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Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2015 Concert Review, Chicago, IL, May 1 & 2, 2015

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posteruseWow.  What another great weekend in Chicago.  This was my second year attending this festival and it was a lot of fun, albeit tiring.

Like last year, Kelz flew in from NC and met me at the airport on Thursday.  Local friends Rodney and Brent also flew along and we all rode together to the hotel.  We chilled out for a bit at the hotel then headed over to a pizza place to meet with some fest regulars prior to the pre-party.  I wasn’t so into my pizza but the Peroni on tap was right on.  After eating we headed over to a great dive called The Mutiny and rocked out some great old metal.  There were a few merch vendors as well.  I was pretty worn out and so were Chris and Rodney so we headed back to the hotel.  We had a long day ahead.

Early Friday consisted of going to Portillo’s for lunch and inhaling their incredible Italian beef sandwich.  So incredibly awesome.  Afterwards I napped.  I wanted to get to Reggie’s for the fest as the doors were opening, mainly to catch Satan’s Hallow in which a good friend plays guitar.  They’re a newer band and have only released 2 songs, but those songs are great.  They were great!  I really love Mandy’s vocal delivery and the riffs are good.  New pal, Poncho, was filling in on bass and was absolutely badass.  I see good things ahead for this band.

Twisted Tower Dire was up next and I had last seen them in 1999 with the old singer.  Their power metal set was solid and they now share singer and a guitarist with Walpyrgus.

Cleveland’s Vatican came on next and I caught most of their set.  Vince and company laid it down playing most of their Metalmorphosis re-release.  They were fun to watch and their singer has some serious pipes.  Added bonus getting those guys added to The Book!

With the fest having two stages, bands overlap and during Vatican’s set, Hessian started on the smaller stage and I wanted to catch a little of their set.  While they were solid, they weren’t my thing.

Back to the main stage for my friends, Dantesco.  I met them in Puerto Rico last year and was excited to see them.  They were great.  Powerful, heavy and Erico’s vocals were right on point.  The crowd dug them a lot.

Back to the smaller stage for Kantation which featured Martin Debourge who fronted a more recent version of Damien Thorne.  His vocals sounded great and the band was solid.  Martin’s a good dude.

Salem’s Wych was up next and their set was a little loose.  This was their first show since the 80s.  Pretty legendary though.

I saw just a little of Beyond Fallen but wanted to catch Q5 on the main stage.  They sounded really good.  They were one of the biggest surprises to me.  I had listened to them back in the old days but it didn’t catch on with me.  I got to meet them in the green room before the show and they were super cool.  Three original members got added to The Book.

I caught most of Ostrogoth’s set and they were pretty good.  Their drummer is the only original member left and he’s an awesome guy.  I caught a little bit of Iron Finger and they were ok, solid, but not my thing.

Then…LIEGE LORD.  I’ve been a fan since randomly buying Burn to My Touch based on having an album cover by Ioannis (Fates Warning, Warlord, Obsession).  Let’s make no mistake about it, I prefer the Andy Michaud era.  Master Control never did anything for me but I was still stoked to see them live.  They were another band I got to meet prior to them hitting the stage and they were all cool dudes.  When showing Joe Comeau The Book, he said, “Ah cool.  I have one of these” and continued to tell me a story about the promo shoot that the photo (see below) was taken from.  Only original member, Tony Truglio, was also very nice.  They opened with 2 from Master Control then Dark Take from Freedom’s Rise.  Cast Out from Burn to My Touch was next and it sounded awesome.  The band was tight and the crowd was loving it.  They rolled through Rainbow’s Kill The King, a couple more from Master then went into Speed of Sound.  I nearly lost my shit on that one.  One of my favorites from Burn.  Their whole set was good and I was so glad I finally got to see them.  Then back to the hotel for the typical late night jibber jabber and sleep.

Saturday, Kelz and I went to a taqueria and had some awesome food.  Afterwards we drove over to Cabrini-Green, the site that the TV show Good Times was based on.  That used to be a very rough area.  “The projects”.  Now it’s all condos and heavily gentrified.  Was hoping for some sort of historical monument to JJ and the family but it was nowhere to be found.

