A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Just Another Day In The World

Game Of Thrones

It looks like Piracy does pay. The sales of DVD/BluRay box sets for Season 4 of “Game Of Thrones” are going crazy. Season 3 also experienced the same craziness.

Led Zeppelin

Meanwhile, an album from 40 years ago is back on the charts. Led Zeppelin, who was so late to the streaming party, is now fighting for a spot on top of the charts due to their fans streaming their music.

Sales

So the recording industries response to piracy is to have a global release day on Friday. Hello, its 2015. Every day is a good day to release new music because music when done right doesn’t need a blockbuster opening day. Last week, 36 Crazyfists released their album “Time and Trauma” with first week sales of 3,500.

Yeah, high fives all round. Let’s blame piracy.

Meanwhile, ageing rockers AC/DC moved another 8,000 units as they move closer to 500,000 sales. However, sales of 500,000 does not mean that the record is popular amongst their fans. Does anyone know if it’s continually getting played? It’s not on Spotify so we can’t use any data from there.

Meanwhile, the “Rock Or Bust” clip has over 7 million views on YouTube, while “Play Ball” has over 6 million views. However, if you compare those YouTube views to Slipknot’s “The Devil and I” 26 million plus views, it’s easy to see what fans of rock and metal are listening too.

But hang on a second, the media outlets give ink to the fact that AC/DC has almost sold 500,000 copies of their album, while Slipknot is closer to the 300,000 mark. Further evidence today, that sales don’t equate to the actual popularity of the album. Listening data does.

Sales are old school and they are not coming back. In Norway, piracy is non-existent however revenues from recorded music haven’t increased. Goes to show that people never really wanted to own music, they just wanted access to it.

American Sniper

However if an entertainment product is done right, people will still spend their money. “American Sniper” is a perfect example of that. The movie is all over the piracy sites, and it is also approaching the $500 million mark on Box Office Returns. Compare that to the “The Expendables 3” which bombed big time. One movie hit the mark with the audiences while the other didn’t.

So when something does well, piracy is not mentioned at all as maybe a possible reason for its success, while when something does not do well, piracy is always blamed.

Performing Live

For musicians, piracy is exposure. Machine Head grossed $33,000 for one show in front of 850 Head Cases. If they play 100 shows with the same return, that would mean, they would have grossed $3.3 million. It sure sounds like a decent take home.

On a larger scale, Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators grossed $316,696 for a show in Dublin.

Music is all about people listening and if we listen and we like it, we will spend our dollars.

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Music

Clash Of The Titans

I watched the Big Four DVD recently. I know, I’m about 4 years late to the party, however after seeing those bands live on numerous occasions, I didn’t think it was essential viewing. And I was right. It wasn’t essential viewing.

Regardless of the quality of the live performances, the Big 4 got me thinking about the “Clash Of The Titans” tour that took place back in the early Nineties. After Metallica’s self titled”Black” album blew up all over the charts a funny thing happened in the recording business. The major labels started spending a lot of money to get thrash bands away from their independent labels and onto the major label roster. These labels then spent a lot of money to record new albums from Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and Testament. They started to put some serious dollars behind the music videos and the marketing. Some of these clips bordered on hilarious. Testaments “Electric Crown” comes to mind immediately. The clip just didn’t make sense at all with the palm tree paradise like landscape interspersed with footage of a dude that looks like he’s got issues.

Regardless Thrash Metal was strong.

Suddenly bands on independent labels became major label stars. The sub-genre was growing at an exponential rate. Albums from artists that got caught up in the wave were selling 500,000 copies and then a million plus copies. MTV played their videos and the movement skipped borders and went global.

Which brings me to “The Clash Of The Titans” tour.

The first iteration in 1990 featured Megadeth, Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies. The second iteration in 1991 featured Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, as headliners. The funny thing is that a lot of people would probably be surprised to hear that a future superstar band in Alice In Chains was opening.

And how ironic is that. The opening act would end up catching the next musical wave and they would become bigger than all of the thrash acts that they opened for on that tour.

