Monday, January 14, 2013

Meister's "Views of the Cruise" - Volume #3 - Heavy Metal Maidens of the Voyage

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MEISTER'S "VIEWS OF THE CRUISE" - VOLUME #3 - HEAVY METAL MAIDENS

If you've been following my weekly “Views of the Cruise” articles leading up to this years adventure in March, this article will serve as volume #3.  See the bottom of the article for direct links to the first two "Views of the Cruise" instalments.


As I familiarize myself with as many of the great artists on board as possible, for this week’s article I thought I’d talk a bit about some of the Heavy Metal Maidens aboard this year's voyage, the “Ladies of the Sea” if you will.  This year for the second annual Monsters of Rock Cruise: The Lost Weekend (although I suspect it will be a lost week for many of us….see my recap of last years inaugural cruise), as well as all the great returning bands and new additions, we have several ladies rocking the boat on this voyage.  Here’s a look at Femme Fatale, JSRG (75% of Vixen's original line up) and of course Lita Ford…...all we’re missing is the Canadian female content of Lee Aaron!  Let’s start with Femme Fatale…....

FEMME FATALE

Femme Fatale began life in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1987 and soon after birth they moved the basis of their operation to Los Angeles.  Femme Fatale consisted of Lorraine Lewis (vocals), Mazzi Rawd (guitars), Bill D’Angelo (guitars), Rick Rael (bass and brother of Lewis) and Bobby Murray (drums).  After they had re located to Los Angeles it took them only playing eight or ten shows before they scored the coveted major label contract with MCA.  The record company promoted Lorraine as a sex symbol to all the male audience that couldn't stop drooling over her.  They produced promo photos of her with the caption “Look Out Lita” and tried to develop the appearance of a rivalry for promotion.  Songs Waiting for the Big One and Falling In And Out Of Love received video play on MTV and although the album sold more than 200,000 copies they failed to fully break through.  When the Waiting for the Big One single was released in England it contained a fold out poster of Lorraine and helped to create excitement about the band over there.
Femme Fatale took their stage performance across the pond and were well received with the audiences and press and they released the third single in England, Rebel.  Femme Fatale were set to play the Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donnington in 1989 along side fellow female cruisers Vixen, but that year’s festival was cancelled due to the tragic deaths that occurred during the Guns n' Roses set the previous year.  They released a fourth single, Touch & Go, in England and began to work on a follow-up record.  The original recordings for the second album were produced by Toby Wright (see Decibel Geek Podcast Episode #61).  After such a strong début they failed to have the second record released, their manager Andrea Accardo got brain cancer and they eventually disbanded in 1990.  In 2009 it was reported that Sun City Records would finally bring Femme Fatale’s second album, Lady In Waiting, into the light of day, but this has not taken place and the record remains “lost” at the moment.  I can only hope that we will see it on the shelves sometime in the future.

Although many people may have thought that she had left the business after the disbandment of Femme Fatale Lorraine Lewis soldiered forth in the music business releasing several albums and being involved in a few different projects. Mercy was her first band after Femme Fatale and the released an album in 1993.  I have been unsuccessful in finding said release at this time, but I will surely keep my eyes open. In 2000 along with a fellow member of Mercy formed and fronted Snowball releasing one record.  While it is described as having roots in both punk and pop, I have read reviews calling it a too poppy or "dance-like" album, but again I have not heard it myself.  It is available on Amazon and Ebay for reasonable pricing, however.  Still staying away from hard rock and softening her edge slightly, going with a more country sound, Lorraine released a self titled album in 2002.  Moving back to the rock sound again she hooked up with Roxy Petrucci (drummer from Vixen and also shipmate for the cruise) and they played in Rocktopuss (and I hope that's spelt correctly or at least close) and not to be confused with Rocktopus.
In 2010 Lorraine became involved in a project dedicated to help stop substance abuse with a record called Serenity. Also working on the album were members (past and present) of Kiss, Heart and Goo Goo Dolls among others, just click the link (http://www.rockstarsuperstarproject.com/) to hear a sample of the track featuring Lorraine Lewis.  She was also involved in an all girl Bon Jovi cover band called Blond Jovi, but she moved on to put together L.A. Nookie.  L.A. Nookie is another cover band and has featured Share Ross (Pedersen), former member of Vixen's "classic line-up".  Spider & Sniper is a fairly recent project playing all acoustic shows in the L.A. area.

