Eagles Touring Members: The Band Behind the Band

When a group lasts as long as the Eagles, evolution becomes a necessity. While growing and stretching in artistic ways helps keep the creative spark alive, it also creates challenges in the live setting.

For the Eagles, being able to bring decades worth of dynamic and influential songs to the stage required added musicians. While not official members, these rockers remain in the background, adding layers and depth to the group’s iconic catalog of tunes.

But their contributions are not limited to the live setting. These touring members have added to the group off-stage as well, thanks to their involvement in recordings and various solo efforts.

Unsurprisingly, the Eagles have been very particular about who they’ve allowed into their inner circle. Here’s a look at the touring members who’ve helped make the band one of rock’s most engaging acts.

John Corey

Corey’s first experience within the Eagles’ orbit came in 1978 when he contributed vocals, guitar and keyboards to the self-titled debut album of former member Randy Meisner. Nine years later, he get involved in another solo effort, delivering guitar, keys and bass on Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence, while also receiving songwriting credits on the tracks “The Last Worthless Evening” and “Gimme What You Got.” The rocker would join Henley’s band, touring in support of the hugely successful 1989 LP.

When the Eagles reunited in 1994 for their first tour in 14 years, Henley brought Corey into the fold. Thus, the multi-instrumentalist appeared on the ensuing ‘94 live album Hell Freezes Over. He also contributed to Henley’s 2000 solo effort, Inside Job. Aside from the Eagles, Corey has worked with such vaunted artists as the Who, Rod Stewart, the Knack and Eddie Money.

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Scott Crago

When the Eagles agreed to reunite in ‘94, they knew they’d need some additional musicians to fill out the touring lineup. The band auditioned 10 drummers, with Henley keenly watching over the process. One of those who auditioned was Scott Crago.

“To fit into a band that’s that big, I don’t think they needed somebody else to come in and compete as being a fifth Eagle, a sixth Eagle,” Crago later recalled in an interview with drumstick company Vic Firth. “They brought me in knowing that I could just come in and do the job and not take away from who Don Henley is, and who Glenn [Frey] and Joe [Walsh] and those guys were.”

Still, his arrival wasn’t without incident. Crago’s first rehearsal with the band was on the song “New York Minute.” When Henley stopped the song midway through and suggested the drummer “listen to this song one more time,” Crago assumed he’d immediately lost the gig. “I turned white,” the rocker recalled to Modern Drummer, adding that he had an “immediate stomach ache.” “It felt like a failure.” Still, the drummer went and listened to the song “about 600 times” to ensure he’d never mess it up again. Since then, he’s been a steady member of the Eagles’ larger faction, appearing on the Hell Freezes Over live LP, the 2003 single “Hole in the World” and the 2007 album Long Road Out of Eden. He also co-wrote the song “Everything Is Different Now,” featured on Inside Job.

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Steuart Smith

Guitarist Steuart Smith initially appeared on Henley’s Inside Job. Impressed by the musician’s impressive acumen, Henley set up a jam session alongside Frey in the hopes of bringing Smith into the Eagles touring band. After running through a handful of songs, Henley thanked Smith and said that he and Frey would need to discuss further steps. “I looked at Glenn and I said, ‘What do you think?,’” Henley recalled. “And he went, ‘Bingo.’ He said, ‘That’s the guy.'”

Smith is credited on five songs 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden, while also sharing producing duties for the LP. The musician’s contributions to the Eagles have not been lost on the group’s core members or their fans.

“Steuart’s quite a musician, and he’s added a lot of much-needed creative spark to the band,” Henley told The Washington Post in 2003. “He’s incredible, one of the best I’ve ever seen and one of the few people who could have stepped into this position and handled it as gracefully as he has. The thing that is most gratifying to me is that the crowds seem to love him: They applaud him vigorously every night and when he’s introduced, they chant his name.”

Smith’s additional work has included work with Shawn Colvin, Rodney Crowell, Nils Lofgren and fellow Eagles auxiliary member Vince Gill. He also played a key role in Henley’s 2015 album, Cass County.

Michael Thompson

One only needs to look at the credits for Glenn Frey’s 2012 LP After Hours to understand Michael Thompson’s Swiss Army knife-like musical ability. The musician recorded eight different instruments on the release, while also serving as one of the album’s producers. In a 2012 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Frey credited Thompson with helping the singer discover new ways to interpret his classic hits. The musician has enjoyed a similar role with the Eagles, working as the band’s jack-of-all-trades since 2001, including multiple contributions to Long Road Out of Eden.

As one of the most in-demand session musicians in Hollywood, Thompson’s long and impressive resume includes work with many of the biggest names in music. including Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Hall & Oates, Bob Seger, Stewart Copeland, the Bee Gees, Steve Perry, Phil Collins. He’s also released three studio LPs with the Michael Thompson Band.