What the tour went on to show was “where do these bands go from here?” All of the bands (except for Suicidal Tendencies and Alice In Chains) had this technical and fast music which was commercially popular but also running low on quality. Metallica stopped re-writing the same record over and over again. Alex Skolnick in the Thrash Metal episode of the Metal Evolution series said it the best;

They made a record that sounded as big as any pop album.

Suddenly, Exodus, Testament, Megadeth and Anthrax all tried to follow the Metallica blueprint. The pressure from their major label backers was relentless. For a lot of these bands, the money aspect proved to be a game changer. Slayer on the other hand, stayed true to their extreme ways.

But then the commercial wave crashed down, and a lot of the bands that had major label deals started to get dropped, or break up.

Fast forward to 2015, all of those bands are around in some shape or form. With different members, but still thrashing.

“Man In The Box” from Alice In Chains has about 11.2 million streams on Spotify. Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction” has over 6.5 million streams. “Madhouse” from Anthrax has 1.8 million streams. “Raining Blood” from Slayer has almost 9 million streams. “Electric Crown” has 721,000 streams.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Don’t You Just Love What Copyright Has Become?

Remember the original intention of Copyright was to promote learning. It was conceived that if creators of works would have a 14 year monopoly on their creations (with the option to renew for another 14 years provided they were still alive), they had enough incentives to create new works and when the copyright expired on their older works, they would fall into the public domain so that others can use and build on these older works.

200 plus years later, we have a lot of stupidity around in the name of Copyright.

A German based association called, Total Wipes Music Group is using Google’s anti-piracy system to censor everything it doesn’t like. Read the article and be amazed at how Copyright is abused. In order to stop the infringement on an album they own the copyright  for,  Total Wipes Music Group tried to censor a legitimate article on how to download anonymously. Since then, they have targeted legitimate articles from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), AVG, Dropbox and Opera, just to name a few. And guess what, not one of those sites listed contained any infringing links or even mentioned the music that Total Wipes Music Group administers or holds the copyrights to. What Total Wipes attempted to do was to censor legitimate articles that provided users with information on downloading and anonymous VPN’s under the disguise of Copyright.

And the laughable thing is that the Group is now claiming that it was a bug in their automated takedown system. Well, I guess that bug just keeps on resurfacing each year.

Don’t you just love what copyright has become?

Then you have a powerful organisation like the MPAA trying to censor a website called Open Culture. Open Culture offers Public Domain movies however according to a takedown notice that the MPAA sent to Google, Open Culture’s list of 700 free public domain movies contains copyright infringing material.

Remember that Copyright’s intent was to promote learning and this was done by ensuring that each country has a rich public domain. Well it looks like in the U.S, the rich wealthy copyright monopolies want to control that as well and put those works back under Copyright protection.

Don’t you just love what copyright has become?

Remember the good old days when the copyright monopolies lobbied hard against radio, television, the introduction of blank cassette tapes and those advertisements that “Home Taping Is Killing the Music Business”, then blank CD’s, then mp3’s and piracy sites. They did that all in the name of the artist. That same artist that they exploited and signed to a deal that was stacked in the favour of the record label.

It’s pretty easy to read between the lines and see that the record labels and their lobby groups did all of this lobbying to protect their business models and to ensure that their copyright monopoly remains in place. And this leads to more lobby groups that want to have a say.

Now we have the Grammy Creators Alliance. On the face of it, they proclaim that they are backed by artists like Steven Tyler and their intention is to lobby Spotify, so that Spotify pays them fairly for their works. However, the organisation is run by agents and managers whose only interest is securing a big pay-day for themselves. Hell, these types of people don’t even create anything of value that people consume, however they now have a voice on copyright disputes because they have money behind them to give them that voice.

For the record Spotify does pay fairly to the Copyright Holders of the works. So maybe this new Alliance should lobby their record label to pay them fairly.

Don’t you just love what copyright has become?

And then on certain occasions you have some excellent innovation that happens when people don’t allow Copyright to influence their creations. iFlix is another torrent client that streams any magnet link in an instant. It’s easy to use, it’s available on Android and it uses material that has been infringed on.

