Slaughter came about after the breakup of the Vinny Vincent Invasion. The former KISS guitarist started his own band in 1984 and they enjoyed a few years of success. However, it wasn’t long before internal problems led to his group’s eventual demise. That band soon ground to a halt after their record label Chrysalis removed the group’s contract due to Vincent over extending his credit line with the label. Vinny’s former singer Mark Slaughter and bass guitarist Dana Strum decided to start their own band, and Chrysalis’ management decided to transfer the existing contract to them.
Slaughter Album One: Stick It To Ya
After adding drummer Blas Elias and lead guitarist Tim Kelly to the group, Slaughter’s classic lineup was formed. The band released their debut album Stick It To Ya in January 1990. They enjoyed immediate success, fueled by the hit singles “Spend My Life,” “Fly to the Angels” and “Up All Night,” all of which cracked the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Mark and Dana even got to reminisce a little with the song “Burning Bridges,” which was a tongue in cheek nod to the events that led to their former band’s demise.
The band toured behind the album around the country for a couple of years. Slaughter also released the song “Shout It Out” on the movie soundtrack for Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. They also released their first live album, Stick It Live, that same year following the popularity of their debut recording.
Slaughter Album Two: The Wild Life
In 1992, Slaughter recorded their follow up album, The Wild Life, which was released in April that year. While not as popular with the public as their first album, they still enjoyed some modest success. The most popular song from their sophomore release was “Real Love,” which reached #69 in the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.
After another relentless touring schedule, the band was ready to start writing music for their third album. However, their plans took a few unexpected detours. Bass guitarist Dana Strum was injured in a motorcycle accident. The resulting injury meant several months of recovery. Lead guitarist Tim Kelly was arrested for drug trafficking in 1993. Another hiccup was the fact that their record label Chrysalis Records was bought out by EMI. EMI later ended up dropping Slaughter not long after their acquisition.
Slaughter Album Three: Fear No Evil
Due to these issues, Slaughter had to delay completion of their next album until May 1995. They also had to find a new record label. The group ended up signing with CMC International and having their third album released through BMG’s distribution channels. Fear No Evil did well in Japan, but was not considered a commercial success in the rest of Asia, Europe or North America. Due to Kelly’s legal entanglements, former Vince Neil band guitarist Dave Marshall filled in on several tour dates with the band.
Slaughter Album Four: Revolution
After Kelly’s troubles ended, the group was once again ready to function as a unit. In May 1997, their fourth album, Revolution, was released to the public. It took on an edgier, more progressive sound than their previous studio records. It also failed to find an audience. However, that didn’t stop the band from continuing to tour behind it.
Tragedy struck in February 1998 when founding member Tim Kelly died from injuries received in a car accident in Arizona. His car had been struck head-on by an oncoming eighteen wheeler. Kelly passed away from internal injuries after arriving at the hospital following the accident. After taking some time to give their friend a proper farewell, the rest of the band soon resumed their tour commitments. Once again, they turned to Dave Marshall to fill the void during several Japanese tour dates. Former Saigon Kick guitarist Jeff Blando was later hired as Kelly’s permanent replacement. Slaughter also released their second live album, Eternal Live, later that year featuring some of Tim’s final performances with the band.
In June 1999, Slaughter released their fifth (and to date, most recent) studio album, Reality. This was also their third record on CMC International. While it did not return them to their former popularity, Slaughter still continued their busy tour schedule to support the record. They spent time on the road with Night Ranger and Ted Nugent in 1999 and participated in the Poison, Cinderella, Dokken and Slaughter tour in summer 2000.
Slaughter has had a few lineup changes since their last record. Original drummer Blas Elias left the group in 2003, and was replaced briefly on the road by former Vinny Vincent Invasion drummer Bobby Rock. Former Skid Row drummer Tim DiDuro was Slaughter’s touring drummer from 2004 to 2011. He was later replaced by Zoltan Chaney from Vince Neil’s solo band in 2011. Chaney continues to drum in both bands to this day.
Even though it’s been almost twenty years since Slaughter last released a studio album, the band still has a dedicated tour schedule every year. They have shared stages with some of their contemporaries and a variety of newer bands around the world. Older fans are always eager to hear the favorite hits that they remember fondly. Slaughter has also been playing more family-friendly festival and arenas and more and more younger generations of rock fans have been exposed to their music in recent years.
Slaughter is one of those bands that just never gives up. They survived the rise of the grunge rock movement, which was a death knell for many glam rock and hair metal bands. They’ve endured lineup changes, personal tragedies and record label shakeups. Through it all, they continue to give strong performances wherever they go. They could have easily called it quits years ago, but they soldier on because they love what they do.
You may see an advertisement for one of Slaughter’s festival shows or one of Mark’s solo performances at a venue near you. If you have the chance, go to a show of theirs or two. The guys are class acts. They always put on a great show, and they are very thankful for every fan who attends their shows. Mark might even step into the audience during a song and give you a high five! You’re bound to be entertained, and you’re helping one of the best bands of the hair metal era continue to do what they do best: entertain audiences with nostalgic songs and a great stage presence wherever they go.