Member:
1982- W.A.S.P. - guitars, bass, vocals (as Blackie Lawless)  
Guest musician:
1985-1986 Hear 'n Aid - backing vocals (as Blackie Lawless)  


Personal information

Also known as: Blackie Lawless
Born on: 04.09.1956

Blackie Lawless (born Steven Edward Duren on September 4, 1956, in Staten Island, New York), is an American singer, songwriter and musician best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for heavy metal band W.A.S.P.. He has become notorious in the heavy metal community for his live performances, controversial album covers and lyrics.

Lawless is of Blackfoot Native American ancestry, as well as Irish and French. His mother - a professional dancer - was part French and part Native American. [1]

Lawless' musical interests began when he was nine years old ("My brother had a guitar and I used to sneak down to his bedroom and play it when he wasn't there"), he had his first guitar about a year later and earned his first pocket money with his first band called "The Underside."

At 16, Lawless played with the band "Black Rabbit" in local bars, another early band was "Orfax Rainbow." After leaving high school he worked two years for his father's construction firm.

For about fifteen days, in May 1975, Lawless played guitar for the New York Dolls, replacing Johnny Thunders at two shows, during their tour through Florida. After the tour, he went to California with Arthur Kane and helped found the "Killer Kane Band", (Single "Mr. Cool", a song which then went on to become "Cries in the Night"), where Lawless was the singer. At that time his artistic name was "Blackie Goozeman." About a year later Kane went back to New York while Lawless decided to stay in Los Angeles.

In 1976, he formed Sister, who are believed to be one of the first Los Angeles groups to use the (inverted) pentagram as their logo. Randy Piper, later of W.A.S.P., was Sister's second and longest-staying guitar player. Lawless' stage antics at the time included lighting his boots on fire (the trick he later gave to Nikki Sixx) and eating live worms. Around 1978, a new lineup was assembled that included the aforementioned Sixx on the bass and Lizzie Grey on guitars. This lineup tried to record a few songs, but the outcome was so terrible they decided to scrap the idea altogether. Around that time, Chris Holmes came into the picture for the first time to play guitar. According to Holmes, this lineup managed to play live at least once.

After this version of Sister failed in its turn, Lawless started his next band "Circus Circus", in 1979, with Randy Piper again appearing in the lineup. When it became clear that this band was going nowhere as well, in 1981, Lawless joined Lizzie Grey and Nikki Sixx's relatively unsuccessful London, with whom he played a few gigs and recorded two songs as demos, already without Sixx, who'd left to form Mötley Crüe. In 1982 Lawless assumed bass duties and along with Randy Piper formed W.A.S.P.. The lineup was soon completed with Chris Holmes on lead guitar and Tony Richards on drums.

During W.A.S.P.'s long history, there have been numerous band/lineup changes, and today Lawless is the only remaining original member. He writes most of the songs and music scores on W.A.S.P.'s albums and says his favorite album to date is The Crimson Idol. Many of his songs tend to deal with religious or apocalyptic themes, due to his fundamentalist Christian upbringing and the fact that his grandfather was a deacon and his uncle was a preacher, but veer into socio-political, and overtly sexist topics from time to time. Lawless even spoke often about going into politics, but has not yet actively pursued that action.

Lawless cites influences which include AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Kiss, and The Beatles. His notorious stage theatrics were influenced by Alice Cooper and Kiss, but he attempted to take it one step further by throwing raw meat into the audience, and with the onstage flogging of semi-naked women positioned on torture racks. During the 1980s he was severely criticized by organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center because of W.A.S.P.'s rather extreme live shows with concerts regularly cancelled by local authorities and, in some countries, banned from playing entirely. Lawless has sued and won a case against PMRC for copyright infringements.

In 2003 Lawless was an outspoken defender of Pete Townshend (from The Who), who was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children. W.A.S.P. did a cover song from The Who's "The Real Me" on the The Headless Children (1989) CD.

In 2006 Lawless was found not guilty of criminal assault in an Arizona courtroom. The charge dated back to August 2005, when he reportedly kicked a security guard during a tantrum whilst performing in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The band cancelled its previously announced European dates in July 2006, after Lawless was diagnosed with an abnormality in one of the arteries leading to his heart. He's now fine after some rest and special treatment. Later on he announced new European dates for the same year.

All rumors about Lawless having a bad heart have been declared false by his representatives at the official W.A.S.P. Website, just as rumors about him being killed in a car accident in 2007.

In October 2007, the band announced that no recording devices, including phones with cameras, would be allowed into shows and any phones found by security would be confiscated, for the duration of The Crimson Idol tour. It is speculated that this was mostly due to W.A.S.P's decreasing record sales, but is also thought to be to protect the video footage shown onscreen during the concert. However this turned out not to be the case, as many of the audience members proceeded to take pictures of the band whilst they were onstage performing.

In November 2008 he endorsed John McCain in the Presidential election saying, "I will vote for McCain, not because I believe in all he stands for, but as a mandate against Obama, to keep him from becoming President. Yes, I will cling to my guns and my religion, and continue to believe in the Constitution, the Cornerstone of our society and trust that this is STILL a "Government of the People, By the People, For the People"." [3]