It’s created by a Romanian software engineer. Romania is one of the poorer countries in the EU and it also has the highest rates of software piracy. And from all of this piracy, you wouldn’t believe what happened. It made Romania a powerhouse in software development. Romania now has the most techies in Europe. Google and Microsoft employ a lot of IT workers from Romania. All of this was made possible by infringing on the rights of others.

And going back to iFlix, the ecosystem all came about because the developer was hired to offer a service to parents to watch their kindergarten kids on their mobile.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Great Copyright Hijack

Copyright in its first incarnation via the “Statute of Anne” and the “Copyright Act of 1790” stated that the objective of copyright was to “encourage learning” and this was to be achieved by securing authors the “sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending” the copies of their “maps, charts, and books” for a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14 year term should the copyright holder still be alive.

So think about what the intent of Copyright was. It was to ENCOURAGE LEARNING.

So fast forward 200 plus years and Copyright has a very different meaning. The encourage learning part is gone, replaced by massive expansions of copyright terms.

Copyright law has also given birth to corporations who purchase copyrights from creators.

Copyright law has also given rise to collection societies and licensing societies.

Copyright law has made infringement a criminal offence.

Finally, copyright law has become a money-making scheme that only benefits the large corporations that have a copyright monopoly. It’s become worlds apart from its original intention.

For a lot of people copyright law relates to the fact that they shouldn’t download movies or music without paying for it.

But what people fail to understand is that copyright reaches into everything we do. Copyright now is NOT about encouraging learning, but about locking up learning.

Copryight law is all about censorship. You know the one I am talking about, when a company/person with some wealth, issues a takedown claim to another entity that is not so powerful/wealthy to remove content they don’t like.

I am sure by now everyone has probably heard about the YouTube video of a cat purring being taken down by a Copyright Claim from music publisher EMI and collecting society PRS for Music. This is silly for a whole lot of reasons. First, EMI and PRS for Music use automated take downs, so there is no human involvement. Second, YouTube’s Content ID algorithm is obviously flawed as it thinks that a cat purring links back to a recorded song. Third, the YouTube user has been punished for doing nothing wrong.

REDDIT REJECTS COPYRIGHT CLAIMS – this is when an entity fights back and actually investigates the claims made against it.  As mentioned above, corporations with money use automated take down systems and a lot of the sites that get hit with these take down requests comply without investigating the merits of the claim.

However Reddit doesn’t take the takedown requests as gospel. They actually investigate and determine if the takedown requests have merit. And WordPress, which hosts this blog is by far the best at handing and investigating take down requests.

COPYRIGHT CLAIMS OVERREACH – this is what happens when a powerful entity censors the speech of others. They look silly and they hurt their reputation.

Remember when Nuclear Blast via a Panama-based copyright troll called World Digital Rights went after people (maybe fans/maybe not) of metal band “All Shall Perish” back in 2012. Well the band wasn’t happy about their label going after people who could be “All Shall Perish” fans and guess what happened afterwards.

Vocalist Eddie Hermida departed to join Suicide Silence. Guitarist Ben Orum became a family man. Co-Guitarist Francesco Artusato was involved with another project called “Devil You Know”. Drummer Adam Pierce joined “Emmure” and at this point in time he is listed as Emmure’s drummer on their Facebook page and also listed as the “All Shall Perish” drummer on their Wikipedia page. That just left bassist Mike Tiner as the only member that didn’t have anything on.

The whole Metallica vs Napster focused on Copyright Infringement however what did that really mean. Metallica at the time already had a handsome deal in place where they would lease their shares in the songs copyright to a corporation for a nice upfront payment. Hell, Sammy Hagar paid for his divorce by putting three new songs on a Greatest Hits package and selling the copyrights of those new songs for a nice fee.

So going back to Metallica, who was really hurt when their music was infringed on. It definitely wasn’t Metallica. And if we had the original terms of 14 years, plus 14 years renewal “Kill Em All” and “Ride The Lightning” would now be Copyright free and in the Public Domain.

