Wasted Angel worked out it's problems and started playing out again during the Fall/Winter of '87. The band was very tight at this time and we were really hitting our stride as a solid performing rock and roll machine. I was very happy creatively because we were doing a lot of my originals, mixed in with the requisite metal of the time - Guns and Roses, Queensrych, Sabbath, Dokken, Loudness, etc. I wrote all the lyrics for the originals and about half of the music. Phil wrote the other fifty percent adding his crunching heavy duty guitar riffs into the mix. The band became a sort of Spinal Tap / Twisted Sister hybrid. Ted was a great frontman and we were fortunate enough to have a great following wherever we played. We were the definitive area party band of the day. Some guys didn't care for us because we were more or less glam, but it was always a party when we played and there were always girls at the shows, so the guys turned out too. Our secret weapon for the live shows was our soundman Jim Shearer. He would back a huge van up to whatever club we played and unload a lethal amount of sound reinforcement equipment. He was our dedicated soundman who came with us everywhere and knew the show backward and forward. We had a rather large light rig as well run by our head roadie, my cousin Kevin Benton. The Wasted Angel live experience was professional, high energy, colorful, and really really loud.
A view from stage left at our beloved Dundees.
One recurring problem with the band was Ted's lifestyle and drug habits. It eventually interfered with almost everything, especially rehearsals. There were days when Phil and I, or any combination of two bandmembers, would have to go to Ted's apartment to wake him up, drag him out to the car to get him to rehearsal and then practically prop him up in front of his mic stand. But somehow, things always pulled together just by the skin of our teeth for the shows. One particular experience that stands out in my mind is when we were in the middle of a show at Dundee's and Ted was tripping so heavily that he passed out and fell straight into the audience right in the middle of a song. He was only out for a moment and the fans pushed him back up onto the stage. I asked him later what that experience was like. He said that it was the most bizarre feeling to wake from unconsciousness and realize you are performing at a show - quite a different deal than waking up peacefully counting ceiling tiles in your room! We performed for a over a year straight, opening for the likes of Skid Row and achieving attendance records in clubs like The Chance in Poughkeepsie, Dundee's in Vailsgate, and The Checkered Flag in Kingston among others in our regular rounds.
A view from stage left at The Chance.
While doing the Wasted Angel thing, I was also still working with Danny O at Electric Reels Studios. One project was a sort of low budget MTV for local access channels called Ear Wax. It was a bit of a lark and we never took it too seriously. I was one of three VJs and we had some good laughs producing the intro/outro segments.
"Hollywood Steve" of the Ear Wax TV show.
I was really proud of Wasted Angel but I started becoming aware that we were only a local phenomena and would not be able to break those boundaries. Ted was a great showman - a really funny and charismatic character to watch on stage, but when we ventured too far from our home town and he didn't see familiar faces in the audience, his on-stage personality turned quieter and safer and the magic just wasn't there. Ultimately I decided I wanted to leave the group and form something even better than Wasted Angel, or that was the original idea anyway. As I look back on that time, my perspective was that I was doing well, but I felt I could do even better and put together a band that would have nationwide potential rather than just local. What I didn't know was that Wasted Angel would be a highlight of my performing life. I was doing well creatively and as a performing artist but sometimes, when you feel like you're on your way up, you think it's just going to keep getting better and where you're at now is just a stepping stone to the next big moment. In retrospect, I wish I had just enjoyed the moment for what it was because there is something to be said for being the big fish in a small pond, (if you never make it in the big pond that is.) Another thing that I, as a songwriter, would later come to appreciate about Wasted was that it is a rare situation that you find a great vocalist who doesn't mind you writing for him. Not all song writers are singers, but most singers think they're great song writers by default. Ted didn't have this problem. But I digress. I quit Wasted Angel in November of '88 and the group disbanded for a while after. It was the end of a chapter, but Wasted had a pretty colorful legacy. It could be said that we literally opened and closed Dundee's as a rock and roll club. It was originally a dance club but had the perfect setup for live rock and roll, big stage, etc. Dave asked the owner (the late Lou Reda who had always been good to us) to give us a chance and just let us play one night and we'd do all the advertising. If we did well, then he'd have to promise us another night and so forth. We totally surprised him and brought in an exceptional crowd and it started to snowball after that. Soon we were pretty much the house band and, after a while, they started letting other bands play and then there were no dance nights at all. The club 's business was booming. When the band broke-up, business started lagging for the club and it folded altogether shortly after that. Wasted Angel had some fun, kicked some ass, and left our mark.
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