Blazing a trail of outrage that lifted them from the suffocating obscurity of the downbeat club circuit in Los Angeles and onto the biggest stages in the world, W.A.S.P exploded onto the scene in 1984 when Capitol Records refused to release their debut single A.M.I.M.A.L (I Fuck Like a Beast).
The band took the song to Music For Nations, an independent British label specialising in hard rock and heavy metal, and within weeks the never-to-be-forgotten single was on the streets (and banned by every self-respecting British radio station from Land’s End to John O’Groats).
The group followed that by releasing their debut self-titled album on Capitol in August 1984, jammed with hellish performances and wild outlandish new material.
Unarguably the naughtiest rock band of the 80s, they drank fake blood from a human skull onstage. They also whipped a half-naked woman tied to a torture rack and threw raw meat at their audience.
The fact that they were increasingly frowned upon by the mainstream media establishment only deepened the band’s grassroots credibility in the eyes of the hardcore heavy metal crowd.
They went on to prove that their sudden and unpredicted rise to prominence in 1984 was no mere flash in the pan. Their second Capitol album, The Last Command (1985), ably demonstrated the widening scope of the band’s music.
For their third album, Inside the Electric Circus (1986), W.A.S.P brought the whole thing full circle by combining the best and most raucous elements of their first two albums and forging them with a fire of guitars into their most cohesive and streamlined musical statement yet.
In 1987, W.A.S.P. had their song Scream Until You Like It included on the soundtrack of the movie Ghoulies 2, by which time drummer Steve Riley had left the band to join L.A. Guns, and was replaced in relatively quick succession by Chad Nelson, Glenn Soderling, Kelly Martella and Frankie Banali.
Their fourth studio album, The Headless Children, was released on April 15, 1989, and reached #48 on the Billboard 200. It was W.A.S.P’s most critically acclaimed work up to that point and the highest-selling W.A.S.P. album to date.
Guitarist Chris Holmes left the band in August 1989, following his marriage to Lita Ford (ex-The Runaways). The band effectively disbanded a few months later, with Blackie Lawless embarking on a short-lived solo career, eventually releasing his planned solo debut – The Crimson Idol – as a W.A.S.P. album.
The follow-up, Still Not Black Enough (1995), was a collection of dark, introspective tunes, and while the album lacked the cohesiveness of its predecessor, the lyrics explored similar topics to Crimson Idol – being an outcast and misfit, the pressures of fame and society, and the search for love.
Chris Holmes returned to W.A.S.P. in 1996 and the group released Kill.Fuck.Die (1997) and Helldorado (1999).
They continued with the album Unholy Terror in 2001 before Holmes left the band once again.
Subsequent album releases included Dying for the World (2002), The Rise (2004), The Demise (2004), Dominator (2007), Babylon (2009) and Golgotha (2015).
Former drummer Frankie Banali died of pancreatic cancer on 20 August 2020,
Their music was loud, rude and surprisingly catchy. But you’ll struggle to listen to it these days with a straight face.
Vocals, guitar, bass