Saturday’s show started a little earlier at 4:30 and got started with Kentucky’s Savage Master.  They were solid but not completely my thing.  There’s a buzz about them and I think it’s mainly because of the scantily clad singer.  I’m not much of a fan of her vocal delivery and I think she could work on her stage presence a little.  The rest of the band is dressed in black hoods and the whole thing reminded me of the band Bitch being backed up by The Mentors.  I think a little tweaking could get their live show more exciting.  Nice folks, though.

Crumble came on the small stage and I caught a little of it.  By “a little” I mean less than one song.

Züül was up next on the main stage and the singer announced that it was their last show ever.  I had seen them a time or two before in Austin and enjoyed them.  They sounded good in Chicago as well but the singer seemed to be having a few vocal issues.  He was lacking some of the power he normally has.  Still sounded good.

Skelator was up next and delivered their sword-wielding metal the masses that were really just starting to roll in.  They sounded great but I only caught about half of their set as I needed to catch Moros Nyx on the small stage.

Moros Nyx has the drummer for Satan’s Hallow on bass.  This was their first show and they did a great job.  Looking forward to more from these guys.  Their drummer is a bad ass.

Back to the big room for the return of Skullview.  I’ve always liked their debut quite a bit and it was good seeing them finally.  Especially good to finally meet their guitarist, Dean.  We’ve known each other from online forums for a long time.  Their singer has an enormous range, but antics I saw before and after the show pretty much let me know that I can’t care to see him again.  I stayed for half of the set and went back to the small stage.

Hrom was up next and they were powerful with yet another singer with a great high range.  Nice kids, too.

I went back to the main room to catch a little of Chicago’s reunited Aftermath.  They were good straight up thrash and super nice guys.

I went back to the small room and waited for Walpyrgus to come on.  This band features members of Twisted Tower Dire as mentioned above.  They put on a great set.  Would like to see them again.

As soon as they were done I rushed back over to catch High Spirits.  I really enjoy this band.  Good, straight up hard rock and I really like Chris’ vocal delivery.  “Without Zuul, there would be be no High Spirits,” Chris said.  He’s good at working the crowd too.  When I saw them in San Antonio, he was on bass but had a full backing band for this show.

I caught a little of Coven 13 but it wasn’t my thing.

Coming up next…ATTACKER!  Another band I’ve loved since their debut, Battle At Helms Deep.  That album rules.  I’ve no problem admitting that I didn’t care much for the follow up, Second Coming.  But no matter.  I was finally getting to see them live.  They opened with The Hermit from their debut and the crowd went nuts.  The band was tight and most recent singer, Bobby Lucas, sounded great.  Original drummer, Mike Sabatini, and guitarist, Pat Marinelli were great as well as the rest of the band.  Their set was great and very tight.

Wretch played the small stage and they were another band who was solid, but I didn’t get to see enough to really form an opinion.  We were so hungry we went next door to grab a burger.

Upon returning, The Rods were already playing the main stage.  I’ve seen them before and I am 0.0% a fan of them.  Their brand of hard rock just never caught on with me.

Nuclear Assault was on next, but again, I’m not really a fan.  I had met and seen them live in 2003 in Norfolk, VA and got Dan and John to sign The Book.  Glenn signed in the green room earlier that evening.  The room was packed and there was a big pit going.  I saw about 1.5 songs and retreated to the small room where all bands had finished for the night.  Kelz and I got to sit and hang out with Sabatini and just talk about stuff.  We talked with him for a long time and he was very cordial.  “Playing festivals like this is great, but we all have jobs.”  It was great hanging out with him and the rest of the band.

What a great night and fun festival.  After Nuclear Assault, we were all dog tired and went out to the street to say goodbyes to all of our friends.  I hope they continue to get quality bands for next future fests.  My band, Eternal Champion, was originally slated to play but had to back out a few months ago.  Warlord was also originally booked but backed out.  That was a crushing blow for me.

Click here to see the setlists from the festival.

Mouse over or click photos to see captions.

On Meeting Alice Cooper, Dallas, TX, May 17, 2014

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Unbelievable.  I got to meet Alice Cooper today in Dallas at the ComicCon.  Completely surreal.