And that my friends is the great Copyright hijack.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Saints (Winners) and Sinners (Losers)

WINNER
Machine Head are doing the opposite of what all the other bands are doing. Playing smaller venues, selling them out and doing “An Evening With..” extravaganza. The prices of tickets are affordable and not extravagant. This is one band that realizes their niche place in the metal music business and they play to their core audience, the Headcases.

In Robb Flynn, they have one of the best frontmen in thrash/metal circles that is not afraid to take a stance on an issue. He speaks to his core audience via his journals. He controls his own narrative and not the press, which is the downfall of a lot of other artists.

Flynn, along with Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast have realized that music is all about the souvenirs. The “Killers and Kings” single release for Record Store Day with the four different tarot covers proved once again that if people believe in the artists, they will spend their money. Machine Head weren’t selling music, they were selling collectibles. I purchased all four and I still haven’t opened them.

WINNER
Megadeth. As a guitarist I didn’t really dig Broderick’s uninspired lead breaks so I am pretty happy that he has left. Just because a person is super technical it doesn’t mean they are good songwriters. Seriously put those lead breaks up against the jazzy shred work of Chris Poland, the neo – classical shred metal of Marty Friedman, the tasteful phrasing of Al Pitrelli and the pentatonic chaos of Dave Mustaine and you will see where Broderick stacks up. Drummers are plentiful so I am sure that Megadeth will have no issues here finding one that will suit.

LOSERS
Chris Broderick and Shaun Drover.

The history of guitarists and drummers that have departed Megadeth is vast. The real good ones have had stellar careers pre and post Megadeth. Marty Friedman had a fan base before he joined and then he became a Japanese musical icon post Megadeth. Al Pitrelli also had an established fan base prior to joining and he was already in demand as a session guy and touring guitarist for various projects. Chris Poland did “Damn The Machine” which was an unbelievable album/band that wasn’t embraced by the waves of change that happened to metal in 1993 and Poland’s instrumental album “Return To Metalopolis” was also a favourite back in the day.

WINNER
Streaming. Fans of music didn’t care at all that The Pirate Bay got raided or that Kickass Torrents got taken down. Those raids/takedowns are all pure PR stunts by the associations and a waste of money/legal resources because copyright for the last 15 years has been hijacked and used purely for criminal pursuits and nothing to do with aiding the artist.

LOSERS
Artists and entities that compare the streaming dollars earned today to those pre 1999 sales dollars without understanding that streaming is all about scale. The more people using the platform, the higher the payments will be in the future. But no one can look that far, when everyone thinks about “right now”. The ones complaining about streaming royalties just don’t have enough fans interested in listening to their music consistently.

WINNER
Slash. He has shown that he is more Guns N Roses than Axl Rose is. His output has been solid via his many projects, like Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Slash (the guest vocalist album) and now Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. He is doing what every other musician should be doing, which is releasing product and touring.

LOSER
Duff McKagan. His views on piracy/copyright infringement are restricting him from doing what he needs to do, which is, to create music.

WINNER
Dee Snider. His views on Doug Aldrich are spot on.

LOSER
Doug Aldrich. He’s a good guitar player but nowhere in the league of the Eighties guitarist he was competing against when he was with “Lion”. For the years he has been involved in music, there is not one definitive song/riff that can be attributed to Doug Aldrich.

WINNER
Data. The era of feeling it or rorting the charts is over. It’s all about the fans and what they listen too.

LOSER
Sales. Just because Spotify is killing off piracy, it doesn’t mean that people will start to buy physical CD’s, vinyls or pay to download MP3’s again. Seriously there is a lot of rubbish reporting out there stating something like “sales are worse now since Spotify has entered the market”. Well, hello genius, Spotify and streaming for that matter are also competing with sales.

WINNER
George Lynch. He realizes it’s all about the music and without making new music, he has no career. That’s why people come back. Lynch Mob, his solo career, KXM, Sweet and Lynch and now the announcement of a new project called “The Infidels” which is another pseudo-supergroup.

LOSER
Don Dokken. Without the involvement of Lynch and Pilson in the songwriting department, the band Dokken is a shadow of its former self.