Will Hollis

Keyboardist Will Hollis joined the Eagles touring band in 2001. Over that same timespan the musician also supported Frey and Henley during their respective solo tours. In addition to nearly two decades of live performances, the keyboardist also contributed to the Eagles’ 2007 LP Long Road Out of Eden. Outside of the band, Hollis has worked with artists such as Rod Stewart and Tonic. He also served as the musical director for Dancing With the Stars the Tour in 2007 and 2008, and America’s Got Talent Live in 2011.

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DevilDriver’s Mike Spreitzer Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

Ah, the ’80s… it was a golden period for the explosion of metal, and the period which inspired DevilDriver‘s Mike Spreitzer to pick up a guitar.

“The first song that made me want to play guitar was Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’” says the guitarist. “I was about six-years-old and it was on MTV. I had an older brother and older sister that were teenagers at the time, so MTV was always on and I remember watching and slowly got addicted to it. When I first saw ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ that was pretty much it. I started begging my parents for an electric guitar and I really wanted the Explorer that the bass player was playing in that video. Funny thing is to this day, I’ve never owned an Explorer guitar.”

That led to a broader exploration into the Def Leppard catalog, with Spreitzer backtracking from Hysteria to High and Dry, where “Let It Go” grabbed his attention, as he displays for the viewers.

It wasn’t long before even heavier metal entered the picture, with Spreitzer citing Black Sabbath as an early influence. “One of the first riffs I learned to play, I believe it was a Black Sabbath song off Paranoid and I believe it was ‘Electric Funeral,” says the guitarist.

Spreitzer says he was a big Metallica fan growing up, nabbing the group’s Black Album tab book (which he still has to this day). From there, it was time to backtrack through Metallica’s And Justice for All and Live Shit: Binge & Purge, as he was able to xerox the tab pages from a buddy. So what Metallica song most grabbed him? He displays a bit of “Harvester of Sorrow.”

Looking at DevilDriver’s own catalog, the guitarist cites “Testimony of Truth” and “End of the Line” as his favorite riffs. He also pulls out some of “My Night Sky,” a track he loves to play live due to its groove.

“The first riff I ever wrote for DevilDriver was the verse in “Hold Back the Day” from Fury in Our Maker’s Hands,” adds Spreitzer, recalling, “I wasn’t in the band when they recorded their first record. I came in shortly in between the first and second record cycle. We were on Ozzfest in 2004 and I brought my Line 6 pod with me and I always had my guitar and that pod in the back of the bus. We needed to start writing for Fury while we were on that tour. We had a limited amount of time between getting off Ozzfest, going home to write and then going to El Paso to Sonic Ranch to record the record. So we were all on each others’ ass to keep writing riffs so that we could come home with material to work with rather than starting from scratch.”

Turning his attention to DevilDriver’s upcoming double album, the single “Keep Away From Me” is currently his favorite. “It was one of the first songs, if I remember correctly, that I wrote for the record. It’s always been my favorite song on the record.”

You can hear “Keep Away From Me” in full on DevilDriver’s Dealing With Demons I, which is due Oct. 9. Get your pre-orders in for the album at this location. See more of Spreitzer showcasing some of his favorite riffs in the Gear Factor episode below.

DevilDriver’s Mike Spreitzer Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

2020’s Most Anticipated Rock + Metal Albums

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25 Great American Rock Bars

Who could use a drink and some good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll? It sounds pretty tempting right about now. And as National Dive Bar Day arrives (July 7), we thought we’d take a closer look at the top spots across the country that keep us rocking while making sure the spirits are high.

Some of these places are true hole-in-the-wall bars, while others have added dining and live music options to the mix, expanding the lure of their operations. But they all have the draw of creating an atmosphere that just makes people want to hang out and have a cold one while rocking out to some great tunes.

Sure, there are other draws and some of these places have gotten creative with their drink, dining and entertainment options. A pinball room with tournaments? Sure. Aussie meat pies and other munchies? Yep. Ever evolving projections on walls changing the look of the place? You bet. Some of these places have found their unique niche that helps them stand out from the rest. So join us as we salute 25 Great American Rock Bars.

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10 Rock Stars Wasted on TV

Back when television was the only place to see your favorite rock stars live in two dimensions, wasted musicians created some unforgettable moments.

The Dick Cavett Show was a home for rock and roll during the ‘60s and ‘70s, creating a forum for in-depth and personal conversations. While making an appearance on the show, David Bowie showed up coked out of his mind, twitching and sniffing while erratically answering questions. The suspenders and cane add another brilliant touch to the interview, giving Bowie the persona of a Batman villain.

