W.A.S.P.'s BLACKIE LAWLESS Pays Tribute To Former Bandmate STEVE RILEY: 'His Individual Legacy Will Live On'

October 28, 2023

W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless has paid tribute to the band's former drummer Steve Riley, who died on Tuesday (October 24) after battling a severe case of pneumonia for several weeks. He was 67 years old.

Late Friday night (October 27),Blackie released the following statement via the W.A.S.P. web site: "The entire W.A.S.P. family are saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former bandmate Steve Riley. Steve was a native of Boston and came from a large family. He had several brothers, which from the beginning I dubbed, 'the Dalton Gang'. That came from an old Quick Draw McGraw cartoon and in a fun type of way they reminded me of some crazy kind of wannabe outlaws. They all loved the name so it stuck.

"It was Steve's drumming you hear providing the steady beat on songs such as 'Wild Child', 'Blind in Texas' and 'I Don't Need No Doctor'. Those songs helped cement our legacy and Steve was a big part of that.

"Most drummers have some the best humor in any band. It's just the way they are wired and he was no exception. Steve could make a dog laugh and that's no joke.

"For any band, being on the road can be a grind. If you have someone in the band that can come in and break the tension just by being themselves, then that's a gift that's sorely missed when that vacuum can no longer be filled.

"One of the 'Dalton Gang' has now slipped away and our hearts are truly saddened. He will be missed. But his individual legacy will indeed live on.

"God Speed Steve Riley".

Riley was the drummer for W.A.S.P. on the band's second and third albums — 1985's "The Last Command" and 1986's "Inside The Electric Circus" — and world tours from 1984 to 1987. After leaving W.A.S.P., Riley joined L.A. GUNS and played on that group's most commercially successful LPs.

In a 2021 interview with "The Bay Ragni Show" (see video below),Steve stated about W.A.S.P.: "It was unfortunate what happened with W.A.S.P. I loved that band, I loved being in it, and I thought that the four members of W.A.S.P., we really had some great personalities, and we were making great music. And it's just unfortunate. It was one of those bands that splintered, and one guy left, one guy got fired, another guy got fired, and Blackie took it over on himself and he just went on with it on his own. But I thought we had a lot of legs, man; I thought we could have gone a lot longer with the four guys."

Riley added that he knew Lawless was calling all the shots when he joined W.A.S.P. "It pretty much is Blackie's band," he said. "I knew when I joined, I knew it was Blackie's band and he was writing the majority of the material and he was directing all the traffic."

According to Steve, Blackie made a mistake when he got rid of the musicians that composed W.A.S.P.'s classic lineup. "He fired Randy [Piper, guitar], then he fired me and then he ended up firing Chris [Holmes, guitar]. So he disbanded a great band.

"I've got nothing but admiration for Blackie, 'cause he gave me a shot with W.A.S.P. and I really took advantage of it and I loved being in the band. But I think that he disbanded a great band," Riley reiterated. "We were not only good theatrically, we were great sonically, musically. We were just blowing bands off the stage, man. That original four guys in W.A.S.P., we were great."

Steve added: "I've been in so many bands, and I know that that band, we were slaying. We were just really — every show, whether it was Europe, Asia, over here in North America and Canada, we were just killing it, bro. And I felt great about the band and I felt great about the first and second albums. I feel good about 'Inside The Electric Circus', but that was a noticeable change in the whole band, the sound of the band and everything, and how we looked — the whole thing. But those first two albums, man — we were really pushing it. It was great."

Steve Riley photo courtesy of Golden Robot Records

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