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An Unholy Terror!
by antiGUY and Keavin Wiggins

W.A.S.P is high-octane rock n roll coupled with outrageous horror show theatrics. When these two explosive elements are brought together on stage it overwhelms the audience with an assault of their senses that no drug could duplicate. Lead vocalist Blackie Lawless screams out songs of lust and desire bringing the audience to the brink of rock n roll ecstasy.  The old cliché "you have to see it to believe it" really does apply to this band. Their concerts are a two-hour escapade into the darker side of human nature. Blood, sex, fire, raw meat, saw blades, explosives, and tied up naked women are just part of the spectacle that W.A.S.P. brings to their "psycho drama". All are welcome to attend, but it is not for the squeamish. 

In the Beginning…

The band's founder and leader, Blackie Lawless, started his musical career at the age of 9 with his first band The Underside. By sixteen after being kicked out of military school, he returned home to Staten Island and got caught up in the New York City rock scene.  He got his first major break at 18 when guitarist Johnny Thunders left the legendary New York Dolls and Blackie was hired on to take his place. 

Although his stint with the New York Dolls didn't last long, it gave Blackie a firm understanding of the importance of image to rock. After the demise of the New York Dolls, bassist Arthur Kane and Blackie headed west and formed a band in L.A. called Killer Kane. They went on to play the local scene and recorded an EP but fame eluded them. 

By the mid seventies disco fever had swept across the country.  Blackie had seen a guy he hung out with as a kid, (Paul) Ace Frehley go on to superstardom with his band KISS. Inspired by the success of KISS and his experience with the New York Dolls, Blackie remembered that image was an important part of rock. He teamed up with guitarist Randy Piper and formed the band Sister.

 Sister made a name for themselves in the L.A. scene with their painted faces and satanic imagery.  Blackie discovered an unusually talented guitarist by the name of Chris Holmes while reading the "Beaver Hunt" section of Hustler Magazine. Holmes intrigued him, so he tracked him down and convinced the wild guitarist to join Sister. 

Sister amassed a large and loyal following in the L.A. club scene but their over the top image and stage show were too much for record companies at the time. Sister threw in the towel after a record deal failed to materialize. 

By 1982 things had changed. Hollywood had become the Mecca of flamboyant, image-savvy young metal bands. Blackie contacted Randy Piper and they decided to form a new band in the vein of Sister. W.A.S.P was born. Like many new bands they went through several lineup changes in the early days. However, Blackie knew only one man could fill the lead guitarist slot. So Chris Holmes was called in to be the W.A.S.P. axeman. 

The scene was ripe for W.A.S.P.'s shocking and sexual driven theatrical stage show and music. They quickly rose to the top of L.A.'s music scene. In 1983 they caught a lucky break when Iron Maiden's manager Rod Smallwood witnessed their extreme stage show.  Smallwood was so impressed he took the band under his wing and convinced Capitol Records to sign them to a record deal. 

With a new deal and a recording budget the band went into the studio and recorded the music that would comprise their self-titled debut album. When the suits at Capital heard the band's proposed first single "Animal - I F*ck Like a Beast" they went through the roof. Although by today's standards the song seems tame, in 1984 it was too provocative for the mainstream music industry. Capitol refused to release the song on the album or as a single, so W.A.S.P. convinced the British record company Music for Nations to release it as a single. 

W.A.S.P. was released in August of 1984 and the singles "I Wanna Be Somebody" and "Love Machine" and the band's outrageous stage show captured the attention of metal heads around the world.  Filled with fire, raw meat being tossed into the audience and a saw blade protruding from Blackie's codpiece, theatrical metal reached new heights. The course of their career was set. 

During the remainder of the 80's W.A.S.P. released a series of successful albums including The Last Command, Inside the Electric Circus and Live in the Raw. Blackie and the band's horror show image became well known on MTV and their notoriety crossed over to mainstream America when W.A.S.P was singled out by the P.M.R.C. as one the biggest offenders in their crusade against offensive rock lyrics. The group led by then Senator Al Gore's wife Tipper failed to accomplish much beyond getting the bands and the wives of politicians, coverage in the press and waist tax payers money. Record labels started to voluntarily place warning labels on albums after that point and many argue that they actually helped album sales. 

