How did he almost replace Bon Scott? Who’s asses were
on fire? What stemmed from the Hustler mansion’s piano? Why did Sixx
get upset with him?
2:30pm on the 1st May 1999, the day after Tommy Lee
announced his departure from Mötley, Chronological Crue caught up with
his old friend, Heaven front man Allan Fryer. Read on for an insight
into his Shout At The Devil tour with the Crüe, and so much more.
Chronological Crue: How did it all begin? How did you get into the
music business as such?
Well, my family emigrated from Scotland to Australia when I was like
thirteen or fourteen. I always wanted to be a rock'n'roll star.
AF: I didn’t
believe that anybody should have to work for forty years of their life
and then retire. There had to be an easier way that was more fun. I
started off with an apprenticeship. A cabinet maker restoring antiques,
but was always doing the ‘weekend warrior’ stuff. Just going out in
different 60:40 bands… original outfits and all that sort of thing.
CC: So this
was in Sydney?
AF: No this
was in Adelaide.
CC: Oh OK.
AF: So yeh,
I was just going on to bigger and better things and the more I learnt,
the better musicians came together. One of the last line-ups back in
the ‘70’s was when we ended up playing the Adelaide Festival Theatre,
which was probably the biggest highlight of any young guy’s career.
That was with Sherbet and those sorts of bands. We were all original
then. I can’t remember the name of the band. Umm... Oh yeh! It was
Chumalucy! Chumalucy. That was the name of the band.
AF: Yeh God!
So we ended up getting the support for Sherbet in their big heyday and
that was like three or four thousand people. One thing led from one
band to another. Then we started off a band called Fat Lip which was
with three out of five of the original Heaven guys and that took us to
AF: We went
there and we started touring from Sydney to Melbourne back to Adelaide
etc. and we were getting a pretty big following everywhere.
CC: So how
did Fat Lip turn in to Heaven?
AF: When Bon
Scott passed away back in 1980 or so, I had spoken with Alberts and
they were interested in trying me out. I just dropped everything and
tried out for AC/DC.
CC: I can
They took Bon’s voice out of the tapes on songs like Whole Lotta Rosie,
Shot Down In Flames, Sin City, and all that stuff. They shoved me in
them. I went back to Adelaide and found out from George [Young] and
Harry [Vanda] that I had gotten the gig. Then it came on a TV show that
local boy Allan Fryer is the new singer for AC/DC. I said, "What the
hell?"’ because nobody was supposed to know anything like this. So
George and Harry wanted me in the band but meanwhile the boys [AC/DC]
were in London at the time and they were trying out Brian [Johnson]
from Geordie. So to cut a long story short, he ended up getting the gig.
CC: Yeh Wow.
Mensch was managing the band at the time along with David Krebs and
Steve Leber in New York. Brian got the gig. I decided to establish a
band in Sydney and stay there. Some of the guys stayed, some of the
guys didn’t. That’s where I joined up with Kelly, Laurie Marlow and
John Hayes. Michael Browning ended up coming to a show and making us an
offer, so we ended up changing the name of the band to Heaven. Browning
signed us to Deluxe Records along with INXS and we were release through
Deluxe, which was RCA in Australia.
CC: I’ve got
a song on video called In The Beginning.
AF: Yeh that
was the second video.
OK, because I was going to say it looks very early.
first one was one of the tracks called Fantasy.
CC: So what
was the first album called?
started off here in Australia called Twilight Of Mischief. That’s what
it was originally called here, but then in the States… John was out of
the band and we got Mick Cocks in, so we then had the photo taken for
the American market. It was just supposed to be called Heaven but some
band in Yonkers, New York had copyrighted the name so we had to put
Heaven Bent on it, just to get it released there. Then we had to go
after them and buy the name and that sort of thing, in order to get the
name registered federally across the States.
CC: Sure. So
this is what ’81… ’82?
AF: ’82 that
CC: So then
the follow up album after that Where Angels Fear To Tread was 1983?
