Rozz Williams

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Rozz Williams
Birth name Roger Alan Painter
Also known as Rozz Williams
Born (1963-11-06)November 6, 1963
Pomona, California, United States
Died April 1, 1998(1998-04-01) (aged 34)
West Hollywood, California, United States
Genres Deathrock, gothic rock, post-punk, industrial, industrial rock, punk rock, dark ambient, dark cabaret, experimental
Occupations Musician, singer, songwriter, poet, filmmaker
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, electronics, organ
Years active 1979–1998
Labels Cleopatra, Frontier, Triple X, Hollows Hill Sound
Associated acts Christian Death, Shadow Project, Premature Ejaculation, Daucus Karota, Heltir, EXP, Gitane Demone
Website www.rozznet.com

Rozz Williams (born Roger Alan Painter on November 6, 1963; died on April 1, 1998) was an American vocalist and musician most known for his work with the bands Christian Death, Shadow Project (with musician Eva O), and with the industrial project Premature Ejaculation. Christian Death is cited by some as a pioneer of the American gothic rock scene as well as deathrock. Williams was also involved with Daucus Karota, Heltir, and EXP; he also recorded several solo albums.

Williams took his own life on April 1, 1998.

Early life[edit]

On November 6, 1963, Rozz Williams was born Roger Alan Painter in Pomona, California, and was raised in a strict Southern Baptist family with his three older siblings (one sister, two brothers, with Larry being the oldest).[citation needed]

As a child, he was a fan of David Bowie, Roxy Music, T. Rex, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls.[citation needed] When he reached adolescence in the late 1970s, he became attracted to the punk rock music scene.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Performance in bands[edit]

By the age of 16 he began performing in bands.[citation needed] He took the name of Rozz Williams from a gravestone he found in a Pomona cemetery.[citation needed] His first bands were called The Crawlers, No, then later The Upsetters.[citation needed] He sang and played the guitar, though the band never performed on stage.[citation needed] He then went on to form The Asexuals.[citation needed] In addition to being the lead vocalist, he played the organ and guitar, with Jill Emery also contributing vocals as well as playing bass, and Steve Darrow on drums.[citation needed] Their performances were limited to a few parties.[citation needed]

He then sang in a band called Daucus Karota with Mary Torciva on percussion and Jay (John) Albert on guitar.[citation needed] Albert and Williams[citation needed] then went on to form Christian Death in October 1979[1] with James McGearty and George Belanger.[citation needed] The name "Christian Death" was a play on words of the fashion designer Christian Dior.[citation needed][citation needed] The band broke up temporarily in 1981, and Williams formed Premature Ejaculation with performance artist Ron Athey, with whom he had been living.[citation needed] After only a few live performances, including one which involved Athey eating a crucified road-kill cat, clubs began refusing to book them.[citation needed]

Williams then restarted Christian Death in the summer of 1981 with McGearty and Belanger, who also brought in guitarist Rikk Agnew, who had previously been with The Adolescents.[citation needed]

Agnew and Belanger left the group in 1982, with guitarist Eva Ortiz and drummer Rod "China" Figueroa stepping in as replacements for live performances.[citation needed] By the end of the year the band had broken up once again due to drug problems.[citation needed]

Christian Death[edit]

In 1983, Williams formed a new band under the Christian Death name, this time with former members of Pompeii 99, with whom Christian Death had performed at a live show the previous year.[citation needed] The new lineup consisted of Williams as frontman, Valor Kand on guitars, Gitane Demone on keyboards and providing backing vocals, Constance Smith on bass and David Glass on drums.[citation needed] Towards the end of 1983 they were invited to appear on US music TV show Media Blitz where they mimed to "Cavity" and "Romeo's Distress" and gave a short interview.[citation needed] Their first European show was at Les Bains Douches, Paris on 12 February 1984 and they continued touring Europe until June.[citation needed]

Catastrophe Ballet was recorded at Rockfield studios in Monmouth, Wales around the same time.[citation needed] It was a departure from the religious overtones of their debut LP and the lyrics reflected Rozz's newfound love of surrealism and the Dada movement (the album was even dedicated to André Breton).[citation needed] Rozz was enjoying living in France, home of many of his artistic and literary heroes – Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Genet, Lautremont, Marcel Duchamp and René Magritte, among others.[citation needed] Constance Smith left the band following the recording of the album and, in live shows, was replaced by Dave Roberts of Sex Gang Children.[citation needed]

