Nestor is a new [old] band from Sweden, who’s 3 videos from their debut album have amassed over a million views. Well….actually, they are old band, but have returned decades later with their first album. The band music is a return to the ’80s in sound and image, and their album (see my review elsewhere on this site) is full of great ’80s hard-rock. If you were a fan of aor/HR in the ’80s and Kids In A Ghost Town had come out in the mid ’80s – you’d likely already own it! Here is an interview with Tobias Gustavsson of the band detailing their return in 2021, and their exciting debut album. *Check out the links below.
Can you give me a bit of background on the band — you guys existed briefly and released a few singles!? What do you recall of those songs, and why/when did the band split back then?
Yeah, Nestor was founded back in 1989, we all grew up in a small town together in Sweden, found each other through music and started playing together. We released a couple of EPs up til ‘95. The first EP was all over the place genre wise. We mixed all kinds of influences, everything from U2 to Europe for example, but it’s hard to hear because it really sounds like crap. The second EP was a bit more unified, with influences like Queensrüche and Dream Theater, I’ll have a listen to that second EP from time to time and I’m quite proud of it still. We never really split up; we just went on a looong pause… haha!
Is there a bit more you guys can mention about your past in music, be it recordings you’ve been a part of (as musicians or producers)? Tobias, can you mention a bit about your success as a producer [assuming this is your site – http://www.25media.net/tobiasgustavsson/ ?]
Yep, that’s me. All of us kind of worked with music in one way or another, played in different constellations and bands, but I (Tobias) went on to become a songwriter and producer and had a couple of projects, among them a duo called Itchycoo, and later a band called Straight Frank (that our guitar player Jonny was a part of too). I also wrote for other artists and made some pretty successful songs here and there through the years. I’ve kept on working with music in some form or another through all the years.
Sweden (as well as Norway) has a lot of great musicians & bands in the hard-rock, AOR, metal genre. Why do you think that is? And any favorite (or recommended) artists or albums from your country?
That’s a tricky question, right off the bat I think that the long winter has an impact when it comes to great musicians and bands (there is nothing else to do other than being in band or in a sports team). Also, success breeds more success probably, so thanks to ABBA and Roxette and all the other greats the tradition sort of goes on and inspires new Swedes to succeed maybe.
Some favorite bands from Sweden right now – Niki and the Dove (80’s pop with contemporary influences) and Ludwig Hart (sound like a mix of Tom Petty and Springsteen with a touch of Aha which is a great band as well by the way). Another band in our own genre worth mentioning are H.E.A.T that we’re joining in February on their Scandinavian tour! That’s gonna be fun!
It was the time during the pandemic that brought you guys back to record a full album, correct? Or was it merely one song that led to another and so on?
I would love to say that we had this master plan from the start, but the truth is a bit of both – one song led to the other and then the vision became clear; “to make the album now that we didn’t have the skills or possibility to make back in ’89.”
What did you do to get in that head space of writing so many great 80s type rock songs during the making of this album — did you guys go back and listen to a lot of stuff from that era?
Yes, we did, we listened to a lot of music from that era but also read magazines and watched a lot of movies etc to get the vibe to get back to that feeling from that time in our lives.
The videos have been well planned, very detailed, and humorous. What sort of inspired those type of clips, seeing as MTV went out decades ago, and not many bands put in such effort these days?
The inspiration was plain and simple 80s metal videos – they always had a story back then. Personally, I always liked the fact that music is entertainment and that kind of got lost somewhere in the mid 90s. We have a saying in Nestor that our mission is “to protect the legacy and re-invent the iconography of rock”.
Can you touch briefly on some of the songs, as far as musical or lyrical inspirations? On The Run, Perfect 10, Firesign, Kids In A Ghost Town…. etc. Are many of the songs written from personal experience?
All of them are personal, the songs are about being a kid with big ambitions in a small town! The song Perfect 10 is a description of my boy room mixed with my first real crush, Johanna. “Darryl Hannah wouldn’t stand a chance – next to her she’s just a cheap romance” hahaha!
Can you tell me a bit about the song “Tomorrow”, and how you ended up getting Samantha Fox to guest on it?
When I wrote the song, I immediately felt that it was written as a duet. Thinking about the perfect duet partners (once again, going through the posters on my wall back in ‘87) Sam popped up and I can’t think of any other singer/artist that sets the tone of the 80s and represents that era better than her.
I contacted her management and asked if she would be interested in participating on the song. She heard the song and loved it, and the rest is history in the making! We also got her to appear in the music video which turned out really great.
Will there be any more video singles from the album? Any you’d like to do?
We’d like to make videos for all the songs on the album but unfortunately, they aren’t cheap… Hopefully there will be more. Stay tuned!
You also co-wrote a number of songs with Andreas Carlsson, who has had credits on some pretty big albums. How did you guys wind up working with him, and what did he contribute to? [songs]
I knew Andreas from before as we’ve worked on some projects together. We wrote the lyrics together for Perfect 10 (Eyes like Demi Moore) and These Days. Andreas wrote the lyrics to Stone Cold Eyes on his own.
Can you guys (each) give me a few lists (5-10) of favorite albums and bands from the ’80s or that you grew up with (the 70s??)
Tobias: Kiss – Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights / Van Halen – 5150 / Europe – Out of This World, Prisoners in Paradise/ Bon Jovi – New Jersey / Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime / Giant – Last of The Runaways / Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry / Bryan Adams – Waking Up the Neighbours / Def Leppard – Hysteria / Motley Crüe – Theatre of Pain
Martin: Helloween – Keeper of The Seven Keys Part 1 / Giant – Last of The Runaways / Kiss – Crazy Nights / Magnum – On A Storyteller’s Night / Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime
Marcus: Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime / Kings X – Out of The Silent Planet / Toto – IV / Judas Priest – Defenders of The Faith / Accept – Metal Heart
Mattias: Rush – All The World’s A Stage / Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime / Deep Purple – Machine Head / U2 – War / Van Halen – Van Halen
Jonny: Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance / Gary Moore – Wild Frontier / Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin / Kiss – Animalize / Yngwie Malmsteen – Odyssey
Firehouse came out at the end of the ’80s with their hugely successful, high energy debut album, which featured the hits “All She Wrote” and “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, as well as favorites “Shake & Tumble”, “Love Of A Lifetime”, and “Rock On The Radio”. There’s a new reissue of that album out [Bad Reputation Records], which adds 2 acoustic tracks, and a 2nd CD of live tracks. In December of 1999 I interviewed guitarist / songwriter Bill Leverty for the band’s latest album at the time – Category 5. The following year bass player Perry Richardson left the band, and has since joined Stryper in recent years. Firehouse is currently playing live shows, but their last studio release was 2011’s Full Circle. Since 2007 Bill Leverty has released 5 solo albums, including last year’s Divided We Fall. *You can check out Bill Leverty’s solo albums and stories at http://www.leverty.com
“FIREHOUSE’s latest album is called Category 5. The band, for a decade has included vocalist [and keyboardist] CJ Snare, bass player Perry Richardson, drummer Michael Foster, and guitar player Bill Leverty. I recently had a nice conversation with Bill about the band, the new album, and almost everything else pertaining to FIREHOUSE. The new album [on Mystic Records] is recommended to those in to the melodic rock, featuring a number of great pop-rockers and powerful ballads. For more on Firehouse check out www.firehousemusic.com , or check out Bill Leverty’s own site http://members.aol.com/leverty”
How’s the response been to the new album?
Overwhelming! The people who have heard it, a lot of people are saying it’s our best album ever.
I must confess that I’m not overly familiar with the band apart from what I’ve heard on the radio in the past, so I don’t know what I expected, but thinking from seeing you in the Metal Edge pages and that that probably accidentally lumping you in with a few other bands would be a big mistake. This album’s got a real good pop-rock feel to it.
I think we have elements of the metal-edge thing in our music too, and elements of other stuff, and it’s just kind of mish-mashed in to our style, and we’ve always been liking all kinds of music so much that we really didn’t know what to put on our records. The way we do it is everybody writes and we take the best songs, and put them on there every year. And these were the best songs we had this year. It’s kind of interesting because we didn’t have any pre-conceived notions about what we wanted this album to sound like, we just wanted the best songs that we could come up with on there. There’s a little bit of diversity on there, I think.
There’s quite a bit. For instance like “I’d Do Anything” – which has kind of a country feel to it.
There’s a Southern feel on a couple of songs. We’ve all kind lived in the South for so long that it’s hard not to have that as an influence, and we really love the soul-ful vibe of Southern music, whether it comes from Country or Southern rock, or even old blues and stuff like that.
Where abouts are you guys based out of?
I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, but I live near Tampa, Florida now. We kind of live from Tampa to South Carolina, to Virginia — scattered about the South-East there.
Now you guys have been together for about 9 years now!?
It’d be 10 years now. We got together in ’89, actually really late ’88, but we’ve always said ’89. So it’ll be 11 years coming up.
When you guys started out did you have any plans of long-term goals that you sort of achieved or are still looking for?
We just wanted to make a living playing music, and trying to get our music out to as many people as possible, and have fun doing it. We had no idea that we’d get any real success, although we believed in ourselves and we had our dreams. Our goals were really to get a record deal, and we were really luck we got a record deal, and that record company pushed the buttons for us back there in ’91 and we had a lot of things happen for us, so it overwhelmed us all. Back then we were just happy to be playing music, especially music that we wrote because before that we were playing a combination of other people’s music and ours. I still like playing other people’s music, it’s just that it’s that much more gratifying when you’re a songwriter and you get your songs played on to an audience that knows them.
What did you guys grow up on?
Everybody in the band has very diverse influences, which is kind of neat. My earliest influences were Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin, and then I got in to Eddie Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Michael Schenker, and then Randy Rhoads. Perry grew up , and when he was very young played in a gospel quartet, and his dad played bass, and he learned the bass from that. Michael started playing drums when he was 3, ridiculously young, he’s been playing them forever. I didn’t start until I was 15. But his parents were really in to Elvis, so he had Elvis on all the time in the house, so he was rocking and rolling at a very early age. And CJ was classically trained in the beginning as a pianist, and then he got to sing, and he was in a choir. He was in the Pennsylvania State Choir, and he was first chair tenor. in the Pennsylvania State Choir by the time he was a teenager, so he was studying real hard with that. But then he started listening to Alice Cooper and Kiss, then Judas Priest and things changed. So, we all come from a very diverse background, but our common love is Hard-Rock…..and Soft-Rock, but you know – Rock n Roll.