AF: ’83 -
’84. Yeh Angels. Actually Mick had come back to Australia and we ended
up getting Mark Evans.
AF: Yeh from
AC/DC. He was playing rhythm guitar for us.
CC: So Mick
[Cocks] came from Rose Tattoo. He was one of the original members of
the Rosie Tatts [Rose Tattoo] and was certainly responsible for
co-writing some of their classics.
right. Shit happened and that sort of thing... Mick went back to
Australia. Mark Evans and JL, John Layland the drummer at the time,
replaced Joe Turtur. That was the band line up in the States.
CC: So you
were spending most of your time in the States then?
AF: Yeh. We
recorded that album at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.
CC: That was
in the summer of ’83. I also notice Lita Ford’s name on that album.
Lita Ford was doing back up vocals. Ronnie James Dio also. He just put
down Evil Eyes on that one.
CC: No way!
That was Dio?
Ronnie James did the backups there, and Glenn Hughes.
CC: Yes from
right. The sax player Jimmy Z [Zazla] was out of Rod Stewart’s band and
played the sax solo on Rock School.
CC: And he
also played on the track Madness as well, which is the first track on
the second side that Lita Ford also sang backup vocals on.
AF: Yep you
CC: Was Lita
Ford with Nikki Sixx at that time?
Ah Lita was with everybody. [laughs] I shouldn’t say that. She was a
lovely girl. She was hanging out with Mick. With Cocksy. Yeh, so she
was a regular of the Heaven House there in North Hollywood. Everybody
used to come over there. We had some hell parties there in its day. Yeh
Lita was hanging out there at the house and any of the bands that were
in town at the time. You know, acts like Def Leppard.
CC: I notice
on that second album there’s a thanks to "Robin the Ratt & Blotzer."
AF: Oh yeh.
We used to hang out with them and we’d do shows with them. You know,
Kelly would get guitars from Robin and bits and pieces like that. So
yeh, it was a little close outfit at that point in time. That’s when I
started hanging out with Tommy Lee and Vince Neil.
CC: So how
did that come to be? From just seeing them around at the Roxy?
AF: Yeh we’d
play the Roxy, right next door to the Rainbow, and we came to talk.
They were actually going through a hard time in their career at that
point as well. There was even talk about Tommy joining up with Heaven.
AF: Yeh. In
the middle of doing our second album.
that’s mid ’83?
AF: Yeh they
were going through changes and Tommy wasn’t happy.
were recording at Cherokee as well with Tom Werman.
that’s right. We were all in the same studios at the same time. I can’t
remember which room they were in, but yeh, we were both recording in
the same studio. That’s where the friendship grew up. We’d hang out
together. Nikki and Mick virtually kept to themselves. It was mainly
Tommy and Vince that used to hang out and come to our house and drink
and everything. Me and Tommy used to hang out together and try and bop
the same women.
CC: Well it
was not long after that in ’84 that Tommy actually got married for the
first time to Elaine Starchuk. Did you ever meet her?
AF: I don’t
think so. When we were hangin’ out we were going to parties and that,
like at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Mansion. Yeh we had a blast. Actually it
was on Larry Flynt’s piano that we actually started playing Home Sweet
Home. It was the very incarnation of that song... that we sat down and
Tommy was playing the piano.
that’s before the song was written? That’s how it first started?
Yeh! So that was funny. I don’t think I met his first wife. Oh boy! He
was also in the Jacuzzi with two or three women at the same time.
AF: Yeh, so
that’s how we all hung out. You know, at the Country Club. Vince would
come along to the show and drink, and get up and have a sing with the
sing with Heaven?
AF: Yeh Yeh.
We’d do AC/DC stuff, pieces like that. The old classic stuff. Everybody
knew that. At The Roxy as well. We did some benefits there with
everybody from Autograph to Mötley Crüe… Bruce Kulick from Kiss at the
time... and me and Mitch [Perry]… and have a big jam.
CC: Well it was the
next album that Mitch Perry played on, playing guitars and keyboards.
