Last updated: 03/22/2012 12:00:00 PM
THE EARLY YEARS
The saga and legend of Fozzy began in 1999 in the backstage area at the Alamodome in San Antonio at a WCW show...that was the day that I met Rich Ward.
Now I'd seen Rich play live with Stuck Mojo in Orlando the year before, but I'd not met him before. I was a fan of his band and I didn't know until that day that he was a fan of mine, but it was great to know that the feeling was mutual. I was turned on to Mojo by my friend Geoff, when I mentioned to him that I was going to check out a Testament concert. Geoff told me to make sure to check out Mojo, who were opening, as they were an excellent band, so I did just that.
I was immediately impressed by the band and was even more impressed by their use of wrestling terminology throughout the set and the arrangement of wrestling dolls on the amps during the gig. I didn't introduce myself as I didn't want to bug the guys, so I was glad to finally meet up with Rich.
Have you ever met someone that you immediately felt a kinship with right off the bat? That's what it was like when I began talking to The Duke. We had similar tastes in music, which was apparent when we found out that we were both Journey and Stryper fans! What are the chances of finding that backstage! So we had a great chat and went our separate ways. A few months later I met up with Rich again backstage in Greenville, SC. This time during our conversation, after discussing our various beginnings in junior high school bands, we decided that if the opportunity ever presented itself, that we would get together and play a show that would consist of nothing but covers of our favorite bands from yesteryear. Rich already had played with a local musicians cover band, that consisted of whoever happened to show up that week, called Fozzy Osbourne and he invited me to sit in whenever I could. I agreed and once again we went our separate ways.
Fast forward a few months and I was sidelined from wrestling with a severely sprained ankle, which was going to keep me out of action for 4 months. When that happened, I called Rich and we decided to once again unleash Fozzy Osbourne upon the world, this time with me in the band. Rich called a few promoters that he knew and a few weeks later we debuted in Marietta, GA at a place called The Hangar. The lineup consisted of me on vocals, Rich on guitar, Mojo drummer Frank Fontsere, Mojo bassist Dan Dryden and a guitar student of Rich's named Ryan Mallam on guitar. Needless to say, without a day of rehearsal, we weren't exactly Dream Theater...but there was something there. So much so, that the word spread about the band so quickly, that we were offered a record deal by Palm/Megaforce Records, without ever being heard OR seen! The label head honchos were very interested in the project featuring members of Mojo and Y2J and so it was done...Fozzy was signed.
THE BIRTH OF THE FOZZY STORYLINE
It was at this point that Rich and I decided that there were a million cover bands and tribute bands in the world and it didn't need another one...unless there was a twist. That's when we decided to implement a Blues Brothers/Spinal Tap/Traveling Wilbur's story line, where we would all adopt characters and play it as if the songs that the band were covering were really our songs that were stolen from us while we were stuck in Japan due to a bad record deal. We also decided to drop the Osbourne and remain just Fozzy...although we entertained the idea of naming ourselves The Big City Knights for a short time. Glad we didn't use that one!! Anyway, the label dug the whole concept and they even tapped us to do a 30 minute "mockumentary" based on the history of the band.
The movie was made, along with the help of Dee Snider, Zakk Wylde, Mike Portnoy and Sebastian Bach, all who were happy to play along with the legend of how Fozzy had created and influenced all things metal. The movie played to rave reviews on MTV and Much Music and the first record, FOZZY, was released in Oct of 2000. The single and video, EAT THE RICH was also well received and enjoyed solid airplay. We played a handful of shows, including WWE Sunday Night Heat and that was it for almost 7 months.
I don't really know why it took us so long to get back on track, but when we reconvened over half a year later, we added another guitar player, Mike Schneider. We now sported a three pronged axe attack that got even more pompous when our good friend and uber metal producer Andy Sneap joined the band for the ricockulous FOUR axe attack. Thankfully that lineup only lasted for 4 shows...it was just too heavy and preposterous for the ears to comprehend. It was hilarious to see 5 Les Paul's (I used to play guitar during the encore as well) on one stage though!! We were still doing all covers at this time but that was about to change...
BEGINNING TO CHANGE WITH HAPPENSTANCE
When it came time to do the second record, we decided that in order for the band to progress and grow, that we would do half covers and half originals. We signed to Megaforce Records and began to write our first batch of real Fozzy songs. Granted, Feel The Burn and End Of Days off the first record were originals, but they were the last tracks on the record that were worked on. We wanted these originals to be top priority. At this point, Mike Schneider left the fold as did Dan Dryden, who was replaced on bass by Keith Watson. HAPPENSTANCE was released in July of 2002 and featured the originals To Kill A Stranger, the title track, Crucify Yourself and With The Fire. Happenstance was also released around the world, which was the first time we'd been heard anywhereoutside of the US. We did a video for With The Fire that was once again played by MTV2, Much Music and Fuse TV. The vid was also shown on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Best Damn Sports Show Period and The Craig Kilborn Show. We also had a battle of the bands on The Howard Stern Show and we played a hell of a lot more gigs, including appearing on WWE Raw, at the 2002 NAMM convention in L.A. and playing in front of 25,000 people at the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with Slayer, Gamma Ray and Rob Halford.