You guys do a lot of harmonies, probably some of the best harmonies out there that a lot of hard-rock bands try to do, and it seems so natural for you guys. Have the harmonies always been there, what influenced that?
Oh thank you. I think that was a big influence on us all from the very early days. We’ve always tried on all our albums to have a lot of background vocals because it just adds to so much to so many songs where you could really emphasize words, and add layers of sounds to make the band sound bigger. We’ve all come from bands where we had that many people singing in the band, and when we put this band together we wanted to make sure that everybody could sing, even sing lead because we wanted our background vocals to be strong. And that’s one thing that we really concentrate a lot on when we rehearse is the vocals. A lot of times we’ll rehearse without our instruments, which is good, and just sing. We put a lot of emphasis on that.
When I listen to you guys I hear a little bit of Cheap Trick, a little bit of Bob Jovi [on the lighter stuff], and a little bit of Uriah Heep [on the harmonies]. Is there any bands out there that you guys kind of look upon that maybe this is where you want to go – direction wise, or who you want to compare yourself to?
Not really. I would love to be a band like say The Eagles – they’ve been around forever, and they have so many songs that people know and some of them are really hard-rockin’, and some of them are slow and soft, and some of them are kind of twisted. But I also like bands like The Scorpions too. I love the Scorpions, I love The Beatles, I thought Zeppelin was awesome, Aerosmith is a great mentor-type band for Firehouse, and Kiss; certainly Aerosmith because they still have their 5 guys together, which we do too which is so neat to see a band like that that has been together for that long, like the Stones. And they can keep putting out good music – I mean the last Kiss album was great, the last Aerosmith album was great, and I like the last Stones record too. It gets tougher and tougher for rock music as time goes on, but I really think that longevity is the key, and that we’ve got what it takes to be around for a long time, because we all love to write music, and we’re obsessed by it.
You guys all write, how do you come together with the songs?
When we’re touring it’s very difficult to write, I have a hard time anyway. I used to try to do it, but there’s so many distractions. What i do is I go home, and I’m off for a day and then I’m going nuts for something to do, so I just go in my studio and stay in there for weeks at a time, and don’t shave, and some times I don’t even shower. And I just go through all these ideas that I’ve been storing in my mind; like we’ve been on the road for 18 months on this last tour straight, so I came home with a lot of ideas in my head that I just wanted to document, and then I just keep developing them, and at some time we’ll get together and collaborate as a team, and we’ll come up with some more songs. Usually CJ and I put our stuff together, and we complete each other’s songs, and we co-write on a lot of other new ideas, and then we’ll get everybody together again and have another writing session, and then we’ll have pre-production for the album, and put all our songs together that we got – the demos, and listen to them, and then we decide which songs we’re going to put on the album.
How many songs do you usually come up with before you actually lay down the album?
Generally I say between 30 and 40.
You guys do a number of ballads here, and what I like about the ballads is you guys don’t do the ‘A typical’ rock ballad, like a lot of bands that have the formulated rock ballad down. Take a song like “Dream” – which is a very different to what’s out there, and it’s a great song.
Well, we’ve never done a song like Dream before. We heard the demo, and we really liked it. Perry had written it with 2 of his friends in Myrtle Beach. It’s a song about a child dying in their parent’s arms. Before we heard the song Perry told us what it was about, and then he played us the song, and we were like all in tears by the end of the song; and then we were like “yeah – that’s gotta be on there!” That song is really a beautiful song. We’ve been playing it live, and it’s a lot of fun to play live.
You guys also do a lot of pop-rock stuff like on “The Nights Were Young” and “Have Mercy”, i love the keyboard intro on that. (BL: “Thank you!), and “Can’t Stop The Pain”, obviously.
That’s the first single that Mystic Records has chosen, and that’s a song about the loss of my father. I wrote the skeleton of the song with Perry and Michael, and shortly after Perry’s father died, and he wrote a really good part to add to the song, and we recorded it. I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from people who’ve said it’s helped them with the loss of a loved one, and they can relate to what the song’s about.
Do you incorporate a lot of life experiences in to the songs?
Absolutely. If it’s not our life experiences, it’s somebody else’s that we know.
Well, that’s an obvious choice for a single. It’s a great catchy song, and lyrically has something to say. What stands out for you on the album – songs that you like to play live, or you’d like to see as a single?
We’ve been playing Can’t Stop The Pain live, and that’s a great song to play live, for me because there’s a lot of guitar and soloing; it’s rocks too and people get it right away, people have been enjoying that song a lot. We’ve also been playing Dream, and we’ve been playing Have Mercy [which you also mentioned]. It’s so difficult because when I hear the album I like every song for something different because it reminds me of something different. I like the mandolin part in I’d Do Anything. I like the song “If It Changes”, and the sitar part that i played; it was fun to play, it has sort of an Eastern vibe.
You guys get a lot of different sounds in there with the sitar, the keyboard, and the mandolin; it’s not just your basic 4-man set up of guitar, bass and drums.
We try to stretch as much as we can without getting to be too strange; we don’t want to sound too weird. We want a sound that’s solid and that people can relate to. We’re not all that twisted as people, so we don’t really write to come up with something twisted or hard-core.
Is there anything as far as attitudes and your everyday life that influence the music as far as keeping it positive?
Yeah, we definitely try to accent the positive in our lyrics and in our everyday lives, on and off the stage. We’re guys that we’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we try to do the right thing in our personal lives as well. We try to write about things that you can give to your neighbor and he can play it for his kids as well, because I don’t have any kids yet, but I have nephews and nieces and I want them to be able to hear my music. And as soon as you put language like in the locker room then you limit your audience and you also offend people, and we’re not into being an offensive band, I think.
Do you have a problems with bands that are?
No, not at all. It’s great to be America where you can say whatever you want, but I have chosen to do it this way.
Where are you guys now – on the road?
Well, we’re writing songs for a new album right now, and we a ‘live’ album coming out real soon also. We recorded one night in Japan. That’ll be out right around Christmas, and available on our web-site which is > http://www.firehousemusic.com < . In the meantime we’re going to be writing and then recording. We might go out and do a string of dates in February, we’re working on that now. But the plan is if it doesn’t look good for that then we’ll wait for the spring, and finish the album – then go out and tour the summer. We’ve been out on tour for 18 months in support of this album. We just got off the road actually. I know it sounds different where you normally put out a record and then go tour, but we didn’t have a deal when we first put out this record, and we went out on the road and played every club in every town, and by doing so i think it helped get us a deal and get some people realizing that we’re still together and we hadn’t fallen off the face of the planet. VH 1 came out and did a “Where Are They Now?” special on us, which was real cool. And that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t on the road at the time, so it all happened for a reason. And we’ve played every place about 2 or 3 times, so we kind of need to come back, write another album, and get out on the road in the spring, and we plan to go out with a package, which we’re working on, until the summer.
Any other bands you’re teaming up with?
Yeah, we have a manager named Perry Cooper, he works with Atlantic Records for 18 years as a vice-president in the Artist Development department, and he was introduced to me through a friend named Brian Johnson – who you might have heard of!?
Yeah, and actually Brian’s helping us with a song. He’s writing a song with us for the next album.
What have been the highpoints for you guys over the years?
To me the most memorable high was when we won the American Music Award for Best New Hard-Rock / Heavy Metal Band. It was at a time where so many things were going on that were really good, but that is the one thing that I can look at every day and say “I remember those days – that was great!” It was also gratifying because we were voted on by the people, and not by the industry, not that the industry’s bad, but because it’s good to know that the listeners are out there; the real people that buy the music picked us and not some people in a boardroom that made a political decision.
Since the award, how about your favorite things such as live draws? Or bands you’ve toured with that stood out memory wise?
We’ve had so many great tours, we’ve been real lucky. In the beginning we went out with Warrant, and that was a tour that was hugely successful, selling out every shed and venue that we went to. And then we went straight in to the studio and recorded our 2nd album – “Hold Your Fire”, and before we even finished mixing the record we were out on the road with Tesla on a tour that was supposed to last 6 weeks and that lasted for 9 months, and that tour sold out every where it went, and it also went around twice to a lot of the same places because it was so successful for so long. And then we actually went out with Poison right after that for a little while, and then Damn Yankees, and that was a really good tour as well. It was also a great honor to be open for like Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades, and Michael Cartellone – a great band. It was cool to open for Poison too, they’re a great band, they got a great show, and we learned a lot about what to do in the music business and what not to do also. That was interesting, and that was always one of the bands that i wanted to open up for because they had this huge following, and they had a type of music that was good-time rock n roll – and that’s the kind of rock n roll we’re after. Bon Jovi would be a great band if we could open up for them too, but we’ve never been able to.
I think the last Bon Jovi album was their best.
Yeah, I think Richie’s such a great guitar player, and a great artist. His solo album was awesome.
What are your thoughts on the current scene? There’s a lot of crap in the business with a lot of good basic rock bands being left out due to trends and stuff. Where do you see the industry at the moment, as far as being good for you guys and some of the other bands you mentioned?
I think it’s good for us right now, it’s not great, but it’s good, and getting better, a lot better than it was a couple of years ago. The industry – radio programmers, video channel programmers, record store managers and so forth have come to realize that that whole decade of music that we had from ’82 to ’92 was very successful, and a lot of people that listened to that really liked it. And all of sudden there’s a couple of bands that came out that were very different, maybe some sounds were over-saturated, and everything changed, and everybody said “we’re not playing that kind of music anymore.” Well it’s just until recently that people are going – “Well — those people didn’t just fall off the face of the planet either! There’s people that like that kind of music, STILL like that kind of music, and missed it.” And they’re finding out that, you know – you put out these ‘Ballad’ albums or these ‘Rock n Roll’ albums and they all sell over a million copies that this type of music is still hot, and that they made a mistake by shutting the door to it. They should’ve played every type of new music, but not alienated the last decade that they had supported in the past 10 years or so.
It’s good to see a resurgence in melodic rock, because a lot of it got shoved to the side in the early ’90s, which kind of sucked.