One of the most famous wasted moments on TV comes from Courtney Love at the 1995 MTV VMAs. Not long after the death of husband and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Love interrupted a Madonna interview by throwing her shoe at the pop star, eventually making her way up to a platform where host Kurt Loder was speaking with Madonna. Love hijacked the show, chasing Madonna away and bringing a horrified look to Loder’s face.

Of course, Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue make appearances in this list. Both bands can be seen during their early years, taking their trademark party lifestyle to televised interviews both backstage and on the red carpet.

Check out these 10 Rock Stars Sh!tfaced on TV in the Loud List below.

10 Rock Stars Sh!tfaced on TV

Top 50 Nu-Metal Albums of All-Time

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32 Years Ago: Slayer Release ‘South of Heaven’

Slayer fans were still reveling in the whiplash-inducing torment of the band’s 1986 thrash-fest Reign in Blood and the torrential tour to support it when the band members slammed on the brakes and started working on the slower, more atmospheric songs that would make up South of Heaven, which was released July 5, 1988.

The album marked a turning point for Slayer and elicited a somewhat ambivalent response. Many fans yearning for a continuation of the blinding ferocity of Reign in Blood were disappointed by the more restrained songcraft on South of Heaven. Others, who either didn’t vibe with the hardcore tempos of Reign or liked to hear bands progress from one album to the next, were ecstatic that Slayer were experimenting more with textural interludes, mid-paced tempos and vocals that approached actual singing. And long after its release, the title track, “Silent Scream,” “Mandatory Suicide” and “Ghosts of War” remained fan favorites and staples of the group’s live set.

Slayer, “South of Heaven” (Live)

“The album was a late bloomer,” vocalist Tom Araya told Decibel. “It wasn’t really received well, but I guess it kind of grew on everybody later. It was something that we purposely did different. It wasn’t fast, and it didn’t have that Reign in Blood effect.”

In retrospect, it would have been impossible, or at least pointless, for Slayer to follow up Reign in Blood with another symphony of speed. That album was so universally regarded as the pinnacle of thrash that if they had prioritized velocity over all else there was no way the record would have come off as anything but a pale imitation.

“It was just like, we’re not going to be able to top that whole album,” guitarist Jeff Hanneman told Revolver. “We’re not going to be able to beat that. That’s why we did South of Heaven and Seasons [In the Abyss]. We just kind of mellowed out a little bit — not mellow, but slowed down.”

In addition to pulling back on the reigns and writing more nuanced and harmony-laden material, Slayer replaced lyrics about serial killers and cartoon evil with themes of lust, greed, corruption and war.

With South of Heaven Slayer clearly wanted to develop beyond the full-on thrash mold it helped conceive and explore other realms of sound. But there’s likely another reason South of Heaven is such a dramatic departure from previous albums. Guitarist and songwriter Kerry King had just gotten married and was largely absent during the songwriting process, leaving Hanneman to creatively guide the band.

“That album was my most lackluster performance,” King admitted to Decibel. “I had just gotten married and moved to Phoenix [Arizona], so I was probably the odd man out at that point, and I’m sure I didn’t participate as much because of that.”

“We go through dry spells sometimes,” added Hanneman. “But the good thing about having two guitar players that can write music is that you’re never gonna go without. I guess at that time, Kerry was hitting a dry spell.”

The dry spell motivated Slayer to add a cover of Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” to the album so it would have 10 full tracks. King said the album also had some filler. Neither he nor Hanneman thought much of “Behind the Crooked Cross” and King still considers “Cleanse the Soul” one of the worse songs in Slayer’s catalog. King also wasn’t thrilled with Araya’s vocals, which he felt were too melodic. “I think Tom backed off too much with his singing, or should I say, added too much singing,” he said. “Honestly, it’s one of my least favorite Slayer albums.”

Slayer, “Dissident Aggressor”

Slayer started recording South of Heaven with Rick Rubin – the band’s second album with the legendary producer – in December of 1987 and worked at Hit City West in Los Angeles. Additional work was done at Chung King in New York and the album was mixed at NYC’s New Fresh Studio. South of Heaven debuted at No. 57 on the Billboard album chart and was certified gold by the RIAA on Nov. 20, 1992.

After Slayer performed Reign in Blood in full in 2004, there was speculation that they would do the same to celebrate South of Heaven. Araya was into the idea of doing a show that would incorporate South of Heaven songs with material from 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss. But King quickly shot down the idea, arguing that Slayer’s set needed to feature both fast and slow songs to create peaks and valleys in the set.

Despite King’s general unhappiness with the record, South of Heaven remains a fan favorite and Slayer and their management thought enough of the album to feature 40 percent of the tracks on their box set Soundtrack to the Apocalypse along with a demo of the title track recorded at Hanneman’s house.

