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Music / W.A.S.P. (Band)

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The current line up (from left to right): Mike Duda, Blackie Lawless and Doug Blair

"We ain't sure, pal."
Blackie Lawless, when questioned about the meaning of band's name.

W.A.S.P. is a Heavy Metal band from Los Angeles USA. Initially formed from the ashes of Sister, Circus Circus and London, W.A.S.P. gained notoriety for their shock rock antics (throwing raw meat to the audience, naked models tied to torture racks etc.) and the feud with PMRC in the 1980's over their "objectionable" lyrics. Despite its attempts to ban the band, the outrage only resulted in higher album sales. The band took a more serious turn lyrically and sonically in the 90's with The Crimson Idol and, with the exception of Helldorado, has continued to this day. The frontman, Blackie Lawless, is the only member of the band from the original albums, very much a case of I Am the Band.


Founding members in bold. Current members in italic.
  • Steve Duren/Blackie Lawless - Lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards (1982-present)
  • William "Randy" Piper - Rhythm guitar (1982-1986)
  • Anthony Orlando/Tony Richards - Drums (1982-1984)
  • Chris Holmes - Lead guitar (1983-1990, 1995-2001)
  • John Tumminello/Johnny Rod - Bass (1986-1992)
  • Mike Duda - Bass (1995-present)
  • Doug Blair - Lead guitar (2006-present)
  • Aquiles Priester - Drums (2017-present)


  • 1984 - W.A.S.P.
  • 1985 - The Last Command
  • 1986 - Inside the Electric Circus
  • 1989 - The Headless Children
  • 1992 - The Crimson Idol
  • 1995 - Still Not Black Enough
  • 1997 - Kill, Fuck, Die
  • 1999 - Helldorado
  • 2001 - Unholy Terror
  • 2002 - Dying for the World
  • 2004 - The Neon God Part One: The Rise
  • 2004 - The Neon God Part Two: The Demise
  • 2007 - Dominator
  • 2009 - Babylon
  • 2015 - Golgotha
  • 2018 - Re-Idolized (The Soundtrack to the Crimson Idol) (A re-recording of The Crimson Idol to commemorate its 25th anniversary)

"I Trope Like A Beast!":