W.A.S.P did break up briefly in the nineties. But it did not take long for the call of the wild to convince Blackie and Company that their presence was needed on the heavy metal stage. While the music industry was a buzz about the Seattle grunge sound, W.A.S.P stayed true to themselves and their fans by releasing a string of classic metal albums during the 90's.  "Crimson Idol", "Heldorado" and "K.F.D." were all uncompromising albums that showcased the powerful and unique heavy sound of W.A.S.P. 

The Best of the Best….

After 16 years W.A.S.P. is still going strong. They never compromised or changed their style to try to cash in on the current trends like other bands that found success in the early 80's metal scene. In 2001 they released Unholy Terror, a musical tyrade against politics, religion and other topics that set Blackie off on a rant. Critics and fans alike have enthusiasticlly enbrased this album and proved that W.A.S.P. is still kicking ass and taking names. 

While it is true that W.A.S.P. is best known for their wild theatrical shows, the core of the band has always been solid heavy metal music. The band's catalog of music has withstood the test of time far better than other metal bands that got their start in the early 80's. Unholy Terror  will please die hard fans and also serve as an excellent introduction to the band for those who have never heard them. After getting this first taste of W.A.S.P. most new metal fans should come back screaming for more

W.A.S.P Live in Raw…..

Ok, but what about the live show? Yes, W.A.S.P. is still one of the wildest shows on earth. We caught up with them in April 2000 while they were touring in support of the Best of the Best album and needless to say we will never be the same again. 

The show opened with the sound of a Harley Davison revving it's engine accompanied by a midevil pipe organ melody. Then Blackie's voice warns the audience,  " This ain't no joy ride!" The  stage lights went up and the band launched into " Helldorado".  Blackie used a special mic stand equipped with motorcycle handlebars and a zombie head. He was able to climb onto it and sway from side to side like a mad man. 

The highlights of the evening were "L.O.V.E. Machine", "Wild Child", "Animal (I f*** like a beast)", "Sleeping (in the fire)" and "I wanna be somebody". The crowd shouted along with Blackie during "L.O.V.E. Machine" screaming L-O-V-E whilepounding their fist into the air. 

For "Animal", Blackie told the story of how the song got it's name. He was playing a show at the Troubadour and had been kicking around some ideas for a new song. The band was playing that night on the same bill as an outrageous comedian who had just started to gain attention. The comedian commented on his wife and how every night after being surrounded by beautiful women he has to go home and "f*** that beast".  The comedian was the late great Sam Kinison, and the story struck a chord with Blackie. Thus a W.A.S.P. classic was born. 

At the end of the ballad "Sleeping (in the fire)" Chris Holmes played an amazing three-minute guitar solo. He showed his guitar God prowess again when he played another extended solo as an intro to "I wanna be somebody". At the end of the song Blackie walked to the front of the stage carrying two skulls. The crowd cheered him on as he emptied both  "blood" filled skulls into his mouth and then spit it out onto the screaming fans in the front rows. 

For an encore, Blackie came out placed one leg over the handlebar on his mic stand looked left then right and then asked "You ain't ready to go home yet are you?" The resounding "no" from the audience produced an evil grin from Blackie as he looked at Chris and nodded his head "Yes". Chris led the band into "Blind in Texas". During the bridge Blackie stopped the band and looked at the audience. Once their screams reached an acceptable deafening pitch for him, he continued belting out the lyrics "I'm Blind in Texas, Texas. The Lone Star is hot tonight…" The grand finally included a mass of pyrotechnics, from flash bombs to roman candles shooting out of from the handlebars on Blackie's mic stand as he swayed feverishly back and forth. 

If metal is dead someone forgot to tell the soldout crowd at the Galaxy Theatre that night. W.A.S.P. played for over an hour and half with more energy than any the current crop of alternative bands could even dream of. It is impossible to convey with mere words what a W.A.S.P show is like. With W.A.S.P you get more than just four guys playing music for you, you get a SHOW you will never forget. 

Want More?

Visit the Official W.A.S.P. website for more info on the band, photo's, news, tour dates, mp3's and more

Hear samples from and purchase  "Unholy Terror" and other W.A.S.P. Albums!

A majority of this special originally appeared in the Summer of 2000 as part of the You Can't Kill Rock n Roll series at

All photos used in this special come courtesty of

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