I see a huge resurgence, and I also see a huge resurgence on the road. When we go to a town and let’s say we went to a town back in ’96 or ’97 we couldn’t get any radio station to do anything – and now they’re calling us, and saying “Hey before you come here can we arrange for you guys to come in and sing a song for us on our ‘5 o’clock Drive Home’?” Which makes us go “Hmm.” Maybe they’re saturated with all the stuff that sounds alike. And that’s happening everywhere. Even these ‘Perfect Hair Shows’ on a lot of these stations, for lack of a better name, they should call them ‘Melodic Rock Shows’ because they’re the most popular shows on the stations is what a lot of these guys are telling me. They’ve got one in Tampa. It started out as “Perfect Hair”, and they started off as once a week, and then it went to every day for half an hour, and then they increased it for an hour because everybody calls, and it’s such a huge hour for them.
Even the stations around here, a couple of stations brought back the ’80s Weekend’ or a ‘Hair Fix At 5’ where they play some Poison or Bon Jovi or whatever. And a lot of that stuff really got shut off the radio for a few years.
It did. It was not cool at all to be a part of that. And they’re finding out that “Gosh – it actually was cool, and some of this other stuff we’re listening to is so primitive.”
Do any of you guys do anything outside the band such as guest appearances or solo things?
We really haven’t at this point. We’ve just focused all our time on Firehouse, and that’s what we really have to do right now. That’s what pays the bills. As soon as we get Firehouse at a level where people know who we are, …I think our songs are more famous than the band. People know songs like “Love Of A Lifetime” and “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, I don’t think everyone knows the name of the band, and also we have to change the perception of the band because everybody thinks that what we are – Don’t Treat Me Bad and Love Of A Lifetime because that’s all they’ve ever heard, and there’s a lot more to us than that. Until that happens I don’t know if we’ll have time for other projects unless something comes along that we can’t refuse then we’ll have to make time for it. But right now, Firehouse takes up my time 365 days of the year.
Any hobbies outside of music?
Recording…..just music. [ha ha]. Actually, I’m an ice hockey freak. The Red Wings are my favorite team, and I also like the Leafs a lot. Cujo is a great goaltender, and I got a Leafs’ jersey that a friend of mine in Toronto gave me, it has my name on the back of it. My favorite player on the team is Steve Thomas, he’s wicked, got a great shot, he’s a great player.
I was over in Buffalo a few months ago, saw Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Did you really?? We opened up for Lynyrd Skynyrd and that was like a dream come true! They were the biggest influence on me as a kid, a musical influence as far as writing, and learning how to play a whole song all the way through. When I first started I learned all these Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, and played them in my band. And we got to open up for them and meet them; it was just awesome! We played 3 shows with them on the Poison tour.
I love their new album, and seeing them live was just unbelievable!
Yeah, I’ve met Rickey Medlocke a couple of times, and he’s great, and it’s cool that he’s back in the band after all those years.
Are you familiar with Uriah Heep?
Oh yeah! That was one of Perry’s [our bass player] biggest influences. He brings a lot of that to the table when it comes time to lay down the fifth harmony, the real high, ya know!? [sings the words ‘Easy Livin’]. He was really in to that. And I love Uriah Heep! Great band! I just love the sound of the organ too, “Sunrise” and all that stuff.
What are you listening to currently?
I’ve got Jeff Beck’s new album – “Who Else?”. I love Jeff Beck, he’s one of my favorite guitarists of all time. It’s a really cool album, and he’s just from another planet, ya know! I like everything he’s ever done, and I got to meet him too – which was another dream come true. I have to say that’s the best. On the radio and on the video I’ve seen the new Foo Fighters, and I think that’s a good song. I’ve always like the Foo Fighters ever since they came out, Dave Grohl’s really talented, and he deserves every bit of what he’s got. He writes very melodic songs that are ‘hip’ and ‘today’. What a great writer, and a great singer. I think the guy’s got a great voice. I really have a lot o respect for him. He also comes from my home state of Virginia.
What is this “Compassion In Action” that is mentioned on the CD?
It’s a charity that Perry turned us on to where it goes to help pay for Hospice care for people who are about to pass away. They have shelters out in San Francisco, and they’re trying to get more shelters. This guy named Damion Brinkley, who is the head of it, and he’s been on Oprah Winfrey like 7 times, and he’s physically died several times from being by lightning and other accidents, and he’s come back with a lot more spiritual and wisdom and knowledge than he ever had before, and he’s turned his whole life in to doing things that are good for people.
Familiar with the Canadian scene?
A little bit.
Any bands in particular?
Yeah, Harem Scarem. We met those guys in Japan just this past year, great people. I liked their music too – they sent me a record which was really good.
My friend and major STATUS QUO Fan Alex Gitlin looks at the career and highlights of the band’s founding bass player.
RIP Alan Lancaster, the original bass player of Status Quo, the British blues-boogie institution, and the irreplaceable 1/4 of the Frantic Four
He passed away from multiple sclerosis on 26th September 2021 in Sydney, Australia, aged 72.
During their incredible run between the first album in 1968, Picturesque Matchstickable – Messages from the Status Quo, and his somewhat acrimonious split from the band in the mid-80s (he’d relocated to Australia in 1977), he performed on 12 top 10 UK albums and 17 top 10 UK singles.
Alan’s last gig with Quo, prior to the reunion in the 21st century, was opening the Live Aid at the Wembley Stadium in London.
In 2013-14, the original Frantic Four reunited for one last fling, touring the UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. Each gig was greeted emotionally by fans who’d been waiting for this reunion since 1981, the year drummer John Coghlan departed.
Although by now there were signs of his debilitating disease beginning to show (at one point there were rumours of the pick being taped to his hand), he soldiered on with the “no time like the present” attitude, giving the fans exactly what they’d come for. His bass, alongside Coghlan’s drumming, was the locomotive engine that was the classic Quo rhythm section.
It was around 1970 when Quo had disposed of psychedelic frills and kaftans, replacing them with denim and growing their hair long. For the band’s third album, Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon, which tentatively pre-defined their to-be trademark sound, he wrote Daughter and Is it Really Me/Gotta Go Home.
The following year’s Dog of Two Head, the wheels were fully in motion, and here Alan contributed Umleitung (a co-write with keyboardist Roy Lynes), Something’s Going on in My Head, and Someone’s Learning. This was also their last album for Pye, in 1972 Status Quo were signed to Vertigo.
On their breakthru 1972 Piledriver album, Alan co-wrote A Year with Bernie Frost and All The Reasons with Rick Parfitt. He also sang lead on the cover of the Doors’ Roadhouse Blues, which became a live staple for the band.
On the 1973 stone-cold classic, Hello, the entire band wrote Roll Over Lay Down, UK No. 9 and top 10 in many countries in Europe; on Blue Eyed Lady, co-written by Alan and Rick Parfitt, the vocals were shared by Alan and Francis Rossi. And also he had a hand in writing Softer Ride (sung by Rossi).
On 1974’s Quo, he handled the lead vocals on four tracks, Backwater, Just Take Me, Drifting Away, and Don’t Think It Matters, and co-wrote six.
As the band was in the middle of a purple patch of hit singles and albums, 1975’s On The Level, considered by many as the finest in the band’s entire catalogue, he wrote Broken Man (also singing lead) and Over And Done. And he handled the lead vocals on another cover, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny, also a great live favorite.
1976’s Blue For You has Alan on lead vocals and writing contributions on the opener, Is There a Better Way, the seminal and bluesy title track, Rolling Home and Ease Your Mind.
By 1977, the tide was turning, Quo were a mainstay on the European rock circuit, selling out arenas in Germany, but their sound became a bit softer, although the writing quality remained steadfastly top-notch. Here on Rockin’ All Over The World Alan contributed Let’s Ride, You Don’t Own Me, co-written with Mick Green [of The Pirates], and Too Far Gone.
They continued to pursue the same direction of commercial British pop-rock with a boogie edge in 1978, with If You Can’t Stand the Heat…, here Alan’s contributions are Gonna Teach You To Love Me and Stones. By this time, Alan had moved residencies to Oz, while the relationship between the dynamic duo Rossi-Parfitt had soured due to the out-of-control use of drugs.
In 1979, Whatever You Want (the album) reached No. 4 in the UK, and here Alan contributed Who Asked You and High Flyer. And the following year, on Just Supposin‘ – Over the Edge (a co-write with Keith Lamb), The Wild Ones and Name of the Game (co-written with Rossi and the band’s keyboardist Andy Bown).
1981’s Never Too Late also had two of Alan’s songs, Mountain Lady and Don’t Stop Me Now (once again a Bown co-write). And the following year’s cleverly titled 1+9+8+2 (equals 20, commemorating the twenty years since the band’s inception in 1962) had Alan’s I Love Rock and Roll, I Want The World To Know (another one co-written with Lamb) and Big Man (once again co-written with Mick Green).
Back To Back in 1983 became the final album for Alan Lancaster, who contributed Ol’ Rag Blues (co-written with Lamb) and Your Kind of Love, while he was reportedly distraught over Rossi’s Marguerita Time betraying the band’s classic heads-down no-nonsense boogie sound. When they appeared on BBC’s Top of the Pops to mime to the single, his place was taken by Jim Lea of Slade. Elsewhere on other television appearances, he was replaced with a cardboard cutout.
R.I.P. to the diamond geezer and the seminal part of classic Quo. Whether it’s his singing, bass playing or songwriting, he didn’t do things by halves, putting his heart and soul into what’s now regarded worldwide as the British rock legend.
Peter Goalby left Uriah Heep following 1985’s Equator album and world tour. His first move was to release a single under the name Perfect Stranger in 1988. The singer, who also was a major songwriter during his time in Heep would resurface on the band’s 1989 album Raging Silence, as he wrote the single “Blood Red Roses”. As well he wrote “Falling Apart”, for Smokie on their 1989 album Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. He would also record a number of tracks for a solo project in 1990. A few of these tracks would see the light of day on official releases – “Mona Lisa Smile” was issued as a single in 1988, co-written & arranged by guitarist Robin George [ex Byron Band], and produced by Mickie Most. That track, as well as “Chance Of A Lifetime” [also on Easy With The Heartaches] were also recorded by UK band Estrella for their 2012 album Come Out To Play [an album produced by former Heep keyboardist John Sinclair]. Peter also wrote for a few other artists [notably John Parr], as well as guested on stage with Uli Roth, but would retire from the business, and taking on a job for a guitar company. But these recordings would later find their way out on the internet – bootlegged to download or on Youtube. His 1990 unreleased solo album was no secret amongst Goalby’s fans. Recently retired, and knowing these are the last things he wrote and recorded, and was proud of, the singer finally decided it might be a good idea to get his lost solo album out as an official release. Easy With The Heartaches features 11 tracks personally overseen (from tape transfer, mastering and artwork) by Peter Goalby. And here’s hoping that fans enjoy it, it’s not the last we hear from him!
