Music, My Stories

Thrash Metal Continued

Who wrote the first speed metal song?

Accept’s Wolf Hoffman believes it was Accept with the song “Fast As A Shark”. It came out in 1982, on their “Restless and Wild” album.

But wait a second didn’t Judas Priest release “Exciter” in 1978 on “Stained Class”. Also would the double bass drumming at the start of that song be considered an early precursor to the double bass drumming styles made famous by thrash music. However, in the Metal Evolution Thrash documentary, Lars Ulrich and Dave Lombardo comment that Motorhead’s “Overkill” was the first song that they heard that had that double bass drumming style that they liked. However the “Overkill” album came out in 1979. Maybe “Overkill” was the first song they heard, but it wasn’t the first song to feature double bass drumming.

Maybe the first speed metal song was Judas Priest’s “Let Us Prey” from the “Sin After Sin” album released in 1977. What about “Symptom Of The Universe” from Black Sabbath released in 1975 on the “Sabotage” album. It’s all down-picking and fast for that era. Maybe it came from a band that is not really a metal band. What about Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” that came out in 1974 on the “Sheer Heart Attack” album. Metallica did a pretty good job covering that song for the “Black” album b-sides. It sounds heavy, frantic and fast.

You see when people talk about a speed metal song the definition of what is a speed metal song is different between them. For me an uptempo and frantic song is a speed metal song. To others it could be my definition with the addition of operatic vocals. To others it would the previous definitions with the addition of technical playing.

Just say if you take out the metal and insert the rock. Would your answer be any different if the question was who wrote the first speed rock song?

I think Deep Purple and even Led Zeppelin would come into the mix right now. Hell, I would even go as far as to add Yes and Al Di Meola to that list.

The reason why I am stating the above is that I have an issue with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal romanticism and how the story is told that it single-handedly influenced the musicians who would kick off the thrash movement. It’s a determinism viewpoint. Not for a second do I believe that the NWOBHM movement was the sole influence.

The Metal Evolution doco on thrash has some revisionist history based on which bands/people are on top of the heap at this point in time. In other words, popular. This is what Sam Dunn said in the doco about it;

“When people think of thrash they generally think of the Bay area but that’s not where it started. I’ve come to L.A. to meet with Brian Slagel head of Metal Blade Records to find out how he and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich helped kick-start thrash metal in this city.” 

You see metal was a cultural movement. It was the answer or outlet for lack of a better word to a lot of conservative governments and the rising gap between the middle class and the poor. Brain Slagel and Lars Ulrich were people in the movement like many others.

If you want to get into what kick started Metallica and thrash in the city then look no further than Ron Mc Govney (Metallica’s original bassist). We all know that the Metal Massacre compilation organised by Slagel was pivotal (as it was for Slayer on Metal  Massacre III) however what kick started Metallica was all the investment that came from McGovney.

Without Ron McGovney; Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine would not have had a rehearsal space, nor a vehicle to transport the band to San Francisco nor the funds to make the trip.

If Ron McGovney was not in the band, Metallica would never have secured that opening spot for the Saxon L.A shows. That spot was secured because Ron McGovney had glam contacts due to his photography work with Motley Crue and Ratt. It was those glam contacts that gave him the Whiskey contact.

So while Hetflied and Mustaine wrote the songs and Lars was the business brains, all of that would have counted for nothing if no one was investing in them. While Metallica was based in L.A that investment came from Ron McGovney.

Once Ron McGovney was out, the next investment came from Jon Zazula who heard the “No Life Til Leather” demo. Jon Z and his wife Marsha would mortgage their house to form a record label and get that first Metallica album out the door. But how did that infamous demo ever get recorded by Metallica.

A punk label called High Velocity put up the money for Metallica to record an E.P.

Metallica went into an 8 track studio and recorded “Hit The Lights”, “Mechanix”, “Phantom Lord”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Motorbreath”, “Seek And Destroy” and “Metal Militia”. After hearing the tapes, the label realised that Metallica was not a punk band and they declined. Metallica took the tapes and the “No Life Til Leather” demo was born. It was Ron McGovney then that coughed up the $600 for the BAM ad to promote the demo.

Tape trading also played an important part in kick starting the thrash movement. Remember that whole “Home Taping Is Killing Music” campaign from the early Eighties. Does the below quote sound all to familiar today;

“With the rise in cassette recorder popularity, the BPI feared that the ability of private citizens to record music from the radio onto cassettes would cause a decline in record sales.”

You see the recording industry always went nuclear on any new technology. Then after years of lobbying and whinging they would realise that could make money from that technology and then they would remain silent.

To prove my point does anyone hear the major labels whinging about Spotify or streaming services?

