Uriah Heep – Live in Ontario, 2018

A few years back, when Uriah Heep played in the US, the closest they came for me was Akron, Ohio – a show a few of us went to. It was a great show, great venue, great crowd. After the show it became apparent that there were a number of us who traveled from Southern Ontario to see the band; someone asked Bernie why the band hadn’t been up to Toronto and his response was “we can’t get arrested up there” – as in no one would book them. Well, fast forward 3 years, in the middle of a snowy and extremely cold winter – and the band played 6 shows in 7 nights in Ontario and Quebec -ALL either sold out or were damn close to being! Shitty weather, no new album to promote – and the people turned out in huge numbers! Who knew!? I was fortunate enough to attend both London and Toronto shows. Below is a brief review and [pardon] some mediocre camera pics 😉


The band’s newest set wastes no time on getting into and has very few softer moments — get to the bar and bathroom before they come on stage!
First appearing is keyboard player Phil Lanzon playing those opening notes to Gypsy, accompanied by Dave Rimmer [bass]. The band came on and roared right into the classic – from their first album in 1970, and followed it up with Look At Yourself and Shadows Of Grief [both from 1971]. Drummer – Russell Gilbrook is such a huge player, that he really drives the band to be heavier, and the fans light up when Mick Box enters the stage for the first track – recognizing just who he is. Bernie Shaw IS the singer for Heep. Not only has he come to own those classics, but he knows how to get reactions out of the crowd and how to get everyone fired up.

The band’s set would carry on with the majority of early 70s material, seeing as Heep has no new album as of yet to promote. It is only a 13 song set, but it includes a few lengthy numbers in The Magicians Birthday and the epic heavy ballad July Morning.

There was also the favorites Stealin, The Wizard, Sunrise — the former 2 being a very few of the Heep tracks that classic rock radio routinely play, and the crowd knew them word for word. there were a handful of post glory-days songs in the set – The Law from 2014’s “Outsider” album, which is an interesting choice, as it changes the pace a bit [it is the only song in the set that seems to allow the crowd to settle down a bit], as well as One Minute [from the same album] – which many in the crowd recognized, it is a great live number. Between Two Worlds [from 1998’s “Sonic Origami”] is met with great response from the crowd; it is a heavy song and features 2 killer solos from Mick, so if anyone didn’t know this song beforehand – they’d remember it afterwards!


The set closes with the acoustic track Lady In Black, from 1971. Not a hit at the time, but was a huge hit years later in Europe [upon re-release], and became a big crowd favorite, as it allows for Bernie to get the audience’ participation. An odd way to end things, but hey after a lot of noise – the band came back out and do their biggest hit and recognizable song – Easy Livin. And despite all the re-records and live versions on record — this has never sounded heavier or better [especially in Toronto, I really liked the sound in the Phoenix theatre].


It was 90 minutes full of energy and classic songs. Part of that may be the point that these guys are really having a good time – I hope the band doesn’t wait a whole year [as Bernie said they’d be back next year after the new album is released this fall] – Heep could/should come back sooner than later, lots of other cities to add to the list. Regardless, looking forward to the new album and Next tour!

KJJ, March ’18


Mark Stanway – Interview with British Keyboard Legend, ex of Magnum


Mark Stanway was a member of the legendary band Magnum from 1980, util his sudden departure in 2016. The band being a fine mix of hard-rock, pop, and prog – Mark’s contributions to the band’s recordings were a major part of the band’s sound. Since his departure from Magnum, he has kept busy getting new projects going, which will be of major interest to Magnum fans, as well as those that remember the band Grand Slam [w/ Phil Lynott, RIP].


In this interview, Mark shares some recollections from his early days, his time with Magnum, and what he is currently up to and has in the works for the future.


Check out more on Mark’s history, his upcoming gigs and projects, stories, and to order his book – http://www.markstanway.co.uk  

Also, check out Mark’s youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk2kj8h6oEzGDk4tAxElW_A


Can you give me a ‘top 10’ of your favourite recordings/LPs growing up in the 60s and 70s?
Beatles: Sgt Pepper, Revolver, White Album, Rubber Soul, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream: Disraeli Gears, Led Zeppelin 1 & 2, Jimmy Hendrix, Billy Cobham: Spectrum, Focus: Moving Waves, Camel: The Snowgoose. Jeff Beck
You were heavily influence by jazz, as well as John Mayall. Do you have any favorite pop/rock keyboard players who you picked up from and admired over the years?
Jon Lord, Don Airey, Tony Carey, Tony Hymas, Jan Hammer, and the list goes on

Your first big gig was playing with Alvin Stardust, who was on Magnet Records. I also assume you’re in / were in Wolverhampton [!?] . curious if you could recall a tale from those days or from any of those Wolverhampton bands – Trapeze, Fable…?
Yes I played with the guys from Trapeze (individually) and knew them all well.

You joined Magnum in 1980. what were you first impressions of the band and their music at the time?
I liked the fact that it was keyboard orientated rock at the time, I knew all the guys before I joined also

You played on so many Great Magnum albums. Looking back at the run the band had throughout the 80s from Chasing The Dragon on – what were/are some of your proudest or favorite moments on record? Fave contributions , solos, intros….
Obviously the intro to Sacred Hour (which my wife actually wrote and I adapted for the record but was refused a credit, being a new boy at the time I didn’t argue, but all of the albums from Chase the Dragon all the way up to 1995, when Tony split the band up – were all good albums and I was given a fair bit of freedom with the keyboard parts and

Magnum had a huge following in the UK, but never really broke through in North America. And why would you think the band never made it huge over here or managed to get on regular tours here?

Yes as we only ever played there once supporting Ozzy in 1982. So that’s why we never cracked the States as we didn’t go there again

You worked briefly with Phil Lynott in his solo band and Grand Slam. What impressed you most about Phil – as a person [friend] and as a writer / musician?
I worked with Phil from Summer 1983 on his solo tour and continued to work with him and formed Grand Slam up until late 1984. Phil was a great friend, great sense of humour, great writer and deliverer of lyrics and open to all contributions from me at all times. A true star and sadly still miss him so much

During Gland Slam you guys recorded and performed “Dedication”, a song many only know as a Thin Lizzy song [which it wasn’t really]. What do you recall of recording/performing this one and any other new tracks you guys were working on?

Dedication was written by Laurence Archer for Grand Slam (lyrics were by Phil, the music by Laurence), and we performed it many times,   I have all the recordings (mostly on cassettes that we ever did) and we worked on many tracks together including, Military Man which I actually co-wrote, Sisters of Mercy, Slam, Gay Boys and many more – all of which I co wrote also


During your time with Magnum, songs were [are] always written by Tony Clarkin. Was that the deal when you joined and did you ever put forth material?
Tony always wrote the songs, which was not negotiable! I obviously contributed keyboard parts and arrangements

How did a Magnum song evolve in the studio – because your keyboards were a huge part of the band’s sound, and there was plenty of room for grand intros and solos. [!?]
Tony would, back in the day – just come to the studio and play his song ideas with just an acoustic guitar and they evolved from that really; that is up until the time he got a computer and learned how to record his demos at home.

I did not really get Magnum until I got Into The Valley Of The Moonking to review when it came out, and from there I was hooked [and am still trying to fill in gaps in my collection]. Again, for you – what are the highlights on record and as far as the live shows from 2002 til 2016? and can you shed any insight into a few of those fantastic keyboard intros – When We Were Younger, Live Til You Die, Crazy Old Mothers….?
I used to take the demos home and work on parts in my own small studio and then take them back to the recording studio and some were used and some were not, I still have copies on CD of the stuff I did even the stuff that was not used.

Can you or will you ever shed any light into the reasons for leaving the band in 2016? 

Yes in time or maybe my next book (which I have started), which would enable me to answer the question comprehensively which cannot be done properly in a few paragraphs or an interview. Its like trying to tell someone why their 36 year marriage came to an end!! There are 36 years worth of small reasons which accumulated and
came to a head which basically made my decision/mind up for me.

You wrote and released your own book in 2015. Now, I’m only part way in to it – but there are some hilarious stories. How exactly did you determine that you should do this and how has feedback been, particularly from a few of those mentioned in some of the stories?
The book continues to sell and I started writing it years ago, it is all 100% positive stuff about Magnum but I was never allowed to sell it at Magnum shows which obviously resulted in the serious potential loss of sales. It was after my book was released that tensions arose which still baffles me to this day.

You’ve been very busy since leaving – reforming Grand Slam, solo shows….what else am I missing?

My ‘Evening With’ Shows are taking priority at the moment as I still have to earn a living etc, but also do a lot of Raffles on my facebook group page for local causes which is worthwhile and fun albeit very time consuming. I am also when we get the chance writing new Grand Slam Material with Laurence for a proposed new album as and when time permits. I am also looking at putting an all star band together for late autumn (again if I get the time)

What’s the status on a new Grand Slam album? when will it be out and who will be writing and playing on it? will there some of Phil’s songs used?
We have a live recording and DVD from Sweden Rock 2 years ago which we will also get round to mixing and finishing which does have the old Grand Slam songs included. (The rest of the answer to this question is answered in the previous questions response )

You’ve done a few solo shows (?) – what do these shows consist of – as far as material performed and guests who perform with you?
I have only done 1 show so far and you should get to one, as they will vary from show to show dependant on the availability of friends and guest artists.