1 Easy With The Heartaches 2 Hold The Dreams 3 I Found Real Love 4 Chance Of A Lifetime 5 Mona Lisa Smile 6 They’ll Never Find Us (Running For Our Lives) 7 I Used To Be Your Lover 8 Take Another Look 9 Perfection 10 I Built This House 11 The Last Time
A while back I had written an overview of the CD releases from The Bolton Iron Maiden. The band was around in the first half of the ’70s as Iron Maiden, and by the time they’d ended another band that would become one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands of all-time had began, unknowingly, using the same name. So, the band’s drummer / singer / writer Paul O’Neill went on to release a few CDs under The Bolton Iron Maiden name, as well as a solo album. More recently he released a new album – Puppet Master : The Rise and Rise of Slick Dandy.
Iron Maiden, as they were known in the early ’70s were one of many British bands that played regularly live, and struggled for years to get to the next level – a recording contract, which would elude the band. But they did lay down a few originals in the studio at one point, and a number of their originals survived on taped live gigs, which were used for the 2005 release Maiden Flight. And aside from Steve Harris’ Iron Maiden, Paul O’Neill’s band would not be the only ones who used the name.
In this interview Paul talks about the band’s early days, recordings, the band name, the CD releases, and his latest album, among other things. It’s a fascinating look at a working band that was a part of the scene, but without making a huge impact. They are an interesting tale due to their name and timing, but would [in later years] put out some fine early ’70s hard rock, and O’Neill would go on to have a career in theater and create more music decades later. *For more info on the band and CD releases, check out the official website – http://theboltonironmaiden.com/
When you guys decided on the name ‘Iron Maiden’ did it have any sort of musical intentions [ie being a heavier or darker band, etc]. And were you aware at all of anyone else using the name prior to?
Oh yes – we wanted a STRONG heavy name from our previous name “BIRTH” Musically we wanted to be a heavy rock band similar to Cream, Free, The Who, Iron Butterfly, Mountain, Black Sabbath and the new band all the rage – Led Zeppelin. Derek (I believe) came up with the idea for “Iron Maiden” and we loved it!
We had no idea there was anyone else using that name. We appeared in the musical papers of the time, Melody Maker, New Musical Express, Sounds etc, and it was only ever our Iron Maiden. I only discovered this other lot (from Basildon) in 2005!
One interesting but sad thing is that my wife was badly attacked and nearly murdered in May 1976. I was walking back from visiting her in the hospital one Thursday and bought the Melody Maker on the way home. I opened it up to my fave pages – the gig guide at the back – and saw Iron Maiden playing at a pub in London? I knew it could not be us. Beak at the time was ill with cancer. I have often thought that Beak, who sadly died two months later, was the person who (according to Steve Harris) rang the pub and said “you can’t use that name – it’s already being used”. The only way I could ever find that out, would be to buy Steve a pint and ask him. Beak had a very distinctive voice, and I would be able to tell if it was him.
Another sad tale is – although (the new) Iron Maiden and Rod were VERY supportive of us, and helped me enormously, a London paper called “The Metro” came to see me for an interview, and I was telling him all about what was happening. I mentioned a famous national Paper – The Sunday Mail wanted me to “dish the dirt” on Iron Maiden, for a headline they wanted “They Stole My Name, They Stole My Fame”
I told them the name was never stolen – we were happy for the boys to use it – we had stopped playing when Beak died.
Next day – across the centre pages of the Metro was They Stole My Name, They Stole My Fame. Rod has not spoken to me since – although I did get them to print a retraction – the damage was done. So the famous phrase “any publicity is good publicity” in our case – this was a killer. They have not contacted me or allowed any contact from me since 2006. Copy of article attached.
I would still love to have the conversation with Steve!
At your site there is mention of a few of the band’s Iron Maiden opened for. Aside from The Thin Lizzy story, can you recall a few memorable gigs opening for any other ‘name bands? And would you recall the biggest show[S] you did in crowd size? [any festivals?]
We played and opened for quite a few bands in our time playing mainly colleges.
I suppose I have to mention Judas Priest. We played with them a lot, they were good, but we thought we were better and did not like “being second on the bill” to them.
The very first open air gig we did was in Queens Park in Bolton. They had an old bandstand in the park and they used it for the first time for pop and rock music. It was about 1968 or 69. The main band had a magnetic magical lead singer – his name was Freddie Mercury!! The name of the band was Ibex(there is an article on our Facebook page ) https://www.facebook.com/theboltonnews/photos/a.190634877684580/2352381964843183/
Procul Harum at Salford College was a great night – we got there as they were sound checking and they were playing a reggae version of “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. Mick Grabham was the guitarist that night. Years later – I met Mick who was playing with Don Airey (now Deep Purple) at a local pub where Don lives. We stood at the bar chatting and the subject of the reggae version came up and I (reluctantly) told him my band name – It was always awkward – because IM were SO famous – it always sounded like I was making a story up. No one knew we existed. However, Mick choked on his drink when I told him, and said – “Ahhh The Iron Maiden from Manchester!” I said “yes” had he went on to tell me – he and the others from the band, knowing that we played a support gig with them in the early ’70’s – went one night to see them (Iron Maiden) play. Went backstage after and said “Hi Guys it’s Procul Harum – we’ve come to see you” – They were met with blank stares!
Mick told me they couldn’t believe “we” (actually Steve’s band) didn’t remember them. Now he knew why – and phoned Gary and the guys from the pub we were in to let them know.
Supertramp. Another gig at Manchester uni. The band were a three piece when we first met them – at Manchester, they were a five piece and wow! what a band – no wonder they went on to super stardom.
The Groundhogs. We loved the Groundhogs and at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton we were very pleased to be playing support for the Groundhogs – only problem was one of our best numbers was “Cherry Red” by the Groundhogs. We had to take a chance and play it BEFORE they played it again!
A good thing too, because when it came to doing the covers album Boulton Flies Again I had to contact Tony McPhee, to allow us to use “Cherry Red” on the Album. He not only remembered us, but told me I was singing all the wrong words to the song! He corrected my lyrics, and let us use “Cherry Red” with no fee whilst it was generating charity money for Cancer. Then to top that – Tony and his missus actually SOLD copies of Boulton Flies Again at gigs they did in 2007/8. A proper gent and a REAL rock and roller! (if you listen to Cherry Red on BFA album, you can hear me trying to correct the incorrect vocal line. Tony wrote it about a hot blooded love affair – I thought I was singing about murdering your girlfriend.
UFO – a great heavy band – we played with them at the Drill Hall Bolton. (see notes on SAG)
Bloodwyn Pig at Manchester Uni. It was a real highlight to meet Mick Abrahams – he was a hero from Jethro Tull, who we all admired.
Solution (they were a Dutch band – friends of Focus) We played support for Solution at BIT (Bolton Institute of Technology) in Bolton, They were on tour at the time. They rolled up with no gear, and had to use ours. We stayed in touch for quite a long time. Wonderful band and brilliant musicians. Tommy Barlage the saxophonist wrote the tune “Divergence” which became “Tommy” on Moving Waves for Focus. I met them a few weeks later in a café in Manchester – where they were support band for my hero’s – Gentle Giant.
Caravan – at Mr Smiths in Manchester. Brilliant band – Loved the song “If I could do it again, I’d do it all over you”
David Bowie – we were not actually a warm up band – we played the famous Magic Village in Manchester and finished about 11. From then and through the night, artistes who were about would call in and just play. About 2am – a guy came in. We had no idea who it was – he sat crossed legged and played an acoustic and sang with no PA. We heard the song “The Man Who Sold The World” – but had no clue who this was until we heard the album!!!
Cozy Powell and Bedlam. We opened for Bedlam at BIT . Our claim to fame is that we were louder than them! That was important to us at the time! Cozy had a kit twice the size of mine, played it beyond my dreams – but I was louder!
Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come – at Bolton Technical College – a gig not to be missed, Arthur was using a Bentley drum machine – it shorted and gave him a bad electrical shock – ended up Derek and a few others taking him to Bolton Royal Infirmary.
We topped the bill at the Moss Bank Park Festival in Bolton in about 1973. It was Bolton’s first real outdoor festival. Around 5000 attended.
Blackfoot Sue – at Salford Technical college. Great band. Sacked a roadie for talking to us too much!
Mungo Jerry – strange gig – another that sacked their roadie – we ended up taking him home, feeding him and getting him on a train the next day!
Trapeze – One of our fave bands. We saw them a few times and loved the first album – before we only played originals – we always opened with “Black Cloud”. However we never played with them sadly.
I know there are more – but Derek has the memory – mine is not the best – so sorry if I have missed anyone.
Any favorite tales of any crazy gigs / onstage moments?
I really do need Derek here. There were many crazy nights, and some not so savory things that went on backstage. At one club, where the guy in charge was not very nice, and withheld our money, our then lead singer Tony Fearn, decided to relieve himself in the bingo machine just before he was about to use it!
Another crazy night was in Newcastle, where we doubled. We played a club 7-10, then went on to a nightclub in the centre of Newcastle between 12am and 2am. When we had finished setting up, they pulled down some mesh netting. We had no idea why, until we started playing. At the first chord a shower of Newcastle Brown Ale bottles rained down on the stage. Memorable night in that we didn’t die!
Another time when we were getting really popular and filling colleges by ourselves, I decided to alter my drum solo.
I always played a solo during the final song “Maiden Flight”, after rattling round on the kit for a few minutes, I used to turn round and play two glockenspiels and wood blocks. I decided it would be great if Dylan the roadie would load up the top of the wood blocks with beer bottles and a hammer. After playing the wood blocks I picked up the hammer and just smashed every bottle in sight. Needless to say – they audience and the band were sprayed in blood – great time!