In the end, the Thrash Metal movement was more than just the NWOBHM bands and the influence those bands had on U.S musicians. For any movement to flourish, society in general had to be in a state to accept it. There are reasons why metal took off in certain cities first and not others.

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

The Ballad Of Bob Daisley

The music business is tough. Regardless of the opportunities that the Internet has given to creators, it is the rich that still control the business. The term rich these days can range from executives to artists. For those artists that played the game and succeeded, kudos to them. For those artists that played the game, succeeded, lost it all and re-succeeded, special kudos to them.

However as time passes, the artists and executives that have come out on top start to rewrite history, trumping up their roles in previous events in order to suit their point of view and positions of power in the present day.

The wife of Peter Criss has called his biography “full of lies”. Tom Werman has disputed events in Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries”. Dee Snider even disputed the authenticity of an heroin addict keeping a diary.

However, what happens when an artist in a position of power at the moment, does their best to undermine the work of previous people in their career. One such case is Ozzy Osbourne and his partner in crime Sharon Osbourne.

Has anyone heard of the “Whigs”? The whiggish view on history is a view which holds that history follows a path of inevitable progression and improvement and which judges the past in light of the present. They fail to look at other factors and failures or other paths that where taken.

This is what the Osbourne’s have done to Bob Daisley. They are trying to re-write history to show that Ozzy Osbourne himself was the main reason why his solo career progressed. They are omitting important facts that when Randy Rhoads and Bob Daisley signed on, it was always spoken of as a band. They are omitting important facts that the band was actually called Blizzard Of Ozz. They are omitting important facts of Ozzy punching Randy, because Randy didn’t want to do a live covers album of Black Sabbath songs. Most importantly, they are omitting the main fact, that Bob Daisley served as the lyricist for the band for six albums.

The first slap in the face of Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake was the “Diary of A Madman” album. On the sleeve, Rudy Sarzo is credited as playing bass and Tommy Aldridge is credited as drummer, however both people have come out and said that they didn’t play a note on the album. Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake played on the album, however they are not credited. That is why a dispute occurred. It is in relation to unpaid performance royalties.

In 1986, Daisley and Kerslake took Jet Records and Don Arden (Sharon’s father) to a London court. Of course they won the case, and they thought that they would get their royalties and that “Diary of a Madman” credits would be changed. It didn’t happen. Having had a long relationship with Ozzy, he still believed that it would be sorted out. Promises were made, however nothing changed. His life was threatened when he asked about his royalties.

Unbeknown to Daisley was that Ozzy and Sharon had bought the rights to Ozzy from Don Arden and Jet Records in 1983.

If Daisley was not good at what he did, why would the Osborne’s call him back to write lyrics and music for “Bark At The Moon”, “The Ultimate Sin”, “No Rest For The Wicked” and “No More Tears”.

Daisley was constantly ignored, until he took the Osborne’s to court for unpaid performance royalties for the “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” albums. In response to that, the Osbourne camp removed both Daisley’s bass and drummer Lee Kerslake’s parts from the new re-issued versions of Blizzard and Diary, opting for Ozzy’s current drummer (Mike Bordin from Faith No More) and bass player (Rob Trujilo now Metallica) to record their own parts onto the CD. This happened for the 2002 re-issues.

However in 2011, the original tracks were reinstated for the 30th anniversary issue.

Entertainment attorney Steven Machat, who was involved in the deal Osbourne signed with Jet Records, said in his 2011 book “Gods, Gangsters and Honour: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Odyssey” that Osbourne’s soon-to-be manager and wife Sharon Arden was not happy with the level of creative input Kerslake, Rhoads and Daisley had in the “Blizzard of Ozz” album and did not want them to share the credit.

As a songwriter I have had people that were not even in the band when the song was created put in song writer percentages claims on songs. Those songs I also had registered years prior. It is a frustrating and unregulated process, where the onus was on me, the main songwriter to prove that I was the sole songwriter, while the fraud claimers on my songs just sat back. Because, they didn’t care. If I couldn’t prove that they were my songs, then they get a credit for something they didn’t do. If I could prove that they were my songs, then they just lied a bit more, until they lost interest. So I can feel the frustration and disappointment that Bob Daisley would have felt being written out of Ozzy’s history as merely a session player.

Especially when you look at the plethora of information out there that clearly states that Ozzy’s post Sabbath project was a band. All of the Randy Rhoads material written after his death states the same, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake state the same, initial publicity releases state the same, however Ozzy and Sharon state differently.

The sad thing is that if anyone reads the credits to the “Bark At The Moon” album, you will see it listed as “All music and lyrics by Ozzy Osbourne.” Like, yeah right, Ozzy really churned out all of those riffs. It is sad at to what level the Osbourne’s stooped at that stage. One more thing, read the book from Ozzy and tell me how many times he mention Jake E. Lee in the book. But that is a story for another day.

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Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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