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Recently someone asked me about which of the New Renaissance bands I felt should have made it big time, but didn't. For me, what happened with ROCK CITY ANGELS is a classic story of a band with big-time potential who got screwed big-time!
I don't remember how I first heard about the Rock City Angels. I do remember, however, that I had an intern named Dawn Saprito from Florida who had some kind of involvement with The Doll House. I think she may deserve the credit for bringing both the Rock City Angels and Tuff Luck to my attention. I eventually signed both bands.
The Rock City Angels were notorious bad boys and many people advised me not to touch them with a ten foot pole. Having never been into heroin, I did not recognize the warning signs and did not realize that several of the band's members were "using heavily." I, however, did see clearly that the band bad big potential. (fact that Johnny Depp was in the band certainly didn't hurt matters, either!) And then there was the singer who reminded me of a cross between Jim Morrison of The Doors and David Lee Roth.
The Rock City Angels came to me with a completed master, which was really a demo when it comes to recording quality. I don't recall now, but, I probably gave them some money to remix. I also paid to have some photo sessions and for their public relations media blitz when the band moved from Florida to LA.
The band started performing gigs right off the bat. Girls flocked to their gigs and the band started giving a few of the other then-unsigned bands in LA a good run for their money.
My own band, Hellion, had recently done a cable TV interview with a new TV program called New Rock, which was hosted by Diane Diamond who I believe is a pretty famous TV anchor-woman. My publicity department arranged for Rock City Angels to perform on cable TV on a show called New Rock It was around this time that I became aware of the band1s drug problem. My assistant returned from the interview exhausted. When I asked her what was wrong I was told about how the band had showed up late and looking very bad...as if they1d been partying all night. Not only was the band rude to the host and crew, but they were unhappy with the station1s requests that they not smoke, drink beer, or get high in the studio. Not only did they refuse to be considerate to the people at the show, but they had been shooting up in the bathroom and leaving their hypodermic needles around for all to see. Thanks to the Rock City Angels, this was the last time any of our bands were ever able to go on that TV show. I wasn1t happy and I let them know it.
Rock City Angels, likewise, weren't happy that I expected them to be polite and not get high at a TV studio. So for a little while we were in a spat of sorts.
Meanwhile another LA band, Guns & Roses had just gotten a record deal with Geffin. Though the Hollywood grapevine I heard that the Guns & Rose1s management was changing their image from glammer-boys to rough, hard-partying, bad boys. When I heard at the same time that Geffin had been courting my guys, Rock City Angels, I had a very bad feeling. One day a woman came into my apartment/office, claiming to represent the band. I'd heard rumors that Geffin had offered Rock City Angels a deal. I'd also endured a number of 'experiences' since Geffen had become interested in the band. I decided that, rather than attempt to stage a battle with Geffin Records, I'd let them go.
Sure enough, my premonitions were correct. Had their original album come out through New Renaissance Records the Rock City Angels would have been in direct competition with Guns & Roses, whose debut album came out shortly after the Angels were signed. As one might expect, instead of rushing to get the Rock City Angel1s LP out to the public in a timely manner, the band was put into an artist development program and their name was changed to something which I don1t recall. (It may have been something like River City Rebels or Rubber City Rebels.) I heard a rumor that the Rock City Angel1s leader and founder was kicked-out of the band because the new management and label had feared he might go back to New Renaissance. It was he who1d owned the name, Rock City Angels, and he who1d signed the contract with myself. I do not know if this is true, but, it made no sense for the band to have changed their name, especially after the buzz we1d all worked so hard to create!
I don't know what happened between the band and Geffin. Perhaps, Geffin became fed up with the heroin use. Or perhaps.....you figure it out! Anyway, for me, it is a sad tale. I still think about the band, worry about the members, and I hope everything has worked out for them.
[NOTE: At the time of the cable-TV drug-use-episode Johnny Depp was no longer involved in the band. I wanted to make this clear because I have no idea if he is or was a drug user and do not want to cast this light upon him.]
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