Our local gig was the BIT. In 1975 we played it for the last time. A highlight of my life was our Roadie Dylan, bringing me out of the dressing room, and taking me to a window, where you could see hundreds of people queuing around the building. He said –“the gig is full – this lot are only hoping to get in” Magic!
What were you guys listening to during the early ’70s – any band’s you admired or hoped to be in the same sorta category as [musically]?
I loved Cream, Ginger was a bit of a hero of mine, Gentle Giant, The Nice, and of course The Beatles! Very into progressive rock I have the first Yes album bought in 1969 and loved them since, also ELP, Genesis King Crimson.. In fact – the BIM track “Cracked Path” title came from a King Crimson track “Confusion” the line went “Confusion will be my epitaph as I walk a cracked and broken path” (Pete Sinfield lyrics)
Beak loved John Mayall, Eric Clapton, esp. the Layla Album and really any true bluesmen.
Derek was into US Rock – Mountain, New Riders, Grateful Dead, Spirit.
We all really got into a new band called Wishbone Ash. They used two guitars in harmony. We all loved the sound – especially Beak who wanted to introduce a second guitarist to play harmonies with. The track “Crawl Crawl Nighttime” from Maiden Flight was where he was headed. Derek and I both thought two guitars was a bit old hat – oh dear – how wrong could we be!! The new IM have bloody THREE!
You had the one brush with Tony Iommi, regarding [hopefully] managing the band. Did you ever hear from him again or anyone else who might’ve taken on the band?
Sadly no. It was Tony and a guy called Norman Hood who were coming to watch us, but no, we didn’t hear from them again. We had one guy who tried to manage us, but kept booking pop music venues – he didn’t understand Rock music at all. He didn’t last!
Was Iron Maiden a full time gig? How often did you guys play? and did you have regular venues and/or travel much around the country [or UK]?
It was a full time gig for a while. Derek always refused to give up his job as a telephone engineer. When Derek left and was replaced by Noel Pemberton Billing it did become full time.
Just before Derek left, he had an idea we should have a “spin off” band, playing only 1950’s rock and roll. We were called Teenagers In Love, (Piccy attached) and actually began to be more popular than Iron Maiden. So we made it pay by working two bands at the same time. We took on a pianist called Alan Wickam, and a brilliant lead singer called Paul Neon.
We did have quite a lot of regular venues – mainly the college circuit in the UK – not much in Wales, and we always seemed to be playing in the lake district in England and southern Scotland. We often played down south – but never London itself. I remember meeting three young lads in the South, who heard we may be breaking up – by this time Beak was not well, and we were so busy with Teenagers – IM was taking a back seat. They asked if they could use the name Iron Maiden. We were OK with that. I often wonder who those three lads were?
Again I would love to speak to Steve over a pint about that
What were the circumstances of the band’s one [and only?] studio session to lay down the 4 songs? Was there any other studio attempts [even before the band changed the name from Birth?]
Sadly nothing of Birth exists on tape. But I do have a recording of us when we were called “Ways N’ Means” from about 1967. We were all still learning to play. Fun to listen to now.
With Iron Maiden, we were looking to get a recording contract – but having no manager we tried to do it ourselves. Our Agent at the time was William Leyland – a well known agent in the North of England, and he had a new studio in the town of Farnworth near to Bolton. So we asked to use that and went in for two days, and recorded the 4 tracks. The idea was one of us was going to make copies of the tapes and send them to record companies. I don’t even know if anyone sent them off? If it did happen, I think Derek would have done that, but as history shows – nothing came of it.
We also (after Derek left) went to the same studio and recorded two tracks with Teenagers In Love.
Quite nice recordings of 20 Flight Rock (Eddie Cochran) and the song “Teenager In Love” but we changed it to “Teenagers In Love” to fit the band.
The songs you did record – why did you pick those 4, particularly if “Maiden Flight” was not included? [or was it not written at the time?]
I recall I wrote “Maiden Flight” after the session so missed out. The four tracks were our favorites at the time.
What inspired the band’s sci-fi lycal ideas, like time travel? [any particular tv shows, books…?]
We all seemed to love Si-Fi. Our stage show had an 8mm projector showing old B/W horror and Si-Fi movies. I think we were all inspired by 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Day the Earth Stood Still and even Star Trek. I was mainly the lyricist, and so it was my love of Arthur C Clarke and his contemporaries that started the SiFi theme. A story by Clifford D Simak was the inspiration for ‘Maiden Flight”.
As for the live tracks and the CD of Covers — can you tell me about how you came about to get those so many years later? can you tell me a bit about the fan who would save the shows, and how you went about ‘recovering’ the recordings for release?
That’s a big question Kevin! From very early on being called Iron Maiden, David Southworth – known to us all as SAG, was our No.1 fan. He followed us everywhere. What we didn’t know, he filmed us on his super 8 camera and also recorded every gig he came to on his Alba Cassette recorder. By some miracle, this little recorder (which I now have in my Studio) had a “Limiter” on it, so although we were incredibly loud as a band, this little cassette captured about 8 whole gigs. Roadie Paul Hampson brought a reel to reel tape deck to an early gig where we did mostly covers, and we used a lot of those tracks for Boulton Flies Again.
“Aint you Commin Home Babe” (Bloodwyn Pig) and “Fresh Garbage” (Spirit) were favorite tracks, and I thought lost. But when I decided to try to create Maiden Flight – I invited Sag and Paul Hampson to my place to stay a few days and listen to the tapes. Sag rolled up with a VERY old tape which had on those two tracks. It was recorded at a gig we did with UFO at the Drill Hall in Bolton, and the place was large and rang like a bell.
When it came to Sag talking me into creating a “Covers” album, his request was “Cherry Red”, “Fresh Garbage” and “Aint you Commin Home Babe”
I thought it impossible with the state of the sound. A large echoing venue, Sag at the back of the hall with the tape recorder hanging round his neck.. and dancing! But a mastering studio SRT in St.Ives took the task on, and managed to reduce the ringing on the empty sounding tape, and I then eq’d it to try and bring some sound back.
I admit Boulton Flies Again is really only for the fans, but I still sell an amazing amount of them. Only yesterday I had an order from Birmingham, Alabama for all four of my albums!! Gobsmacked to say the least. “Thunderbuck Ram” from BFA is the highest earning track from streaming?
So Sag and Paul were the catalyst to allow an actual album rather than a 4 track EP.
I carefully transferred the cassettes and the one reel to reel tape onto a computer programme called Magix which allowed me to remove squeeks and blips, then transferred the magix files onto Logic pro7.
In some cases – It was like a little miracle, The vocals were always way in the background, so I was able to double track my vocals, add a bit of reverb and it worked! On Life span we only had two recording – two weeks apart and in two different gigs. The first – Beak had drank a few beers and played the riff wrong – the one two weeks later, I managed to cut the correct guitar riff and paste it on to the first take – different venue, different sound, but it worked. I was falling in love with computer recording.
I mixed all the tracks myself to save costs and then had the albums mastered at SRT Studio – the same one that rescued the two badly recorded tracks.
I would have loved to re-record all the material and the tracks we never actually played live (we had a song called “Running Free” – how weird is that?) but time and cost was prohibitive and would not have made much for the two charities.
I think the album paid for itself in the first couple of months and has since (because of Downloads and streaming) generated income for the charities for over 15 years.
Of the original material – what were crowd favorites in the band’s live set, and what were a few of your own to play [or that you felt had the most promise]?
The crowd always loved “Cracked Path” and “Crawl Crawl Nighttime”. My favorite tracks are “Life Span” – especially my daughters’ backing vocals – which they came up with. I wanted humming – they thought differently, and they were right. “A Place Of My Own” I loved too because it really just rocked along. Beaks guitar playing was wonderful – we were a three piece band – and the way Beak filled everything in – we didn’t need any one else.
Can you tell me a bit about Ian Boulton Smith as far as a guitar player [recall who he was a fan of?], a bandmate, and friend?
Beak became a friend first. We were total opposites he was 6’6”, I was 5’6” for a start. He looked great on stage with his long blond hair; he always looked like a rock star. He also was an amazing guitarist and a lovely person to write with.
His tastes were different too. He loved the Blues and in particular John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. I was into the Beatles, but he really opened my eyes to rock and the blues. I totally changed my tastes after I met Beak and Derek – we were all influencing each other. Derek was really into American rock.
As a guitar player, Beak, at that time was second to none. His playing, especially his fills, were amazing. For a three piece we could fill any venue with a great rock sound, and it was Beak who was the basis of it all. He never left a space – it was always filled with either rock solid chord work or sensitive fills. As a writer, he came up with amazing chord sequences, riffs to die for and rocking solos.
As a friend you could wish for no more. Fair to a fault, he would always forgive my exuberant ways and frolics – he was a very gentle soul who thought I was rather an unkempt wild thing (he was probably right) but I learned a lot from him – tolerance, gentleness and humour.
What did you do in the years after Iron Maiden disbanding? Was there any other regular playing bands? any invitations or auditions to join any other established bands?
Sadly – things sort of went to ratshit when Ian died. Sue my wife was just recovering from an horrendous attack by a madman, who got a life sentence for his attack. When my mother died the same year – I wanted to get out of Bolton – so did Sue.
We received an invitation from a ’50s rock and roll band called Sun Session – an Elvis band obviously. The band was fronted by Paul Neon who was with me in Teenagers In Love.
They were playing the London RnR circuit, and needed a drummer. So – we left Bolton and moved to Cambridgeshire, where we still live.
I sort of became a “50s Rock and Roll” drummer and was recruited by various bands in the ’80s – nothing of note, but, for one band – “Red Hot” we had to audition a guitarist.
It was very difficult to find the right guy for ’50s music, and we were just about to give up when we got a call from the advert in the Melody Maker. A guy known only as “Len” wanted to audition. I said we had just about given up, but if he wanted to call round to my studio the next night we would give him a listen.
“Len” showed up and was remarkable. We took him on and he was with us about 4 years before we discovered he was Lenny Davidson from the Dave Clarke 5. We had no idea!
