Some people say it was the movie that killed hair metal. Penelope Spheeris’ documentary of the excesses of rock stars like Ozzy, KISS, Aerosmith and WASP’s Chris Holmes came out in 1988, when mainstream metal was at its peak. A couple years later, it would be all but banished from the charts, giving way to grunge in 1991.
In a recent diary entry, Blackie Lawless describes how his bandmate’s infamous pool scene almost ended his career. “Here we’ve just done this extremely socially conscious record and now this disaster of a PR statement is about to come out on film for the whole world to see!! Had the record not been as strong as it was, that film may have killed it, and the upcoming world tour as well.”
Alas, next to Ozzy’s spilled orange juice, the Holmes scene was perhaps the most memorable in a movie that also featured big guns like Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith’s Toxic Twins, newly sober–and the brain trust behind KISS, with Gene answering questions in a lingerie store and Paul from a bed full of lingerie models. However, it seems the film’s $500,000 budget wasn’t enough for them to use any of the big stars’ music, although Alice’s “Under My Wheels” appears in the closing credits. Instead, they relied on live performance footage from a handful of L.A. area bands. A couple of them went on to some degree of success, while others went quietly into that good night–and the guy who made it onto the cover, well, you’d probably be able to pick him out of a crowd. Here’s where they are now.
Lizzy Borden: Despite their god-awful cover of “Born to be Wild” that appeared on film, these guys were a pretty decent band. By the time the movie came out, they already had three Metal Blade-released records to their name, and would issue another one, 1989’s Master of Disguise, before initially calling it a day. Although they were once considered casualties of the grunge era, they would reunite in the new millenium, putting out a comeback album in 2000, Deal with the Devil, followed several years later by ’07’s Appointment with Death, all on Metal Blade. They continue to tour to this day, and are booked on this year’s editions of Hellfest, Gods of Metal and Headbangers Open Air.
Faster Pussycat: These guys had just put out their first record when they were interviewed by Spheeris, and would go on to a modest degree of success with ’89’s gold-certified Wake Me When It’s Over, buoyed by hit power ballad “House of Pain” and its Michael Bay-directed video. (Yes, that Michael Bay.) They also received some airplay in 1990 with their cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” but after their next album peaked at Number 90 in 1992, they subsequently broke up. The band reappeared in the new millenium with an industrial-rock remix album, Between the Valley of the Ultra Pussy, which featured singer Taime Downe and a whole new lineup. The rest of the band would get back together without their singer in ’06, and for a while there were two Faster Pussycats going. Apparently, the Downe-fronted edition is still around, though they haven’t released anything since the industrial-tinged The Power and the Glory Hole in ’06. Meanwhile, guitarist Brent Muscat started Sin City Sinners with Todd Kerns and plays plenty of gigs in L.A. and Las Vegas performing cover songs with several famous special guests.
Seduce: A three-piece band from Detroit, Seduce peaked in 1988 with sophomore album Too Much, Ain’t Enough on I.R.S. Records. The band put out a three-song demo in 1991 as a four-piece on the Worldwide label, then promptly disappeared, only to resurface with a live reunion DVD shot in their hometown in 2002. They still do the odd one-off reunion gig in Detroit, most recently in 2010. This Detroit Metro Times piece written for the occasion delves into the band’s recent and distant past. It seems their singer wasn’t kidding when he told Spheeris they were the biggest band in Detroit at the time…
London: This band was actually founded by Nikki Sixx back in 1978, though they never really made it out of L.A.. After initially breaking up in ’81, they came back in ’84 with the likes of Slash (albeit briefly) and Izzy Stradlin on guitar and future drummers of Keel and Cinderella behind the kit. After dropping albums in ’85 and ’86, they recorded one more record for Noise International in 1990, minus founding guitarist Lizzie Grey. Amazingly, singer Nadir D’Priest (real name Antonio Munoz) would revive the band as D’Priest’s New London in 2006, and while a live CD (recorded in 1989) called The Metal Years came out in ’08, the band has not returned to the studio. They’re still playing gigs on the West Coast, however, with a recent poster drawing attention to the fact that they appeared in Spheeris’ film.
Odin: Without a doubt the most awful band in this film, these guys had a singer who wore assless chaps and sounded like a cross between Axl Rose and a cat being strangled. In spite of this obstacle, they were convinced that they’d be signed within four to six months and become as big as The Doors and Led Zeppelin. Well, it was not to be. Odin actually broke up in 1988, the year the movie was released, although their full-length album Fight For Your Life would later come out in Japan on the Victor label. Texas-based Perris Records reissued their first three demos as the By the Gods compilation in ’01 and later put out a greatest hits album, while the band reunited and recorded a three-song EP, Human Animal, in ’08. They still get together for the occasional gig when the Duncan brothers aren’t busy with their other projects, namely DC4 and Armored Saint. No word as to whether Randy O. still wears the chaps, though. For what it’s worth, his next band, Lostboys, put out one album on Atlantic Records in 1990 before the hair-metal bubble burst.
Megadeth: By far the most successful of the up-and-coming bands in this film, Megadeth would go on to release 13 albums that sold millions of copies while undergoing countless lineup changes and cementing themselves as part of the “Big 4″ of thrash metal. Dave Mustaine became a born-again Christian a few years back, right around the time he hurt his wrist, and recently said he’d vote for Rick Santorum. He also welcomed original bassist Dave Ellefson, who appeared in the film, back into the fold in 2010 after an eight-year absence. Their latest album, Thirteen, debuted at Number 11 on the Billboard charts, selling just shy of 42,000 copies in its first week of release in November 2011.
As for Holmes, well, he didn’t die 10 years later as he’d hoped. He’s still alive and kicking–and still quite the candid interviewee, too…