The W.A.S.P. began after the breakup of Circus Circus, a Los Angeles band that featured Blackie Lawless and Randy Piper. The original lineup of W.A.S.P. was formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1982 by Lawless (vocals and rhythm guitar), Randy Piper (lead guitar), Rik Fox (bass), and Tony Richards (drums).
The band gained immediate prominence for their theatrical and shocking performances. Lawless was known for tying up half-naked models, simulating torture and beheadings, and throwing raw meat into the audience.
Still, in 1982, the band released their first single, entitled “Animal (F*ck Like A Beast)”, and both the lyrics and the graphic art caused astonishment and controversy.
The first lineup didn’t last long; Rik Fox was fired and joined the band Steeler with vocalist Ron Keel and guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen.
Don Costa then replaced him. Don Costa left the band shortly after, and Lawless filled his bass position. At the same time, guitarist Chris Holmes also joined the band.
The W.A.S.P. signed a contract with Capitol Records in 1983 and released their debut album, “W.A.S.P.”, released on August 17, 1984, filled with classics such as “On Your Knees”, “Sleeping (In The Fire)”, ” Hellion”, “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “L.O.V.E Machine”, all still present in the band’s performances. The first single, “Animal (F*ck Like A Beast)”, was not part of the album released in the United States because of its explicit lyrics, which would cause the album to be censored in several stores. However, it was released by an independent publisher in the same year.
Shortly afterwards, the band appeared in the 1984 film “The Dungeonmaster.”
“Love Machine” and “I Wanna Be Somebody” helped the album reach a modest 60th position on the Billboard, leading to a US tour and the linking of music videos for the aforementioned songs. “Blind In Texas” was also written simultaneously, but the song was only released on the band’s next album, “The Last Command”, on November 9, 1985. The Last Command marked some changes in the line-up, with Steve Riley (ex-Steppenwolf, ex-Keel) replacing Tony Richards on drums. He was expelled due to his drug problems. Steve replaced Tony Richards at the start of the 1984-1985 tour. The Last Command is one of W.A.S.P.’s best-selling albums, reaching number 47 on the Billboard charts. “Blind In Texas” is perhaps the band’s best-known song and is still played at every concert. Songs like “Wild Child” and “Sex Drive” also fell in love with fans.
After The Last Command tour, guitarist Randy Piper left the band for personal reasons. Former King Kobra bassist Johnny Rod joined W.A.S.P. Lawless and returned to play rhythm guitar.
Chris Holmes left the band in August 1989, stating he wanted to “have fun”. Lawless said that “some guys want to stay home and wear aprons”, hinting at Chris Holmes’ relationship with his new wife, Lita Ford. The band effectively split up a few months later, with Blackie Lawless embarking on a short-lived solo career. Blackie started working on his solo album, travelling to different countries to find inspiration and compose new songs. Still, under pressure from his publisher and fans, he released it as a W.A.S.P. album.
Featuring Bob Kullick on guitars and the drums occupied by Stet Howland and Frankie Banali, the spectacular “The Crimson Idol” was released widely acclaimed by fans and critics. Reaching position 47 on the Billboard charts. It is still considered one of the best concept albums in the history of Rock. The album did not go on a promotional tour; it only had a few performances, such as at Monsters of Rock in (Donnington), in 1992. Songs such as “Hold On To My Heart”, “The Idol”, “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)”, and “The Great Misconceptions Of Me” show Blackie Lawless at his peak as a musician, lyricist and composer, being considered absolute classics of the band.
Mike Duda with W.A.S.P.
The line-up of “The Crimson Idol” was maintained for the recording of”Still Not Black Enough” (1995), with songs
The line-up of “The Crimson Idol” was maintained for the recording of “Still Not Black Enough” (1995), with more introspective and sober songs from the previous album. This time, instead of hiding behind his alter ego, “Jonathan Steele” (the protagonist in the story of “The Crimson Idol”), Lawless spoke directly to the audience about his own feelings (as indicated on the back cover of the album). Although it does not have a defined concept, the lyrics still explore similar themes to those on The Crimson Idol: the pressures of fame and society and the search for love. Songs like “Rock And Roll To Death” and the ballad “Breathe” are some of the best-known on the album.
Chris Holmes returned to W.A.S.P. in 1996 after divorcing Lita Ford, and with him, “Kill Fuck Die” (1997) and “Helldorado” (1999) were released. He also recorded two live albums on tour for both albums, “Double Live Assassins” (1998) and “The Sting” (2001), respectively. “The Sting” was taken directly from a live webcast, a performance broadcast over the internet. Lawless claims not to like the album, as it has lower-than-expected sound and visual quality.
The band released the album “Unholy Terror” in 2001. Chris Holmes left the band again in 2002, stating he wanted to “play the blues”. He joined his former bandmate Randy Piper in his band Randy Piper’Animal but soon dropped out of that project as well. Holmes, in turn, stated that he never touched Unholy Terror.
“Dying for the World”, released in 2002, was written and recorded in less than a year, which is very fast by Lawless’s perfectionist standards. Its liner notes feature one of Lawless’s strongest statements, inspired by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In April 2004, W.A.S.P. released the first part of “The Neon God”, subtitled “The Rise”, a concept album about an orphan who was sexually abused by a nun and who discovers that he can manipulate people through religion, making him become a false Messiah. The second part, The Demise, was released in September 2004.
In 2009, W.A.S.P released another album, “Babylon”, via Demolition Records.
Blackie Lawless, in recent interviews, has claimed that he will never perform the song “Animal (F*ck Like A Beast)” again due to his religious beliefs.
The W.A.S.P. They recorded their fifteenth and most recent studio album, titled Golgotha, released in October 2015. Even before the release, Mike Dupke left the band.
Lawless is the last remaining original member of the group, which currently also features lead guitarist Doug Blair (in 1992 and 2001, and since 2006), bassist Mike Duda (since 1995) and drummer Aquiles Priester (since 2017).
They were touring in 2023 but cancelled its U.S. leg of its tour until 2024 after singer and songwriter Blackie Lawless suffered extensive back injuries in Europe.
1985 The Last Command
1989 The Headless Children
1992 The Crimson Idol
1995 Still Not Black Enough
1997 Kill Fuck Die
2001 Unholy Terror
2002 Dying for the World
2004 The Neon God: Part 1 – The Rise
2004 The Neon God: Part 2 – The Demise