That was the album Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. This time you recorded
over at the Record Plant in New York. What brought about that change,
from one side of the States to the other?
the second album, the shit hit the fan and we went back to Australia.
We had quite a few run-ins with Michael Browning who was AC/DC’s
management. Everybody in the band had disagreements, so we came back to
Australia. After a while I said, "Who wants to come back? I’m not
staying." I got in touch with Mitch [Perry] and asked him if he wanted
to join the band, and he agreed. I ended up bringing back Tommy
Dimitroff from Adelaide and this other guitarist Bruno; we called him
Boz. The three of us went back to the States and stayed at the
Hollywood Inn in Hollywood. Hanging out down at the Rainbow we bumped
into Paul O’Neill, who at the time was working with David Krebs and
Steve Leber in New York. They were trying to get in touch with me and
my plan was to go to New York and meet with the guys, because of the
AC/DC connection, and to get a deal. Boz had to come back to Australia
in the end, so we went off to New York with Mitch and Tommy. We ended
up getting Mark Cunningham who was in a band called Cathedral with John
Corabi at the time.
AF: Nah! So
with all these Heaven avenues, we’ve all passed in the night.
Cathedral was a band based in the Pennsylvania area?
AF: They were actually
out in New York. John was in the band at the time working with Mark
Cunningham and Dennis Feldman, who worked with Michael Schenker and
[Michael] Bolton. So we said we had Heaven going and asked if they’d
like to join, which they did. John went back to Los Angeles after a
while and then later did The Scream. So that’s how the American line up
originated. We did that album Knockin' On Heaven’s Door at the Record
Plant and then toured extensively. We did a lot of touring through the
first, second and third albums. Everybody from [Iron] Maiden, Dio,
[Judas] Priest, [Mötley] Crüe. The Crüe was a good one. We did the
Shout At The Devil tour with the Crüe.
CC: So that
would have been 1984?
AF: Yeh ’84
for that one.
CC: So what
sorts of stories can you tell us about the days on the road touring
AF: Oh man!
Wow! One time we played Salt Lake City at a venue there called the
Rainbow, which was like a 2,000 seater. The shows went great. We hit it
off. Both bands were a bunch of sluts, you know?
CC: [laughing] Yep.
AF: We had
a tally going, where we were marking how many women the guys had had in
the month. Laurie Marlow had something like 39 women, and I came in
second with something like 27 or something. Anyway, after the Salt Lake
City show we did an overnighter across the Rockies into Denver. The two
band buses made it across but the equipment gear got snowed in because
a blizzard came across. So the two bands and their crew were staying at
the Holiday Inn in Denver. We were on the sixth floor of the nine floor
hotel. Well, the debauchery there… between Tommy Lee and Laurie Marlow…
they were having bloody ‘push-pulls’ in the corridors with these women.
They were waking everyone up. There was a lot of debauchery goin’ on
there. At one time, there was this old couple who actually phoned up
and started complaining about the noise and women, and everybody in and
out of doors, slamming them. Rocky [Stephen Murray], our lighting guy
at the time, went down to the bus and pulled out one of the fog
machines. He goes up and warms up this smoke machine, shoves it under
the door, then bangs on the door and shouts FIRE. This old couple, I
swear to God, they came out of there and I thought we were going to be
up for murder. Everybody was freaked out, this old couple... they were
holding their hearts. So they ended up shoving both bands up to the top
floor and nobody was allowed out.
CC: So this
would have been Nov - Dec ’83 on Mötley’s Shout At The Devil headlining
tour, before they toured with Ozzy.
AF: Yeh that
because I think it was actually in Denver where Tommy was running down
the hallway of the hotel in his G-string…
AF: Oh yeh.
We used to have a thing called Flamin’ Asses where you’d roll up a
piece of newspaper and put it in the chief of your ass. Set that
alight, then you’d have to run from one end of the hallway to the other
and get back before it burns your ass!
