CHRIS HOLMES Says BLACKIE LAWLESS's 'Narcissism' Ruined W.A.S.P.
June 9, 2023
In a new interview with Classic Album Review, former W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes, who hasn't played with the band in more than two decades, reflected on the breakup of W.A.S.P.'s original lineup in the mid-1980s. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "[W.A.S.P. leader Blackie Lawless] should have kept the lineup, with Randy [Piper, guitar] and him and I, 'cause the songs and ideas were great. When he changed it, that's what ruined the band. What ruined it was the second album. It's the narcissism — the one guy. 'It's gonna be just me, me, me.' Well, great. Just have it be you. But that's the way it is.
"The first album was four guys working their butts off to make the music do what it does and give it the energy. Then] they got rid of Tony [Richards, drums]. That was a big mistake. They could have dealt with his drug problem. They never even tried. They just threw him out."
Holmes went on to say that blame for the breakup of W.A.S.P.'s original lineup lies squarely on the shoulders of the band's leader. "It's the narcissism of one guy," Chris said. "He's on all the records. That's what it is. He's got his own thing; he's got his W.A.S.P. thing. That's the problem.
"We toured with METALLICA on the first album. You know why they [METALLICA] are so big? 'Cause they stuck together through thick and thin," Holmes explained. "There's nobody in that band that thinks they're better than anybody else; there's no narcissism. That's what makes bands. They're still together today."
Asked if he thinks Blackie Lawless "destroyed W.A.S.P.", Chris responded: "Oh, yeah. It's him. That's all he wants it to be. He doesn't want anybody else. It's the way it is."
Holmes joined W.A.S.P. in 1982 and remained with the group until 1990. In 1996, the guitarist returned to W.A.S.P. and stayed with the band until 2001. Chris has not played with W.A.S.P. since.
Last year, Holmes completed seven weeks of radiation therapy in his battle with cancer in throat and neck.
Last September, Chris told Canada's The Metal Voice that he hadn't heard from Lawless since his diagnosis. He said: "Blackie could have helped to pay for some of my treatment, but [he didn't]. But Nikki Sixx [MÖTLEY CRÜE] did. He gave me a lot of money. He was the first one; he forked over 500 bucks, and I love the guy for it. Thank you, Nikki. I love him for that."
He continued: "About the first month I was sick, [I got video messages of support from fellow musicians] and [I got one from JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford]. [In his message, he said], 'Chris, this is your Metal God, Rob Halford.' And it was kind of cool. Rob talked a little bit on there. And then the guitar player that took [Glenn] Tipton's gig [Richie Faulkner] thanked me. A bunch of… tons of people did. But nobody from W.A.S.P. did. It's kind of weird. Nobody. [Blackie] didn't send me a message at all. I thought he would, but he didn't. But that's okay; I didn't expect it."
A few hours after Chris's diagnosis was made public in February, Lawless released a statement via W.A.S.P.'s social media in which he said: "The entire W.A.S.P. family are all optimistic of a positive outcome concerning the diagnosis for Chris. I certainly wish him the very best."
In 2021, Holmes told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that W.A.S.P. was "a group, a band" on the first LP. "And after that, the second album, it wasn't a group — it was a one-man show," he said. "And it's been a one-man show after that ever since. It's the way it is. Look at the records. It's the way it is in that band."
According to Chris, he, Piper, Richards and Blackie were all part of W.A.S.P. initial management contract, but Blackie was the only one signed to the record label. "Everybody thinks we [all] signed to the label, but it wasn't [like that]," Holmes told "Trunk Nation".
Despite the fact that he only got songwriting credit on a couple of the songs on each of the first four W.A.S.P. records, Holmes was adamant that his input was essential to the band's overall sound.
"If I would have quit after the first album, the way I play guitar, the way I play is really important to writing those songs," he told "Trunk Nation".
"If I hadn't joined in the beginning, it would have never worked. Blackie told me that the first day, when he came and talked to me to play in W.A.S.P. He says, 'I've got this band. It's not gonna work unless you're in it.' He told me that to my face."
In February 2022, Lawless shot down Holmes's claim that the guitarist was "screwed" out of receiving royalties on the W.A.S.P. albums that he performed on. Lawless discussed Holmes's tenure with W.A.S.P. in an interview with "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". Asked to respond to Holmes's assertion in Chris's documentary "Mean Man: The Story Of Chris Holmes" that he was financially taken advantage of during his time in the band, Lawless said: "I don't really know much about… I spoke to Randy Piper a couple of years ago. I don't really know what's going on with the rest of the guys. And I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about with Chris about not being paid. Chris, at two different points in his musical career, received settlements from this band; he signed documents as such. And he was paid quite well. I haven't seen what you're talking about. The answer I'm giving you right now is based on what you just said to me."
The W.A.S.P. frontman went on to confirm that he hadn't seen Chris's documentary and was once again asked about Holmes's claim that there is money and songwriting credits that he didn't get that he's due. Lawless said simply: "That is not true."
During a November 2017 press conference in Moscow, Russia, Lawless was asked what he would say to those W.A.S.P. fans who continue to call for the band to reunite with Holmes. He responded: "People get divorced for certain reasons, and there's times when the kids want the parents to get back together, but sometimes it never happens. And this is one of those [times]. Sorry."
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