  • '70s Hair: Former rhythm guitarist Randy Piper had this in the music videos for "I Wanna Be Somebody", "L.O.V.E Machine", "Wild Child" and "Blind In Texas".
  • As Himself: Them making an appearance in The Dungeonmaster.
  • The Alcoholic: Former lead guitarist Chris Holmes was definitely this in the 1980s, as his infamous interview in "The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" proves. He's been sober for years now, though.
  • Anthropomorphic Vice: Thunderhead depicts heroin as a demonic entity that demands that those devoted to it utterly debase themselves for its amusement.
  • Badass Biker: An occasional lyrical theme on their earlier albums. Examples include "Hellion", “Show No Mercy”, “Restless Gypsy”, “Maneater”, "Mean Man", and "Savage".
  • Badass Boast: "Widowmaker", "Mean Man".
  • The Big Guy: While the 6'3 Blackie Lawless has been this for last ten years, Chris Holmes was this during his time in the band, standing at a huge 6'6.
  • Careful with That Axe: "You fucking suck...You fucking suck...You fucking suck...LIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!!!"
  • Chainsaw Good: Blackie Lawless wore a codpiece with a circular saw on it in band's earlier stage shows.
    • "Chainsaw Charlie" begins with not one but three chainsaws revving up before the music kicks in.
  • Concept Album: Kill Fuck Die is one about sex and death.
  • Cover Version: They have covered "Paint It Black", "Easy Living", "Locomotive Breath", "The Real Me", "When the Levee Breaks", "Whole Lotta Rosie", "Tie Your Mother Down", "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", "Promised Land" by Chuck Berry, "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain, "I Don't Need No Doctor" by Ray Charles, "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane, "Burn" by Deep Purple.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: On the cover of ''The Crimson Idol.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Kill, Fuck, Die, which featured industrial influences and rougher production.
    • W.A.S.P. themselves was this to the glam scene in general, both in terms of sound and onstage theatrics.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jonathan Aaron Steel, the protagonist of The Crimson Idol, hangs himself onstage with his own guitar strings during the final song on the album.
    With these six-strings, I make a noose,
    To take my life, it's time to choose,
    The headlines read of my demise, of my suicide.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Blackie Lawless is one of the VERY few 1980s rockers who didn't do drugs (though he did drink alcohol). The Headless Children album's anti-drug message was somewhat lost on most hard-partying fans in the late 1980s.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Eagle-eyed viewers can catch a glimpse of Blackie Lawless and Randy Piper as bikers in the very odd 1980 movie, Can't Stop the Music (the story of the Village People, starring the Village People themselves).
  • Epic Rocking: "The Heretic (The Lost Child)", "Thunderhead", "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)", "The Idol", "The Great Misconceptions of Me", "The Horror", "Wasted White Boys", "Sister Sadie (And the Black Habits)", "The Last Redemption", "Heaven's Hung in Black", "Shotgun", "Miss You", "Slaves of the New World Order" and "Golgotha".
  • Fun with Acronyms: Band's name is a memorable example. However, two out of six of the song titles are actual acronyms; those being "D.B. Blues" (Douchebag Blues) and "Rebel in the F.D.G." (Rebel in the Fucking Decadent Generation). Other two are Spelling Songs ("L.O.V.E. Machine" and "B.A.D."), one is a phone number ("9.5. - N.A.S.T.Y.") and one is a case of Xtreme Kool Letterz ("X.T.C Riders").
  • Greatest Hits Album: There are three: First Blood, Last Cuts and 1 CD and 2 CD versions of The Best of the Best.
  • Groin Attack: Blackie used to wear a codpiece on stage that had Roman candles shoot out sparks. One night it backfired and hit Blackie in the crotch with the force of a shotgun. He had to put a lot of ice on it, but other than that he was fine. Supposedly, while he was recovering backstage he said "We wouldn't have to do this shit if we wrote better songs!"
  • Harsh Vocals: Though not quite as much in recent years, Blackie's basically a master of this trope.
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock Rolls On", "War Cry", "Rock and Roll to Death"
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The four are featured on the cover of Babylon.
  • I Am the Band: W.A.S.P. has essentially been Blackie Lawless with a backing band for the last twenty years.
  • Instrumentals: "Mephisto Waltz" and "Euphoria".
  • Intercourse with You: They were shock rockers, what did you expect? Examples include "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)", "9.5. - N.A.S.T.Y.", "Don't Cry (Just Suck)", and "Harder Faster".
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Blackie Lawless has never been a heartthrob exactly, but he was at least quite handsome in his younger days. Fast forward to 2015...
    • In his defense, Blackie looked great for his age up till about 2012 or so, when he had serious health issues (such as a broken femur) that obviously took years off his life.
    • Chris Holmeshas...gone through some changes, too.
  • Large and in Charge:
    • Band leader Lawless is 6 foot 3 inches tall and typically towers over his bandmates.
    • Chris Holmes is even taller than Blackie. His guitar looks like a tennis racket in his hands.
  • Lead Bassist: Blackie was a Type C from 1982 (when Don Costa left) until 1986 (when Randy Piper left and Blackie took over rhythm guitar duties).
  • Loudness War: Helldorado album.
  • The Lost Lenore: "Forever Free" from The Headless Children.
    The wind cries out her name in the breeze
    But I can't hold her anymore
    Some fallen angel had come to me
    And fell too heavy on my soul
    It stole from me the love I heard
    Lords of time say never dies
  • Metal Scream: Blackie does this a lot. "Kill,Fuck,Die" is almost entirely sung like this.
  • Money Song: "Fistful of Diamonds" from The Last Command.
  • Mood Dissonance: Due to W.A.S.P.'s themes getting darker album by album in the 90's, return-to-form album Helldorado with it's Intercourse with You songs and bad-boy attitude weren't taken well by fans.
  • Murder Ballad: "Jack Action".
  • New Sound Album: Starting with The Headless Children, they switched from singing mostly about being a badass and having lots of sex, and began writing about more serious social and political themes. Aside from the Industrial Metal influences on Kill, Fuck, Die and the throwback Helldorado, they've continued with it to this day.
  • One-Letter Title: "U" from Kill, Fuck, Die.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted between 1984 and 1987 as the band featured two, drummer Steve Riley and Blackie himself (his real name being Steven Edward Duren). Played straight since, though.
  • Phallic Weapon: "Shoot From The Hip" uses "pistol" as a very obvious metaphor.
  • Power Ballad: "Forever Free", "Hold on to My Heart", "Evermore", "Heaven's Hung In Black", "Miss You".
  • Protest Song: "Goodbye America" from Still Not Black Enough.
  • Recycled Lyrics / Rearrange the Song: The Headless Children contains a B-side entitled "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Some of the lyrics and the melody would later form the basis of "The Gypsy Meets the Boy" from The Crimson Idol.
  • Revolving Door Band: The band has never been able to keep the same line up for more than two albums, meaning there's never been a "classic line up". The one exception was that Mike Dupke performed drums on Dominator, Babylon and Golgotha, but left right after recording the latter.
  • Rock Opera:
    • The Crimson Idol chronicles the rise and fall of fictional musician Jonathan Steele.
    • The Neon God duology is a story of a boy with an ability to manipulate people.
  • Self-Titled Album: The first album.
  • Shout-Out: "The Horror" is about Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.
  • Signs of the End Times: "Babylon's Burning"
  • Something Blues: "D.B. Blues" from Live Animal single and Inside the Electric Circus.
  • Spelling Song: "B.A.D." and "L.O.V.E. Machine".
  • Subdued Section: "Helldorado", "Blind in Texas".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Breathe" from Still Not Black Enough.
  • Take That!: "Harder Faster" (from the Raw) was written with the PMRC in mind.
  • The Un-Favourite: Jonathan Steel, the protagonist of The Crimson Idol, is this to his parents (especially his father) who favor his older brother Michael. It only intensifies after Michael's tragic death.
    I was the boy unwanted, a prisoner I'm born to them
    My brother was the one, that couldn't do no wrong
    And I was there dying in the shadow of him
  • Unusual Euphemism: The line "Virgo, my Leo's rising" in "L.O.V.E. Machine".