Music For Nations Magazine 1984
From the moment Wendy O. Williams‘(aka WOW) made her rock and roll debut in July 1978 at CBGB’s in NYC, she has generated more controversy and excitement than any other woman in the history of rock. Born in the rural farm country of upstate New York, Wendy made her first appearance on national TV when she won a local tap dancing contest at the age of six and was sent all expenses paid to appear on the Howdy Doody Show Later, as a teenager, Wendy did a short stint as a scholarship whiner at the prestigious Eastman School of Music,
Shortly after, still in her teens, Wendy left home and the stifling existence that she says was “preparing her for a nine to five job somewhere in nowhere.” This was an idea she could not endure. Wendy travelled the world working here way through Europe, and hitchhiking across the US. She worked as a dancer with a gypsy dance troupe, a macrobiotic cook, a lifeguard and a dominatrix in a live sex show. She travelled from Boulder, Colorado, where she lived in a tent, via Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where she lived on the beach to the Himalayas where she studied with a mystic guru.
By the time Wendy returned to the United States, she was determined to have a rock and roll band that would “shake the complacency out of a tired rock establishment’; and that’s exactly what she did. With conceptual artist, Rod Swenson, she formed the PLASMATICS, and the Dominatrix Of The Decibels was born. Within a year the Plasmatics had become the biggest cult group of their time, releasing their own single on Vice Squad Records, Wendy and the Plasmatics became the first group to ever headline NY’s Palladium at regular ticket prices without a major recording contract.
Soon, the group signed to Stiff Records, and the single ‘Butcher Baby’, featuring chainsaws ripping guitars made it into the British top 40 charts. A headlining show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon (during which Wendy planned to blow-up a car onstage, a feat she had already accomplished in the US) was banned by the Great London Council on the grounds that Wendy would “whip the audience into a frenzy’
Three US and one European tour followed the release of two albums ‘New Hope For The Wretched’ and ‘Beyond The Valley Of 1984’ and the EP ‘Metal Priestess’ on Stiff Records. Highlights of this period include what Roman Kozak of Billboard called “the most explosive stunt in the history of rock and roll’; during which Wendy drove a Cadillac into a stage loaded with explosives, jumping out moments before the entire car and stage were blow sky-high. The event took place in front of 12,000 people on Pier 62 in NYC and was covered by national TV and live by all three local network affiliates.
Wendy’s sense of style dominated the media as she became the first woman in history to go on national television with a Mohican haircut and appeared on People Magazine’s best dressed list where designer Betsey Johnson cited her as a lead “on the razor’s edge of fashion’. More controversy followed with the now famous arrests in Milwaukee and Cleveland and the first amendment cases that followed. Wendy won both cases.
Subsequently, Wendy recorded a one-off manic metal cover version of Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand By Your Man’ with Lemmy from Motorhead. In the summer of 1982, Wendy and the Plasmatics recorded ‘Coup D’Etat’ with Scorpions producer Dieter Dierks in Germany. The album was released in the late Autumn worldwide by Capitol Records. The record was followed by the news-making and now classic video of the song ‘The Damned’ during which Wendy drove a school bus through a wall of 100 TVs, climbed onto the roof of the moving bus, and jumped off the roof moments before the bus crashed through a second wall of 100 TV’s and exploded.
In the spring of 1983, the Plasmatics toured as a special guest with KISS, and Wendy met Gene Simmons. Gene approached Wendy about producing a Wendy O. Williams album. The idea and the chemistry seemed perfect and plans were made to record the first Wendy solo album in NYC that summer. “My objective is to be the heaviest female singer in rock and roll:’ says Wendy “Gene is the perfect producer for me. He’s a master of metal and understands what I’m trying to say and what I want to get out:’
When Malcolm Dome from Kerrang! previewed two of the tracks from the album he said”.., like the combined armed forces of the NATO allies joint manoeuvres. Heavy? Compared to the sock-it-to-em sounds on these tracks, Godzilla is a mere introverted mouse in carpet slippers!’ The album features a special guest solo by Ace Frehley and other surprises. A video is in the works which Wendy says “be so strong, it’ll make the rest of the stuff that’s out there look like child’s play”
In early May Wendy O. Williams signed to Music For Nations for the UK and Europe and the album entitled ‘WOW’ was released on June 15th. The album was greeted with rave reviews in all magazines and went straight into the UK National Album Charts on the week of release.