Los Angeles shock rockers W.A.S.P. burst onto the scene in 1984 with what remains to this day one of the greatest debut albums in metal history. The self titled disc was raw, powerful and visceral. This, combined with their legendary live shows, seemed to make the band an overnight sensation.
In reality, the foursome were long-time veterans of the L.A. metal scene. Leader Blackie Lawless had once been Johnny Thunders’ replacement in the New York Dolls and later been a member of legendary underground bands Sister (which also included future W.A.S.P. guitarist Randy Piper) and London (also featuring future Motley Crue leader Nikki Sixx). Guitarist Chris Holmes had grown up with the Van Halen brothers in Pasadena and had even loaned Eddie Van Halen many of the guitars with which he was photographed for many of the early VH promo photos.
The band was no stranger to controversy with songs like “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast),” which was removed from the U.S. release of the album, and live shows featuring scantily clad women tied up to torture racks while the band lobbed raw meat at their audience. It wasn’t long until W.A.S.P. found themselves under fire from the Parents Music Resource Group, a group of busy-body mothers led by then senator Al Gore’s wife Tipper.
The P.M.R.C. would eventually win a small victory when the recording industry agreed to voluntarily mark albums featuring explicit lyrics with a warning label. The label however would have the direct opposite effect from what was intended when all of us adolescent metalheads began seeking out only albums that featured the sticker. W.A.S.P. directly benefited from the controversy and would go on to become one of the most successful metal bands of the ’80s. Though Lawless is the only remaining original member, the band continues to record and tour to this day.
This week’s Massive Metal Monday featured track comes from W.A.S.P.’s flawless debut album. This is live footage from 1984 of W.A.S.P. performing the spine-tingling track “Sleeping In The Fire” at The Lyceum in London.
W.A.S.P. “Sleeping In The Fire” Live at The Lyceum 1984