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Blackie Lawless talks first-ever W.A.S.P. gig: 'We had no idea how we would look in a live show'

The shock-rockers debuted at SoCal club the Woodstock 40 years ago this week

W.A.S.P. is currently gearing up for their 40th anniversary U.S. tour, which kicks off October 28 at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. But in advance of that show, main man Blackie Lawless took time to reflect on W.A.S.P.’s very first gig 40 years ago, at a “long-gone” Southern California club, the Woodstock, on August 28, 1982.

Writing on the official WASP Nation website, Lawless recalled that the band’s lineup at the time consisted of drummer Tony Richards on drums, lead guitarist Chris Holmes, bassist Don Costa (who later played with Ozzy Osbourne) and Lawless on guitar and vocals.

“This was our humble (if you wanna call it that) beginning,” Lawless stated. “Many of you have heard me say that when we first started we never had any intention of ever playing live shows. In Los Angeles at the time it was mostly impossible to get a record deal from only playing live.”

He continued, “Ironically, our true intention was only to make records, and we knew from having lived in L.A. for such a long time that the only real way to get a record deal was to make the best demo tape you could make. So that’s what we did. We made a demo of songs that would end up being mostly our first album, but we had sent those tapes out to labels a couple of months earlier and we got no response from any of them. So in our impatience, we said, ‘Well, we think these songs are pretty good, why don’t we take them out and play them live and see what happens?’ So again, that’s what we did! A month later we would move up into Hollywood at the Troubadour.”

Regarding the Woodstock show, which saw W.A.S.P. playing with three other acts – the Name; the unfortunately-titled Pork-N-Beans; and Terminal Romance – he said, “For us that were part of this historic night, the importance of this show cannot be overstated. We were a group of musicians that had no idea of what or how we would look in a live show. All that would come later over the course of the next few weeks. I would like to personally thank the band and all the crew that were involved that night for that first show. All of our destinies would change that night.”

W.A.SP.’s next show would take place at L.A.’s famous Troubadour, and it was at this show, according to Lawless, that the band really came into its own. “This show would be the first night anyone would hear ‘Love Machine,’ “On Your Knees,’ ‘Hellion’ and ‘School Daze,’ ” he said. “I remember taking the stage that night and thinking, nobody knows who were are and nobody knows these songs. From this night, almost two years to the date of the release of our first album, all that would change!”