Do you foresee yourself putting together a band and/or writing and recording a solo album?
Yes again as time permits, I have several songs waiting to be recorded when the time is right and convenient

Do you buy / listen to a lot of music at home? and anything in particular these days?
I always listen to music at home and watch very little TV, and what I listen to always depends on my mood at the time so it could be anything from Debussy, Stevie Wonder, Gino Vannelli, especially anything by Jeff Beck, all the way through to Art Tatum, Meades Lux Lewis and Fats Waller!!


Interview, Kevin J. / Feb. ’18




Peter Goalby & Uriah Heep In The 80s

Uriah Heep entered the ’80s on a downward slide. Conquest was released in 1980, and following the departure of Ken Hensley, and eventually the whole Conquest line-up – the band had split up in ’81. Mick Box would revamp the band welcoming back Lee Kerslake, and adding Bob Daisley [bass], John Sinclair [keys], and lastly singer Peter Goalby. the latter had not been chosen in previous auditions [in favor of Sloman]. Producer Ashley Howe highly recommended Goalby this time, and the band got to work on a new album.
Abominog was released to strong reviews, and the single “Thats The Way That It Is” [penned by Paul Bliss] – charted in various countries, including the US where the video for the song was in regular rotation on MTV. the band toured extensively – everywhere, making a very respectable return to North America. the band’s follow up was “Head First” – with less outside penned tracks, but with record company problems at Bronze and at Mercury [North America], the album suffered on promotion and getting out there, particularly in North America where changes at Mercury pre-determined the album’s fate. for me this was a stronger album – particularly side 2 – the Best LP side from the band during the ’80s.

Following Head First’s released, Bob Daisley left Heep and returned to work with Ozzy Osbourne, and Trevor Bolder rejoined [after recording one album with Wishbone Ash]. After some big tours [supporting Def Leppard, Judas Priest, etc…] – the band was out of a record deal, with Bronze eventually folding. They signed to Portrait [a label under CBS] and recorded with the “Equator” album. Instead of Ashley Howe, Tony Platt was brought in to produce [credits included Samson, Iron Maiden, Krokus, AC/DC…] . For whatever reason, in the mix and use of then-modern technology, the album’s sound was tough to handle for many fans, and the MTV aimed pop of “Rockarama” turned off many [despite it being a big single release and video]. But, take the songs, and there are a number of gems on this album.  The band would be back out on a huge world tour, which eventually got to be too much for Goalby – who left in 1986, to get out of “the circus”, and focus on other things in his life. John Sinclair also left [joining Ozzy’s band, as well]. Phil Lanzon [ex Grand Prix, Sweet] joined and has gone on to be a major writer for the band.

Initially the band chose American Stephen [Stef] Fontaine [ex Joshua], as their new singer. Nothing was recorded during the time, and for various reasons Fontaine was left in the US, following a 3 month North American tour. Fontaine did fit the 80s stuff vocally, and was a big fan of the Goalby era. “I love the Equator album with a passion! For some reason very few people bought that, but it’s my favorite Uriah Heep record.”
By the new year the band chose transplanted Canadian singer Bernie Shaw [ex Grand Prix, Stratus], and went on to their historic concerts in Moscow, thus releasing “Live In Moscow” [with 3 new songs in the set]. They would try and repeat the success of Abominog with the recording of “Raging Silence’, which would feature a number of outside-penned tracks, most notably a cover of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” and the big single “Blood Red Roses” – which had been penned for the band by Peter Goalby! The album received favorable reviews, but didnt succeed where Abominog had. the band would continue to tour, and would enter the 90s with a line-up that would last for another 16 years.
Following his departure from Heep, Goalby released a solo single, guested on a few recordings [most notably Slade], and in 1992 contributed to John Parr’s “Man In Motion” album, co-writing and playing rhythm guitar on 3 tracks – including the single “It’s Startin All Over Again”. There was also a live performance of War Of The Worlds with Uli Roth, in ’92 [which included a few other singers and orchestra].
Peter Goalby would also get a publishing deal with Rondor Music, and record some demos for a solo album – which never ended up being finished or released. Some of these tracks are easily available through youtube, and showed promise. A shame they were never done, and a bit sad that Goalby dropped out of making music and performing; opting to go on [with great success] working behind the scenes for a guitar company and in latter years a road case company. He was an underrated writer and solid singer and he played a major role and who contributed greatly to Heep’s resurrection and success in the ’80s.

Here’s my list of 10 Heep classics from the Peter Goalby era – 

Too Scared To Run
This song kicked off Abominog and the band’s comeback with a huge riff, a heavy rocker that gets you in to this album right away.

Chasing Shadows
Another song from Goalby. I love the 1-2 punch of the beginning of Abominog. Just a great song. Huge solo from Mick!

On The Rebound
I know many will disagree with this one being included. Yes – it’s a cover, it’s got a synth bass line [because Daisley hated it], and it’s very poppy. But – it was chosen to show that the band could do new things. and i’ve said before – you can not go wrong with a Russ Ballard song!

Sell Your Soul
From Abominog. Lee Kerslake kills this. I think playing on the the 2 Blizzard of Ozz albums really played a part in his performance on the Goalby era albums. Love the vocal, the guitar, a very heavy track, and must’ve been great live!

Red Lights
Following the “Roll-Overture” that opens side 2 of Head First. “Red Lights” comes blaring in . It’s one of the hardest hitting, fast rockers of the Goalby era. Great driving song!

Weekend Warriors

The closing song to Head First, and it’s another heavy power rocker. During this era the band closed each album with such a track. Lee and Bob sounded so good together, like this song is as heavy as anything on the BOZ albums. Wish i had lyrics to this album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDO_KbIsrfY

Bad Blood
A great little forgotten rocker from Equator. Ya know, for all the ballads, covers, and a few too poppy tunes the band did during this era, they really did A Lot of great guitar rock tunes, with Mick Box really coming to the forefront of the bands sound, far more than the 70s.

Poor Little Rich Girl
I love this one – the acoustic, the solo, the vocal. as close to an epic as Heep got in the 80s. One of Goalby’s proudest moments, tho he wasn’t happy with the string piece in the middle. It was a single, and a classic Heep tune IMO.

Backstage Girl
A b-side. I’ve always loved this tune. Despite 80s Heep being more guitar heavy, keyboardist John Sinclair came up with a lot of great intros. This one was penned about Goalby’s best four-legged friend, who he took to the odd few shows with a Heep shirt on.

Night of The Wolf
Equator included a few really good rockers [and a few duds]. This one being my favoite. love the spooky intro from John Sinclair, before the band comes in and blazes away. Goalby was so good at these type of songs, big vocal! this is one that must’ve been something live, and one from the 80s that’d be cool to hear in the band’s live set now.

Peter Goalby’s Pre-Heep Recordings- 

Fable – Fable
Produced by Peter Shelley, who would create the Alvin Stardust character, and had co-founded Magnet Records. Mike Stone was a co-engineer on this album – Stone would go on to engineer and/or produce Queen, Journey, April Wine, Whitesnake, Helix, and numerous others. Fable was a 5 piece band, who’d release a few singles and this lone LP. Peter Goalby wrote 8 of the 10 tracks, was lead singer, as well as contributing guitar, mandolin and violin.
This is kind of a middle of the road pop-rock album, drawing in a number of different sounds and styles. nothing really heavy, but a number of good songs such as “She Knows How To Love Me” [co-written by Goalby and keyboardist Paul Robbins], “Four Horsemen” [penned by Robbins, who was a big CSNY fan, as the band would regularly perform CSNY tunes in their set], the quirkie “Google Eye Eye”, and rockin “Hard Times” [penned by Robbins]. Fave track is Goalby’s “Madolin” , a neat little upbeat folk-pop track, featuring mandolin, with an intro curiously like Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” [interesting to note that Queen was recording around the same time with Mike Stone, in the same studios].
The cover appears to be a tree with the band’s name carved in it. Looks neat on the front, but makes the lyrics on the back [in white] difficult to read. This album also saw a few single releases with picture sleeves, so there must’ve been some push in promoting it early on. I wonder how it did!? Good luck finding a copy!
“We were a very very good cover band, 5-piece, everyone sang. ..I started to write songs and then we started to get noticed, then the other guys started to write a bit….No real direction – just pleased that we had some of our own stuff to play.”

