder to shoulder with songs about Disaffected Youth and Dictators, Popes and Politicians, and will surely go down as one of their most accomplished albums to date.
They played some European festivals in June, July & August of 2001, before returning to the U.S.A to do an Autumn Tour.
On June 11th, shock rock innovators W.A.S.P. released their most inspired effort to date through Sanctuary/Metal-Is Records.. On the heals of 2001's critically acclaimed Unholy Terror (heralded as an "…excuse to flay your carcass more ruthlessly than anyone else can…" by L.A. Weekly and "…hard, nasty and loud…" by Hit Parader Magazine), Blackie Lawless and company unleased a 10-track demonstration of inspiration through aggression entitled Dying For The World.
With a lineup that included vocalist/guitarist/ringleader Blackie Lawless, longtime contributing drummer Frankie Banali and bassist Mike Duda, and newcomer Darrell Roberts (who joined the band just prior to the Unholy Terror U.S. Tour), Dying For The World was recorded and mixed at Blackie's studio in Los Angeles. The album was actually inspired by letters received from troops who fought in the Gulf War.
Blackie explained: "Our motivation for this record was prefaced by letters sent to us from the tank divisions during the Gulf War, where the troops would actually go into battle blaring 'Fuck Like A Beast' and 'Wild Child.' After the events on 9/11, we felt we would give them a fresh batch; in essence, we've literally made an album to go kill people by."
Consisting of songs entitled "Shadow Man," "Hell For Eternity," "Trail Of Tears," "Rubberman," "My Wicked Heart," "Stone Cold Killers," "Hallowed Ground," "Hallowed Ground #5 (acoustic)," "Black Bone Torso," and "Revengence," Dying For The World emphasizes a method of dealing with anger.
A native of Staten Island, Blackie elaborates: "This problem isn't going to go away; we WILL have to deal with the Middle East eventually. There is no longer an 'if', it's 'when'!"s 'when'!"
W.A.S.P. cancelled their U.S. tour scheduled for fall 2002, due to the fact that the band are continuing work on a forthcoming studio album, which will be a double record set scheduled for release in the fall of 2004
Due to the enormity and the complexities of what will be a concept/ opera, the band feel that they would need as much time as possible in effort to make the forthcoming release everything that it can possibly be.
W.A.S.P. Reveals Part One of THE NEON GOD
Saga on April 6th
Through Sanctuary/Metal-Is Records
The name is legend, having become associated with such controversial and mind numbing releases as The Headless Children, The Crimson Idol, K.F.D., Unholy Terror, and the notorious self-titled debut. April 6, 2004 will seen the band evolve further with The Neon God: Part One – The Rise, a conceptual rock opera that explores the tragedy and consequences of one boy’s search for acceptance and purpose in his existence.
Opening with the line, “Oh tell me my lord, why am I here?”, The Neon God delved into such deeply emotional (and personal) inquiries, such as where does one fit into the great cosmic enigma? How does love fit into the equation? Should I use my gifts and talents for good or for evil? These are the primary thoughts all people have regarding their existence at one time or another. When addressed by a youth and coupled with an extreme dose of fear, a lethal combination develops.
Part One – The Rise told the story of an abused and orphaned boy who finds that he has the ability to read and manipulate people. By utilizing his gifts, he is able to build a following whose devotion and allegiance create a loyalty so intense that he is poised to become a dark Messiah for the 21st Century. The tracklisting included: Overture, Why Am I Here, Wishing Well, Sister Sadie (And the Black Habits), (Why Am) I Nothing, Underature, Asylum #9, Red Room of the Rising Sun, What I’ll Never Find, Someone To Love Me, X.T.C. Riders, Me and the Devil, Running Man, The Raging Storm
Ambitious in design, but no less potent than previous work, W.A.S.P. had reached a milestone many years in the making. The powerful, high-emotion story is set to the backdrop of W.A.S.P’s trademark nail-biting, theatrical style, from the guitar and soul-searing vocal performance of frontman Blackie Lawless to the intense percussion work of Frankie Banali, the bludgeoning bass work of Mike Duda, and the raging lead guitar styling of Darrell Roberts. One can only imagine what the live show will yield.
Part 2 of The Neon God story will be released by Sanctuary/Metal-Is Records over the summer and will complete the awe-inspiring and jaw dropping story.
Over the years, W.A.S.P. have created some of the most controversial and thought-provoking records in the history of metal. The Neon God is a labor of love for the band, an album that Blackie Lawless has talked about making for years. The Neon God is the next evolution in the musical beast that is W.A.S.P.
In May of 2004 W.A.S.P. embark on The Neon God World Tour. It takes them to Europe and America ending up in the U.S. on 1st September 2004. Blackie continues work on The Neon God Part 2 - The Demise.
W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless is quite possibly the busiest man in hard rock currently. Having completed a nationwide and European tour in support of the first act of the band’s 2004 2-part conceptual opus The Neon God, W.A.S.P. did another run around the world to support the forthcoming conclusion of said epic entitled The Neon God Part 2: The Demise, which was released through Sanctuary/Metal-Is Records on September 28th.
Produced & mixed during this summer, Blackie was ardent in his mission to make The Neon God Part 2: The Demise as potent and intense as its story dictates, so much so, that he was flying back & forth between venues and his Fort Apache studios in Burbank, CA during the first two weeks of the band’s summer tour! The Neon God addresses a tale of deep emotional quandary and revelation, the intoxication of power and the consequences of corruption. It is a story that everyone has experienced at one time or another - the need to belong, the quest for love, the desire for control, and the futility of vanity. Lawless, forthright and ever evolving as a musician and a human being, drew influence for the album’s concept through extensive observation of the world and numerous soul-searching journeys through the deserts of America’s Southwest. Part 1: The Rise was met with radiant applause, heralded as “compelling” by Metal Edge Magazine, “peerless” and “bombastic” by the Las Vegas Mercury, and Hit Parader Magazine attested that it “rarely ceased to entertain”. LA Weekly embraced the concept with vivid appeal, testifying the album as “a lavalike mountainside flow that pulls you inexorably from track to track.”
Deplorably renowned for his lewd behavior coming up through a music community where ‘excess’ meant ‘success’, Lawless frequently engages in musical endeavors that strip his soul and offer glimpses of the man beneath. In a way, each progressing W.A.S.P. release is another chapter in the uncompromising life of Lawless. With a catalogue spanning nearly 20 years, early titles, such as the self-titled debut and The Last Command represent youth and the indulgence of freedom. Releases like The Crimson Idol, Unholy Terror, and Dying for the World peel the blinders from society’s eyes and reveal humanistic truths and offer foresight into an unwritten future.
Ambitious in design, but no less persuasive than previous work, W.A.S.P. has reached a milestone many years in the making. The powerful, high-emotion story is set to the backdrop of W.A.S.P’s trademark nail-biting, theatrical style, from the guitar and soul-searing vocal performance of Blackie Lawless to the intense percussion work of returning drummer Stet Howland, the bludgeoning bass work of Mike Duda, and the rampaging lead guitar styling of Darrell Roberts.
A second leg of The Neon God World Tour commenced in early October, bringing yet another inimitable performance to rabid, music hungry fans, for a W.A.S.P. concerts are no average performances. As Orlando Weekly humbly states, “they know that ‘rock show’ is comprised of two equally important words.”