W.A.S.P. One of the heavier bands to come out of the 1980s L.A. metal scene, W.A.S.P. quickly rose to national infamy thanks to their shock rock image, lyrics, and live concerts. Led by firebrand vocalist, bassist, guitarist, and sole constant member Blackie Lawless, the band released a string of successful studio albums, including the gold-selling W.A.S.P. (1984) and The Last Command (1985), before briefly ceasing operations in the early '90s. Lawless assembled and disassembled multiple lineups as the years progressed. Still, the band remained prolific and surprisingly potent, issuing well-received efforts like 9/11-inspired Dying for the World (2002) and the biblically themed Babylon (2009) and Golgotha (2015) that eschewed the debauchery of their early material for a more contemplative, though no less boisterous, approach to the genre.
Leader Blackie Lawless (bass/vocals) was already a rock & roll veteran when he relocated to the West Coast and founded W.A.S.P. with guitarists Chris Holmes and Randy Piper and drummer Tony Richards. The band soon established a reputation as a ferocious live act, thanks in large part to Lawless' habits of tying a semi-naked model to a torture rack and throwing raw meat into the audience. And with the release of their self-explanatory independent EP, Animal (F**k Like a Beast), W.A.S.P. became impossible to ignore.
They signed to Capitol Records, and with songs like "I Wanna Be Somebody" and "L.O.V.E. Machine" leading the way, their self-titled 1984 debut was an instant success. W.A.S.P. took their horror show on the road, and their momentum continued to build with the following year's The Last Command, which featured new drummer Steven Riley and the band's biggest hit, "Blind in Texas." Later that year, W.A.S.P. gained even more prominence as one of the biggest targets of Tipper Gore and the P.M.R.C. (Parents' Music Resource Center), a Washington social agenda group leading a crusade against violent, sexist song lyrics. Though the incident (which included Senate hearings on the issue with guest speakers as disparate as Frank Zappa, John Denver, and Dee Snider from Twisted Sister) would cause more publicity than actual results, it served to make W.A.S.P. a household name.
Ironically, the band toned down its act for 1986's Inside the Electric Circus, a more commercial album that saw Lawless switch to guitar (replacing the departed Piper) and hire bassist Johnny Rod. The blood and guts were largely gone, and despite releasing a strong live album entitled Live...In the Raw the following year, the band's popularity began to wane. The release of Penelope Spheeris' searing heavy metal "rockumentary" The Decline of Western Civilization 2: The Metal Years, an exposé about the L.A. metal scene, also didn't help matters.
Released in 1989, Headless Children (featuring ex-Quiet Riot sticksman Frankie Banali) was a return to form, but it couldn't reverse the band's slump, and W.A.S.P. disbanded soon after. Lawless eventually returned as a one-man show for 1993's The Crimson Idol, an ambitious rock opera/concept album billed as Blackie Lawless & W.A.S.P. Resurrecting the band's old shock rock antics, but alas, not their fame and fortune, the following year's greatest-hits set, First Blood...Last Cuts, seemed like W.A.S.P.'s last chapter.
But the resilient Lawless returned once again, luring guitarist Chris Holmes back into the fold and recruiting bassist Mike Duda and drummer Stet Howland for 1996's well-regarded Still Not Black Enough. This lineup continued to tour and record for a number of independent labels, with their albums including 1997's K.F.D., 1999's Helldorado, and 2001's Unholy Terror. The band released Dying for the World in 2002, an exceptional collection of unusually serious material inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It was followed in 2004 by the conceptual Neon God, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, with the like-minded Dominator arriving in 2006. Issued in 2009, Babylon saw the group drawing inspiration from the biblical visions of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, while 2015's Napalm-issued Golgotha, their 15th studio long-player, would be the last LP to feature longtime drummer Mike Dupke, who left the group prior to the album's release. In 2017, W.A.S.P. toured to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Crimson Idol. In February 2018, Napalm Records released ReIdolized: The Soundtrack to the Crimson Idol, which included both a concert film and the original LP, the latter of which added four previously unreleased cuts.
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