Both Peter Mackie and Paul Robbins would go on to work with Roy Wood [ex The Move, ELO]. Not sure what became of the others, but would be curious to know [!?]
Following Fable, Magnet was only interested in re-signing Goalby, but wanted to groom him as a pop singer [Magnet had a roster of pop and glam acts]. He recorded a few solo singles, as well as writing for others — he penned the hit “The Bump” for Zig Zag, as well as the follow up – “Keep On Bumpin” – both produced by Barry Blue! John Fiddy would produce as well as handle orchestra arrangements on one of Goalby’s solo singles [Fiddy had previously worked on Heep’s “Salisbury”]. – “They put me in the studio with a guy who put loads of strings on my songs and took them down the Jack Jones route.” . When he asked by Magnet boss Michael Levy [Lord Levy] what He wanted – Goalby told him he wanted to be a rock singer, and left Magnet soon after.

At some point before Trapeze, Goalby was in Blackmore’s Rainbow for a month, after playing a song he wrote in to the phone for Blackmore and then going to New York [likely around the same time as Mark Clarke] – “I found Ritchie very difficult. I did not know what he really wanted, I just could not fit in.” 

Trapeze – Hold On / Live In Texas
Following his solo deal, and turning down a few band opportunities – Goalby joined Trapeze as singer and 2nd guitarist, to aid Mel Galley. This line-up also featured Pete Wright on bass and the late Dave Holland on drums. In what would be the last Trapeze studio, Goalby penned 3 tracks – the single “Don’t Ask Me How I Know”, “When You Go To Heaven”, and “Livin On Love” – all solid tracks on this album. This album is a big step up from the lighter Fable and his poppy solo single since. Co-Produced by Jimmy Miller – known for his work with the Stones, and who’d go on to work briefly with Heep, with sessions that were never finished or released.
Trapeze went out on tour [they were always big in certain areas of the US, most notably Texas]. “Live In Texas – Dead Armadillos” was released in 1981, but by then Goalby had opted to join Uriah Heep. The band was huge in Texas, but management couldnt get the band support much beyond that. “I remember the next time we toured America, we were special guests to Nazareth. when we hit Houston they asked if we wanted to go on second. Mel said No, and when we finished our set – most of the crowd left with us!” This is a great energetic live set, featuring 6 Trapeze classics, and Goalby sounding like he always belonged. It was his first time playing in the US. Also featured Steve Bray on drums, who would briefly join The Byron Band!

More on Trapeze another time….

KJJ, 03/18

Peter Goalby quotes – 2002 KJJ


URIAH HEEP – Mick Box on Recording the band’s Upcoming album and Huge North American Tour!

February of 2018 marks the return of Uriah Heep to Canada, and the start of the band’s biggest North American tour in decades! The list includes 36 shows – starting in Ottawa, Ontario, and eventually on to the US from the east coast to west and back up to Vancouver [Bernie Shaw’s home province British Columbia], and ending in Calgary, Alberta on May 1.
For the latest dates, check out > http://www.uriah-heep.com . You can also go to the site and let other fans know which shows you’ll be attending [I’ll be at London and Toronto, Ontario]

The band has just completed recording a new album – “Living The Dream”, which won’t be out for several months, and something Heep fans are eagerly awaiting and pre-ordering – https://www.pledgemusic.com/uriahheep

Check out Mick’s blog at http://www.mick-box.net


The recording for the new album went fairly quick!? How prepared were you guys [with new songs written] before recording?
We were very prepared as we had a 2 week pre-production before hand, so most of the ideas were in place, and it was just a matter of a nip and tuck here and there once Jay Ruston our Producer was involved in the studio. We finished the recording process in under 3 weeks which was just amazing.

I can’t imagine there’s too much you can tell at this point [too early?] – but are there any details you can give regarding Living The Dream?
It is a typical Heep album with all of our usual trademarks. The harmonies, organ sound, and the wah wah guitar etc. 

Is everything written by yourself and Phil Lanzon?
Everything basically, but one song Bernie had a hand in the lyrics and one that Davey wrote with Jeff Scott Soto.

How was working with Jay Ruston? He’s done a lot of cool albums! Who recommended him?
Jay was fantastic to work with and he brought out the best in each of us in a very understated way. When we started hearing back the first track that we recorded we knew we had the right man. He became part of the Heep family vey quickly.
We were fans of his from his work with THE WINERY DOGS, STONE SOUR, BLACK STAR RIDERS, PAUL GILBERT AND EUROPE to name but a few..

uh - jay r

Living The Dream won’t be out until the fall [that’s a long wait for us ;-)] . Will any of the new songs work their way in to the live show before then?
It is still in the process of being mixed. We do not usually put songs in our set until the release of the album. If we did then they would be all over the media sites and there would be no impact on the release.

You are coming to North America in a few weeks, and in particular [for me] Canada! This will be the first time Heep plays in Ontario since 1993. How did getting the band here finally come about?
We now have management Ace Trump & Adam Parsons along with an agent Keith Naisbitt of APA Agency USA who believe in the band, and they made it happen. Previously we had been in a bit of no-mans land and we were not being driven to capacity in that market, which is a real shame.

Bernie must be excited?
That’s a big understatement!

Will the set list be changed much from recent shows? will it still feature a number of Outsider tracks and any old surprises?
We will perform a musical journey throughout our career starting with the first album and finishing with the last one ‘Outsider.’ 

It must get tough when an album – such as Into The Wild and Outsider have had their tour in the live show and you have to decide what stays and goes in the setlist!?
It usually sorts itself out in the end . There is only so much we can play each night, so once we get to rehearsals and the energy and ideas flow, it usually comes together reasonably quickly.

In recent years you guys have struck up a friendship with Alice Cooper [who’s on tour here at the same time].
Yes, we have become good friends with Alice. In fact Bernie and I did a tour in Germany with Alice called the ‘Rock Meets Classic,’ tour. This was with a 40 piece orchestra from Prague in the Czech Republic. Bernie and I used to get up each night and play ’Schools Out,’ with Alice on his encore. Alice also told us that he used our song ‘Lady in Black,’ as his warm up song, so there was mutual admiration there. He is a great guy.

Can you tell me a bit about the connection to Alice and his support with One Minute?
Alice Kindly played ‘One Minute,’ from our ‘Outsider,’ CD on his radio show.

Phil released an outstanding album recently. Will any tidbits of it feature in the shows? and will he be bringing some copies to sell over here?
That is Phil’s project so no tidbits and he is planning to sell them at shows.

The band had a strong following in such cities as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal… do you have any great memories or a few stories to share from any places in Canada?
I remember way back when playing in Toronto with Rory Gallagher and being totally blown away by him. He was the first guitarist I saw play pinched harmonics, and he did a whole solo on them. He was something special and a super great player and singer. He is sadly missed. 

Lastly, the band has their own label and has been re-issuing a few things from the past few decades [Raging Through The Silence, Totally Driven…] – will there be something new in 2018 from the vaults?
I am sure there will be as things are constantly surfacing at a rate of knots.

‘Appy days!
Mick Box

Ronnie James Dio – 1996 Interview

With the release of the ‘Angry Machines’ album I had the opportunity to do a phone interview with the legendary Ronnie James Dio. Angry Machines was a very heavy album, with Dio sounding up to date in the metal scene; unfortunately in retrospect, I don’t think it was one of the better ones [in retrospect I had/have a hard time getting into any Dio albums beyond the original Dio band!]
Dio was a great conversation. a few months later he performed at a club in Buffalo. I did get in line [outside – in the winter] to try and meet him and get a few things signed. He was very polite and accommodating to all those waiting. when I asked if Vinny was signing anything – he stepped back and called him to come sign my stuff. Class act. RIP.

An edited version of this interview originally appeared in Extreme magazine [our local free music mag] at the time. some time later some religious wacko opted to use parts of this interview to support his usual crap railing Satanism in heavy metal. I think he ended up on the run for some kid crime! https://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Rock-n-Roll/ronnie_james_dio.htm

*I also got to see Last In Line last year [with Vivian Campbell and Vinnie Appice] – a great show, and it was nice to attend the meet n greet — a shame Vivian and Ronnie hadn’t patched things up years back – neither was ever as good without the other IMO!

I also have NO interest in the Dio hologram show! I could ramble on about this [I did in a previous blog post], nor the numerous cash-in releases that have been put out since Ronnie’s passing.  I will highly recommend the Jorn Lande Dio tribute album that he did – far superior to the This Is Your Life release!


from ’96 : Dio came to fame as original frontman for Ritchie Blackmore’s RAINBOW in the mid-70s, singing on 3 classic studio LPs, and 1 excellent double live set, before leaving and replacing Ozzy Osbourne in BLACK SABBATH in 1980. With SABBATH, Dio sang and wrote on one my favorite SABBATH albums – “Heaven And Hell”, as well as the excellent follow-up “Mob Rules”, and then departing amongst feuds and controversy following the double live set “Live Evil” in ’82. Following SABBATH, Dio went on to front his own band DIO, which originally included guitarist Vivian Campbell (ex of SWEET SAVAGE and now of glam wanna-be’s – DEF LEPPARD), drummer Vinny Appice (also from SABBATH, and still with DIO !), bassist Jimmy Bain (from RAINBOW; the guy who looks like Mr. Bean!)), and keyboardist Claude Schnell.  DIO’s first 3 studio albums were huge spanning the years 1983 to ’85, far surpassing any success of his former bands that were still going. After the live “Intermission” set, Campbell left DIO to be replaced with guitarist Craig Goldie for the “Dream Evil” album. 1990’s “Lock Up The Wolves” saw Dio change his whole band by bringing in 18 year old guitarist Rowan Robertson, bassist Teddy Cole, drummer Simon Wright (ex AC/DC), and keyboardist Jens Johansson. Following that DIO gave up his own band for a much publicized reunion with BLACK SABBATH. Following the release of the album “Dehumanizer” and a subsequent tour Dio left SABBATH again under nasty circumstances. He immediately put together a new DIO band with Appice, guitarist Tracy G. (ex of WORLD WAR 3), and bassist Jeff Pilson (of DOKKEN). 1993’s “Strange Highways” went by with little publicity in North America, and a poor push from the record company. Now DIO is back with one of his heaviest and best sounding albums to date — “Angry Machines.”