“I think South of Heaven was an interesting period for us and we did some great stuff for it,” Araya told me in 2015. “I still like it and it reflects where we were at the time. We had to make that record at that point. There’s nothing else we could have done and it came out really good.”

Slayer, “Mandatory Suicide”

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

Every Slayer Song Ranked

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14 Native American Artists in Rock + Metal

Native American influence is deeply engrained in rock and metal, whether you realize it or not. From the greatest guitarist of all time, to the innovator of the power chord, to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions and sharing the stage with the Beatles, we’re paying tribute to First Nation American musicians.

In thrash, two of the metal sub-genre’s greatest vocalists come from a Native background — Testament‘s Chuck Billy and Anthrax‘s Joey Belladonna. Billy has sung about his Pomo heritage on Testament cuts such as “Trail of Tears” and “Native Blood,” while Belladonna famously lent his voice to Anthrax’s “Indians.”

When a musician’s accolades include collaborating with John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris and more, you think they’d be extremely famous. In reality, that’s not necessarily the case, but you can learn more about the life of Jesse Lee Davis in this post.

Check out these 14 Native American Artists in Rock + Metal in the gallery below.

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25 Years Ago: Foo Fighters Emerge With Debut Album

Imagine being in the biggest band in the world and then having it all end in an instant. Add in the fact that you’ve just lost one of your closest friends and someone who was an immense talent, and that’s the position that drummer Dave Grohl found himself in after the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994.

Initially, Grohl retreated from music altogether, but it turned out that music was what eventually brought him out of his depression over the death of Cobain. “How can I explain it,” pondered Grohl to Mojo. “If you have someone that’s close to you, a family member or someone that you love, and they disappear or pass away… Imagine walking into their bedroom full of things every day. That’s exactly how playing music felt to me, because that was my whole world. It was difficult to listen to music, whether it was Ry Cooder’s soundtrack to Paris, Texas, or [Metallica‘s] Ride the Lightning. I had to disconnect. And I couldn’t imagine getting up there and playing the drums with someone, and not thinking about Nirvana. I think about Nirvana every time I sit up to play the drums.”

The drummer recalls, “After Nirvana, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I was asked to join a couple of other bands as the drummer, but I just couldn’t imagine doing that because it would just remind me of being in Nirvana.” But as he told Classic Rock magazine, “When I was young, someone played me the Klark Kent record that Stewart Copeland had done. I thought how cool that he could make a record and people can listen to it objectively because it wasn’t Stewart Copeland from The Police, it was Klark Kent. That’s kind of what I wanted to do. There were some songs I’d recorded in my friend’s studio while Nirvana was still a band and an independent label in Detroit wanted to release something.”

And while he had some material that had been sitting for some time, other songs came fresh and fast when he finally decided to record for the first time after Cobain’s death.  “A lot of those songs were written while I was still in Nirvana, or just before Nirvana,” says Grohl. “The idea wasn’t to form a new band and start over; it was to go down to the studio, down the road, and book six days, which is the most time I’d ever spent recording music of my own. To me it seemed so professional. I wanted to start a label on my own, release the album with no names on it, no photos, call it Foo Fighters so people thought it was a band.”

So quietly and with little fanfare, Grohl booked studio time at Robert Lang Studios in Seattle, ready to get back into the flow of music again. And he was determined to work it out on his own. Grohl played drums, bass, guitar and sang on the band’s self-titled debut disc, with only pal Barrett Jones handling the production and Afghan Whigs vocalist Greg Dulli, who happened to be in the studio at the time, lending a guest guitar part on “X-Static.”

“He’d do a whole song in about 40 minutes,” recalled Dulli to Rolling Stone. “I was completely fascinated by it. He could do it because he has perfect time. He’d lay down a perfect drum beat and work off that. He’d play drums, run out and play bass, and then put two guitar layers over the top and sing it. I was just watching him record, and he asked me if I wanted to play. I didn’t even get out of my chair. He just handed me a guitar.”

Oddly enough, the one place where Grohl was not confident was on the vocals. He told My Brilliant Career, “I was insecure about my voice. You know how people double their vocals to make them stronger? That album the vocals are quadrupled. I didn’t want to be a lead singer, I couldn’t f–king sing.” But as we now know, he got more confident over time.

Eventually Grohl finished his project, but still protective of the work, he only made a small amount of cassette copies and starting handing them out to friends and a few people who showed interest in his work, and eventually started to garner some label interest. One of the first people to take an interest was Eddie Vedder, who debuted the song “Exhausted” on his Self-Pollution pirate radio show. Eventually, the band signed a deal with Capitol with Grohl also getting his own Roswell Records off the ground.

But Foo Fighters was still a one man project and touring would be required, so Grohl snagged Sunny Day Real Estate bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith, both newly free after a down period for their band. And rounding out the group was Pat Smear, a late-era addition to the Nirvana lineup on guitar.

