To celebrate the band’s 30 Years Of Thunder anniversary tour, W.A.S.P. leader Blackie Lawless has penned a monthly diary (fifteen in total) to chronicle the real events of the band and give fans all a little better insight to the last thirty years in their history. Check out the January diary called “Howdy There Partner… Let the Screaming Begin” below:
The Halloween show in 83’ was actually the night before on the 30th of October. As I said before, the show was great and the Troubadour was a mad house as usual. Kerrang magazine had sent one of their primary photographers to shoot the show. We had been making a big noise for a while out in L. A. and Kerrang! had already featured us prominently in some earlier issues. So Ross Halfin was there shooting the show, but he wasn’t by himself…. he brought a friend!
So I woke up the next morning, feeling good about the gig, but still having this lingering idea in the back of my head. This was it, we had NOWHERE left to go. We were literally at the end of our Rock’ N’ Roll Rope! This whole L. A. Record Label perception thing had us painted into a huge corner. We had played the game as well as it could be played, maybe better than any Band head ever done, but still none of them were ready to commit.
Looking back now it’s easy to see why. Major labels suffer from the same thing the American Red Cross suffered from….Protecting Their Precious Images!!!!
They don’t want to get involved with any Band that’s going to tarnish their perceived image with the other Labels in the business, especially a Band like us, or any of the Thrash Bands at the time. I remember the first time I ever heard about anything like this was Chris saying that Eddie Van Halen was aggravated with their Label, Warner Brothers. It was the late 70’s and when Van Halen was in L. A. they would go down to the label to do press and they’d get treated like embarrassing step children because the Label heads were more interested if another artist like Ricki Lee Jones were in the building at the same time. As a side note, Chris knew all of this because he grew up in the same neighborhood as Eddie and remained friends. Years earlier it was Eddie that taught Chris how to play guitar.
All this is the reason that there are MANY Bands that should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but are not. They’ve got the same mentality as the major labels. They ALL want to appear respectable to each other. It drives me insane because it’s called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NOT the Pop Hall of Fame. If they want a Hall for themselves, FINE, go get their own, but don’t humiliate the Genius of Rock and Roll with their Grandparents idea of music!!
It is funny how W.A.S.P. and all those thrash bands all got deals with major labels. Once those guys got a whiff of the money they all came running like the true prostitutes they are!! (See ‘Chainsaw Charlie’) You need to remember W.A.S.P. were not really the same sort of band like the rest that came out of L.A. at that time. We had a much harder edge musically, and the show, well, that spoke for itself. We had a bit of a similar problem that Metallica had, which pushed them to go to San Francisco. We met them at a show in Palo Alto in 83’. We’d be on tour together in the U. S. 18 months later. It was big fun !!
All that said, the next night was Halloween and I went to the Rainbow to try to numb my anxieties. Halloween at the Rainbow was always crazier than it was even on a regular night.
So I’m walking through the restaurant trying to get to my table and an arm reaches out and grabs me. I look down and there’s this guy sitting there with a Viking helmet on his head…complete with horns on it. He pulls me down on the seat next to him and immediately starts telling me what I’m doing wrong with the band and how the presentation won’t work outside of L. A. .
After about three minutes of me listening (without me saying a word) he finishes his opening statement and I say to him, ‘who the hell are you?’
I’ve NEVER met this man in my life and he’s going on like his opinion really matters. I didn’t know who he was and frankly I was offended by him so I got up and proceeded on to my table. I didn’t think much more about it that night. So the next night I go back down to the Rainbow again. I’m walking along, an arm grabs me again and pulls me down. Guess who? Yep, same guy, but this time no Viking helmet. He starts in again on me with the same speech as the night before, you’re doing it ALL wrong, etc. This time I took REAL offense. Remember, the band had accomplished some pretty remarkable stuff to that point so we had to be doing at least SOMETHING right. We had no help, no Label and no manager and had become the number one band in L. A. which is a huge market that’s jaded beyond belief. It’s a place that’s seen EVERYTHING 20 times!! Very tough to impress!!
So I’m not really liking what this guy is throwing at me and I started to get up and leave and a girl that was standing there, who could see I wasn’t too happy with this line of questioning leaned over and said to me, ‘he’s the manager of IRON MAIDEN’. Now I had heard of Maiden, but they weren’t yet near as big in the US as they would latter become. Randy had heard some of their songs and was getting into it but I didn’t know much about them. So I’m sitting there (for the second time) and it dawns on me, I don’t even know this guy’s name. So I say, who are you? He says, I’m Rod Smallwood….I manage Iron Maiden. He had gone with Ross (against his will) to the Troub for the Halloween show. He said later he had seen pictures of us and thought we were some sort of a joke and couldn’t be taken seriously but Ross insisted he go. He told Rod he thought this was something he needed to see. Rod’s a huge DOORS fan and in those days we used their song ‘The End’ as the opening to the show. He said, well maybe this won’t be so bad after all. By the time the show was over he was becoming a believer!!”
Read more here.