Members: Blackie Lawless, Doug Blair, Mike Duda, Mike Dupke
Active: 1982 - present
W.A.S.P. is an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 which gained notoriety for its "shock rock" image, music and live performances. The band, formed in Los Angeles, California, initially consisted of Blackie Lawless, Rik Fox, Randy Piper and Tony Richards. The band became famous for its raunchy and at times shocking live shows; Lawless was known to tie semi-naked models to a torture rack and hurl raw meat into the audience. The band's debut single, entitled Animal (Fuck Like A Beast), was equally controversial.
The first lineup didn't last for long, as Rik Fox left the band to join (then unknown) vocalist Ron Keel & guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen in the band Steeler. He was replaced by Don Costa. Shortly afterwards, Don Costa also left the band and his position on the bass was filled by Lawless. At the same time, guitarist Chris Holmes joined the band.
W.A.S.P. signed to Capitol Records for their debut album, W.A.S.P., released on August 17, 1984. The debut was at one time planned for release under the name "Winged Assassins". The idea was obviously forgotten though. The band's first single Animal (F*** Like A Beast) was omitted from the album in the United States to prevent the album from being banned from major chain stores.
"L.O.V.E. Machine" and "I Wanna Be Somebody" helped the album sell well, and set the band up for "Blind in Texas", a song written in Minnesota, by Blackie Lawless. The song was released on the next album The Last Command on November 9, 1985. The Last Command is still W.A.S.P.'s highest charting album, peaking at #47 on the Billboard album chart. "Blind In Texas" is still perhaps their best known song, more than 20 years later. The Last Command Album was also the first album with new drummer Steve Riley. The former Keel drummer replaced Tony Richards at the beginning of the 84-85 tour.
After The Last Command tour, guitarist Randy Piper quit the band. He auditioned for a spot in Alice Cooper's band and was accepted, but, according to Piper himself, left in a few weeks because Kane Roberts was going to be the lead guitarist, and Piper was not content with staying in the background once again. Former King Kobra bassist Johnny Rod joined the band as Blackie went back to rhythm guitar. With the changes made, they recorded their 3rd album called Inside The Electric Circus. It was released on November 8, 1986. The album was a big hit with W.A.S.P. fans. Critics of the other hand dismissed it as "7th grader rock". Songs like "Shoot from the Hip", "9.5.-N.A.S.T.Y." might have helped the band earn the reputation to match one of the possible meanings of the infamous band name, i.e. "We Are Sexual Perverts" - an idea that had been around since 1984.
W.A.S.P. became a very prominent target of the Parents Music Resource Center, an organization led by Tipper Gore and dedicated to opposing music with lyrics deemed violent or sexual. This lowered the band's reputation to such a degree that concert halls were getting bomb threats, band members were getting written death threats by the hundreds, and singer Blackie Lawless was shot at twice (though not hit). Ironically, the publicity this controversy generated ultimately improved album sales.
'A tired record by a tired band', as Blackie calls it, spawned a minor hit single "95-N.A.S.T.Y.". It was a critical review of this single that convinced Lawless of the necessity to take some time off and reconsider the band's creative direction.
In 1987 W.A.S.P. had their song "Scream Until You Like It" on the movie Ghoulies 2. The same year a few dates during the Inside The Electric Circus tour were recorded. On November 27 1987, the Long Beach arena concert was released as the Live... In The Raw album. Unfortunately by this time Steve Riley left W.A.S.P. to join L.A. Guns, a band that had just recorded their debut album L.A. Guns with drummer Nikki Alexander who quit just after the recording of the debut LP, this is when Riley stepped in.
W.A.S.P.'s fourth album, The Headless Children, was released on April 15 1989. This was their first album without any sexually explicit songs and also the first one that sold rather poorly. It reached #48 on the Billboard 200, but quickly fell off the charts. However, it was critically acclaimed to be W.A.S.P.'s best work at the time, and according to a recent Lawless interview, it is now actually the biggest selling W.A.S.P. album. The drumming duties for the album were handled by former Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali.