After a mixing touch up at The Shop studio in Arcata, Calif., Foo Fighters’ self-titled debut was finally ready for mass consumption. On July 4, 1995, the album arrived in stores, but not without a little controversy. The disc arrived with a photo of a space-like gun on the cover, which some took as poor taste given how Cobain died. But Grohl stated, “People kind of freaked on that. You know, honestly, that never came to mind once. Obviously it didn’t because if I thought people would associate that with that, I never would have done it.” Instead, the gun was meant to tie into the theme of the name Foo Fighters and Grohl’s Roswell record label, both nods to flying objects and space.

Just prior to the release, “Exhausted” began to get some play as a promotional single. The track was a holdover from Grohl’s time in Nirvana. He told Mojo that he learned from Pat Smear that Cobain loved ‘Exhausted’ and had considered recording it for the band, but didn’t want to ask Grohl if he could change lyrics or replace his vocals. The song, filled with heavy distortion, was a favorite during the early years of the band’s touring. And while the tune never really took off, another song certainly did.

The hard rocking “This Is a Call” came crashing out of the gate as the band’s first major hit. The song is one of the few Grohl penned after Cobain’s death and was meant as an introductory track. “The chorus says ‘This is a call to all my past resignation.’ It’s just sort of like a little wave to all the people I ever played music with, people I’ve been friends with, all my relationships, my family. It’s a hello, and in a way a thank you,” said Grohl to Headwires. He also told Kerrang,”I felt like I had nothing to lose and I didn’t necessariiy wanna be the drummer of Nirvana for the rest of my life without Nirvana. I thought I should try something I’d never done before and I’d never stood up in front of a band and been the lead singer, which was f–king horrifying and still is!” The song would top out at No. 6 on the Mainstream Rock Chart, and would also be the first track the band ever played on The Late Show on David Letterman.

Foo Fighters would keep things going with “I’ll Stick Around,” a high energy, melodic rocker that captured the ears of listeners. The song would become a fan favorite and peaked out at No. 12 on the Mainstream Rock Chart. The group would also shoot their first music video, calling upon Devo‘s Jerry Casale to direct the clip.

For All the Cows” would get a look, but little radio play upon its release in November of ’95. The track was only released as a single in the U.K. and the Netherlands, but still has become one of the deeper track favorites of fans over the years. And that song would eventually give way to one of the poppiest tracks the band would ever record — “Big Me.” The little ditty really took off after the Jesse Peretz-directed video hit MTV. The clip featured the band spoofing the Mentos “fresh mint” advertisements, and would eventually be nominated for five MTV VMAs. Of those nominations, they would win the Best Group Video. But the video’s popularity had an unexpected side effect, as fans began pelting the band with Mentos during shows. “We did stop playing that song for a while because, honestly, it’s like being stones. Those little … things are like pebbles – they hurt.”

Finishing out the releases off the album was “Alone + Easy Target,” a promotional single that arrived in 1996. This was another track that dated back to Grohl’s time with Nirvana, often being jammed during soundchecks for the band in 1991. The original demo version would be released as part of Foo Fighters’ Songs From the Laundry Room Record Store Day release in 2015.

“This band has the feeling of being fresh and exciting,” Grohl told Rolling Stone. “You don’t know exactly where it’s going to take you. That was one of the greatest feelings about 1991 — we had no idea what was going to happen. The ‘Nevermind’ tour just felt like everything was going to pop. I’d have numerous panic attacks. It was so cool to be that close to going insane yet somehow not. I really thought every time I sat down on the drum stool that it would be the night where I fainted onstage. It was all so hilarious. It wasn’t supposed to happen, and it did.” He added. “One of the saddest things is that it can never happen again, but the greatest thing is that it did.”

Foo Fighters Albums Ranked

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Who Really Invented Power Metal?

Who really invented power metal? Was it really Helloween with The Keepers of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1 album as the legend goes, or is there more to this story? That’s the question we explore in Ep. 19 of Loudwire’s “50 Years of Heavy Metal” series.

Power metal is a bit more challenging to define than so many of metal’s other branches. The differences between thrash, death metal and black metal, for example, are all quite distinct, bearing unique characteristics that the others lack.

That isn’t so much the case with power metal, which bears all the hallmarks of traditional metal as defined largely by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Twin melodies, high singing, fast riffs and faster drumming have just as much place in traditional metal as they do power metal.

Of course, a lot of that came from Iron Maiden, but so did epic storytelling, though not in the same fashion as early prog rock. See why this gets tricky? Maiden’s vivid lyrical themes along with the ones conveyed from the mystical mind of Ronnie James Dio in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band, rounded out yet another crucial component of power metal.