WINNER
Indegoot Entertainment. They have a roster of bands that make up a very large portion of the U.S Hard Rock market, that have proven to be consistent sellers in a recorded music sales market that is contracting instead of expanding. Shinedown, In This Moment, Halestorm, Chevelle, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of A Deadman and Story of The Year.

Rock is far from dead when you have rock artists like these. And with a good roster of talent comes power on the live circuit. That is why Indegoot is a winner.

LOSER
Any metal or rock band that is spending months upon months creating their new album and being out of the public consciousness. The modern way is to be in our head space every day. If an artist today takes a break then they are on their way to being forgotten. And you don’t want to be in the news if it is not about your music. No one can forget what their core business is.

Slipknot took almost seven years to release their new album, only to have “The Devil In I” rack up 9.6 million streams. What about the other songs?

Yngwie Malmsteen has delivered a lot of dud albums in the last ten years and he still takes his time before issuing the next one.

WHY?

You would think after one crap album, he would get going with delivering a better song quickly to make amends. Malmsteen can be doing much more to keep in touch with his fan base which doesn’t revolve around issuing ten to twelve songs every two years under his own name.

Take a leaf out of George Lynch’s or Michael Sweets or Marc Tremonit’s or Russell Allen’s playbook.

WINNER
Kevin Churko. Everyone wants to work with him. He is the modern-day version of Tom Werman or Keith Olsen. Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Hellyeah, Papa Roach are all bands that have used the might Churko as producer and on some occasions as songwriter. If you want to use sales as a statistic of reach, then bands produced by Kevin Churko are some of the best sellers in the genre.

LOSER
EVH.

My EVH Peavey 5150 Combo that I purchased back in 1995 is still my favourite amp to record with. So it is a shame that the greatest and most innovative guitarist cannot get it together to deliver new music worthy of his stature. Reading Sammy Hagar’s bio recently cemented my views on EVH who has become a person that is so out of touch with reality and a victim of his own vices. His future without any doubt is with Sammy Hagar as the front man.
WINNER
Allen Kovac’s move from management to the label business has paid off. Eleven Seven Music is another label doing their bit in bringing hard rock back to the masses. Artists involve Hellyeah, Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M, Nothing More, Art Of Dying, Apocalyptica, Escape The Fate and Drowning Pool.

LOSER
AC/DC without Malcolm Young have lost their foundation. Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC and always will. They will make a killing on the live circuit however no one cares for their new music. On top of all that their views about withholding their music from certain digital outlets (while it is available for free on pirate sites) shows how out of touch they are. They are leaving money on the table.

WINNER
Marc Tremonti. He showed the world that he was the brains and driving force behind Creed. He kept his career going with Alter Bridge. He started his own solo band. He went away and mastered the art of shred. His PRS guitars are state of the art and brilliant to play. Trust me on that one as I have one. The PRS through the 5150 is the perfect sound for me.

LOSER
Metallica. They are trying to replicate the corporate deals of U2 and the product saturation of Kiss. This in turn leaves the hard-core fan base squeamish. Meanwhile it has been seven years since they released “Death Magnetic” and music is the very reason why Metallica is in the powerful position they are in right now. However it seems they have forgotten that part of their career. “Lords Of Summer” will most probably be turned into a totally different song however if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t bode well for Metallica as they sit down to write the next album.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, Unsung Heroes

Going Viral

I have a Killswitch Engage Google Alert set up and from when I set up that alert I would be lucky to get at least one alert a day with a story on Killswitch Engage. The only exception to this rule of thumb was when Killswitch Engage had a new album coming out and the guys in the band started doing the whole promotional run. During those cycles I would get daily alerts with two to three links of interviews.

So imagine my surprise when I started getting Google Alerts a few days ago on Killswitch Engage and it had over 12 to 15 links to different websites all telling the same story.

“Metal Guitarist wins big on “The Price Is Right”.

News outlets that have never run a Killswitch Engage story at all (and probably never will after this) suddenly jumped on the band wagon.

Yep, Adam Dutkiewicz’s hilarious appearance on “The Price Is Right” and then going on to win over $50K in cash/prizes plus a holiday was brilliant and it went viral. For Adam Dutkiewicz, if he got a marketing team and paid them top dollar for this type of promotion, he wouldn’t be able to get it.

