Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Miss Mystery

Black N Blue started off like every band, with some high school friends getting together to write and play. In this case, it was vocalist Jamie St, James and guitarist Tommy Thayer.

Brian Slagel then came across their song “Chains Around Heaven” and added it to his Metal Massacre Vol 1 album in 1982, the same album that had songs from Metallica, Ratt and Malice on it. That same year they also moved from Portland to LA and started doing the Sunset Strip scene, which led to a recording contract with Geffen in 1983 and their debut came out in 1984.

“Miss Mystery” is a forgotten track from their second album, “Without Love”, released in 1985, and man this album had some secret herbs and spices in the production.

The song is written by Jamie St. James, Tommy Thayer and Jim Vallance. The same Jim Vallance who had a great song writing partnership with Bryan Adams and the same Jim Vallance who co-wrote the Gene Simmons signature song for the 80’s, “War Machine”.

Producing the album is Bruce Fairbairn, engineering is by Bob Rock, with support from Mike Fraser, before they all became household names with “Slippery When Wet”.

Speak to any listener of music under the ages of 30 and they would not even know who Bruce Fairbairn is, let alone Mutt Lange. They are almost completely forgotten. It’s a crime.

And “Miss Mystery” is a pop rock gem, building on the sounds that Def Leppard brought to the masses a few years before. As fans of this music, we can move on, hear different songs and artists, but we still return to this sound.

If you call it up on YouTube, watch the video clip and see why bands could never recoup. That clip would have been charged back to the band in the hundreds of thousands and its nothing special.

They toured with Kiss on this album and this got Gene Simmons interested in the band, who would go on to produce their next two albums and co-write with the band, as well as take some of the riffs from their songs and write a song called “Domino” which is then solely credited to Simmons. And then Thayer also joined Kiss in 2002. Actually Tommy Thayer has been a member of Kiss longer than Ace Frehley but Ace has appeared on more albums (well depending on which books you read, maybe not).

Somehow, Black N Blue, still didn’t break through like the other acts even though they had a major label deal with Geffen and a production team from Canada on their second album.

Maybe the involvement of Gene Simmons as a co-writer for albums three and four, wasn’t the best decision for the band, as Simmons didn’t really set the charts alight with his songs around this period and as Paul Stanley said in his book, Gene went missing from Kiss around 1984 to 1987. They should have kept him just as producer.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013


In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.



In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.


The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 



In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.


Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.


W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.


Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.


In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.


Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.


In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.


In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.


In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.


In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.


In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.


In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.


In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.


In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.


In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.


In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.


In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

A to Z of Making It, Music

Persistence Part 2

There is a recent Dear Guitar Hero article with Tommy Thayer in the Guitar World, May 2013 issue.  The interview was conducted by Brad Angle.

QUESTION: Is it true that you did manual labor tasks at Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s houses before becoming a member of Kiss? (Tony Ratoni)

ANSWER: Those are kind of urban myths.  Sure, I started working for those guys part time in the late Eighties, an my credo was that I’d do whatever needed to be done.  And a lot of times when you’re in those situations you do all kinds of things.  I think, somehow, through all the speculation on the internet, people started saying that i did all these strange jobs.  But nothing was strange.  I was just a go-getter that would do whatever task was at hand, which is normal if you wanna get somewhere in your life.  I’m proof that persistence works.  

So all you wannabe artists, are you prepared to persevere.  If you want to be rich, take up banking or get involved technology.  Hell, tech heads are the new rock stars.  They are the cool ones, the ones that people want to hang with as they are rolling in the cash.  If you want to be somebody in music, you need to persevere.  Tommy Thayer was a go-getter for Kiss.  Gene Simmons signed his band Black and Blue and produced two mediocre albums.  He even took one of the Black N Blue songs he co-wrote and called it Domino on Revenge with only himself as the writer.  Tommy Thayer then played the tribute circuit in a Kiss cover band.  This is a period now that is spanning from 84 to 2000.  In 2002 he made his debut as the new Spaceman for Kiss.  He didn’t quit.  He kept on making connections.  He kept at it.

There is a comment on the Persistence and the Meaning of making it post, where Robakers mentioned the persistence of Lars Ulrich in getting Metallica off the ground.  This is so true.  Everyone seems to forget that part of Lars.  He was once a kid, that built connections around the NWOBM music that he was interested in.  He surrounded himself with like minded people.  Eventually one of those people started a label.  Then they where doing a compilation album.  The rest is history.

These days, everyone remembers Lars as the guy that sued his own fans when Napster came on the scene.  That is because, Lars wanted to be part of the corporate elite.  Lars wanted to hang with the rich because he thought it was cool and the rich wanted to hang with Lars as they thought it was cool to hang with a rock star.  Instead of Lars being the stiff middle finger hero to his fans against the corporations, he became one of them.