Q : I wanted to ask a few things about you personally because Ronnie James Dio is not seen in the public eye as much. I don’t think there’s a lot known about you compared to some people who’s every antic is in the paper. Can you tell me about you as a person, and family, and some of your thoughts?
RJD : I’m from a small town in up-state New York called Cortland. I moved to LA about 20 years ago; I wanted to get out of the cold weather — as everybody does, I’m sure ! My wife is my manager. We don’t have any children. I’ve spent my whole life doing this, I think. Maybe that’s why it’s not so interesting. I started playing the trumpet when I was 5 years old, which was great training for me as a singer. It taught me the correct way to do it because I’ve not taken singing lessons from anyone. I went to the University of Buffalo; I was a pharmacy major. After I finished my University education I did what I always wanted to do — which was to become a musician ! From that time I decided to be a musician it was a matter of traveling all the time and loving every minute of it. And then to be lucky enough to form a band with Ritchie Blackmore from DEEP PURPLE , and then to be in SABBATH after that, and to have the great success with DIO that we did after that! Most of it’s been working; it’s been a pretty normal life other than the musical part of it.

Q : Do you have many thoughts on politics and religion?
RJD : I don’t dote on religion. Religion, I think, is something that you can never argue, and you can certainly never convince the other person because even though there’s a bible — how concrete is it ? It depends on the point of view. So religion is not something I’m involved in, other than the fact that having been in BLACK SABBATH it seems like there’s a connection. I just think there’s a lot of similes and metaphors and things that have gotten me to that point. Religion, much like fantasy, much like the tales of King Arthur is, again, something that is so difficult to put a hand on and say “this actually happened.” It’s such a matter of belief that you’re really dealing in the same kind of properties. My fantasy writing is coupled with some religious overtones as well because they are part and partial to, again — they’re not the same thing, but you see what I mean. As for politics, I’ve not gotten involved because my time is taken doing what I do as a performer. I do deal with charities though. There are some that are very close to my heart, but politically I just feel that we’re in a mess. Bureaucracy has continually eaten itself by the tail, and it’s a problem that never ends. It’s gotten too big and it’s a horrible place we live in ! A lot of that has to go down to the government. It’s our government and it’s up to us to change it. We can throw all the barbs we want at the people we elect, but we’re the ones who elected them so it’s our choice. But again, the 2 subjects are pretty unarguable, so I stay away from them.

Q : In reference to the track “Dying In America,” from the new album, is that partially where that sprang from?
RJD : It is. That one, of course, from the dissatisfaction that I see within myself from the people who appear never to be able to have anything. We want education for our children — of course we should have education for our children, but to what end ? We try to prepare them to be the viable citizens, who are going to be able to get a job, and that’s impossible right off the start — so that’s a problem. From drive-by shootings to serial murders, all of the things we experience — cataclysmic extremes with the weather, what we’ve done to the ecology, AIDS, the list goes on and on — it’s a pretty miserable place ! And I just needed to make a statement, as an American, that this is not the rosy little garden path that everyone thinks it is in the rest of the world. We have as many problems with homeless and the under-educated, etc, etc — then anyone does ! In fact we’re a first rate nation with a lot of third world attitudes inside of it. So yeah, that track’s about that ! “Big Sister” is another politically motivated track. It’s kind of a take-off of the “Big Brother” situation from Orwell’s “1984,” but in this case I substituted the feminine attitude for government. But hey, if you change it and put politics inside of it it’s the same thing.

Q : You did the “Stars” thing many years ago, and you mentioned charities. What sort of things do you still do?
RJD : I’ve been involved with a charity here in Los Angeles called “Children Of The Night.” It’s a charity founded by a woman named Dr. Lois Lee, who is now a psychiatrist or psychologist. And she went out on the streets all by herself and would find young kids who had traveled here to LA, and who were about to be pressed into prostitution or drug use or drug sales — whatever the case may be. She went out and took these people in to her own home. The reason being that — when we talk about government, what the government does in that situation is they’ll find a runaway and send that runaway back to probably the exact same dysfunctional attitude he or she came from . What she did, because it’s a private charity, was keep these kids until they were 18 years old and prepared for a life on the streets without drugs, and without prostitution. Unfortunately a lot them have AIDS, so it’s to help them ease the remaining part of their lives. I’ve been involved in this charity for 11 years now, and we’ve been able to build a shelter for them in Los Angeles, a wonderful facility, with a lot of wonderful people contributing too ! Among them are Ozzy Osbourne, Richard Marx — just a lot of people who care.

Q : That’s great ! You used to play bass in ELF. Do you still play at all ?
RJD : Actually this year and the last time we did an album (“Strange Highways”), I played for about 2 or 3 months as we were writing the project because at different points Jeff Pilson, our bass player, was not available. So I kept my hand in it a little bit, but it makes me realize, as I did when I chose singing instead of bass playing (because I did both), was you have to be pretty damned good at one or the other. You just can’t kind of coast through being good at one and not the other. I decided my joy was in singing, so that’s why I stopped playing bass. But every time I do play it brings me back to the realization of why I did that. Boy — the old wrist hurts, I’ll tell you!!

Q : I was reading an interview with your cousin Dave Feinstein (ex THE RODS) in a fanzine and he talked about your early days with ELF. What was your first recording, and what can you remember of those days?
RJD : The first ELF album was just called “Elf.” We did that in Atlanta, Georgia, produced by Ian Paice and Roger Glover of DEEP PURPLE. It was great — two of our heroes were producing the album. It was just great to be around them. It was real quick. I played bass on that album, and we did almost everything live. We went in and I played and sang at the same time. We just did it and away it went ! It wasn’t like where each instrument was done separately in a different studio, you know — with that craziness. We were very well prepared; it was a good band. We played together for a long time, grew up together. So we just went in and “bang” — did it ! It was so much fun to do and it was a really good album as well.

Q : What were your favorite bands and musicians back then?
RJD : Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, King Crimson. I liked King Crimson a lot, and The Beatles, of course!

Q : You were involved in “The Butterfly Ball” project. You did the tracks on the album, but you weren’t part of the live show!?
RJD : I didn’t do the live show. At that time we’d just put RAINBOW together, Ritchie and I, and he felt it was not something that I should do, that we should be concentrating on the RAINBOW thing and not me side-tracked by that. It was his band, and he was another one of my heroes, so I figured he knew what he was doing . In retrospect I’m quite glad I didn’t do the show.

Q : Do you still have contact with Roger (Glover) and Ritchie? Any of those guys?
RJD : Ritchie lives on the other side of the continent in New York, so I only get to speak to him through people that we both know. Roger, the same — I haven’t seen him in a long while, but we’ve all remained friends. It’s nothing like it’s been blown up to be in the press, you know — “Ritchie’s the most difficult man on earth to work with!”. He probably is for everybody else, but he never was for me. I have nothing but the best to say about Ritchie. He’s the one who gave me my first great opportunity and I learned a hell of a lot from him

Q : What were the circumstances that you left BLACK SABBATH the first time, and then the second?
RJD : Well, the first time I left it was just over some stupidity about the live album we were doing — “Live Evil.” The engineer was drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels a day and told Tony and Geezer he thought Vinny and I were sneaking in to the studio and turning the vocals and drums up. As their want — they believed it, and that lead to the break-up of that one. It was all completely untrue and absolutely stupid ! When we did reform in ’92 the apologies went all the way around. The second time was because of the shows I was told we were going to do. We had all our shows booked in LA and now we were going to change that to become the opening act for Ozzy — which I refused to do ! I didn’t do it out of a personal thing with Ozzy – I couldn’t care less about him. But it was — here we were trying to get this band back on the road together, trying to reform this band and make it special again — and now, suddenly, we were going to be the opening act for the Ex lead singer ! AND I also knew that when that show came that they were going to announce the reunion between the 4 of them — which did happen ! So what was the sense of my doing the show to bolster their careers, they obviously didn’t care less about mine. So that was the end of that!