During this time, Ryan decided to leave the band to go to law school...what was he thinking?? Leaving the Fozz to become a high paying lawyer...pshaw!! He was replaced by Billy Grey, who remained with the band until he left and was replaced with...Ryan Mallam, who was replaced when he left by...Billy Grey! Confused yet? I know I am! It's like one of those Old Testament chapters...Mike begat Ryan who begat Sneap who begat Billy who begat Ryan who begat Billy...
Anyway, we were still semi-playing along.... with the story line, but as the band's notoriety grew, so did our realization that it would benefit the future of the Fozz if we dropped the story and focused on ourselves...being ourselves.
WHY IS THAT GUY WEARING A PIG MASK ?
Who is he? Why is he here? Why is he wearing a pig mask?
Those questions have always been asked by our fans regarding our esteemed mascot, Arthur. Arthur was born when we had our first rehearsal before our very first gig, when I saw the pig mask that was used in the Mojo video for Pig Walk on the floor. I decided like every good metal band, Fozzy needed a mascot and voila...Arthur was born. I said that he was a close friend of ours who was stricken at an early age by the horrible disease know as Swinus...a crushing sickness that turns the facial features of the afflicted into that of a swine. He's been played by a number of guys, but the character really didn't come out of it's shell until he was taken over by Richard Marcum. Marcum was a guy who did the merch for Mojo back in the day and a huge black metal fan. He was also the perfect guy to play Arthur, as he embodied the character. When he put the mask on, it was like Superman putting on his cape...he became that persona! He reached his peak at the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany when he went in the crowd and handed out 20,000 buttons bearing his face before our set. By the time we hit the stage, he was the most popular member of the band!! I'll never forget the sight of a guy in a pig mask introducing himself to Kerry King of Slayer, as "Arthur from Fozzy"!
Even though he doesn't have as prominent of a role as he once did, as long as there's a Fozzy, Arthur will be involved in some shape or form....oink oink oink!!!
THE DVD THAT SHOULD NOT BE
One day, I got fed up with the fact that we had this awesome movie of the band, that I basically co-wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in and it was sitting on a shelf at my house. I knew that we also had a ton of footage that we'd filmed over the years that wasn't being seen as well, so I decided to do something about it.
So I bought a DVD making machine and myself and my good friend Ed produced the first Fozzy DVD. It included the movie, Unleashed, Uncensored, Unknown, as well as the video for With The Fire, and all the footage from all the shows and travels we'd done. It was met with as rousing response as the Fozzy Fanatics are very, very loyal. People were very excited by the DVD and the reviews were the same. Unfortunately, due to legal red tape bullshit, we were forced to pull the DVD from the market. It still bothers me that the movie is basically lost forever, except for the people who were lucky enough to have it. If you got one, hold on to it, cos it's a collector's item and an underground classic. Everyone who's seen it loves it and it was the hit of Ozzfest last year...Zakk knows it off by heart and quotes it to me every time I see him!
ODDS AND ENDS
In between records over the last year, we've also appeared on a couple of other compilation albums. We appeared on the WWE Originals CD last year, with the song Don't You Wish You Were Me, which was written by Rich and I. It's the best track on the record and a staple of our live show. Rich and I also covered The King Of The Nighttime World for the Kiss tribute record Spin The Bottle. Check them out if you don't have these tracks, cos we stole the show on both the albums...as usual!
HERE AND NOW WITH ALL THAT REMAINS
When it came time to do ATR, we knew that it was time to drop the story and embrace the kick ass rock band that we knew we were...and we have. Due to time constraints, Andy Sneap left the band and we were right back where we started with a two guitar line up. We also welcomed Sean B Delson into the bass fold when Watty departed and Mike Martin in on guitar when Ryan Mallam split. We now had the perfect mix of pure heavy groove and ridiculous shred and we were ready to record the record of our career. Well, it took a little while, but we've done that. This record is by far our strongest and our best to date and everyone who's heard it agreed. It's been well documented who guest starred on the record, but I don't want to downplay the supreme efforts of our band.
We all delivered the performances of our career and on Jan 18, 2005 I know you'll all agree when you hear it. We've got more publicity and buzz for this record then we've ever had and I can't wait for you to hear it. It's going to be released by our own record company, ASH Records, which is exciting, as we've had our share of craziness dealing with other companies. We also just did an awesome video for Enemy and the future is so bright we gotta wear shades!
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOZZY FANATICS
So that's where we stand right now. That's the first couple chapters of this epic story. But one important thing is that we couldn't have made it this far and written this much without all of you guys. You've helped us to achieve our dream of playing in a touring, exciting, kick ass rock and roll band and you've given us the reason to continue. Without your interest and support, the time spent and the demands imposed on us from working on Fozzy would have been dropped a long time ago. We've amassed an incredible fan base and an incredible support team including Mark Willis, Ed Aborn, Sean Grove, Richard Marcum, Noel St John, Paul Hough, Zakk Wylde, Webmaster Lee Wren and so many others, too numerous to mention.
We can't wait to continue this awesome journey and see where it takes us...hopefully it takes us right into your town and we can go f**king crazy with each other!!!
Thanks from the bottom of my heart and God bless you guys...
Spread the Fozzpel cos We Are Huge Rock Stars!!
Thanks to Lindsie Bordans2@aol.com for submitting the biography.