Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Blackie Lawless (born Stephen Duren on September 4, 1956) is an American singer and guitarist. It all started 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"), and he had his first guitar when he was about ten years old and earned his first pocket money with his first band called "The Underside". He was in a street gang with Ace Frehley and suffered a serious stab wound in a fight. At the age of 14 his father sent him to a military school in Florida to learn discipline but was thrown out after beating up a Sargent Major. With 16 Blackie played with "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 he played for the New York Dolls replacing Johnny Thunders during their tour thru Florida, late 1974. After the band broke up he went to California with Arthur Kane. They founded the "Killer Kane Band" (Single "Mr. Cool"), where Blackie was the singer. At that time his artistic name was "Blackie Goozeman". After about a year Arthur went back to New York, Blackie stayed in Los Angeles.
In the late '70s, Blackie Lawless played in a band called Sister , the first Los Angeles group to use the (inverted) pentagram as their logo. After "Sister" failed his next band was "Circus Circus" in 1979 together with Randy Piper in the lineup. In 1982 he formed his band W.A.S.P. together with Randy Piper, Chris Holmes, and Tony Richards.
During W.A.S.P.'s history Blackie Lawless is the only remaining member of the band. The most important album and Blackie's favorite is "The Crimson Idol". Blackie wrote most of the songs of WASP's albums. Many of his songs deal with religion due to his fundamentalist Christian upbringing. Also his grandfather was a deacon and his uncle was a preacher.
Blackie Lawless influences include AC/DC, Black Sabbath and the Beatles. His notorious "stage theatrics" were influenced by Alice Cooper and The Who, but he took it one step further and during the 80's he was severely criticized by organisations like the Parents Music Resource Center because of W.A.S.P.'s rather extreme live shows. W.A.S.P. concerts were regularly cancelled by local authorities and in some countries (e.g. Norway) they were banned from playing entirely.
In 2003 Blackie 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 "The Real Me".
Apart from being a musician he can be seen in "Can't Stop the Music" (1980) a musical about The Village People and in "The Dungeonmaster" (1985) a movie about an evil wizard. He was also offered to play the lead role in the horror film "Trick or Treat" (1986), but he declined the offer.
Blackie has Indian (Native_American) ancestors. Baseball legend Ryne Duren is his uncle, he himself considered to be a professional Baseball player. Blackie also used to play in the minor leagues before he became a musician. He is a fan of the New York Yankees. Even though, sportswise his idol is Muhammad Ali. For some time he talked a lot about going into politics but later changed his mind.
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