Q : Do you think you were misunderstood in the press at the time?
RJD : Well, I said exactly as I’ve said to you. “Misunderstood” — I don’t think is the word. The thing is that everybody continually believes the things that they hear about me — that I’m some kind of “Hitler” figure. People who know me will tell you absolutely different. You know, I don’t need to defend myself. Was I misunderstood ? Yes, I think so, because of the perception people have that of course it’s my fault, that 2 unassuming gentlemen — Geezer and Tony, couldn’t possibly make any kind of wrong decision. In that matter that it had to be Dio who was wrong. Those are my beliefs. My beliefs were that I gave up the DIO band and they gave up nothing ! They had BLACK SABBATH and were lucky enough to get Vinny and I to come back and do it ! And at the end of the day our preferences weren’t given any credibility. When that happens you have no communication, which is what we didn’t have and spelled the break-up. I can only tell my version of the truth and I believe what I know is correct. Others will hear other things. I think a lot of it was the Ronnie versus Ozzy thing that cropped up for some reason or another. I don’t know why, because it’s never really bothered me what Ozzy does — I’m happy for his success. But it was that more than anything else, you know — “oh that I disrespected Ozzy” or something — like I really care!

Q : About the recording of the “Dehumanizer” album — how genuine was the reunion ? How tense was it from the beginning?
RJD : I think it was always going to be tense. It had been 10 years since we’d done anything, and we hadn’t talked to each other or anything. When you get thrown back in the situation it was a lot of success and a lot of failure had gone down the road in that time. They hadn’t exactly been knocking the socks off anybody, and we had great success with the first 3 DIO albums. We both kind of reached a medium ground, and we were presented with each other as equals as opposed to the first time when they were BLACK SABBATH and I had just come out of RAINBOW, and Vinny was an unknown. So, the footing was very different. But yeah, there was some tension there. We made the best of it. We had intended for it to not be anything but a lot of albums to come, a lot of touring, and perhaps end our careers that way. But once again, circumstances and personalities dictated other things, so that was that ! The tension was good; it was a great album, and the reason it’s a great album is because there was tension. If we had fallen into each others’ arms with love and adulation it probably would have been the biggest, sappiest piece of crap on Earth.

Q : Do you still have contact with any of those guys?
RJD : I do with Geezer, again through other people, and Tony through other people. You know, I love those guys, I always have, I always will. It was never a personal thing with me — NEVER ! It just turns out that way more in the press than anything else. I still care for them very much, and we do speak, but again through other people.

Q : A few years ago I read that there was to be a Retrospect video on you that would feature some early RAINBOW and ELF footage — has that ever been released?
RJD : I don’t know anything about it, really — wish I did, it sounds interesting ! ELF footage (?) — I think there is some from when we toured with DEEP PURPLE. The unfortunate thing to me was that we, DIO, never made a live album. I think that was an opportunity well missed — not missed by us, but missed by the record company.

Q : The “Intermission” release was close!?
RJD : Yes, but it’s still not the same. That was a compromise. It was “OK we know you really want to do a live album, well we’ll let you do half of it live, and the other half…”. That’s not representative of the live show. So I don’t consider “Intermission” to be an ultimate live album.

Q : Your voice is in incredibly good shape. Do you practice a lot?
RJD : I’ve never really had much problem with my voice, and I think a lot of that has to do with technique — you know how to do it. It’s like having good tools, and with good tools you build a good house, if you’ve got a bad saw — you’re going to cut crooked. I’ve never had a problem; I’ve never had to cancel a show. I hope that continues. It’s just a real tough vocal performance for me every year, and every year I say I’m going to write songs in a lower key so I don’t have to kill myself. But every time I write them higher and higher. The show is very bruising for a singer; not a lot of rest, continuous music. So again, touch wood, I’ve been pretty lucky with that.

Q : On the back of the new album there is 3 of you (pictured) — you, Vinny, and Tracy. Jeff’s not there — is he an actual member of the band or …?
RJD : Well, we always considered Jeff a member of the band, but Jeff’s been doing the DOKKEN project for a while. They did one album a couple of years ago and now they’re doing another. That was a commitment that he had that we knew about, so we didn’t have any other choice but to wait around for Jeff until he was able to write and record with us — which he did. When it came time to do a photo for the album management said that they thought it would be confusing if Jeff was included on the album picture. So it was nothing to do with us. We wanted Jeff’s picture there, and I still think it’s stupid that he wasn’t there; after all, he contributed — so why should that have anything to do with DOKKEN. But, that’s the reason there’s only 3 of us, because management wanted it that way.

Q : The last track on the album — “This Is Your Life” is quite a nice ballad and you don’t do a lot of them.
RJD : No. I’ve always tried to stay away from anything that smacks of being a love song, and this is not a love song ! Of all 10 tracks on this album — 9 of them are pretty vicious as far as their content goes. Lyrically by that I mean they’re reality based — like “Dying In America.” And then on the last song, “This Is Your Life,” I wanted to show that I had some optimism left for humanity and this world. So, if there is any message — it’s that an individual can make a great change for not only themselves — but for humanity ; you know “this is your chance, it’s your life — make something of it!” That’s the reason I wanted to include that one and tie it down. I did it with a piano, and I’ve never done a song with just a piano, but because it was a bit more personal…I tried it with a guitar but it didn’t have the personal-ness that the piano version had.

Q : You once said you never liked doing ballads, and that’s what the tracks are that you did on “The Butterfly Ball” album.
RJD : But that wasn’t a DIO project, that was Roger’s — for a purpose.

Q : But it does show a lot for your voice!?
RJD : Sure it does. The vehicle which you have is what makes the difference you know !!? Obviously if you have a good vehicle to sing, and you can sing — that’s going to show you off in that light. I’ve always been pretty single-minded to the kind of music I want to make. I like things that are very very hard and hard-edged. And I thought that, in this case (“This Is Your Life”), by putting something so gentle against all that came before it also had some credibility. I think I’ve done enough ballads throughout my career so that I’ve kept “respect” from other people. Because when they think it’s all going to be a matter of shouting this and shouting that, and suddenly they get something nice. So, I think I’ve done enough.

Q : You usually stay current, sound-wise, especially with this new album — it’s very up to date; and now that a lot of heavier bands have gone soft now seems like a really great time for you.
RJD : Well, I think it is. I think it should be. We’ve taken steps to understand what’s out there. I mean, if you don’t listen to what you’re competing with, you’re a fool. And if you don’t listen to what the people who are making music like you do, you’re a fool as well. I’ve produced all the records, with the exception of the last one (“Strange Highways”), and that many of the songs on it were very dated sounding. It was almost a “back to the ’80s” kind of sound and that was very disturbing to me, so I decided I would then again step in as producer on this album. Not only I, but everyone in this band knew exactly what we wanted to sound like. We knew that it needed to be more up front; that the guitars shouldn’t be doubled; that there shouldn’t be a lot of effects on the voice; that the vocals should be straight up, and that the drums alive. It’s really more of a harkening back to what we did on “Holy Diver” and “Last In Line”; especially “Holy Diver” — which is a very “live” sounding album. It’s a very hard-edged, in front of your face album. We wanted to recapture that. To move on to what I hear today, I hear a lot of alternative bands doing things that are interesting; not just from a sound perspective — but also from a musical perspective. In the old days if you wanted to do something that was a little off kilt or time-wise — if you wanted to do something in 7:4 you wouldn’t do it because you were afraid people would break their legs trying to move around to it. In this case you just listen to the way the younger bands go where they want to go and I go “that’s great ! that makes so much sense.” You should be able to go where you want to instead of having to go around the corner first and come back again. From listening to all these things and being smart enough to know where modernes lays we just did it this way.

Q : “Strange Highways” was very difficult to find around here.
RJD : When we did that album the record company just went “whoa — we don’t know what to do with this one so we’ll throw it against the wall and if it does something — we’ll support it, if not — the hell with it !” They really did nothing. We were at the back-end of getting ready to leave that label anyway, it just wasn’t the place for us. And making a move now has made a great difference for us. But I must say I can’t lay the blame on everybody else, that album perhaps sounded too dated — that might have been one of its problems too. The sad part is that you have to make it available for the people to make that judgment, as opposed to having to mail away for it. But that’s water under the bridge, and that lead us to this point, which is important. We started writing in a different manner on the “Strange Highways” album and it’s carried on in that writing style to this one. We’ve just taken it a few steps closer to the year 2000 rather than looking back and trying to be a reunion band and thinking — “gee, I think they’re going to like this one — it sounds like Holy Diver!” That’s something I never wanted to do.

Q : What do you think of all the reunions going on?
RJD : The only one that makes any sense to me is KISS because so many young people have heard from their parents, brothers or sisters of what a great show it was and now they’ll get a chance to see it. The rest of them — there’s so many bands reuniting because they failed after the break-up of the band that they were successful with. Well, what’s the easy way to do it ? “Let’s not go out and find other musicians to create something new — let’s go back and do what we did before!” I think it’s being done because it can be done. I think if you’re going to do a reunion you have to make a good album and step into the future. With SABBATH we did exactly that! I think that the album we made was certainly a lot more timely than a lot of the product I’m sure I’m going to hear these days. But one never knows, I guess they deserve a chance. My feeling is that you reunite because you couldn’t make it in another direction.