Chris Holmes left in August 1989, stating that he wanted to 'have fun, you know,' to which Lawless responded with a caustic remark about the fact that 'some guys want to stay at home and wear aprons,' hinting at the nature of Chris Holmes' relationship with his newly acquired wife Lita Ford. The band effectively disbanded a few months later with Blackie Lawless embarking on a solo career. Lawless was originally slated to play T-1000 in the Terminator 2: Judgment Day movie, but was later replaced by Robert Patrick after Arnold Schwarzenegger deemed Lawless 'too tall'. Blackie commenced work on a solo project, but under pressure from both promoters and fans had to release it as a W.A.S.P. album. Ironically, many critics feel that this album, The Crimson Idol, has been the best W.A.S.P. output so far.
The follow up to The Crimson Idol was Still Not Black Enough, a collection of dark introspective tunes that extended the Crimson Idol mythology (but this time, without Lawless 'hiding behind' Jonathan Steele, as he stated in the liner notes) as well as included cover songs as 'bonus tracks'. The initial European edition included a different track listing from the American and a subsequent American re-issue featured yet a different track listing. No version to date includes all the various tracks on one disc.
Chris Holmes returned to W.A.S.P. in 1996 and together they released K.F.D. (1997) and Helldorado (1999). They also recorded two live albums from these two tours, Double Live Assassins and The Sting, respectively. The Sting CD and DVD were taken directly from the experimental webcast. Apparently Blackie had no control over this release and was unhappy with the results with their poor sound and picture quality.
The band continued with Unholy Terror in 2001. Chris Holmes left the band again in 2002, citing that he wanted to 'play the blues'. He hooked up with fellow ex-W.A.S.P. member Randy Piper's band Animal, but fell out soon. It's interesting to note that Holmes has claimed he never played on 'Unholy Terror'.
Dying for the World, released in 2002, was written and recorded in less than a year which is very fast by Lawless' perfectionist standards. Its liner notes feature one of Lawless' strongest statements about political correctness, inspired by the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
In April 2004, W.A.S.P. released the first part of The Neon God, subtitled The Rise , a conceptual album about an abused and orphaned boy who finds that he has the ability to read and manipulate people. The second part, The Demise, was released in September 2004.
In 2005, W.A.S.P. headlined American Metal Blast. A video shoot of a promo for the 'Never Say Die' track was planned with Ward Boult, a fetish photographer, as director, yet to this day there's no news as to whether the shootings resulted in anything. It would have been the first W.A.S.P. promo video in ten years, since the 1995 'Black Forever'.
Early 2006 saw the seemingly stable lineup fall apart. Stet Howland left first on amicable terms, promising more specific information about the reasons for the split to be posted on his website. Larry Howe of Vicious Rumours was considered as a replacement, yet in May the departure of Darrell Roberts hit the band, and as the new guitar player Mark Zavon was announced several days before the first tour date, the same press release confirmed Mike Dupke and not Howe as the new drummer. Still, two days later Zavon was out of the picture as well, seeing Doug Blair step in once again.
A new album, Dominator is planned for release October 2006, according to a statement made by Blackie at a tour stop in Kavarna. He then went on to play a new song from the album, entitled Mercy.
1984 - W.A.S.P.
1985 - The Last Command
1986 - Inside the Electric Circus
1989 - The Headless Children
1992 - The Crimson Idol
1995 - Still Not Black Enough
1997 - Kill Fuck Die
1999 - Helldorado
2001 - Unholy Terror
2002 - Dying for the World
2004 - The Neon God: Part 1 - The Rise
2004 - The Neon God, Pt. 2: The Demise
2006 - Dominator
1986 - Live...Animal
1987 - Live...In the Raw
1998 - Double Live Assassins
2000 - The Sting
1993 - First Blood Last Cuts
2000 - The Best of the Best: 1984-2000, Vol. 1