Fiction/fantasy literature — The Lords of the Rings, in particular — is a natural fit for music that’s reliant on major keys, joyous melodies, dominant chord progressions and triumphant, sky-high choruses.

It really comes down to the ol’ “on steroids” adage, which is essentially the relationship between traditional metal and power metal. Oh, and then there’s the dress code: while not required, this genre is overwhelmingly playful, embracing frilly shirts, animal skins, armor… basically anything you’d see at you local Renaissance faire. And there’s only one band that can be credited for putting that in motion… but that’ll be revealed in Ep. 19.

Find out Who Really Invented Power Metal at the top of the page.

The Top 25 Power Metal Albums of All Time

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24 Rock + Metal Postage Stamps

The phrase “stamp of approval” may take on a little more significance when you realize just how special you have to be to receive recognition on a stamp. Around the world, countries have saluted their greatest artists with recognition on a stamp, yet there are still legends who have not been recognized as of yet.

In the U.S., the U.S. postal service started a series back in 1993 honoring some of the pioneers of American rock ‘n’ roll. Included in that series are Elvis Presley, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly among others. In addition, legends such as The Beatles, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin have made the cut, but when you look at the history of rock ‘n’ roll, there are still many deserving acts who don’t have a stamp stateside.

But other countries have stepped up in that matter. AC/DC has been saluted in Australia, the U.K.’s Royal Mail has chosen to celebrate some top acts by sharing their album covers on stamps. And in Finland, a few years back, they honored the country’s top hard rock and metal acts with stamps.

Who’s got a stamp? You might be surprised. Check out some of the history of rock and metal bands on postage stamps below.

24 Rock + Metal Postage Stamps

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Rock Legend Suzi Quatro Plays Her Favorite Bass Riffs

Groundbreaking musician Suzi Quatro is the subject of the upcoming documentary Suzi Q, and she recently took some time to join us via Zoom for this latest edition of Loudwire’s Gear Factor.

Quatro revealed during the chat that she started her music education at a very young age, growing up in a musical family where her father was also a performer. “I began on bongos at the age of 7 and I was pretty damn good. My dad actually let me come to his gigs and play in front of him. Then I went to classical piano, so I took that for about eight or nine years, so I had to learn to read, write and play and I still play now. Then I went to percussion in school and I ended up learning to read, write and play percussion and I ended up first chair.”

Like many of her age, the Beatles‘ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a turning point, with all the kids in the family deciding to start a band. “Everybody quickly chose an instrument,” she recalls “I didn’t speak up, so I was like, ‘Hey, what am I gonna play?’ and my older sister said, ‘You’re playing bass.’ So I went, ‘Okay.’ I didn’t care. So I got this [bass guitar] from my father – 1957 Fender Precision – as my first bass guitar.” And thus Suzi’s bass legacy was cemented.

She tells us, “I think one of the first [riffs], if I go back very early, was ‘Stagger Lee’ by Lloyd Price. It’s very basic bass. That’s what I learned when I learned.” Suzi also cites Motown legend James Jamerson and Canned Heat as an early influence on her playing, displaying a bit of “On the Road Again.”

As for the first song she learned to play, that goes back to The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.” “I do remember the first song I tried to learn and because I didn’t try to go from guitar to bass, I never used a pick in my life. Never used one. I can’t get along with them. There was no one to teach me the bass. I taught myself. So I figured you had to put your hands here and then play with your thumb. So I learned to play ‘Louie Louie,'” said Quatro. “But I had a big blister, so then I learned to play like this.”

When asked for her favorite riff, she boasts, “I consider this to be my best bass riff I’ve ever written and I have seen some seriously good bass players do this riff. It’s called ‘Walking Through the Changes.’ Not easy, not easy to play, it’s that deadened string.”

Quatro reveals that she didn’t always make it easy on herself with her bass lines. To demonstrate, she pulls out “She’s in Love With You,” explaining, “I illustrate this when I do my tutorials because the riff is like a machine. You can’t alter it. It’s like a machine. And the vocal, do you hear that? It’s backward.” You can also catch Suzi demonstrating a bit of “Truck Stop” and the super funky “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” as well.

Speaking about her love for the bass, Suzi offers, “I think what you’ve probably noticed by now, my style, for a bass player, it’s very expressive for a bass player. I’m not just playing the notes. I’m getting the light and shade in the notes. I don’t know what that is, but I guess because I’m a bass player in my heart. I actually love the bass. I love the bass notes, I love the runs. It’s really in my heart and soul. I could never be a guitar player, it’s far too delicate.”

Quatro finishes her Gear Factor episode, speaking about the Suzi Q documentary that is being released virtually tomorrow (July 1) and then hitting on demand viewing July 3.