In autumn 1984 the band returned to America and they recorded the Ashes LP,[citation needed] which was released the following year. Rozz, Valor, Gitane and David Glass provided much of the music for the record; however, guest appearances were made by Randy Wilde on bass, Eric Westfall playing violin and accordion synth, an infant Sevan Kand crying, Bill Swain playing tuba, Richard Hurwitz on trumpet and Michael Andraes on clarinet.[citation needed]

The band performed shows in America to promote the Ashes album, climaxing with The Path of Sorrows extravaganza at Los Angeles' Roxy Theatre on 6 April 1985. This multi-media extravaganza featured films, a banquet and a program. Kristina Fuller coordinated and supervised the visuals, film sections and Rozz's four costume changes.[citation needed] Their performance at Hollywood Berwin Entertainment Centre a few days before was recorded and released as The Decomposition of Violets cassette.[citation needed] These shows saw Rozz, Valor, Gitane and David joined by Jeff Williams and Barry Galvin.[citation needed] Rozz officially left Christian Death after the American shows in April 1985, citing loss of interest and a distaste for touring as reasons for his departure.[citation needed] Valor took the rest of the band to Italy as part of the European tour.[citation needed]

Williams had asked Gitane Demone not to continue under the name Christian Death and Valor had agreed to change the name of the band to Sin and Sacrifice.[citation needed] Instead of following through with his commitment to this agreement, Valor Kand decided instead to keep the Christian Death name, first changing the name to "The Sin and Sacrifice of Christian Death", and then dropping "Sin and Sacrifice", leaving the name as "Christian Death", much to the annoyance of Rozz.[citation needed] Williams considered Christian Death to be his creation and felt personally responsible for it as it was directly associated with his name, image, art and poetry.[citation needed] He felt that it was his decision, not Valor's, whether the band continued or not.[citation needed] Gitane Demone expressed misgivings about this, and though she did not initially leave the group (likely at least in part due to her relationship at the time with Valor) she later publicly sided with Williams on the matter.[citation needed]

Rozz recorded for Cleopatra Records in 1992. Williams had been the only original member of Christian Death left when he departed the group in 1985, yet the remaining members continued to perform earlier Christian Death material and release several albums under the original group name.[citation needed]

Rozz had already recorded two more songs, "Haloes" and "Spectre (Love Is Dead)", with Eric Westfall,[citation needed] but these were not officially released for five years. The songs appeared on the Heavens and Hells cassettes, which also included live performances selected by Rozz from his own tapes. A third, unfinished song from the session with Eric Westfall was called "This Mirage".[citation needed] This was only completed many years after, with assistance from Erik Christides, and released for the first time in 1998.[citation needed]

Williams released various material under different project names following his departure from the band; the first was Premature Ejaculation with Ron Athey, and then Shadow Project with Eva O, whom he married in San Francisco in 1987. The band lineup included Johann Schumann (bass) and also Barry Galvin and David Glass, both of whom also recorded with post Ashes-era Christian Death.[citation needed] The name "Shadow Project" was taken from the tests in Hiroshima following the nuclear bomb which left impressions or "shadows", but no bodies.[citation needed]

Later on, Williams reformed Shadow Project with Eva O, Jill Emery (bass), Tom Morgan (drums) and Paris (keyboards).[citation needed] At the time, Rozz was increasingly falling under the influence of the philosophy of Charles Manson.[citation needed] Jill Emery left the band early in 1992 to concentrate her duties on Hole,[citation needed] who would become an internationally successful act, and Aaron Schwartz was brought in to record "Dead Babies/Killer" for the Welcome to Our Nightmare compilation CD consisting of cover versions of Alice Cooper songs.[citation needed] Chuck Collison also contributed samples to these tracks.[citation needed]

