Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Young Man's Blues

The Rock City Angels are probably one of the best nearly unheard bands of the 80's. Now I wonder which history of the band I should talk about because one version is straightforward and the other version tells quite the different story filled with conspiracy theories capped by the total screwing they got by one Geffen records. The straightforward version can be found easily enough over at Wikipedia. Let's talk about how they got screwed over eh.

Originally formed in South Florida, the band was plagued with a revolving door of musicians and were ready to call it quits and while playing their farewell gig, Ann Boleyn of New Renaissance Records offered the act a recording contract. They relocated to LA and around this time Johnny Depp joined the band as guitarist. Geffen records took notice of the band and bought their contract from New Renaissance Records. Here's where the story starts getting weird.

While with New Renaissance the band played the Sunset Strip and started to steal away the Guns and Roses fans. They had recorded an album and shipped singles to radio stations when Ann Boleyn received a phone call telling her to stay clear of the band, and someone later attempted to run her vehicle off the road. It was apparent that Geffen wanted to sign the band, and did shortly before the release date of the Renaissance debut to the tune of 6.2 million dollars (unheard of for an independent act). As soon as the band signed to Geffen all evidence of the debut album was destroyed, leading many to speculate that the label only signed the Rock City Angels to avoid competition with Guns N'Roses.

Geffen sent the band to Memphis, Tennessee to work on new material, but wanted the group to lose the glam makeup and change their style. Unwilling to leave California, Depp left the band and soon got his job on 21 Jump Street. Eventually Young Man's Blues would be the first release from the band in 1988(the original Renaissance debut wasn't released till years later), with Mike Barnes (guitar), Doug Banx (guitar, later of Mr. Nasty) and Jackie D. Jukes (drums). The band toured in support of the album with such acts as J. Page, J. Jett, and the Georgia Satellites, and recorded a wealth of material for a second album (which was finally released in 2008, I think). At one point they recorded with Thin Lizzy guitarist B. Robertson. The band’s second album never saw the light of day as Geffen decided to drop the band. Many theories abound as to why they were dropped including drug use, a desire to keep Johnny Depp in acting, as well as fear of lawsuits concerning wrongly credited songs. Journalists in publications such as The Cutting Edge, Hit Parader, and RIP have theorized that the Rock City Angels were signed by Geffen to thwart potential competition with Guns 'N Roses. I have also heard that since Geffen signed both bands at the same, he couldn't decide who he was going to promote and who he was going to sweep under the rug so he flipped a coin and Guns n Roses won. Not long after this the band was history and we are left to wonder what is the real story. Were the Rock City Angels signed by Geffen to prevent them from stealing some of Guns N'Roses' audience? Was the group shipped to Tennessee to force Depp to give up his rock'n'roll dream and concentrate on acting? Or as others suggest, was the band simply sent away to try and get them clean and sober? Depending on who tells the story, the Rock City Angels were either the victims of record company politics, or of their own debauchery.

I have no idea if the history I written about is anywhere near the truth as there are so many theories floating around out there and I've just tried to piece it together. Whatever the case I'm glad my vinyl guy turned me onto this album cause I really enjoyed this puppy. My copy is a promotional copy that is in great shape. People curious about Depp's abilities will find one song co written by Depp on this album.

Beyond Babylon
Hard to Hold
Deep Inside My Heart
Buy It

Funny Toon


Anonymous said...

Wow...I had never heard of this band, and what an interesting story! Thanks for sharing.