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Blackie Lawless

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Blackie Lawless
Lawless performing in 2012
Lawless performing in 2012
Background information
Birth nameSteven Edward Duren
Born (1956-09-04) September 4, 1956 (age 67)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
GenresHeavy metal, Christian metal, shock rock, glam metal,[1] hard rock
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, bass guitar
Years active1975–present

Steven Edward Duren (born September 4, 1956), better known by his stage name Blackie Lawless, is an American singer, songwriter and musician, best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist (formerly bassist) for heavy metal band W.A.S.P.[2]

Early life

Lawless in 2022

Duren was born in Tampa, Florida,[3] and raised in Staten Island, New York City.[4] He had a fundamentalist Baptist upbringing, but has also claimed Jewish ancestry.[5]

He has said that he was "very active" in church as a youth and was born again at age 11. In his late teens, Duren strayed from the church and became interested in the occult. Although he would only study occultism for a short time before leaving that too,[6] he continued to use themes of occultism up until his return to the Christian faith in recent years.

He claims Irish, French and Native American ancestry (his mother self-identified as one-quarter Blackfoot).[7] He is the nephew of the late Major League Baseball pitcher Ryne Duren.[8] Lawless himself considered pursuing a professional baseball career; however, he ultimately opted for music. He credits his older brother with introducing him to the guitar.[7]



Lawless began his career in music playing with bands such as Black Rabbit and Orfax Rainbow. In 1975, after Johnny Thunders left the glam rock band New York Dolls in the middle of a tour of Florida, the band started auditioning for guitarists. Lawless was hired but only stayed for the remainder of the tour.[9] After the tour, he went to California with bassist Arthur Kane and helped found Killer Kane. At that time, Lawless' stage name was "Blackie Goozeman" as stated on the back of Killer Kane's only EP. About a year later Kane returned to New York City but Lawless decided to stay in West Los Angeles. In 1976, he formed Sister, which also featured future W.A.S.P. guitarist Randy Piper. Around 1978, a new lineup was assembled which included Nikki Sixx as bassist and Lizzie Grey on guitar. Later, Chris Holmes joined.[10]

Lawless later formed a band called Circus Circus in 1979, with Piper again appearing in the lineup. In 1981, following Circus Circus' failure, Lawless joined Lizzie Grey and Nikki Sixx's band London, with whom he played a few gigs and recorded two songs as demos, though by this time Sixx had already departed to form Mötley Crüe. In 1982, Lawless switched to bass after firing original member Bassist Rik Fox, later of Steeler fame who had joined the band only 4 months prior and had named W.A.S.P over personal issues, but after that along with Randy Piper, Blackie carried on with W.A.S.P. The lineup was soon completed with Chris Holmes on lead guitar and Tony Richards on drums.[11]



W.A.S.P. underwent numerous lineup changes,[12] with Lawless being the last remaining original member and chief songwriter. Many of his songs tend to deal with religious or apocalyptic themes, due to his Christian upbringing. Lawless has stated in recent interviews that he has returned to the Christian faith and considers himself a born-again Christian.[2]

Lawless performing with W.A.S.P. in 2006

Lawless cites influences which include AC/DC, Black Sabbath, the Beatles, Kiss, and Alice Cooper.[2]

Lawless's stage theatrics are heavily influenced by Alice Cooper and Kiss, often imitating Gene Simmons and/or Paul Stanley during performances.[13]

In the mid-1980s, W.A.S.P. faced controversy as Lawless spoke out in defense of heavy metal music against the Parents Music Resource Center after the band faced intense scrutiny for their single "Animal (F**k Like a Beast)". Despite this, the band achieved their greatest success from 1985 to 1988, with several hit singles including "L.O.V.E. Machine", "I Wanna Be Somebody", and "Wild Child".[14] In November 2022, Lawless admitted during a Q&A session that he and the band use backing tracks in their live performances.[15]


  1. ^ Jonze, Tim (April 15, 2009). "A handy guide to heavy metal". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Blackie Lawless & W.A.S.P. The Weekender (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). April 15, 1997, p. 8.
  3. ^ "W.A.S.P.'s BLACKIE LAWLESS: Stage Production for Upcoming 40th-Anniversary Tour Will be Like A 'Dark Carnival'". October 6, 2022.
  4. ^ "Interview with Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P." House of Hair with Dee Snider. Houseofhaironline.com. April 13, 2010. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  5. ^ "W.A.S.P.: Blackie Lawless". USA Today. Gannett Company. January 21, 2005. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  6. ^ "How W.A.S.P.'s Blackie Lawless Went From F-King Like A Beast To Smiting The Beast". Loudwire. February 22, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Finding A New Angle On Bad Boy Blackie Lawless". 2000. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  8. ^ Reesman, Bryan (September 21, 2010). "Blackie Lawless Renounces His Past Sins". Attention Deficit Delirium. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  9. ^ "From The Archives -New York Dolls- Concert Chronology / Gigography/ Timeline". Fromthearchives.com. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  10. ^ Infamous heavy-metal band matures: W.A.S.P. finds its mark with rock opera. The Greenville News (Greenville, South Carolina). January 29, 1994, p. 16.
  11. ^ Dunkin, Zach. Rocker advises D.C. self-appraisal. The Indianapolis News. January 10, 1986, p. 42.
  12. ^ Hunt, Dennis. Heavy Metal W.A.S.P.: Not Yet a Stinging Success. Los Angeles Times. February 7, 1986, p. 121
  13. ^ "Former W.A.S.P. Guitarist: 'BLACKIE LAWLESS Was More of a Business Man Than Part of the Band'". July 12, 2005.
  14. ^ Lawless and the Law. Asbury Park Press. August 23, 1998, p. 86.
  15. ^ "W.A.S.P.'s Blackie Lawless Admits To Using Backing Tracks During Live Performances". Blabbermouth. November 27, 2022. Retrieved July 11, 2023.