About a week or so ago, Jason K. hits me up about going to Dallas with him to meet Alice Cooper and of course I accepted.  What a wonderful signature to get in The Book!  We made the 3 hour trek to Dallas around noon, got parked, got our tix and made our way through the convention center.  There were thousands of people in lines to see the casts of The Walking Dead and Firefly.  Insane!  We get to Cooper’s booth and there was virtually no one in line.  Lines for movie and TV personalities were long, but not many there for Alice.  That proved beneficial for Jason and me.

I paid my fee to get 2 items signed and walk right up to the table where Alice is sitting.  I open the book and put the CD cover for From the Inside in front of him and he signs them both.  He didn’t sign on his photo unfortunately, but no biggie.

Backstory…a guy I work with found Cooper’s golf club ID on a course in Florida in the late 80s and turned it in to the club.  I asked Alice if he remembered any of that and he said, “I vaguely remember that ID thing and definitely remember that club.  Thank your friend for being a good citizen.”  We both laughed.

No one was behind me in line so I stayed there and talked to him for a few minutes.  He wasn’t trying to move me along at all.  I tell him about the death of my brother 2 years ago and how much he loved Alice and got me into him at an early age, and especially our love for From the Inside.  The conversation got personal and in depth in discussing my brother and Alice says, “Sounds like you had an awesome older brother who influenced who you are.”  Alice got it.  He’s been there.  It was a personal moment and one that I’ll never forget.  I shook his hand and thanked him for talking and for his musical influence on me.  He’s got such an infectious smile, still very childlike.  It was a pleasure and totally worth the trip.

Alice!

Alice!

The hands of Alice Cooper signing my book and CD cover

The hands of Alice Cooper signing my book and CD cover

Deep discussions.

Deep discussions.

My favorite album by Alice

My favorite album by Alice

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Written by The Metal Files

May 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm

On meeting Cheap Trick (Concert Review), May 16, 2014, Austin, TX

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Tonight was the 4th time I’ve seen Cheap Trick in the last 2 years and the 5th time overall.  As always they put on an energetic show and it was a ton of fun.

Earlier this week I took the decision to buy the VIP/meet and greet pass to hopefully get The Book signed.  Immediately after paying for it, I received an automated email stating the details and rules of the meet and greet.  In bold letters, “NO AUTOGRAPHS” was written halfway down.  Wait…what?  It was the WHOLE reason I paid for this.  I honestly didn’t give a rat’s ass about a photo op.  You also get a shirt, VIP laminate, poster and a “special tour gift”, all of which will be mailed.  Upon receiving the email, I fired an email back asking for a refund and got denied.  I please my case one more time and the rep from the company who puts on the meet and greet said, “just bring the book and see what happens.”

Show day arrives and I get to the venue at the stated time and get in the line with the others.  Several folks said, “no autographs, you know” after seeing my bag with the book strapped over my shoulder.  “I’ll take my chances.”  We’re let inside and reform a line by the backstage door and they let us in 5 at a time.  One person at a a time was then let in to stand in front of the band and get a picture taken.  I was the 5th in the first group, walked up to the band, pulled out the book and said, “They said no autographs but I’d forgo the photo if you’d sign this book.”  Rick asks what the book is and I explain that it’s a book about metal bands but they’re listed and pictured in it as a reference.  Robin just smiles and says, “Weird.”  Tom says, “Hey, let’s play one of our metal songs tonight!”  Rick then asks who said no autographs and I told him the rules in the email.  “Well fuck them, they’re not here.   Where’s your pen?”  I hand him the Sharpie and he signs the Cheap Trick page and Robin and Tom sign their picture.  Then Robin says, “Now let’s do this photo, man.”  So we did the photo which I assume will be emailed out.  It was pretty cool.  Before walking away, I asked if they were going to play Southern Girls and Ricck says, “We’re not far enough south for that one.”  I love that song and they’ve played it on the recent tours in just about every city but Austin for whatever reason.  Rick’s son, Daxx (drums), smiled and looked at me and mouthed. “we’re playing it.”  Rick and Tom each hand me a guitar pick and that was it.  Out the back door.  But SUCCESS!  It’s a great addition.

Then the show started.  Austin’s own Ume opened and it wasn’t my thing at all.  I’d seen them before a while back.