Lorraine is also the creator of the reality TV series Ex-Wives of Rock.  The reality show follows the lives of four women who were once married to famous rock stars.  The subjects of the show are Athena Lee (James Kottak-drummer for The Scorpions), Sharise Neil (Vince Neil-vocalist for Motley Crue), Bobby Brown (Warrant vocalist Jani Lane) and Susan "Blue" Dixon (Warrant bassist Jerry Dixon).  The show is broadcast on US and Canadian stations and has seen success.

Lorraine is quite active on her Facebook page and Twitter as well, interacting with her fans.  Erin Gavin is a lucky man as Lorraine announced on her Facebook page on November 21st, 2012 that the two were engaged.  She promises to announce shortly her new all-female band that will be accompanying her aboard the MSC Poesia as the new Femme Fatale, could the Vixen ladies be pulling some double duty here, I wonder.  Visit Lorraine's website through this link: http://www.lorrainecafe.com/


JSRG (Vixen)

Vixen began in the early 80's but the "classic" line-up didn't form until 1987.  The most successful, "classic", line-up consisted of Jan Kuehnemund (guitar/backing vocals), Janet Gardner (guitar/lead vocals), Share Pedersen (bass/backing vocals) and Roxy Petrucci (drums/backing vocals). This incarnation spawned two great albums between 1987 and 1991, completed several major tours including one headliner and were generally considered to become the "female Bon Jovi".  For the self titled first record Richard Marx lent his assistance for the biggest hit, Edge of a Broken Heart.  They returned to the studio in late 1989 resulting in the release of the follow up album, Rev It Up in 1990.  In the writing credits for Rev It Up, Ron Keel (a fellow shipmate on the Cruise) appears on the title track and Steve Plunkett from Autograph's name shows up on another.  Interestingly, two of Vixen's members were born on the same date, Janet Gardner and Roxy Petrucci.

They disintegrated in 1991 citing musical differences until 1997 when the classic members minus Kuehnemund and Pedersen re-formed with Gina Stile (lead guitar) and Rana Ross (bass), later Roxy's sister Maxine would handle bass.  This version of Vixen put forth the effort entitled Tangerine in 1998, but before the tour could begin Kuehnemund sued for copyright infringement and they once again disintegrated.

In 2001 Jan Kuehnemund once again re-formed Vixen with Gardner and Petrucci, however half way through a US tour Kuehnemund was left as the only member after disagreements arose and caused the split up.  Kuehnemund recruited new players and finished the tour also producing a live recording and a studio album, Live & Learn under the Vixen moniker.  The VH1 program Bands Reunited in 2004 saw the classic line-up together for the show, but it wouldn't last.  In amongst all the reformations of Vixen and the legal troubles over the name the ladies have all kept busy in the music business.  Here's a quick bio on each member of the recently formed/re-united JSRG.

Roxy Petrucci started her music career in Madam X with her sister Maxine and Rick Derringer producing the one and only album. After Roxy had left to become the drummer for Vixen, Sebastian Bach spent a short time in Madam X.  The Heavy Slammin' Groove Queen has played with several bands including Rocktopuss (With Lorraine Lewis), Helles Belles (All female AC/DC cover band with Maxine), The Mob, Bombshell, Blacklace and Chrissy Steele.  She lent her thunderous beats to her sister Maxine's Titania album from 2005 which also features Billy Sheehan on bass.  Roxy was once asked to audition for DLR at a time when Vai and Sheehan were in the band.   Check out her website here:  http://www.roxypetrucci.com/   Roxy's drum skills were honoured at the 2010 Cape Breton International Drum Festival where she received the Legends Award.