[laughing too much]
AF: So yeh
we got in quite a bit of trouble with that thing, but it was great. So
that’s all the shit that was happening there. We had a blast. Wow! My
CC: Well the
final show of that tour was in December, down in Arizona. Vince and
Tommy then headed off to the Cayman Islands on a two week break, but
guess it probably wasn’t a break. It was more of the same. I guess that
indicates that those two were hanging out together more in those days.
AF: Yeh they
always hung out together. They were more accessible than the other guys
in the band. Mick never really went out that much, or said that much.
Nikki kept to himself. I caught up with them on the Theatre Of Pain
tour at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. A funny thing there; I went there
with my girlfriend at the time to the Four Seasons Hotel. Actually
Vince wasn’t allowed to drink at the time as part of his probation, so
maybe I shouldn’t say any shit about that. [laughs] Yeh, so back at the
hotel there that night after the gig, I always remember planting my ass
down on a chair and Nikki comes up and tells me to get up. I was
sittin’ on his friggin’ silk jacket that he left there. That got all
crunched up so he was pretty pissed off with me for that one. So Vince
at the time asks me if I’d like to go to the bathroom, you know, just
to use the bathroom.
AF: So we
were like, "we don’t like cocaine, just it’s smell." So we went there
and were having a laugh about ‘using’ the bathroom. I turned around and
said, "Goh, maybe we shouldn’t be using all this stuff" and Vince turns
around and says, "Oh don’t worry about it. It‘s Nikki’s!"
AF: Yeh so
we were in the bathroom there, doing all that, and it was Nikki’s gear.
He was pissed off at me for crunching his jacket, so I was like, "Well
I’ll just keep outta his sight."
So that was back in ’85 which was when the third Heaven album Knockin’
On Heaven’s Door was out. The title track of course was a cover of the
Bob Dylan song which Guns 'N Roses them covered a few years later.
tellin’ me. They made all the money out of that one. If you watch their
Rock In Rio video, they ripped off the lead solo and everything to pat.
So yeh, shit happens. What can you do, you know?
sure. So 1987 was the Girls, Girls, Girls album and I believe you also
played with Mötley on that tour, right?
Whitesnake were supporting as well. I think that was at the Spectrum in
CC: They had
the Nasty Habits on tour for the first time then… and I’m not talking
about more cocaine.
[laughing] That’s right… the girls up on stage.
Donna and Emi. What were they like?
AF: Ah they
were cool. Yeh. They were great. I don’t know if anything ever happened
with them and the band in the end.
CC: Well Emi
married Mick Mars later on.
AF: She did?
CC: Yeh and
then they got divorced. But after quite a few years together I might
it’s the same old thing. Just don’t get married in L.A. or they’ll take
everything you know.
CC: Sure. So what
happened with Heaven after that third album?
the third album, management was breaking up there in New
York... David and Steve Leber. Heaven was the last act that they signed
up. They had AC/DC, Def Leppard, Scorpions and [Michael] Schenker. We
were actually the last act and the shit in the middle of the sandwich
between the record company. Michael Klenfner, whose label we were on at
the time, Brighton Records from Columbia, didn’t like David Krebs and
David didn’t like him so there were disagreements. We kept on
delivering more songs, more songs, then they wanted more songs. So it
just got to the point where we said no more and let it expire.
Everybody kind of went off on their own way. Mitch went back to L.A.
Tommy went to L.A. with some girl because he fell in love but she was
just a slut. Dennis was still up there doing session stuff. I don’t
know what Mark was doing. I moved down to South Jersey on the Delaware
border, just putting line-ups together to keep my chops up and doing
the Heaven shows.