Cheap Trick comes on and just does their thing.  They are a well oiled machine that has fun on stage.  Their setlist is different every night and that’s great.  It keeps things a little loose on tour.  They played their hits mixed with other stuff for the hardcore fans as well as a new song from their upcoming album.   The Flame always takes me right back to the 80s.  Tonight one of the Dixie Chicks did a duet with Robin on it.  They’re always a treat and I look forward to the next time I can see them!

 

 

 

Hawkwind’s Nik Turner

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While I’m not the biggest Hawkwind fan in the world, their albums Doremi Fasol Latido and Space Ritual are pretty massive records.  This years SxSW music festival brought Nik Turner in town to pay and he performed Space Ritual.  I wasn’t able to make the show but I did see him at the meet and greet the next day at End of An Ear Records.  He was a quite a nice and funny guy.  I had him sign The Book and snapped a few pictures.

Written by The Metal Files

March 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Headbangers – The Worldwide MegaBook of Heavy Metal Bands

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Back in 1995/1996 I was still married to my now ex-wife.  She was a voracious reader and during our brief marriage it inspired me to do some reading.  Most of the time it was band/musician biographies.  Sometimes it was just catching up on John Saul books (all of which suck anymore).  One day I went to the library and was just thumbing through the reference books and came across “Headbangers – The Worldwide MegaBook of Heavy Metal Bands” by Mark Hale.  I cracked it open and just started freaking out.  This book had just about everyone in it that was a metal band.  It spans from the late 60s to about 1990 and does a wonderful job of cross-referencing bands, listing albums and catalog numbers.  There’s an index in the back of musicians, band names, countries of origin and record labels with catalog numbers.  It’s a pretty extensive hardcover book.  This book blows away any of that Martin Popoff crap.

Hale gives descriptions of the bands and does his best not to inject bias.  It’s 540+ pages of heavy metal goodness.

My ex and I split up in late 1996 and by early 1997 I had started my own CD sales business.  I was mostly doing it by word of mouth between friends, eBay and had started an online music store, Acacia Music (defunct).  I checked the book out from the library several times and finally called the publisher to see if they still had any copies.  Luckily they did.  Having a business license and tax ID number, they sold me the book for $75.  One of the best investments that I have ever made.

The book has 2 editions.  The first edition had a run of 750 copies and the second run of the first edition had 250 copies.  That’s it!

Somewhere along the line I decided to get it signed by bands that were in it.  If I remember correctly the first signatures were by Warrell Dane/Jim Shepherd (Sanctuary) and Jon Schaffer (Purgatory 60 aka Iced Earth) when Nevermore and Iced Earth were touring together in 1999.

Over the years I’ve met a lot of bands who are in it and some of the encounters were pretty random.  I think in the coming months I’ll start writing about the signatures and how I obtained them.  Many of them had some good stories attached to them.  Typically I get the same reaction, “What the hell is this and where the hell did you get it?”

If you’re a fan of metal, especially the pre-1990 stuff, this book is a must have.  They typically don’t come cheaply but you can generally find some on Amazon.com.  Most of the copies there are ex-library copies.

Here’s the current list of signatures (updated 5/15/2018):