The reason why it went viral is that we, the fans shared the fuck out of it because of Adam.

He is a genuine rock star, a great talent, a hard worker (via being a producer and a band member) and a madman that keeps it real.

I remember watching him perform when he toured Australia with “Times Of Grace”. He is a dead set madman on stage. His leg was in a knee brace, however that did nothing to slow him down. Eventually, the knee brace came off and ended up backstage.

So when I saw the footage from “The Price Is Right” it was exactly as you would expect Adam to be. Hilarious and all he wanted to do was say hello to his dog. Because when you have a resume that involves musician, recording engineer, songwriter, and music producer, it leaves little time to be a family man.

That is why he is adored.

Music is his lifestyle.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Curse of 27

I am sure that everyone has heard or read stories about rock/pop stars dying at the age of 27 and how that age group is cursed. Seriously, the question that needs to be asked is why aren’t all the of the ages in which a person dies cursed. Why isn’t there an age 24 curse, or an age 25 curse, or an age 29 curse, or an age 34 curse, or an age 38 curse and so on?

Why is the suicide by gunshot of Kurt Cobain at the age of 27 more relevant than the tragic plane crash death of Randy Rhoads at the age of 25, or the tragic bus crash death of Cliff Burton at the age of 24 or the tragic overdoses of Tommy Bolin and Paul Kossoff also at the age of 25?

Why is the drug induced heart attack of Jim Morrison at the age of 27 more relevant than the shooting murder of Dimebag Darrell at the age of 38?

Why is it that overdose of Jimi Hendrix at the age of 27 be more relevant than the cancer death of one of the most inspirational guitarists in the thrash/death genres in Chuck Schuldiner at the age of 34?

Why is the alcohol poisoning death of Amy Wineshouse at the age of 27 more relevant that the AIDS related death of Robin Crosby at the age of 42 or the alcohol related death of Bon Scott at age 33 or John Bonham at age 32?

What about the death of Marc Bolan a few days before his 30th birthday or Phil Lynott at the age of 36 or the death of Jeff Hanneman at 49?

I can go on and on.

It goes to show how clueless the mainstream reporters and news outlets are. The scary thing is that these so-called reporters/news outlets have the numbers and the reach, so whatever narrative they put out there, people accept it as gospel because the majority of people are generally too lazy to their own research.

In some of the discussions I have had with people, one of the arguments put forward about the 27 age curse is that those people who died at that age had exceptional talent and made a large innovative contribution to their musical genre. I tell them that I have no issues with their viewpoints, however there are also other artists with exceptional talent that made a large innovative contribution to their musical genre that died at different ages.

For example, Randy Rhoads.

Name me a guitarist right now that doesn’t list Randy Rhoads as an influence.

Name me a European born guitarist that doesn’t list Randy Rhoads as their only inspiration. Hell, look at most of the extreme metal guitarist and you will see a reference to Randy Rhoads in their playing styles. If you know who Alexi Laiho is, then you will know of his devotion to the school of Randy Rhoads. Dimebag Darrell also loved Randy Rhoads (along with Ace Frehley and EVH).

And it is good to see that every year there is a Randy Rhoads Remembered Tribute, so that we never forget the legend that he is.

The same can be said about Chuck Schuldiner who introduced a new level of technical playing to the death metal genre. Dimebag Darrell via his love for the blues introduced a groove to thrash metal that was never there before and in the process spawned thousands of bands in it’s wake. I love Machine Head and if you look at all of their albums, there is always a song on there that has the Dimebag Groove. Or is that the Dimebag Swagger.

Then you have some artists who at the time of their peak really went under the radar however their influence on the band they were in was mammoth. The artists I am talking about are Paul Kossoff and Robin Crosby from FREE and RATT respectively.

RATT rolled because Robin Crosby rocked and when he didn’t rock anymore, RATT ceased to ROLL. If you don’t believe me, then look at the songwriting credits on all of RATT’s biggest songs. The music scene is toxic and when artists fall, they fall hard. Robin Crosby is a perfect example of how toxic it really is.

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