AF: Yeh. I’d
pop in and see the guys when they came to town and reminisce. That
pissed me off because there’s nothing worse than going to a show and
not playing. I kept busy for the next five to eight years with
different line-ups living in different places. I moved to Texas in
1990. I was on tour down there and everything was happening with
management. Hell, Texas is good. I like Texas. Settled down there and
bang, next thing I had a daughter born in Dallas, so I’ve spent my last
eight years in Dallas, Fort Worth. I had different managers and
different friends. I actually recorded another album which never ever
got released because of the producer guy, named Barry Dickie. We did
some great tracks and spent a lot of money on it, but it never got
CC: That’s a
AF: So I
kept on going out doing shows, playing with different people. It was
getting pretty frustrating there, as far as players. The American guys
have a different attitude than the Aussie guys. They think they’re in a
name band and they’re superstars straight away but they haven’t even
paid their dues yet. It got pretty frustrating, as it was all
different. So I kept busy doing jingles and kept within the industry.
I’ve never worked a day gig in the last 25 years. That kept me happy,
gave me peace of mind without committing suicide. [laughs]
AF: I came
back to Australia last year to virtually visit the family. I broke the
ice with some of the old Heaven guys and they said, "Hey, why don’t we
do a couple of shows." They said, "Yep OK."
CC: So this
was guys like Kelly?
Kelly, Laurie Marlow and Theo. Actually Joe Turtur, the original
drummer, only played like a couple of songs. Theo is another Sydney
drummer who has played with us off and on for years. He’s virtually
part of the band going way back to the 80’s anyway. He ended up playing
with BB Steel and Boss. So we all got together and decided to do some
shows. The two shows we did in Sydney were sold out. It was fantastic.
CC: So how
many people would that have been?
AF: It was
like 1,100 one night at the Bridge Hotel and 1,250 the second at the
Collector up in Parramatta in the Western suburbs. The Western suburbs
have always been good. It was great seeing a lot of old faces. After
fourteen years I was looking to see if anyone looked like me. I was
shittin’ myself, hoping there was no kids that looked like Allan Fryer.
CC: So the
band gets back together with most of the original line up…
That’s it. We did that. I had a bit of trouble with Kelly. We’ve always
had trouble with Kelly. He totally refused to play anything off the
American guy’s album. So I just rolled with the punches and said OK. So
when I came back to the States, I had been talking with Pulse Records
up in Chicago. I was talking with a few people, even in Japan, before
Pulse. I got together with those guys through Mitch [Perry] because he
had done an album with them, and put this together. So virtually the
deal was more of a development thing to come down to Australia and pull
a band together. So I ended up using another old Adelaide guy by the
name of Kevin Pratt, who was also in BB Steel and Boss. Everybody all
grew up together, so it was only natural. The guys, Theo, Laurie and
Kevin... we never worried about the rhythm player and gave John Hayes
the opportunity. You know, everybody was like, "OK! Let’s start
writing." The boys in Australia started and I started in the States and
we sent tapes to each other. Then on the 13th of April…
that’s when you came down to Sydney to record the album.
started out at Alberts Studios changed about a week ago. We got in
touch with Billy Thorpe.
CC: The old
Billy had brought his whole studio from L.A. and set it up here in
Sydney. It’s called Electric Mountain and it’s just great. We’re using
his producer/engineer Greg Clark. He’s also done The Poor.
CC: Cool. I
love that band. What are they doing?
doing a new album as well. Same time as us. We’ve been in the studio
the last couple of weeks now, getting all the tracks down and they’re
bigger than life. They’re great!
I can’t wait to hear it.
going to be finishing off the guitar tracks probably tomorrow, then the
vocals will start getting in there. So hopefully in the next two weeks
we should have some mixes done pretty good and hopefully it will fly.
Pulse are pretty excited about it. Everybody’s excited.
well, Steve [Freiss] from Pulse is a great guy, and as you know, the
Mötley Crüe Tribute CD I’ve been putting together is going to be out
through Pulse Records soon too. You’ve actually done a version of Home
Sweet Home for that Tribute as well.