AC/DC – Simon Wright
Accept – Peter Baltes, Herman Frank, Wolf Hoffman, Udo Dirkschneider
Ace Frehley – Anton Fig
Aerosmith – Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford
Aftermath – Charlie Tsisolis, Steve Sacco, John Lovette, Ray Schmidt, Eric ? (not in the book)
Agony Column – Stuart Laurence
Alcatrazz – Graham Bonnet, Jimmy Waldo, Gary Shea
Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper
Amulance – Rick Baez, Bob Luman, Chuck Hamilton (not in the book)
Anthrax – Dan Spitz, Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello
Armored Saint – Joey Vera, John Bush, Phil Sondoval, Gonzo Sandoval
Assalant – Mike Botello
At War – Paul Arnold, Shawn Helsel
Attacker – Mike Sabatini, Pat Marinello
Autograph – Steve Lynch, Randy Rand
Baron Steel – Joe Szabo, Al Ortiz
Battlezone – Paul Di’Anno
Bitch – Betsy
Black N Blue – Pete Holmes, Jaime St James, Patrick Young
Black Roses – Chuck Wright
Britny Fox – Johnny Dee
Bullet – Fitty
Bullet Boys – Marq Torien, Jimmy D’Anda
Celtic Frost – Tom G Warrior
Chastain – Leather Leone, David T. Chastain, Mike Skimmerhorn, David Harbour, Ken Mary
Cheap Trick – Tom Petersson, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen
Cinderella – Tom Keifer
Cirith Ungol – Tim Baker, Robert Garven, Mike Flint, Greg Lindstrom, Jim Barraza (not in the book but verified inclusion based on other resources)
CJSS – Les Sharpe, Russell Jinkens
Damien Thorne – Ken Starr, Rick Browz (not in book but played on original demos)
Dark Angel – Gene Hoglan
Death Tripper – Jerry Blanco
Deceased – King Fowley
Deliverance – Glenn Rogers
Destruction – Schmier, Mike
Detente – Steve Hochheiser
Devastation – Rodney Dunsmore, Alex Dominguez, Louis Carrisalez
The Dictators – Handsome Dick Manitoba
DIO – Rowan Robertson, Craig Goldy, Vinny Appice
Dirty Looks – Paul Lidel
Dokken – Jeff Pilson, George Lynch
DRI – Felix Griffin, Josh Pappe
English Dogs – Graham Butt (one of the funniest inscriptions ever…you had to be there)
Enuff Z’Nuff – Chip Znuff, 3 non-original members
Exodus – Gary Holt, Tom Hunting
Faster Pussycat – Taime Down, Brent Muscat, 2 non-original members
Fates Warning – Frank Aresti, John Arch, Jim Matheos, Victor Arduini, Steve Zimmerman, Joe DiBiase
Ferrari – Oni Logan
Flotsam and Jetsam – Eric AK, Kelly David Smith, Ed Carlson, Michael Gilbert
Forbidden – Tim Calvert
Forte’ – Rev Jones (band not in the book)
Glacier – Mike Podrybau
Great White – Jack Russell
Grim Reaper – Steve Grimmett
Hawkwind – Nik Turner
Hellion – Ann Boleyn
Helstar – James Rivera, Larry Barragan
Hirax – Katon W. DePena
Hurricane – Kelley Hansen
Iced Earth/Purgatory 60 – John Schafer
Impaler – Bill Lindsey, Commander Court
Jag Panzer – Chris Cronk (also listed with Fates Warning), Harry Conklin, Joey Tafolla, Rikard Stjernquist, Mark Briody, John Tetley
Jet Red – Brad Lang
Juggernaut – Harlan Glenn, Eddie Katilus, Scott Womack
Keel – Scott Warren
King Diamond – Mikkey Dee, Hal Patino
Kingdom Come – James Kottak
Kreator – Ventor
Krokus – Marc Storace, Chris Von Rohr, Mandy Meier
LA Guns – Philip Lewis, Tracii Guns, Steve Riley
Lethal – Tom Mallicoat, Glen Cook, Dell Hull, Jerry Hartman (not in book but played on Programmed)
Liege Lord – Joe Comeau, Tony Truglio
Lizzy Borden – Alex Nelson (RIP), Lizzy Borden, Joey Scott Harges
Loudness – Minoru Niihara, Akira Takasaki, Masayoshi Yamashita, Masayuki Suzuki (not in the book)
Lydia Von Huston – Jennifer Batten
Manilla Road – Mark Shelton
Manowar – Ross the Boss
Medieval Steel – John Roth, Bobby Franklin, Jeff Boydston
Megadeth – Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson
Metal Blade Records – Brian Slagel
Metal Church – Craig Wells
Mindless Sinner – Christer Göransson, Magnus Danneblad, Jerker Edman, Christer Carlson, Tommy Viktorsson (Formerly Johansson)
Militia – Mike Soliz, Rob Willingham, Phil Achee, Tony Smith, Jesse Villegas
Motorhead – Lemmy Kilmister
MSG – Michael Schenker
Mystic Force – Keith Menser
Necrophagia – Killjoy
Nuclear Assault – Dan Lilker, John Connelly, Glenn Evans
Obituary – James Murphy
The Obsessed – Wino
Odin – Shawn, Jeff and Matt Duncan, Randy O., Aaron Samson
Omen – Kenny Powell, Steve Wittig
Ostrogoth – Mario “Grizzly” Pauvels
Overkill – Bobby Ellsworth, D.D. Verni
Ozzy – Tommy Aldridge
Pentagram – Bobby Liebling, Victor Griffin, Joe Hasselvander
Plasmatics – Greg Smith, T.C. Tolliver
Pretty Boy Floyd – Steve Summers, 2 non-original members
Q5 – Evan Sheeley, Rick Pierce, Jonathan Kay
Queensyche – Geoff Tate
Quiet Riot – Rudy Sarzo, Sean McNabb, Frankie Banali
Racer X – Juan Alderete (as “Jeff” in the book)
Rage – Peavy Wagner, Manni Schmidt, Chris Efthimiadis
Rainbow – Joe Lynn Turner
Randy California – Mark Andes
Rapid Tears – Brian Frank
Ratt – Stephen Pearcy
Raven – John Gallagher, Mark Gallagher, Joe Hasselvander
Riot – Don Van Stavern, Bobby Jarzombek, Rick Ventura
Rotting Corpse – John Perez, Mando Tovar
Rough Cutt – Matt Thorne, Chris Hager
Running Wild – Stefan Schwarzmann
S.A. Slayer – Bob Catlin, Art Villareal
Sabbat – Martin Walkyier, Andy Sneap, Simon Negus, Simon Jones
Sadus – Steve DiGiorgio
Saint Vitus – Dave Chandler, Mark Adams, Scott Reagers
Salty Dog – Michael Hannon
Sanctuary – Warrel Dane, Jim Sheppard
Satan – Brian Ross, Russ Tippins, Graeme English, Steve Ramsey, Sean Taylor
Satan’s Host – Patrick Evil (not in book but confirmed original)
Scorpions – Uli Roth, Francis Buchholz, Herman Rarebell
Screamer – Jim Dofka
Sentinel Beast – Michael Spencer
Sepultura – Paolo, Jr, Andreas Kisser
Skid Row – Sebastian Bach
Slauter Xstroyes – Paul Krathy
Slayer – Dave Lombardo
SOD – Billy Milano
Steel Prophet – Steve Kachinsky (Blackmoor in the book)
Syrus – Al Berlanga, Michael Vasquez, John Castilleja
Takashi – Danny Stanton
Ted Nugent – Derek St. Holmes
Tesla – Troy Lucketta, Tommy Skeoch, Brian Wheat, Frank Hannon, Jeff Keith
Testament – Chuck Billy, Alex Skolnick, Greg Christian, Eric Peterson
The Rods – Carl Canedy, David Feinstein, Garry Bordonaro
Thin Lizzy – John Sykes, Scott Gorham
Thrust – Ron Cooke
Triumph – Rik Emmett
Trouble – Ron Holtzman, Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson
Turbin – Doug Morrison, Neil Turbin
Twisted Sister – AJ Pero
Tygers of Pan Tang – Robb Weir
Tyrant’s Reign – Phil Fouch, Ken Miller
UFO – Paul Chapman, Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, Andy Chapman
Vatican – Vince vatican, Vic Grabouski, Brian McNasty
Vendetta (Chicago) – Klyph Black
Venom – Mantas, Abaddon, Demolition Man
Vinnie Moore – Vinnie Moore
War Cry – Rich Rozek
Warlock – Doro Pesch
Watchtower – Jason McMaster, Ron Jarzombek, Billy White, Rick Colaluca
Whitesnake – David Coverdale
White Lion – Greg D’Angelo
Wicked Angel – Joseph Valdez (book only lists the singer, validated here)
Winger – Kip Winger, Reb Beach, Rod Morgenstein
Wishbone Ash – Andy Powell
Wolfsbane – Blaze Bayley
Wyzard – John Alvarado, Buster Grant (as Gilbert Grant Guzman in the book)
Y&T – Dave Meniketti
Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – Yngwie Malmsteen, Anders Johansson, Jeff Scott Soto


	

Written by The Metal Files

April 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm