Former child actor Gary Holton formed The Heavy Metal Kids in 1974 with Mickey Waller (guitar), Argentinean-born Danny Peyronel (keyboards), Ronnie Thomas (bass and vocals) and Keith Boyce (drums).
Part unrepentant boogie band, part pub-rock leviathan and part good-time distillation of the best of Slade and The Faces, fronted by Holton’s irresistible cackle, the Kids had an energy that could transform even their ballads into air-thumping anthems.
The two Atco albums were spotty at best, although a great single (a cover of Rufus Thomas‘s Houseparty) followed.
Both guitarist Waller and producer Dave Dee had absented themselves by the time Danny Peyronel departed in late 1975, to be replaced by John Sinclair from the Jackie Lynton Band – Peyronel himself then resurfaced in UFO, in time for their No Heavy Petting album.
Cosmo departed, to be succeeded by Barry Paul, and Holton himself was sacked amid a tidal wave of drug-tinged accusations. He was always a drinker, but drugs brought a new, and troubling, influence into play.
Holton remained in the cold for three months, returning to the band around the same time as producer Mickie Most began showing an interest in them. Atlantic Records promptly sold the group’s contract onto him.
Their first single for RAK was She’s No Angel – the best thing they had ever done to date.
Most’s next move was to get working on a new album, Kitsch – recorded in France in spring 1976 as part of Most’s tax arrangements.
Meanwhile, Holton’s taste for the rock’n’roll life was getting increasingly out of control and finally, he was fired. The band spent months looking for a new singer, only to give up and invite Gary back into the fold after he swore he would mend his ways.
Kitsch was finally released about a year after it was recorded. But by mid-1978, Holton had quit once again and the band called it a day.
Returning to acting, Holton scored a starring role in the comedy series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet as Wayne, the cockney Casanova. He died in Spain on 25 October 1985 during filming of the second series, the victim of a heroin habit.
Ronnie Thomas, Keith Boyce and Danny Peyronel, together with the group’s mid-Seventies manager Dave Dee, reformed The Kids in 2002 and released a new album Hit The Right Button the following year.
Dave Dee passed away on 9 January 2009. Guitarist Mickey Waller lost his battle with throat cancer in a Paris hospital on 1 February 2013, aged 66.