We worked together for many years and Len and his wife Linda live literally around the corner. We both began teaching music at the Huntingdon College. I taught Drums and Keyboard – Len taught electric and classical Guitar
Len features as guitarist on my album “Totally Swept Away”
Can you touch on the idea and process of putting together the first CD in 2005? As well as your connection to Rod Smallwood and Steve Harris Iron Maiden? [did you get to meet up or hear from Steve?]
As I mentioned earlier – I haven’t met Steve. I met Adrian and tour manager David, but never Steve.
Putting the CD together was Sue’s idea. In 2005 she came in the studio and said – “do you know it will be 30 years next year that Beak died. Why not do a CD of your Iron Maiden and let Beak’s family have a copy, and our kids will be able to hear what you were like”
I have a great friend – Rob Harris who is also a guitarist (Jamiroquai). He sold me the Apple Computer and programme I needed to make the album. He also spent over 3 days teaching me how to use it. Rob mentioned that, if I was going to put out a CD, I must get the new IMs OK to do it. I was very reluctant, because I thought they would just tell me to “sod off” – which would be very hurtful to Beak and his memory. Rob and I have a mutual friend – Don Airey who played on an Iron Maiden LP (7th son I think). Don advised me to contact Rod Smallwood. So I sent an e-mail to Sanctuary – and immediately got an email back from their legal Dept.
They were very nice, I was surprised and pleased. They said Rod was happy, and not only could I do the album, but when it was finished, he would advertise it on the IM website. This was great news.
I received an e-mail back from their lawyer, who gave me details and said we would like you to change the name to “1970 to 1976 The Bolton Iron Maiden” – on three lines so it would still read Iron Maiden, but would avoid confusion for their fans. I was more than happy – after all it was their songs and talent that got them where they are – not our name!
From that grew an album, and we also managed on the 30th anniversary of his death, to do a re-union gig in Bolton in memory of Beak and to launch Maiden Flight and to raise funds for our Cancer charities. Dan Collins was playing guitar for me that night.
I called the night “the Bimmie” (The Bolton Iron Maiden Major Imbibing Event). We have since had a few “mini Bimmies” at the Olde Man and Sythe pub in Bolton.
Where did the story for Puppet Master come from [inspiration, ideas…]? And can you tell me a bit about how it went from a story to a full blown album idea?
When I first moved to Cambridgeshire, I wrote a song called “Life Is A Circus”. This would be about 1979. I then had an idea I would like to write a story of a boy who lived in a circus and was about to become a performer. This idea has floated round my head for YEARS. I then worked with Rob Harris. He would come and play guitar for me on various tracks and musicals I composed. Eventually – the circus idea became about the manager we never found as Iron Maiden, and would we have sold our souls to get to the top? The song “Maiden Flight” should have been carried on – I always wanted to write more about the Time Traveller and his faithful mute friend (a dog) – from that I formulated another SiFi song (Time Traveller – which is based on the Maiden Flight riff) and a SiFi album!
Can you tell me a bit about the players or it and why former BIM bandmembers didn’t appear?
I really wanted Derek and Noel to play. Derek lives 200 miles to the north and is not in the best of health, has no idea how to use a computer or record parts – so although I wanted him on the album – we had no resources to be able to record him. Noel lives 200 miles to the south, and is not good on staying in touch. Again I wanted Noel to play guitar (he switched from bass), another problem is Derek does not get on with Noel (a problem from many years ago) , so really using the originals was not going to happen. I have two good friends who were willing to come to me once a week and work on the songs I’d written – Martin Low (Guitar) and Garry Cutress (bass). Both are nice players and fitted in with me well.
As much as I could (time and opportunity willing) I would get Rob Harris on the recordings. Many of the songs featured Rob, when he used to use my studio, so I tried to continue that as much as possible. If you have heard Rob on Jamiroquai recordings and the work he has done with Don, you will understand why I wanted him! Rob is the backbone of the whole album.
I used to teach Don Airey’s son drumkit. He always said – if you need anything – I’ll do it for you. So when I needed a red hot moog solo – I rolled up to his place one Thursday morning in between Deep Purple gigs, and he took 20 minutes to do it for me (“Slick Dandy”). Don is one of those lovely guys who everyone likes the minute you meet him.
I had to use Rachael and Victoria on backing – cause they are just really Good!!!
Two other friends – Brian Sage from my days with a ’50s Rock and Roll band played sax for me, and Nick Hill – a local jazz trumpet player who also works with Don on his jazz gigs played trumpet for me.
What is your connection to Don Airey and how you got him involved?
I met Don through Nick Hill the trumpet player. Once you meet Don, you don’t forget him. Nor does he forget you! As I said – through Nick – I started to teach Don’s youngest son drums, and he said he owed me a favor!
I’ve done a couple of local gigs with Don, he is lovely – but scary – because he is such an immaculate player – if you make a mistake – one look and you fry on the spot!
Were the characters in Puppet Master inspired by any real people you know? Is any of it autobiographical or inspired by your own circumstances?
Yes indeed – I based some of the characters on real people. Wally Lemland the Agent working for Matthew L Fox – is based on Agent William Leyland, Matthew L Fox is simply the fox from Pinnoccio! The Sad Old Clown is my Granddad – John Feeney – stage name Tom E Sloan. The Ukrainian trapeze artist is Giant Jannkho is an anagram for Jonathan King – who let me down on my first songwriting contract with Chapple Music. The song “Rock and Roll Star” and “Gone Are The Days” are autobiographical.
As an album, it really needs to be listened to in full, as opposed to individual tracks. But, what are some of your favorites pieces / tracks from it?
I love “Slick Dandy”, “Help Me Forgive Christina” and “Rock and Roll Star”.
You recorded Puppet Master at your own studio over a number of years!? And how did you manage to wind up having it mixed & mastered at Abbey Road?
Being a rock drummer for many years, my hearing is on the way out. I worked on an album with my friend Paul Neon, just before he passed away from cancer in 2017/8. I sent the album to be mastered, and my mastering engineer said – “I could have been quicker, bit the mix was not very good!” – I mixed it! Oops So I thought I ought to see if I could find a mixing engineer who would not cost the earth.
I googled Mixing engineers – and alphabetically – Abbey Road came up first. I laughingly said to Sue – Im going to call them – just to see what they say. I started by saying “Do you work with nobodies?”
The lady laughed and said “We are a business – of course we do” She said I would have to send a sample of my material in – and the engineers would decide if they wanted to do it. Fortunately Toby Hulbert said he would love to mix it.
So I asked the cost – she said its £600 a day. I jumped for joy. I had saved over £800 so I could afford it and said yes! I send in my tracks and a few days later Toby called to discuss it with me. Then I had the real shock – they mixed only ONE track a day – and I had 18 tracks. So what I thought was only £600 was 600 x 18 = quite a few shillings to say the least.
Toby was very kind and in the end squeezed a lot more than one track a day for me, so it didn’t quite break the bank, but just the fact of being a Abbey Road – as a performer / client was absolutely magic. They also allow guests – so most of my family accompanied me for the days I worked there. The mix was immaculate. And the Mastering Engineer loved doing it too!
You [Paul] also did a solo album in 2009. Can you touch on this, as well as any other recording projects you may have been involved in or in the works?
You mean Totally Swept Away. This came about because my Dad told me the story of the Loss of The Birkenhead – a steamship which sank with the loss of 600 soldiers lives. I had to write a song about it and in true O’Neill fashion started to write more and more about the sea. It ended up as 15 songs about various aspects of the sea. Because of the topic of the songs there is a lot of folk influence in the songs. I have often played in Folk Rock bands and appreciate the music.
I am a big fan of Gentle Giant, and their first producer Tony Visconti. My dream was to have him produce this album for me. So on a whim, I looked him up on the internet and found an e-mail address. I contacted him and told him the story, and sent some MP3s, and to my shock – he replied and was interested in doing it.
However, his manager then contacted me and in a voice that sounded like someone from the mafia, he said, “you come through me, and no one else – I’ll decide who does what” Scarred me to death – didn’t hear from Mr Visconti after that. I hope I didn’t get him into trouble. But…..What a producer!
I have also written four musicals, two on my own –
Days In Glass Cages – a children’s story about insects and living in harmony with one another, and The Art Of Living Apart – a musical about the re-introduction of the death penalty in England – and one man being framed for murder will be the first recipient.
And I’ve co-written another two musicals – “Toys” and “Cloud Cuckoos”, with local writer Jenny Brench
I’ve been Musical Director for various things in the local Priory Centre in town.
I’m currently writing and recording songs about my own childhood and family members. I doubt this will be more than something shared with my family.
What are the other former members of BIM up to? Did anyone else go on to future bands or recordings? And have you all kept in touch?
We are all in touch. Noel lives in the deep south of the UK, buys and sells guitars and plays locally in bands. His neighbor is Jerry Dorsey from Mungo Jerry.
Derek still lives in Bolton with his son Tom, not played since the Bimmie in 2006, but still has the gear. We are talking about getting the Bolton Iron Maiden out on the road to promote the new album.
Dylan the roadie lives in Bolton with his daughter and has written a few items for our website “Memories” page
Terry (Gearie) has moved back from Dubai where he was director of the Energy Council and is happily retired with his wife Hazel in Kent. I am godfather to his daughter Bethany
Roadie Paul Hampson still grows his own weed – oh no sorry, he runs a garden nursery and lives in Preston. He lives with his wife and two grown up daughters.
On July 5th, the sad news that English rock / blues singer John Cooper Lawton had passed away on Jun 29 was posted on the Lucifer’s Friend Official Facebook page. Lawton was known to rock fans for the albums he recorded with the German band in the early ’70s, and then for the 3 studio albums he recorded and toured with Uriah Heep in the latter half of the decade. There was very little details on John’s passing, but really it shouldn’t matter at this point – the world has lost an amazing talent, and more so to the fans who had any contact with him – a genuine great guy, and a true professional.
It is with deep regret that we share the devastating and tragic news of the sudden and totally unexpected passing of John Lawton on 29. June 2021.Contrary to reports, there was no illness involved, which makes his passing incomprehensible. He went peacefully with his wife at his side. John will be greatly missed. A private funeral service to celebrate John’s life will be held following his wishes, with only family and close friends attending. We would appreciate that the family’s privacy is respected during this difficult time.
Jeff Scott Soto – “I’m so very sad to learn my friend John Lawton known most for his tenure with Uriah Heep, a KILLER singer and wonderful human being, has passed.”