Janet worked with Share a for bit when Vixen broke up, but the band didn't pan out.   Born in Alaska, Janet married in 2000 to Andy Katz whom she had met during the Tangerine recording.  They have at one son, born in 2003.  Janet graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 2005 with a dental hygiene degree and is still a dental hygienist a few days a week.  Gardner left music for a while to focus on raising her son and making her son top priority.  Now that he's older, she's back with JSRG.  Janet has also performed with Scrap Metal co-founded by shipmates Gunnar and Mathew Nelson.  Other shipmates, Bobby Rock of Nelson, Howie Simon of Alcatrazz and John Corabi have also done some shows with Scrap Metal (http://officialscrapmetal.com). I read somewhere that Janet carries baseball cards in her bag....hopefully I get the chance to ask her personally the reason for this on the cruise.

Share Pedersen (married as Ross now) is probably the busiest of the ladies.  Her Facebook page states that Share is married, is a speaker, life coach, video coach, raw foodist, rocker, options trader, knitter, optimist, believer in the secret, adventurer, Aries, citizen of the universe, video host/producer/editor....and life lover.  She discovered knitting in 2004 and together with husband Bam put out the book Punk Knits about knitting with attitude, whether or not you like punk music is irrelevant she says.  For sale on this site (http://punkknits.com/) for the rock & roll knitter on your gift purchasing list are knitting needles topped with skulls.....who thought knitting would be cool?...lol.  In 2007 she became the co-chef with Bam at The Raw Pirate Gourmet (http://rawpirategourmet.mevio.com/) a channel dedicated to raw food preparation.  The husband and wife team also produce an on-line TV show called Rock n Roll TV.  Musically she played guitar with her husband Bam on drums in their band Bubble.  When her husband's former band, Dogs D'Amour reunited again, she played with them in 2003, appearing on an album.  Share was a part of Contraband, a supergroup that released one album in 1991 and the semi hit song All The Way From Memphis.  The group consisted of Tracii Guns, Share, Michael Schenker, Richard Black (Shark Island), Bobby Blotzer (Ratt).   Share won "song of the year" in the John Lennon song writing contest beating out over 35,000 other tunes.  Her website site "Rev It Up" (http://www.shareross.com/) is a self help motivational site with video coaching.

Gina Stile started playing guitar at the age of 11.  Her first band, Revelation with her sister Rhonnie while they were still young teenagers in high school gained the attention of Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.  Gina then moved on to the Poison Dolly's when she was 17 and that band released a self titled record in 1985.  A year later in 1986 saw her back together with her sister Rhonnie for the band Envy and this time collaborating with Dee Snider.  Then she worked on Vixen's Tangerine record and after that played in a Heart tribute band.  Gina Stile plays in Thunderbox (http://www.thunderboxxx.com/), an all girl all metal tribute band from New York that she started in 2009.

And now the three "classic era" Vixens Janet Gardner, Roxy Petrucci, Share Pedersen (now married as Ross) and Tangerine era guitarist Gina Stile have formed JSRG, simply an acronym for their first names.  They originally were billed as VXN, but with the Vixen trademark and name belonging to Kuehnemund and not wanting to have any copyright infringement issues or anything of that sort moved to the acronym shortly after. They want to be clear that they are a different band, although they will be performing all the Vixen hits and promise some new compositions as well.  They are working on a new EP and I look forward to hearing them new and old songs live on Monsters of Rock 2013!


LITA FORD

Lita Ford is back on the rock scene with her new CD Living Like a Runaway and it's a full out rocking record from start to finish that I would consider saying is perhaps the best that she's ever released.......great to have you back Lita!

Lita was born in London, England and moved to L.A. when she was four.  Seven years later she started playing guitar citing Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple as her main inspiration.  At 16 years old she joined the all female group The Runaways with Sandy West (drums), Joan Jett (guitar), Cherie Currie (vocals), Jackie Fox (bass) and Lita Ford (guitar).  After the dissolution of the Runaways in 1979 or 1980 Lita went on to a solo career with her first album, Out For Blood seeing record store shelves in 1983.  The album did not do well and was considered a commercial disappointment although I personally quite enjoy it.