Q : You once said that “Heaven And Hell” was your favorite album from your past. Is it still?
RJD : Yes ! And it’s not just the music, it’s all the things that went together with it. You know — the reason it was made, how difficult it was to make it, the time it took, the people involved, the changes while we were doing it — that’s what made the difference, I think. It was an album, again, that started a cycle for hard-rock music, and I’m very proud of that.

Q : You’re going on the road, what sort of venues are you going to play?
RJD : Well, once you’ve had a dragon and all those kind of things around you, it’s very difficult to do anything on a lesser manner. So we’ll bring nothing that moves around and shouts at you, but we’ll bring somebody to dress up on stage, obviously to make it look a little more usual, and a back-drop. These days I don’t think people are as concerned about that as they used to be. I think it’s a matter of they prefer to see you in a small place then they can get a feel for it instead of getting lost in an arena situation. And let’s face it — arenas don’t sell out anymore anyway, so economically that’s not going to happen. What we bring will be perfect for the size venues we play.

Q : What do you have planned for the future?
RJD : Another album after this one — about a year down the road. I want to finish the book ; that’s really it for me. I’m just so happy with this band that I just know that the next album is really going be a landmark for us, and I can’t wait for that one ! So until my musical career goes away, or it’s time for me to go away, I’ll just stay fully directed in that motion.

Q : Do you still got a lot in you?
RJD : Yeah. That’s what I do; that’s what keeps me sane, keeps me happy, and keeps me wanting to work. So I plan on doing it until people tell me I shouldn’t do it anymore, or until I get to the point that my bones start creaking so much — I just fall over!

Q : You’ve always come across to me, through everything I’ve read and seen, as one of the most intelligent guys in the rock world. (RJD: Thank-you!) I was wondering — do you read a lot?
RJD : I used to read an awful lot. I still do, but not as voraciously like I used to. I read as much as I possibly can. I read a lot of science-fiction. I find science-fiction writers are normally the prognosticators of what’s to come. They tend to do it 5 or 6 years before it ever happens. I also like to read a lot of sports biography books — I love sports ! I like to read about people who have succeeded because I can get a glimpse into the attitude of what made them successful and perhaps adapt it to myself.

Q : That’s about it. Do you have anything to add about the new album? Any last thoughts?
RJD : No. Just that we’re more than happy to be going on the road, and getting a chance to learn how to do it right. Because what you do in the studio — to me — that’s the means to the end. The end is to go out and play live. That’s what we all love to do in this band ! All I can say is — come out and see us ! We’re going to do a lot of interesting songs. It won’t be all the ones we’ve done before, but some of the things that people have asked us for that we haven’t done in a while. It should be a good show!

Q : Do you still include some RAINBOW and SABBATH stuff?
RJD : Yes. We probably do more SABBATH things than we do RAINBOW things. I think we’re only going to do one RAINBOW thing, and that’s from such a long time ago. We’re going to do something we didn’t do before. I won’t tell you what it is.


Q : I hope to see you and wish you guys the best of luck.
RJD : Thanks for all the compliments. Thanks especially for liking the album — that’s the most important thing. Because you don’t know yourself unless you hear it from others. You know, you’re too close to it most of the time. But it’s great when other people give you those kinds of compliments!

KJJ , 1996

Kevin DuBrow – 2004 Interview

 November of 2017 marked 10 years since Kevin DuBrow’s passing. This was an interview I did with him in 2004 to promote the release of his solo album “In For The Kill”. It was one of my favorite interviews. Kevin had a love for a lot of the same great 70s hard rock as myself, and was very easy and down to earth to talk with.  Quiet Riot [who lead the LA scene in the early 80s] were huge in the ’80s, and although the band was past their peak at this point, DuBrow could still belt ’em out. RIP. 

 Kevin DuBrow was the frontman for legendary LA metal band QUIET RIOT since the mid 70s.  Back then the band was relatively unknown outside of the LA scene, but also featured a young guitarist named Randy Rhoads. A few years later Rhoads would become internationally known playing on the first 2 Blizzard of Ozz albums [before passing away in a plane crash in March of ’82]. DuBrow however had kept the Quiet Riot name going with guitarist Carlos Cavazo, drummer Frankie Banali [later to work with WASP] and bass players Rudy Sarzo [also with Ozzy’s band] and Chuck Wright. The band was a huge success in the early ’80s with such albums as ‘Metal Health’ and ‘Condition Critical’, both of which featured a few hit singles and great videos. [most notably a Slade cover on each!] 

By ’87 DuBrow was out of the band [following QR III], but revised things in the early ’90s following a short stint as ‘Heat’ with Cavazo. From 1993 to 2001 Quiet Riot would release another string of CDs before splitting in the fall of 2003.
In May of ’04 Shrapnel Records released Kevin DuBrow’s solo album “In For The Kill”, which was an album of covers, mostly obscure ’70s classics by the likes of Deep Purple, Nazareth, the Sweet, Montrose and more. DuBrow had also put together a new band and was on the road as part of the “Bad Boys of Metal” Summer tour, which also featured Jani Lane [ex Warrant singer, RIP] and Steven Adler [ex of Guns N Roses].  

You can still find ‘In For The Kill’ on Amazon. Frankie Banali still carries the Quiet Riot flag these days – touring, and a new album > https://quietriot.band/


Q – Can you tell me a bit about your new solo album?
K – In For the Kill was something I was approached to do in December of last year by Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records. He wanted me to do an album of all cover tunes; actually he wanted Quiet Riot to do it, but Quiet Riot had broken up in September. So, it was something I wanted to do for many many years; I had planned on doing with Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali. I had the songs selected already, so it happened very quickly. We agreed on a price, we agreed on the songs, we went in the studio within 10 days.

Q – So, it was pretty quickly done!?
K – Yes, we just had to find the right musicians. Some guys he had lined up to do it, and one guy I really wasn’t thrilled about using, so we changed one of the players, and we got in a great line-up of guys. He has this great guitar player named Kevin Curry that’s just really got the spirit of the thing down, because it’s a real 70s album in the sense that it’s all songs from that era and the 80s guitar players wouldn’t really be able to cop the feel correctly. So we got Kevin Curry who really pulled it off well. He got Michael Lardie, who was going to record & mix it and also ended up co-producing it with me. He’s super-talented and a really nice guy.

Q – How did you go about picking the songs?
K – They’re obscure covers, like b-sides and outtakes. There’s only one well known song – ‘Stay With Me’ [by The Faces]. Otherwise, it’s ‘Red Light Mama’ [by Humble Pie], ‘Burn On The Flame’ [by The Sweet], ‘Good Rocking Tonight’ [by Montrose], ‘Rolling With My Baby’ [by Silverhead], ‘Drivin Sister’ [Mott The Hoople]. Most of these songs have not been covered before.

Q – That’s good, because most cover albums tend to feature the same songs over and over.
K – Correct. I didn’t want to do ‘Smoke On The Water’, Again!

Q – Why an album of covers as opposed to an album of originals?
K – Because when you do an album of covers every song is great, when you do an album of brand new songs, only a few songs are great. He [Mike Varney] didn’t really want to do a new album from me at that time although I have a whole album’s worth of material written. I wanted to do an album with Glenn Hughes, my good friend from Deep Purple. We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve been wanting to do something together for a long time, and we probably will next year. But this is what he wanted to do. So, it was an easy way for me to release a record quickly. I was not objected to it at all.

Q – How did you approach doing the covers? There’s a few cover albums out there where they kind of do a note for note cover and then you get a few others that are a bit more experimental.

K – I’m in the middle. I did the arrangements very similar to the originals, but they weren’t note for note. They were with our personalities. We didn’t try to copy the originals but we didn’t try to do it like, say … some of those Hendrix cover albums, where they completely re-do them.

Q – Who else is on the album, other than Kevin [Curry, the guitar player]?
K – Michael Lardie played keyboards and produced with me, Jeff Martin [from Racer X] is on drums, and a guy named Gunter Nezhoda’s bass.

Q – Who’s in your touring band?
K – Jeff Martin on drums, Chuck Wright on bass, and Alex Grossi on guitar. It’s a really good little band.

Q – Are you doing a lot of the covers or mixing it up with the Quiet Riot stuff?
K – We’re doing 3 songs from ‘In For The Kill’ and the rest is Quiet Riot stuff.

Q – Are you changing the 3 around?
K – The same 3. The 3 that I really like doing – ‘Burn On The Flame’, ‘Red Light Mama’ and ‘Good Rocking Tonight’.

Q – Was there any songs that you recorded or considered recording that you took off or decided against at the last minute?
K – We started to record ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’ by The Jeff Beck band, and right at that time we started having major equipment problems, so we took it as an omen that we were done with the tracking.

Q – Growing up and listening to a lot of the early 70s stuff, did you have much of a preference of the British bands or the American bands?
K – I liked the British bands much better. I mean, I liked Montrose. That was the only American band from the 70s I liked. I didn’t care for many American bands. I was a big British rock guy.

Q – Humble Pie!?
K – Loved them! … Free, Spooky Tooth, Bloodwyn Pig – all that stuff! We did a song by Quatermass, ‘Black Sheep Of The Family’.

Q – That’s the Rainbow song!?
K – Yes, that’s the same song. They covered Quatermass’ version. I did the Quatermass’ arrangement.

Q – What will you follow this album up with?
K – I’m going to do an album of originals later in the year. I’ve got the songs written pretty much. And I want to do it with, like, say Glenn, Frankie Banali on drums, somebody cool on guitar, somebody real ’70s’ on guitar; like a Ronnie Montrose or Pat Travers – somebody like that. Someone that’s got that whole bluesy thing going on. I don’t want to use somebody that’s a real ‘Whammy’ Bar, 80s kind of a guy – I’m sick of that kind of guitar playing. There’s nothing wrong with it, I’ve just had my fill of it for a while. It doesn’t have a lot of feel to me.

Q – Are you nervous about being out as a solo artist as opposed to being part of a band?
K – I never even think about it. I’m just out there doing what I feel I need to do for myself. I was always the main songwriter in Quiet Riot, and the lead singer, so whatever I do is going to have a certain distinctive sound to it. It’s up to the people, if they like it and purchase and come see me play. I always try my best to give a good live show.

Q – The last few albums you guys did weren’t too bad. I liked ‘Alive & Well’ a lot. What did you think of that period as far as the albums were concerned?

K – Some songs were better than others. I liked the guy that produced Alive & Well, Bob Marlette. He was real easy to work with. He made it real easy. He really knew how to use the Pro-Tools technology. The song ‘Don’t Know What I Want’ [from Alive & Well] was one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. There’s some other songs on there…once again, I don’t like to write by committee, so when you get people involved in the songwriting process that aren’t songwriters it can be difficult and frustrating. ‘Guilty Pleasures’ was a lot easier to write, but the guy that produced it wasn’t really a producer, didn’t know what he was doing, so it made the mixing process difficult. I prefer the ‘Terrified’ album we did in ’93. I really like that. It’s heavier, it’s angrier; it’s ballsier, less pop-ish. But the rhythm section … we couldn’t play blues oriented stuff…..

Q – Who’s idea was it to do the remakes on the Alive & Well album?
K – That was Cleopatra’s idea. I hated the idea. I hated the way they turned out too; they’re awful!

Q – Was it just a quick sell idea?
K – Yes, that was their idea. I thought it was just garbage. I can’t express how much I hate those versions.

Q – And you did the AC/DC song on there?
K – That was different. That was for an AC/DC tribute album, and I really quite liked the way that turned out. That was on a one-day recording from beginning to end. It had a lot of energy and a lot of spark and we did it our own way. That I dug.

Q – One thing I like about you guys that you could always recognize, from Terrified, Live & Well, and the earlier ones, that not just because of your voice, but it’s obviously the same band and you never got in to all the experimental crap that the ’90s had.
K – It wouldn’t have been believable from us.

Q – Another thing I’ve always liked about the band is Frankie’s drumming, because he’s one of those drummers that you can actually recognize the drums with.
K – Great drummer! Cozy Powell was like that too. And playing with Frankie is a joy because of that reason.

Q – If you listen to the stuff he did on the WASP albums, he makes a world of difference.
K – For sure.

Q – Was it ever frustrating during the late 80s / early 90s, where you’re connected to that 1 [or 2] albums that were huge and then not getting that same backing again?
K – No. That’s the nature of the business. It’s sort of like evolution. In the evolutionary scale dinosaurs die off and certain animals eat their young. It’s the nature of the business. The business eats it’s young.

Q – You had a few other things during the late 80s/ early 90s, like ‘Heat’!?
K – That was basically me and Carlos doing Quiet Riot with a different rhythm section.

Q – What else do you have in the works?
K – Well, this tour starts, and that’s going to be my big focus. It should be really interesting – 11 guys on a 12 bunk bus starting next week for a month. It should be insane

Q – What are some of your own favorite recording moments?

K – I really like ‘Don’t Know What I Want’ [from Alive & Well] because I really love the song. It turned out so great. ‘Love’s A Bitch’ was great. We did ‘Metal Health’ because it turned out so much different than we expected it to turn out. ‘Bang Your Head’ was probably one of my greatest moments because it sounded like I envisioned it to sound when it was done.

Q – Your album’s not so much ‘metal’. Do you perceive yourself getting away metal stuff and doing more things like blues-rock?
K – Yes, hard-rock / blues-rock – like Free and Humble Pie. But, if Quiet Riot got back together next year we would do a very metal record. And if Quiet Riot ever does get back together I want to continue doing solo stuff because Carlos Cavazo is not a very bluesy guitar player. He can’t do the bluesy stuff I want to do – which is OK, because he sounds right for Quiet Riot. I’d like to do other things. 


Q – Can you tell me any of Randy’s guitar influences?
K – Yes, Bill Nelson from Be-Bop Deluxe; he loved him. He loved Johnny Winter, Leslie West, Glen Buxton from the Alice Cooper Group, Mick Ronson.

Q – What did you think of the 2 albums he did with Ozzy?
K – I thought they were produced badly, I didn’t think they sounded good [I still don’t]. I think the guitar playing was great. I think some of the songwriting’s very cool.

Q – What did you think of that original line-up with Bob & Lee?
K – It was good. I think that Bob’s a great bass player, a really inventive songwriter, and Lee is a great basher drummer and plays what’s right for the songs. That was the band to me.

Q – Are you familiar with Bob & Lee’s stuff with Uriah Heep?
K – I know Lee’s still with Uriah Heep. I saw Uriah Heep a million times. I got to meet Lee and Trevor Bolder. When Metal Health came out in 1983, we were in France and the French record label took us out to dinner and Heep was playing the same city. And Trevor Bolder was a HUGE hero of all of our’s, being with Bowie, and he was in Uriah Heep. So, we took Lee, Bob and Mick Box out to dinner with the French label. And, it was great! I saw Uriah Heep open for Deep Purple in like 1971 and they blew Deep Purple off the stage! So, we loved the guys. And Randy Rhoads adored Lee! He thought he was the greatest guy. And he’s the one who told me Lee wrote all the vocal melodies that Ozzy sang. I’ve not met Bob Daisley in person, but I have had correspondence with him over the e-mail, he seems like a really nice guy.

Q – Do you have any favorite old Heep songs?
K – We almost did one for this [solo] album. We were going to do ‘Tears In My Eyes’, but when I went to sing it, it really wasn’t in the register for me. I really wanted to do ‘Stealin’, but Mike Varney wouldn’t let me do it; he thought it was too down tempo. So, I’ll do it the next time.
I was a huge Uriah Heep fan. I loved all the bass players – Mark Clarke, Gary Thain…

Q – Yes, Mark Clarke went on to Billy Squier and was in to a bunch of stuff…
K – He was in a band ‘Tempest’; I loved them – with Alan Holdsworth and John Hiseman. I’m a huge collector of that stuff.

Q – What are you listening to these days?
K – I just got the Jeff Beck ‘Live At BB Kings’ in the mail today [because you can only get it from the web-site]. I love that; it’s really recorded well. I love Jeff Beck. I’ve been listening to some Type O Negative. I don’t buy too many records. I don’t like much new stuff that comes out, doesn’t really interest me.

Q – Do you find yourself [like me] looking for older bands with new albums?
K – Kind of…a lot of older bands have new albums, and I don’t like their new albums. Jeff Beck’s ‘Beckola’ album with Rod Stewart, they’ve re-released it with 4 new songs on it, so I’ve got to buy that.

Q – Lately I’ve picked up a bunch of Glenn Hughes solo stuff….
K – I got all of it his solo stuff, pretty much.

Q – The one that got me back in to him was ‘Crystal Karma’.
K – I love Crystal Karma! That’s my favorite solo album; that and ‘From Now On’. Midnight Meditated, Mojo – it’s a great record! I like From Now On, The Way It Is, I love the Burning Japan : Live. He has a DVD coming out, you know. It’s a live DVD and I sang back-up on it. And I also interviewed him for it.

Q – Is there any other people from your genre that you keep in touch with?
K – No, not like Glenn. Glenn and me have a connection. We have a really common sense of humor. Frankie Banali played drums on the Hughes/Thrall album, so I knew Glenn from that. Nobody like Glenn, Glenn’s a special animal.

Q – Is there anything you have to add about the new album?
K – Check it out. It’s got the best reviews of anything I’ve done in my career.


Interview: © Kevin J. /  July 2004

Rick Benton of MAGNUM – An interview

It was just over a year ago that fans of British band Magnum woke to the post that longtime keyboard player Mark Stanway had officially left the band, while on tour in the UK. Just after a month later it was announced that Rick Benton had joined the band, and had played on the band’s last few shows. He would play live with Magnum throughout 2016 and recorded with the band the brand new album “Lost On The Road To Eternity” – which is being released early in the new year.  Thanks to Al Barrow [Magnum’s bass player], I connected with Rick and sent him my questions for this interview – some insight in to Rick’s musical styles, influences, and his experiences thus far with Magnum!


Check out more about Rick at >


and > http://magnumonline.co.uk/



What bands and artists did you grow up on – ones that had a major influence on you?

I grew up in a very musical household. Both parents played piano, (my dad played in a dance band and also played organ at the local church). My brother, sister and I all started piano lessons at a very early age and so music was always around us. We listened to a wide variety of genres, anything from Bach to the Beatles, Beethoven to Black Sabbath, Rachmaninoff to Rush! I was also very lucky at school to have a music teacher who was passionate about all styles of music, I remember we had a school orchestra, choir, jazz band and pop bands so we had the chance to ‘dip in’ to everything musical. I started ‘gigging’ when I was around 12 years old, meeting and playing with some great local musicians who helped me along my way. I also went to watch as many gigs as I could. I’m not sure I could accurately point to any individual influences – more a combination of all of the above to be honest.

Can you give me a ‘top 10’ of favorite albums from your early years?

Wow – very difficult question! I’ve always had a very diverse taste in music so this isn’t going to be an easy one to answer. For me, so many of my all-time favourite tracks are tucked away on albums that wouldn’t necessarily make this list – I’m much more of a ‘playlist’ listener than a whole album aficionado! Thinking back though, in no particular order, these are probably the albums that I listened to in their entirety most regularly (and in some cases still do!):

Peter Gabriel: So, Us Pearl Jam: 10 Rush: Moving Pictures Magnum: On a Storyteller’s Night Genesis: Genesis, Invisible Touch Toto: IV Bruce Hornsby and The Range: The Way It Is Steeley Dan: Aja Donald Fagan: The Nighfly Stevie Wonder: Inner Visions

You’ve also done theatre and teach. what music is your first love and favorite – rock, blues, theatrical?

I listen to such a wide variety of music depending on the mood I’m in – it could be jazz, classical, latin, blues…..but at the end of the day I’ve always been a bit of a rocker at heart!

Prior to joining Magnum, how familiar with the band were you? and / or any of their songs?

I remember getting ‘On a Storyteller’s Night’ when I was in my teens and loving the album – great song writing, performances and arrangements. I’ve followed the band since then so I was pretty familiar with many of their songs. I’d also met Tony on a number of occasions at Mark Stuart’s studio when he was based in Walsall. How exactly did you wind up joining Magnum? [details]

Last December I had a phone call from Mark (Magnum’s TM and Sound Engineer). We’ve known each other since the 90’s (Mark produced a number of recordings I did with The Lilac Groove and I’ve done keyboard sessions for him at his studio for a raft of artists over the years). He asked me if I was available over the following few days to join the tour for the final shows, explaining that Mark Stanway had decided the time was right for him to concentrate on other projects and had left the band. It took me about 1 second to say yes! I spent the next day scoring out the set from live video clips and recordings then joined up with the guys at the Wolverhampton gig and then travelled with them to do the last show in Edinburgh.

You would’ve had to learn a number of tracks in a hurry !? What are some of your favorite Magnum songs to perform as a keyboard player and as a listener?

They’re all fantastic to play for different reasons – that’s one of the greatest things about Magnum – you know instantly who you are listening to, but no two songs are the same. From a keyboard players perspective, some are about fitting in to the ‘groove’ backing up the guitar rhythms, some creating a ‘mood’ or ‘scene’ through sound and others are more ‘virtuoso’ with intricate piano lines and string arrangements.
Picking favourites is tricky because it can depend on your own mood at the time of playing but I would have to say that, from the current live set, Les Morts Dansant, Twelve Men Wise and Just, All England’s Eyes and When The World Comes Down encapsulate much of what’s great about playing keys for Magnum.

Magnum has some grand keyboard intros and solos throughout the catalogue. do you approach your playing to sticking true to what’s on record or are there any alterations in the way you perform certain tracks?

That’s an interesting question as many of the songs have developed from their original recording through decades of live performances. I’ll give you one example – Les Morts Dansant. On the album version, the intro is played on a pipes sound. On live performances this has become a very recognised piano intro. From a sound and notation perspective I learnt the set from live video footage and live recordings with the aim of remaining true to what audiences have become accustomed to. Obviously there will be subtle differences in my dynamics and feel as we all play slightly differently, but for me, staying true to these well-known intros and solos is very important as they are an integral part of incredibly crafted and well loved songs.


You’ve had the chance to do some major festivals and tour with Magnum prior to the new album. what have been some of the highlights and any moments that stick out for you as a new member to the band and their audience?

The first thing that struck me and has been a constant highlight of every gig has been the obvious bond between the band and the fans. I know it’s a well used (sometimes over used!) comparison but it really does seem like one giant family. Talking to folk before and after the gigs has been great – I’ve certainly felt very ‘welcomed’. Tony, Bob, Al and Lee are all great guys to be around on and off stage and the crew are amazing – we’re certainly enjoying life on the road! Touring gigs and festivals? Take your pick – they’ve all been highlights!

How was the pre-production and recording experience for the new Magnum album? [detail your input and viewpoint of this whole process]. As Tony Clarkin writes the Magnum material, can you tell me how much freedom you had to expand on intros, solos, etc. – in the studio?

What a great experience! For me the process began with sitting with Tony and listening to the song demos he had recorded, talking through sound selections and arrangements and then starting to lay down my keyboard parts. There was plenty of encouragement and opportunity to put forward ideas as the recordings progressed (intros / solos / sound selection / arrangements etc.). Often we’d lay down several takes of a song, starting with a very basic rhythmic version and finishing with a full-on keyboard ‘notefest’. Tony would then decide which worked best for the song – on some of the tracks less was definitely more, on others the keyboards took a more prominent roll. Tony is not only an incredible musician and song writer but he is also a quite extraordinary producer – I learned so much from working under his guidance in terms of developing ideas and playing for the song – absolutely priceless!


Having not heard the album, aside from the single [Without Love – which isn’t a keyboard heavy track]. what can you tell me about some of the other songs — any favorites? any big keyboard intros and solos?

From my perspective as a fan, I would say that this is very much an unmistakable Magnum album – Tony’s incredible songwriting and selection of subject matter re-counted through Bobs dramatic vocal story-telling runs right through the heart of it. Musically there are powerful guitar riffs, sweeping melodic solo’s, incredible drum grooves, all underpinned by Al’s signature rock solid bass lines and a title track which features a symphony orchestra playing an arrangement which I defy anyone to say doesn’t send shivers down the spine! Can I choose favourites? No – they all sound amazing to me and move me emotionally in very different ways! There’s definitely a couple of times where the keyboards take a ‘nod’ and a few that they start – I’ll let the listeners decide whether these are ‘big’!

Are there any of your own performances on the new album that you are looking forward to fans hearing?

To be honest I’m really looking forward to everyone being able to hear the album in its entirety – I’m beyond proud and honoured to have been involved in its creation – I just hope that my input has been faithful to the rich musical history of Magnum.

You must be looking forward to the upcoming tour, and performing new material that you are a part of!? Has it been decided on how many and which of the new tracks will feature in the Magnum live show? [if so, how was this process achieved?]

Naturally I’m very excited about the tour – we go in to rehearsals in the new year and then we’ll be off, hoping that our bus driver doesn’t get us “Lost On The Road To Eternity’ (I should say that he’s a great driver and we’ve all got satnav apps on our phones so I’m pretty sure we’ll find all the venues!). Regarding the set, Bob is the one who generally puts the show together. It’ll undoubtedly be a mix of classics and new material….I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say any more than that (under a threat of limb removal!!).

You’re also a part of Rebecca Downes’ band. How different is that musically and in performance?

Musically it’s quite different – in Magnum I use a wide variety of sounds between the songs ranging from orchestral strings to lead synths, brass, vintage pads, acoustic piano, electric pianos, motion synths, organs etc. For Rebecca, I predominantly use three sounds – acoustic piano, Hammond and Rhodes. Playing wise they are very different genres and therefore my actual playing style changes somewhat – for example there’s much more improvisation required in Rebecca’s set with blues solos on piano and Hammond featuring in a number of her songs. From a performance perspective, any time on any stage should be treated in the same way – get on and give it 110%!

She has signed a North American deal[!?] – might we see you with her over here in North America in the near future?

I’m not sure about the near future as touring North America is a very expensive business, but you never know – I’d love to come back at some point!

What are you listening to these days, as a music fan? [any current albums or reissues you’ve picked up?]

I try to listen to anything and everything! Although I might not personally like all that’s out there, I’m very conscious of the fact that with so much music available to listen to, there’s always a surprise to enjoy and a lesson to learn! If pushed, I’d have to admit that right now, while I’m typing this response, I’m listening to a Christmas compilation that the kids have popped on…..thank goodness it’ll be over in a week or so (musically!).


*further links:




KJJ, 12/17