John was born in Halifax, England July 11, 1946. He began singing at the age of 15, citing such early influences as Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. In the later ’60s he made trips to Germany while playing in such bands as West One and Stonewall, and it’s there that he would meet up with the members of a new band to be called Lucifer’s Friend. He also took part in a studio project – Asterix, and recorded the first Lucifer’s Friend album soon after. The band was a studio band who’d release very different and experimental albums each year. Between that John joined The Les Humphries Singers as his main gig – recording and touring. He was also introduced to the Deep Purple family through his appearance at Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball performance in 1975. It was a highlight of John’s career – “Actually standing on the same stage as David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, all these people was great! And meeting Vincent Price of the horror films was great. Those are good memories, and something I won’t forget!”
Axel Rudi Pell – “R.I.P. John Lawton! One of the nicest people in all music business and a great singer! We had the pleasure of getting him on stage for my 25 year anniversary show in July 2014 and rocking 2 songs together. You left us way too soon dear John! My deepest condolences to his wife Iris and his family.”
In 1976 he was called upon to replace David Byron in Uriah Heep, and went on to record 4 albums with the band, and one live album. Although Heep’s direction changed during this era, John proved an excellent singer in an era where the band’s popularity in North America declined. He remembered his first US tour fondly – “This was my first time in America, and I was touring with Uriah Heep, and we were the opening band to Kiss… Kiss were a good band – they were the biggest thing around at that time, and we still got to play to a lot of people.” In other countries though the band had some major success during this period, particularly with the hit “Free Me”, from 1977’s Innocent Victim. While the band’s direction in songs & production changed, many would agree that it was John’s powerful vocals during the late ’70s that held many songs together and provided much of the highlights. John also wrote and co-wrote on a few Heep classics during this era – “Free ‘N Easy”, “I’m Alive”, and “Woman Of The Night”.
Mike Starrs – “Another great singer has left the stage. John Lawton, You were the inspiration For many great singers and John you will be SO SADLY missed. Have a great trip my old friend. Und sehn wir uns.”
Following recording for an as yet released 4th album, and European tour, John left Heep, and went on to record a solo album, followed by a return to Lucifer’s Friend with an album in 1981. Throughout the ’80s & ’90s he kept busy on numerous recordings, and even made a brief return to Heep in ’95, filling in for Bernie Shaw for a South African tour and a few dates in Europe. During the ’90s and in to the 2000s John Lawton really warmed to the Heep fans through his band Gunhill, and appearances at Heep’s year end Magician’s Birthday Party shows in London. There was also a reunion show and tour with Ken Hensley, solo albums, another Lucifer’s Friend album …. Throughout John showed he was just a good, down to earth, and friendly guy to any fans that met him or had contact with. He attended fan conventions, remembered those he came in contact with, and despite being such a great singer with an amazing career, he seemed like more than an old friend to many.
Mick Box – “The passing of John Lawton on the 29th of June came as a complete shock and has left me numb. John was a big part of the Heep family, and on stage when he was covering for Bernie, who was having hospital treatment at the time, he said over the microphone “you can check out, but you never leave Heep.” That was our John and he was one of the good guys. On a personal note we had some fantastic times in Heep, and some fantastic times too outside of Heep. On filming the movie ‘Love dot net’ and playing shows with him in Bulgaria we never stopped laughing, and I will always remember those joyous times. I enjoyed the songs we wrote together, and he had an amazing voice that was both powerful, soulful and with a bluesy edge. Rock music has lost one of the great rock voices of all time and his legacy will live on forever. Our condolences go to his wife Iris, their immediate family, and his German band ‘Lucifer’s Friend.’ John, may you rest in peace my friend.”
In later years he had reunited with Lucifer’s Friend, and recorded a few studio albums, released a live album, and played a number of concerts (something the band didn’t do much prior to 1976). The band’s last album was 2019’s excellent Black Moon. At the time of my last interview with him, he had mentioned that there’d be another album, and last heard from him was that he was awaiting a studio to open (after Covid) so he could record the vocals for it. John was also very keen on seeing the 4th album he recorded with Uriah Heep get a formal release. Often referred to as ‘Five Miles’ he thought it was important this should see the light of day. I am sad that John, who was keen on it’s release (as were Lee and Trevor) won’t be here to see it, as I understand it is very good.
Jack Williams – “John was one of those rock stars who was extremely grounded & from what I saw never forgot where he came from, thus this great rock singer who had cut his bones in another huge rock band “Lucifer’s Friend” always treated me like I was always part of the “Heep” family, I will never forget the years I spent in the UK writing with Ken Hensley & watching John Lawton sing the hell out of my songs!!!RIP John Lawton.”
I was most fortunate to interview John on a good few occasions. He was always positive, and never spoke negatively about anyone. Speaking in 1997 John said – “I’ve done everything I set out to do when I was 15….I think I’ve been lucky, I’ve done everything I wanted to do musically. So, I just let life come at me these days, and it can throw at me whatever it wants, and if it’s to do with music, then I’ll do it.” And to think how much more he did after that! RIP John. Thanks for so much great music.
Golden Earring is from Holland, and as far as most in North America know of them, they were a 2-hit wonder. They had huge hits with “Radar Love” (1973) and “Twilight Zone” (1982), but Golden Earring is the longest running band that until recently – regularly released albums and toured. The band formed as The Tornados in 1961, changed their name to The Golden Earrings and released their first album was in 1965. And although they’d have hits and success in their homeland, it wouldn’t be til the early ’70s that the band had distribution and an impact in North America with a string of classic albums – Moontan, Switch, To The Hilt, and Mad Love when they’d signed to MCA Records. Many years ago I had [still have] been given a few compilation cassettes of the band from my [late] uncle Jim. I never gave them much play, but in recent years I started filling in the gaps in my Golden Earring collection, and more so started digging the band’s 1977 Live album [2LP]. which – if you don’t have it – I think is one of the greatest Live albums of all time.
At this point the band included founding members George Kooymans [guitar, vocals] and Rinus Gerritsen [bass, keyboards, harmonica, guitar], as well as Barry Hay [lead vocals, guitar, flute], sax – since ’67] and Cesar Zuiderwijk [drums, since 1970] , as well and Eelxo Geiling [guitar]. Aside from Geiling, the other 4 members would remain permanent members until the end. The only personnel changes in the ’70s would be the extra guitar player or keyboard player that the band added for various albums. But, yeah – at the time of the Live album, Golden Earring was a 5 -piece, guitar heavy band; not heavy like ‘metal’, just lots of that cool ’70s guitar sound, with some slide guitar, lengthy solos, etc… The band was far from a ‘pop’ band here, stretching out the 10 tracks here with extended jams and solos, You get a 12 minute take of “Radar Love”, a 12 & a half minute play of the classic “Vanilla Queen”, and a 6 and a half minute version of “To The Hilt”.
Most of the tracks are taken from the band’s latest albums, though material from the classic Switch album is absent. There’s also a 10 minute rendition of “Eight Miles High”, which was actually shortened from the near 19 minute version that the band recorded for their 1969 album of the same name. Side One is probably my favorite here kicking off with “Candy’s Going Bad”, followed by “She Flies On Strange Wings” [from 1971’s Seven Tears] , and a near 10 minute rock out on “Mad Love’s Comin'” – the title track to their latest album at the time, and one that makes me wonder if Iron Maiden was listening to this[?].
If you have nothing of or very little of Golden Earring, Live is the best place to start, just an amazing recording of a classic band at their peak. Recently reissued on white vinyl. Would be nice if there was more to these recordings [see the new Be Bop Deluxe Live In The Air Age box set]. There would be a 2nd Live released in 1981, which only got released in the Netherlands and Germany; it features a completely different set of tracks, played to regular lengths [no 10 minute + jams]. And if you are picking up Golden Earring albums, do yourself a favor and get the original European version of Moontan! it features the classic artwork in a gatefold, as well as the proper 6 tracks, where as the North American version cheaps out on the cover art, and shortens the album to 5 songs. But, as I said – start here with Live. Guitarist George Kooymans was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year, putting an end to the band’s amazing 60 years on the rock stage. But, if you’re a fan of those ’70s guitar / jam bands Live is a ‘must have’. The band’s catalogue is long, but well worth looking in to beyond the hits.
*Live has been recently been reissued on white vinyl vi Music On Vinyl.
Thor – the band formed around vocalist Jon Miki Thor, a former body builder turned rock star. Thor delivers heavy metal with some awesome riffs, some comic book influence, melodies as well as power metal rockers, and anthems…. Alliance features 17 tracks, as well as a lengthy and impressive list of guests, most notably Chris Holmes [ex W.A.S.P.] and ‘Ross The Boss’ Friedman, guitarist [and former bandmate] Frank Soda, Al Harlow [of Prism], and numerous others. Kicking off with the anthem “We Need Musclerock”, Alliance contains plenty of fun hard driving rockers, with favorites being “Power Hungry”, “Bounty Hunter”, and “Rock Around The World” [w/ Danko Jones]. “Queen Of The Spiders” is my favorite song here though, it’s with Frank Soda, a bit more laid back, a bit of a Doors feel. I am not so familiar with Thor’s back catalogue, but this is a mighty collection of hard rock & metal tunes that [presumably] anyone who’s familiar with these guys will enjoy, and a cool start for those unaware.
Metal Titan THOR Forges The Ultimate ALLIANCE With W.A.S.P.’s CHRIS HOLMES & ROSS THE BOSS In A New Video/Single From His Forthcoming Album!
Los Angeles, CA – Like the Heavy Metal Avengers, heroes and icons from all over the metal world have united behind the legendary god of metal thunder, THOR, on an epic new studio album, entitled Alliance! Only a figure of such mythic strength and power as the mighty THOR could unite such an astounding armada of artists including W.A.S.P.’s Chris Holmes, Raven vocalist John Gallagher, Soilwork singer Björn Strid, Danko Jones, Anthrax’s Neil Turbin, Ross “The Boss” Friedman and many more. Together, this battalion of champions fuse their talents to create one of the heaviest, most melodic THOR albums of all time! Just check out the album’s first single, “The Ultimate Alliance,” a heart-pounding, metal riffing powerhouse of a track that features some stellar guitar solos from Chris Holmes & Ross The Boss as well as the vocal talents of A Sound Of Thunder singer Nina Osegueda and Lords Of The Trident frontman Fang VonWrathstein! The track is debuted here alongside a superbly fun, special-effects heavy video.