A year later in 1984 she fought back with Dancin' On The Edge which produced the hits Gotta Let Go and Fire in My Heart.  A follow up record was recorded with Tony Iommi as producer, reportedly entitled The Bride Wore Black but it was never released and remains "lost".  Iommi and Lita were engaged briefly in this time, but it ended sourly.

With a new label behind her and Sharon Osbourne now handling her management, Lita released  her self titled record in 1988. Lita became her most successful recording, spawning the hits Kiss Me Deadly, Back To The Cave, Close My Eyes Forever (the chart-topping duet with Ozzy), and Falling In And Out Of Love (co-written with Nikki Sixx) also included here is a collaboration with Rock God Lemmy Kilmister, Can't Catch Me.

Stiletto followed in 1990 and while it contained the singles Hungry and Lisa (dedicated to her mother) it failed to match the success of it's predecessor.

1991 saw Dangerous Curves be released on another new label and the single Shot of Poison hit the radio, but the face of music was changing by this time and this album did not see commercial success.  She was married briefly to Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P., but the union didn't last long and by 1994 they had divorced and she began dating Jim Gillette.

 Lita changed her musical style, experimenting a bit with 1995's Black which encompassed more blues and grunge influences and was released on yet another label.  Lita decided to take a break from her musical career and focus on raising her two sons, James and Rocco.  The family moved to the Turks and Caicos where they lived in a tropical and secluded paradise.

In 2009 almost 15 years after her last album she returned to the musical landscape and released the nu-metal inspired Wicked Wonderland a collaboration with husband Jim Gillette.

Two years later in 2011 the family was in negotiations for a reality TV show with TLC, but it was announced that Lita and Jim would be divorcing, ending any future for the show.  It has since been widely publicised that the relationship between Lita and Jim had turned abusive and controlling.  She has said that she feared for her life and had to get out.  She went through an ugly divorce in which Jim retained custody of the boys, James and Rocco and Lita has had no contact since the divorce.

Living Like A Runaway was released in 2012 and was a much needed return to form for Lita.  The album explodes with Branded and doesn't let up throughout in my opinion.  Many of the lyrics surround and concern her recent family situations.  Lita speaks to her boys on the track Mother and she hopes that one day they will hear it and know that she is not the monster she has been made out to be.  There are two cover songs included here, one being A Song To Slit Your Wrists By originally penned by Nikki Sixx for his project 58.  I'm not overly familiar with the original, but Lita's is dark, dirty and sleazy.  The other cover tune is the Elton John blessed The Bitch Is Back bonus track.  Doug Aldrich also appears on another bonus track Bad Neighbourhood.

Lita was back out on the road touring Living Like A Runaway this past summer supporting Def Leppard and Poison and although I missed that show when it passed through my area, Lita is one performance of this cruise that I will not miss.  Lita is not only a great inspiration to women all over the world in abusive situations, but a great musician and I'm sure she'll rock the boat on Monsters of Rock 2013.

The title Living Like A Runaway is also symbolic as I understand that the old hatchets of The Runaways have just recently been buried, fences mended and bridges began to be re-built.

Visit Lita on line at http://litafordonline.com/

That concludes my spotlight on the Heavy Metal Maidens of the MSC Poesia and the Monsters of Rock Cruise: The Lost Weekend!  This cruise is gonna rock and I'm counting down the days!

The cruise is now officially sold out unless you can find a spot in someone else's cabin (and there are places to do so)!  But if you're looking for some fun in the Fort Lauderdale area you can catch a few of the bands around the area before we set sail.  One of the best shows I've seen announced so far is L.A. Guns/Bang Tango/Ted Poley (Danger Danger)/Pretty Little Suicide/Glitter Boys.  While it's not an official Monsters of Rock pre-party many of the cruisers and bands will be there.  With only 450 tickets being sold, this promises to be an intimate show.  Don't just wait to read my report, join me there!

Meister’s “Views of the Cruise” – Volume #1 – 2012 Recap

Meister’s “Views of the Cruise” – Volume #2 – Jason McMaster from Dangerous Toys

Cheers,
The Meister




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