Rozz, Eva, Listo (bass) and David Melford (drums) started recording new versions of classic Christian Death songs for the The Iron Mask album in February 1992.[citation needed] The album was made, in part, to finance the Shadow Project European tour of February and March 1992, when they were supported by Mephisto Walz.[citation needed] Peter Tomlinson had replaced Tom Morgan on drums for this tour.[citation needed]

Williams also occasionally took part in Christian Death reunions during the late 1980s and early 1990s with Rikk Agnew, the guitarist on the band's first album.[citation needed]

In 1992, with the help of Eva O, Paris, William Faith, Sevan Kand (son of Valor Kand), Scat Elis, Stevyn Grey, Kris Kohls, Brian Virtue, Wayne James, Armon Christoff and Aaron Schwartz, Rozz recorded two new Christian Death studio albums entitled The Path of Sorrows and The Rage of Angels. Rozz had been quoted as saying "The Path of Sorrows is probably my favorite Christian Death album".[citation needed] One song on The Rage of Angels was written for Jeffrey Dahmer, the American serial killer and for whom Rozz had a major fascination.[citation needed]

For the last time in June 1993 at Los Angeles' Patriotic Hall, Christian Death regrouped for a one show, captured on the Iconologia CD and live video. Rozz was joined by Rikk Agnew, George Belanger and Casey (bass).[citation needed] Following his brother's decision not to come back on stage to play the encores, Frank Agnew was credited as additional guitarist on the recordings. During some live performances, Rozz could be seen wearing a T-shirt which sported the words "Never Trust a Valor".[citation needed]

At this time, there were effectively two bands recording and performing material under the name "Christian Death". This eventually precipitated a heated legal battle between Kand and Willams which was never satisfactorily resolved.[citation needed]

In 1993, Shadow Project toured America.[citation needed] The band consisted of Williams, Eva, Paris, Mark Barone (bass) and Christian Omar Madrigal Izzo (drums).[citation needed] After this American tour, Eva O and Paris left the band to work on the Eva O Halo Experience CD Demons Fall for an Angel's Kiss.[citation needed] Shadow Project had come to an end; however, a German tour for October had already been booked. Although all tickets, flyers and publicity for this tour were credited to Shadow Project, Williams had decided that the band name should change to Daucus Karota.[citation needed] He sang on the tour, Brian Butler was the guitarist, Mark Barone played bass and Christian Omar Madrigal Izzo was on drums.[citation needed] For one show Gitane Demone drove from her home in Amsterdam to Germany to meet up with Williams backstage.[citation needed] The Shrine EP by Daucus Karota was recorded in January 1994 with Mark Barone (bass), Christian Omar Madrigal Izzo (drums) and Roxy (guitars).[citation needed] Daucus Karota returned to Europe for a month-long European tour in November 1994, with Gitane Demone filling the support slot. The tour had Todd Dixon on drums, Michael Saavedra on bass and Brian Hansen on guitar.[citation needed] Brian had replaced Rolf Donath, who had been the guitarist for the band at shows in Los Angeles and Mexico during that summer.[citation needed]

Later Career[edit]

Demone and Williams came together to release the album Dream Home Heartache in 1995. It was recorded by Rozz and Gitane Demone in Gent, Belgium between 28 March and 5 April 1995 with help from Pieter Rekfelt. The producer was Ken Thomas who had previously worked with David Bowie on Hunky Dory. Rozz and Gitane played a few shows together in April 1995 and again in December 1995.[citation needed] They toured the UK in April 1996.[citation needed]

In 1995, following his return from Europe, Williams joined up with Paris and Ryan Wildstar to work on the spoken-word album, The Whorse's Mouth. The lyrics, co-written with Ryan Wildstar, chronicle a period of heroin addiction from which the two eventually escaped.[citation needed] Shortly following the recording of The Whorse's Mouth, Williams began playing bass for EXP, the musical troupe created by Paris and Ryan Wildstar.[citation needed] He went on to play bass on their self-titled debut album with bandmates Paris (keyboards), Ryan Wildstar (vocals), Doriandra (vocals), Ace Farren Ford (horns/violin), Justin Bennett (drums) and Ignacio Segovia (percussion).[citation needed]

In 1997, Williams again paired up with Eva O to record the final Shadow Project album, From the Heart, an extremely intimate album with a notably stripped-down sound for the duo.[citation needed] He also recorded Wound of Exit, his last solo CD as Premature Ejaculation.

Other Interests[edit]

In addition to his musical activities, Williams had a keen interest in painting,[citation needed] along with collaging,[citation needed] and several of his pieces have been exhibited. He also co-directed and scored Pig, a 1998 experimental psychological horror silent short film with underground film maker Nico B. The film stars Rozz Williams and James Hollan and was produced by Nico B. Pig was the last work Williams did.

Death[edit]

On April 1, 1998, Williams hanged himself in his West Hollywood apartment. His body was discovered by Ryan Wildstar, a friend and roommate of seven years. Williams was 34.[2] A memorial was held at the El Rey Theatre shortly after his death, and a small gathering of family and friends offered his ashes to the earth at Runyon Canyon Park in the Hollywood Hills.[3]

Rozz Williams' ashes are located in the Hollywood Forever cemetery.[4] The cabinet in which he hanged himself as well as a few pieces of original artwork are on display at the LA Museum of Death.[5]

Discography, bands and solo act[edit]

Christian Death (1979–1985)
Christian Death featuring Rozz Williams
  • The Iron Mask (1992)
  • Skeleton Kiss EP (1992)
  • Stick a Finger Down Its Throat (1992)
  • The Path of Sorrows (1993)
  • Iconologia (1993)
  • Sleepless Nights: Live 1990 (1993)
  • Invocations: 1981–1989 (1993)
  • The Rage of Angels (1994)
  • Tales of Innocence: A Continued Anthology (1994)
  • Christian Death: Live (video; 1995)
  • Death in Detroit (1995)
  • Death Mix (1996)
  • The Best of Christian Death (Featuring: Rozz Williams) (1999)
  • Death Club (2005)
  • Six Six Sixth Communion (2007)
  • Death Box (box set; 2012)
Shadow Project (1987–1998)
  • Is Truth a Crime? (1989)
  • Shadow Project (1991)
  • Dreams for the Dying (1992)
  • Dead Babies/Killer (1992)
  • In Tuned Out – Live '93 (1994)
  • From the Heart (1998)
  • The Original Shadow Project (2005)
Premature Ejaculation (1981–1998)
  • PE – Pt.1 (1981)
  • PE – Pt.2 (1981)
  • A Little Hard to Swallow (1982)
  • Living Monstrocities/Descent (1985)
  • Death Cultures (1987)
  • Assertive Discipline (1994)
  • Death Cultures III (1988)
  • Blood Told in Spine (1991)
  • Death Cultures (1989)
  • Anesthesia (1992)
  • Necessary Discomforts (1993)
  • Estimating the Time of Death (1994)
  • Wound of Exit (1998)
Happiest Place on Earth (1986–1990)
  • Body of a Crow (1986)
  • PULSE (1989)
  • Environments: Birth, Death, Decay (1990)
Daucus Karota (1979, 1986, 1993–94)
  • Shrine EP (1994)
Heltir (1987–1998)
  • Il banchetto dei cancri/VC-706 (1989)
  • 69 Rituals (1989)
  • Neue sachlichkeit (1994)
EXP
  • EXP (1996)
Rozz Williams and Gitane Demone
Rozz Williams (1992–1998)

Filmography[edit]

  • Pig (1998)
  • 1334 (2012; posthumous)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Christian Death" (Press release). Box 22, Sun Valley, California, 91352: Frontier Records. 1982. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ Layne, Anni (April 9, 1998). "Goth Pioneer Rozz Williams Hangs Himself". Rolling Stone. 
  3. ^ Athey, Ron (April 8, 1998). "Rozz Williams, 1963–1998 – – Music – LA Weekly". LA Weekly. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Rozz Williams (1963 – 1998) – Find a Grave Memorial". Find a Grave. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ Carmina, La (April 9, 2010). "Hollywood Museum of Death: Serial Killer Memorabilia, Morbid Murder Photos, Gruesome Exhibition in LA. | La Carmina. Japanese Street Fashion, Goth Style Blogger, Tokyo Japan Gothic Lolita, Travel TV Host". La Carmina. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 

External links[edit]