Thursday, June 20, 2024

Legendary WASP captured in pictures by Ross Halfin

Meet W.A.S.P.. the band who once ‘rocked and shocked the world,’ the band the Moral Majority would most like to murder and the only band ever to have had a record banned by their own label. Later in 2022, the band will be heading out on tour for the first time in a decade and, coincidentally, legendary photographer to the rock star community Ross Halfin has chosen this moment to release a book featuring many of his hundreds of pictures of the band.

W.A.S.P. emerged out of the LA rock scene in the early 1980s, part of the scene which also produced the likes of Motley Crue and Poison, amongst others, and are certainly no strangers to notoriety. Their initial fanbase was amongst teenage leather and denim-clad young guys who raised the roof when the band’s main man Blackie Lawless or Steven Duren to his mother, pulled the cord to fire up his chainsaw and hack up chunks of meat or attempt to decapitate a scantily clad young woman. Their ‘bad boy’ persona was only boosted by songs like ‘Animal (f**k like a beast)’ causing concern among conservative parents and their image was given a further, unintended boost when Tipper Gore and the Washington Wives of the PMRC cited W.A.S.P and other similar bands of the time as an example of perceived obscene lyrical content in their successful attempt to have ‘parental advisory guidance’ stickers placed on certain albums.

Halfin’s book is an extravagant visual celebration of a band who were one of metal’s biggest acts throughout the eighties. It starts at the beginning of WASP’s career when Halfin and Rod Smallwood, Iron Maiden’s manager, went to see the band at the legendary LA venue, The Troubadour. Smallwood signed them up and their journey began. There’re hundreds of pictures of WASP pulling all kinds of HM poses whilst on stage, with the occasional group portrait, and also Blackie with his chainsaw about to wreak havoc.

There’s also the occasional anecdote about certain pictures from Chris Holmes, a member of the band on and off for 13 years. Explaining some of the earlier pics of WASP, Holmes states, ‘You have to understand… the early shows were just mayhem onstage. There was so much excitement and energy and, onstage, it was a free for all.’ Certainly, some of Halfin’s pictures capture this mayhem. What may sadden WASP fans is Holmes features in many of the pictures in the book and he’s considered by fans to have been an integral member of the classic eighties WASP line-up, with so much bad blood now flowing between the two men, reconciliation appears to be well beyond hope.

This coffee table book runs to 300 pages of pictures, features a 3D lenticular cover, is bound in red recycled leather and is presented in a protected slipcase. If you want a copy, you need to move quickly as it’s limited to only 300 copies, each personally signed by Chris Holmes and available via Rufus publications in November. The cost? To you, the fan, a mere £275.

I wonder if there are really 300 WASP fans anywhere on earth prepared to pay £275 for what’s effectively a book of admittedly very cool, very professionally taken photographs with the occasional anecdote?

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Meet W.A.S.P.. the band who once ‘rocked and shocked the world,’ the band the Moral Majority would most like to murder and the only band ever to have had a record banned by their own label. Later in 2022, the band will be heading...Legendary WASP captured in pictures by Ross Halfin