Sweet Home. Yep That’s the one. The old thing with Tommy at the Hustler
definitely. So how was recording that version for you?
that was fun! Everybody donated their time. From the studio, to the
guys... the players in Austin: Nye Jones, Scott Cothran, Todd Frizzel
and Roger Weiss. We went in there and it was a bit strange. We wanted
to make it a bit different. We never put any of the dive bomb guitars,
that sort of thing, but wanted to give it a little touch of the Heaven
feel. So we were really happy with the way that turned out. I’m looking
forward to hearing the final CD very much.
certainly a lot of Mötley Crüe fans looking forward to it’s release,
and a lot of Heaven fans as well I’m sure. Are there any tour plans
then for Heaven?
AF: Yeh we
would love to tour Australia. First things first though. The plan is to
get the product out there so people can hear it.
would you describe the new tracks?
varied. We’ve got a real great 90’s sound, but if you put a little bit
of AC/DC, a little bit of Def Leppard and [Led] Zeppelin together,
you’d come up with it. It’s also got the honesty of the way Heaven was,
with great hooks and no bullshit. Straight ahead hard rock’n’roll that
nobody much is doing today.
AF: I just
feel that back in the 80’s when metal and hard rock was so big… and now
today you don’t hear it. There has to be the punters out there that
want this kind of music. Has to be. So we’re really looking forward to
getting the new stuff out. The new songs are great.
Just a final question then Allan. Have you ever caught up with the
Mötley guys since those early days?
AF: No. I
tried to get in touch with them on the Internet. The last time I caught
up with Tommy was when he was married to Heather and it was down at The
Rainbow. With Heather, he had the big entourage, all the security and
bullshit. I think they’ve changed. They get kind of alienated from the
public when they have these women with the same kind of stardom as
them, which is kind of a shame. The Crüe were just down to earth. They
were just guys. Drinking buddies. You just told me that the shit’s hit
the fan again with Tommy. It’s a pity that it has to come to that.
right. When I spoke with you briefly yesterday it was only hours after
the band’s management had announced officially that Tommy had handed in
his notice to leave the band and he won’t be touring on this
forthcoming tour. So that was certainly a shock to fans. But I guess a
lot of time has gone by as well and everyone matures. Having kids also
makes a difference.
keeping the family together and that, but it seems a pity that there
needs to be ultimatums. You’ll usually find that if there is an
ultimatum then it’s not going to work. He’s such an intricate part of
right. He’s been in the band since he was a teenager, so it’s been for
a major part of his life. But anyway, only time will tell and maybe
he’ll be back.
AF: OK. Well
if I pop into him, I’ll definitely say Hi.
CC: Hey have
you caught up with John Corabi since those earlier days?
AF: I spoke
with John about two and a half weeks ago. He was telling me that him
and Bruce [Kulick] are working on this project for Spitfire Records out
in New York.
right. That will be Union’s second album, after it seems they ran into
some major problems with Mayhem Records.
well hopefully this time around it’ll be better. I’ll be speaking with
John when I get back to the States. He’ll be putting in two bobs worth
for us, and I’m keen to check out that situation for Heaven as well. So
hopefully we can get a major licensing deal around the world with our
new music. See if we can get Metal and Hard Rock happening again. I
think we’ll start ‘F@ck Disco, Let’s Rock’n’Roll’ gigs like we used to
do with the Tatts [Rose Tattoo] back in the 80’s you know?
Cool. Well thanks for your time Allan.
Paul. Thank you. I appreciate it, and look forward to having a drink
with you one day. Maybe if we can tour Australia.
be really cool. Thanks again. I appreciate it.
appreciate it too. We’ll get this cracking and you’ll be the first to
hear the new Heaven stuff.
great mate, and let’s hope we can move quite a few copies of the
Tribute CD as well, and help the kids.
be great. Alright mate, you take care. Love to the family and say Hi to
all the Crüe fans.
Keep kickin’ ass.
AF: Will do
buddy. See ya.
CC: See ya.
Heaven toured Australia
in December 2001 as the support for Judas Priest, and I got the chance
to catch up with Allan Fryer and the rest of the guys backstage at
their Melbourne show.
R.I.P. Allan Fryer - June 2015
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