Suzi Q Documentary Trailer

“The documentary has been on my bucket list for a long long time because I always just wanted the record set straight. Everybody that’s in this one wants to be in it. They’re speaking from their heart and you feel it and you start to cry, you know. Alice [Cooper] was wonderful. Debby Harry, bless her heart. Oh she couldn’t have been nicer. Henry Winkler brings me to tears every time. Joan Jett was very sweet. Cherie Curie is good friend of mine. Talking Heads, L7’s Donita Sparks, [The Go-Go’s] Kathy Valentine. I hope I’m not forgetting anybody. They all were just so wonderful,” says the bass legend. “You have to see the film. It’s a terrific documentary, warts and all, and it does put the record straight and it has had rave reviews around the world.”

Watch Suzi Quatro’s Gear Factor below and make sure to get your order in for the July 1 Suzi Q documentary premiere at this location.

Rock Legend Suzi Quatro Plays Her Favorite Bass Riffs

12 Women Who Pioneered Hard Rock + Metal

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22 Years Ago: System of a Down Release Self-Titled Debut

In 1997, when System of a Down signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings, no one knew exactly what to make of them. Like Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine there were elements of metal, punk and funk on System of a Down’s self-titled debut, which came out June 30, 1998. But System of a Down were vocally zanier and their guitars were more frenzied and metallic. Plus, they lacked any real vestiges of hip-hop.

Since they didn’t really fit in the nu-metal category, and couldn’t accurately be called funk rock, pundits scrambled for a category to slot them into and, without too much research, noticed that the members were all Armenian and had spoken before about their contempt for governments — especially Turkey — that still failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the early 1900s. Suddenly, magazine editors were including the band in features about ethnic-centric metal and wrote pieces specifically about the rise of the supposed Armenian metal community, areas System of a Down had little interest in being associated with.

“We’re proud of our heritage and it’s definitely an influence that we don’t want to deny as far as our music and our standing and some of our thinking,” vocalist Serj Tankian told me shortly after the album was released. “It’s just not specifically something that we’re trying to involve in our music, and say, ‘Look we’re Armenian!’ We don’t want to point to it all the time because I don’t think we need an excuse. I don’t think it’s cool to come out and say, ‘Okay, we’re an Armenian band so we’re going to try to capitalize on that.’ We just happen to be Armenian guys who know each other from the community and like to play music.”

System of a Down, “Sugar”

After the breakup of their earlier band, Soil, Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian formed System of a Down in 1994. At first they had trouble finding a drummer, but eventually anchored their rhythm section with John Dolmayan and developed a strong following in the Los Angeles community, which praised their quirky, bombastic sound. In 1997, System recorded a three-song demo that caught the attention of Maverick’s Guy Oseary and Rubin, among others. “There were a number of labels looking at us when Rick and Guy both came and saw one of our shows at the Viper Room,” Tankian said.

“We were actually going to sign with Universal at one point,” added Malakian. “But then we went into their offices and looked at the posters on the walls and what they were promoting and we realized they didn’t have any rock acts. And they didn’t have anything, anybody in there that even knew what to do with rock. It was pretty much a hip-hop/R&B culture that they were building there. As soon as we walked out of that meeting we said, ‘You know, man, we should just go with Rick. He believes in us and he’s not following any trends. He’s just going with his instinct.’”

In no time, System of a Down had signed their deal and booked time to record at Rubin’s legendary mansion. Loaded with enthusiasm and confidence, the young rockers burned through a set of skewed, metallic songs that, at first listen, sounded like a hybrid of Dead Kennedys and Slayer.

“I was totally influenced by Slayer because I grew up a total metalhead,” Malakian said. “When I was four years old, I saw KISS and I was scared as hell, but I was way interested in them. The first record I got was Def Leppard’s Pyromania and from then on I was really into metal, and by the time I was, like, 11, 12 years old, it was Slayer, Metallica and a lot of Bay Area thrash. I liked Overkill and the German stuff like Destruction and Kreator. Then came death metal like Obituary and Morbid Angel — all the Tampa bands. As I got older I was seeking the heavier stuff and when I turned 14, 15, it was just, like, as heavy, you know, and as uncomfortable as I could make it. But then I realized that there’s more to music than heaviness and when I was like 18, 19 years old, I really started listening to Bowie and the Beatles. I actually hadn’t listened to them in my younger years and I was fascinated by how these songwriters could make great, simple songs that were full of melody, but still a little weird. That really changed me and changed the way I looked at music.”

“We have a powerful metal edge,” added Tankian. “But our music has a lot of dynamics that come from different genres. We’re into punk, death metal, metal, classic rock, jazz, gothic, hardcore, grindcore, Middle Eastern music, Armenian music, European music, poetry, funk. When we were kids, we started out listening to one type of music, but as we progressed we were all turned onto different genres. You can only listen to so much metal before you start hungering for more. We intentionally try not to stay in one genre. It’s definitely helped mold out sound into something more dynamic.”