Alliance features stunning artwork from Timo Wuerz and will be available July 16 on both digital as well as on CD in a digipak and limited edition silver vinyl in a gatefold jacket! Watch for Thor to launch several shows and festivities in this year as he celebrates his 39th studio album and an astounding 50 years of metal mayhem as well as co-starring in a feature-length action movie “Pact Of Vengeance,” which will feature music from the new album!
Track List: 1. We Need Musclerock feat. John Gallagher (Raven) 2. Niflhel (Realm Of The Dead) feat. Björn Strid (Soilwork) 3. The Ultimate Alliance feat. Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.), Ross “The Boss” Friedman (Manowar), Nina Osegueda (A Sound Of Thunder) & Fang VonWrathenstein (Lords Of The Trident) 4. Ode To Odin feat. Dan Cleary (Striker) 5. We Will Fight Forever feat. Neil Turbin (Anthrax) 6. Because We Are Strong 7. Rock Around The World feat. Danko Jones 8. Queen Of The Spiders feat. Frank Soda (The Imps) 9. Power Hungry 10. Bounty Hunter feat. Frank Meyer (The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs) & Dennis Post (Warrior Soul) 11. Battlements feat. Trevor William Church (Haunt) 12. Thor vs. The Juggernaut (War Of The Gods) feat. Sean Peck (Death Dealer) 13. Generation Now feat. Joey Killingsworth (Joecephus & The George Jonestown Massacre) 14. After The Laughter feat. Martin Gummesson (Thundermaker) 15. Good Stuff feat. Al Harlow (Prism) 16. Congregate feat. Joey Roads & Sheldon Byer (Roadrash) 17. We Will Fight Forever (Reprise)
“The Ultimate Alliance” video credits:
Written by: Jon Mikl Thor / John Leibel
Lead Vocals: Jon Mikl Thor
Special Guests: Lead Guitar: Chris Holmes Lead Guitar: Ross “The Boss” Friedman Lead Vocals: Nina Osegueda Lead Vocals: Fang VonWrathenstein
Lead Guitar: John Leibel Rhythm Guitar: Matt Hamilton Bass: Ted Jedlicki Drums: Tom Croxton
Video Directed by: Josh Grambo
Special Effects and Editing: Josh Grambo and John Magz Videography: Josh Grambo, Javier Cedillo, Kevin Stuart Swain, and Lisa Freakrock Additional Videography: Don Watson, Matthew Szablewicz, Ty Christian, Josh Schwartz, and Catherine Holmes
Well, here’s my list for 1984. There was actually a lot more great albums than I initially thought, and I enjoyed going back to dig up a few things I never listened to much back then. I suspect tho, that as the ’80s went on, there’ll be less and less great albums to choose from [a few of these bands packing it in after their ’84 releases, and a few that didn’t follow these up with anything as good]. *Drop a note in the comments on yours favoes of ’84, [and Subscribe to my page!]
Kim Mitchell – Akimbo Alogo
The first full album from former Max Webster singer/guitarist, released in June. You could not avoid this album on the radio here – “Go For Soda”, “Lager And Ale”, “All We Are”, “Feel It Burn”… just an awesome album, still sounds great! Saw Kim play in Niagara Falls when this came out and again a few years ago, these songs are still highlights of his show.
Rush – Grace Under Pressure
The first time I saw Rush was on this tour, at Maple Leaf Gardens. Released in April, it boasted 3 hits – “Distant Early Warning”, “Red Sector A”, and “The Body Electric”, as well as favorites “The Enemy Within” and “Between The Wheels”. I loved Signals, and and nearly as good. The underrated gem in Rush’s catalogue.
Triumph – Thunder Seven
Released in November, this is the last great Triumph album [IMO]! Featured hits “Spellbound” and “Follow Your Heart”, along with classics “Rock Out Roll On” and “Killing Time”. Loved this album then, still enjoy it.
Honeymoon Suite – Honeymoon Suite
Growing up near Niagara Falls this band was huge, being local, and drew instant comparisons to Loverboy from some. But, a great debut album – “New Girl Now”, “Stay In The Light”, “Burning In Love”, “Wave Babies” – all hit singles in Canada. Released in July, I saw them shortly after as they opened for April Wine at the Kingswood Music Theater, north of Toronto.
Helix – Walking The Razor’s Edge
The band’s 2nd album on Capitol, in a string of 4 really good albums. This one featuring the massive hit “Rock You” [by Bob Halligan Jr], as well as hits/covers of Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ [Crazy Elephant] and (Make Me Do) Anything You Want” [A Foot In Coldwater]. Also included a few memorable band written rockers in “Animal House” and “You Keep Me Rockin”.
Santers – Guitar Alley
Toronto trio’s 3rd [and final] album released in the ’80s [a 4th was recorded but not released til the late ’90s]. Produced by Rik Emmett [Triumph]. A bit softer production, but some great stuff with the hit “Can’t Shake You”, “Black Magic”, “Baby Blue”, and the ballad “Dreaming”. Santers also scored a hit [and lots of radio play] with their version of Free’s “All Right Now” [not my favorite here].
April Wine – Animal Grace
Sadly the last from the band before splitting up [returning in the early ’90s]. This one a bit heavier than Powerplay, but it didn’t do as well. Released early in the year, it featured the hit “This Could Be The Right One” [the only track featured in the live set], as well as favorites “Sons Of The Pioneers”, “Without Your Love”, and “Hard Rock Kid.” The classic logo missing on the cover.
White Wolf – Standing Alone
Heavy ‘melodic metal’ [as it was called] from this Edmonton-based band’s debut album, released late in the year. Great hard rockers on this album with the minor hit “Shadows In The Night”, as well as cuts “Headlines”, the title track, and [anthem] “Metal Thunder”. It did crack the Billboard US Top 200 albums, and [for some reason] saw 2 different covers.
Bryan Adams – Reckless
I was never a huge Bryan Adams fan, but you couldn’t ignore the guy in the ’80s, especially Reckless, released in November, it was a #1 album everywhere, sold 12 million copies worldwide, featuring a pile of hits, most notably “Run To You” [originally penned with BOC in mind], “Somebody”, “Kids Wanna Rock”, It’s Only Love” [feat Tina Turner], and a few more.
Urgent – Timing
The lone album from Toronto based trio, released early in the year. Keyboards added by guest players [a keyboard player was added after the album was recorded]. The band featured drummer Kim Hunt [ex Zon, later of Moxy]. “You’re Not The One” [a ballad] was a hit single, also included the single “Degan (Love You, Leave)”, and excellent melodic rock cuts like “Cat On The Prowl”, “Killer Love”, and “I’ll Find A Way”. Great vocals, with guitar sound & solos. *A US band took up the name a year later.
Others: Everest Everest , Lee Aaron Metal Queen, Red Rider Breaking Curfew, Kick Axe Vices , Gowan Strange Animal, Qwest Dreamzone, Harlequin Harlequin, Nash The Slash American Band-ages, Champion Champion, Thor Only The Strong .
Pyromide is the 3rd album from Finnish metal band Temple Balls. If you just want to hear some all-out 2 guitar, heavy, pounding hard rock & metal, with cool lead vocals, melodies, and big vocal choruses – then check this out. There’s a number of kick-ass rockers here in “T.O.T.C.” [Thrill of the chase] , “Fallen Youth” [shades of Dio as this one starts] , and “You Better Run”.
Fave cuts here would be “Bad Bad Bad” [an easily likeable tune, a bit less metal, and a bit of pop, the anthem “Heart Of A Warrior” , and the power ballad “If Only I Could”, which starts on piano and becomes pretty heavy, no mushy stuff here; killer guitar solo. I really like the production and sound of this whole thing. This just gets better after a few listens. Now I am curious about the rest of this band’s stuff. Pretty cool album cover as well from Jan “Orkki” Yrlund.
Temple Balls are an energetic hard rock band from Finland. “Pyromide”, their Frontiers debut and third album overall, is a tour de force of melodic hard rock that sees the band pushing themselves onto the world stage. Produced by none other than Jona Tee (H.E.A.T.), “Pyromide” is a tour-de-force of hooks, powerful rhythms, and anthemic rock ‘n roll like it was meant to be played.
For the past couple of years, Temple Balls has kept busy both in the studio and on the stage. Opening for such bands as Sonata Arctica, Queen, Deep Purple, and Uriah Heep, the band has proven to be more than capable to handle stages of any size, whether it be a big festival or your local club’s stage. Live, this band will set your friggin’ pants on fire and turn you into a believer.
The band’s first official single, ’Hell And Feelin’ Fine’ was released in September 2016 and got loads of airtime on Finnish Radio Rock. The band’s debut album was recorded at Karma Sound Studios (Thailand) in May 2016, and saw the daylight on February 24, 2017. The album was produced by Tobias Lindell, who is known for his collaborations with Europe, Mustasch, and H.E.A.T. Fall of 2017 started with a sold out tour across Finland with Battle Beast. The band also played in Japan for the first time and did a five day tour of Ukraine in late 2017. After their swing through Japan, the readers of the biggest Japanese rock magazine Burrn! voted Temple Balls as ‘the second brightest hope’ and additionally were chosen as ‘The Newcomer of the Year’ on Masa Ito’s Rock TV.
The second album, “Untamed” dropped on March 8, 2019 and immediately got fantastic reviews from music media such as Soundi and Burrn! magazines. The band also toured Europe as support fro Sonata Arctica, cementing their reputation as a stellar live act.
Temple Balls third album, “Pyromide” is now ready to be unleashed. Produced by none other than Jona Tee (H.E.A.T), it is a stunning punch in the face for all lovers of anthemic and melodic hard rock.
Tracklist: Thunder From The North Long Ways, Long Lies T.O.T.C. Fallen Youth Bad Bad Bad What Is Dead Never Dies Unholy Night Heart Of A Warrior You Better Run If Only I Could Something To Die For
Line-up: Arde Teronen – Vocals Jimi Välikangas – Bass Jiri Paavonaho – Guitar Niko Vuorela – Guitar Antti Hissa – Drums