System of a Down, “Suite Pee”

Dynamic is one way to describe the album System of a Down. “Suite Pee” is a galvanic blast as powerful as C4 at a demolition site; “Know,” a song about the Armenian Genocide, is more caustic and angry sounding; and “Spiders” is a frantic web of punk rock insanity. Then there’s “Sugar,” a spazzy, jazz-spattered noise rock freak-out and “Suggestions,” an atmospheric prelude, perhaps to the more melodic strains of their future single “Aerials.”

“We had a lot of fun making the record with Rick and Dave [Sardy],” Tankian said. “It was surprisingly easy. I did the vocals in a tent at Rick’s mansion because the room there was not built as a studio. It’s a study kind of room with windows and cement. So we set up a tent in the middle of the room and put in antique furniture to get the right vibe.”

System of a Down, “Spiders”

The album cover art of an open hand was based on World War II anti-fascist poster by John Heartfield, a member of the Communist Party of Germany. The political commentary fueled critics pegged System of a Down as a political band with the potential to impact the youth as indelibly as Rage Against the Machine had. But calling SOAD a political band is kinda like calling ‘em a metal group.

“It’s part of what we are. But System of a Down is based on something more global,” Tankian said. “Injustice would be one of the main things we look at, but we also talk about sex, mind control, legalizing dope, war, genocide, alternative beliefs on the origins of man and things that are happening in front of our eyes involving the CIA and other groups that we don’t want to see. There are no rules. If we want to write a song about it, we’ll do it.”

System of a Down was certified gold by the RIAA on February 2, 2000. Two years later, after the band’s mega-selling album Toxicity came out, it was certified platinum.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

System of a Down Albums Ranked

11 Unforgettable System of a Down Moments

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The Truth About Sexuality in Rock + Metal

In episode 18 of 50 Years of Heavy Metal, we’re breaking down 100 years of LGBTQA+ representation in music.

Being openly gay in the 1920s wasn’t just rare, it was legitimately dangerous, but gay culture began to blossom in the Roaring ‘20s, especially throughout New York City’s club scene in Harlem, Greenwich Village and Times Square. As the LGBTQA+ community began to freely express themselves in certain spaces, artists began to hint at their sexuality through music.

Blues singer Ma Rainey is credited as a revolutionary figure for her lyrics on sexuality, first addressing the issue on her 1928 cut, “Prove It on Me Blues.”

I went out last night with a crowd of my friends
It must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men
Wear my clothes just like a fan
Talk to the gals just like any old man.

Ma Rainey is also believed to have had a relationship with blues icon Bessie Smith, who’s often credited as a forbearer for what would become rock ‘n’ roll. In 1930, Smith sang about her bisexuality in “The Boy in the Boat.”

When you see two women walking hand in hand
Just look ’em over and try to understand
They’ll go to those parties—have the lights down low
Only those parties where women can go.

Jumping forward to the 1950s, blues musician Billy Wright was one of the few openly gay musicians of his era, and he’s credited with helping Little Richard develop his flamboyant look. So rock and roll wasn’t just created by one gay man in Little Richard, it was created by two black, gay men from the south. As for Little Richard, the original lyrics to his rock n roll opus “Tutti Fruitti” actually read, “Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy.” But the words were later rewritten by an outside lyricist and Little Richard’s ode to life as a gay man was lost on the cutting room floor.

Another man who came out relatively early was Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum. He spoke in-depth about his sexuality with The Advocate in 1993, following a previous interview where he came out to NME. “I never thought it was that important,” Bottum said. “Since I went public I tend to see the prejudice that’s being leveled against homosexuals. Before, I tended to think of it as a gossipy sort of a thing. Now I think of being openly gay as a political statement, something that in some small way furthers the gay rights movement … Kids who are into hard rock and who may be dealing with the possibility of being gay themselves don’t see a lot of positive role models.”

There’s plenty more LGBTQA+ icons in rock and metal like Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale, Jobriath, Tegan & Sara, the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, Marcie Free, Dug Pinnick of King’s X, Otep, Gaahl, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert of Cynic, Husker Du’s Bob Mould, Angel Vivaldi, Placebo’s Brian Molko, Lynn Gunn, Randy ‘Biscuit’ Turner of the Big Boys, Gary Floyd from the Dicks, Life of Agony’s Mina Caputo, Melissa Martinez, Tyler Carter and the most important punk band of the 21st century, GLOSS.

Watch our full retrospective into The Truth About Sexuality in Rock + Metal in the video below. Happy Pride Month!

The Truth About Sexuality in Rock + Metal

26 LGBTQ+ Icons in Rock + Metal

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