The Headless Children

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The Headless Children
The Headless Children (W.A.S.P. album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by W.A.S.P.
Released April 1989 (1989-04)[1]
Genre Heavy metal
Length 48:32[2]
Label Capitol
Producer Blackie Lawless
W.A.S.P. chronology
Live... In the Raw
The Headless Children
The Crimson Idol
Singles from The Headless Children
  1. "The Real Me"
    Released: 1989[3]
  2. "Forever Free"
    Released: 1989[4]
  3. "Mean Man"
    Released: 1989[5]
  4. "Headless Children" / "Maneater" / "Rebel in the F.D.G."
    Released: 1989[6]

The Headless Children is the fourth studio album by heavy metal band W.A.S.P., released in April 1989 through Capitol Records.[1] The album reached No. 48 on the U.S. Billboard 200,[7] the band's highest chart position,[8] and remained on that chart for thirteen weeks;[9] it also reached the top 30 in four other countries.[10][11]


The Headless Children showcases a new level of maturity from the band compared to their previous three albums, which had stereotypically lewd "rock and roll" lyrics. Politics and social issues are now a theme throughout the album. The cover art depicts a string of historical figures including Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Benito Mussolini, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Al Capone and the Ku Klux Klan, with an image of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald shown prominently in the foreground. Later editions of the album have replaced, among others, Ayatollah Khomeini with additional KKK members.

The Headless Children was the first W.A.S.P. album to feature ex-Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali and the last studio album to feature Holmes for nearly a decade until he rejoined the band in late 1997 to record Kill Fuck Die.

"The Real Me" is one of two songs the band covered and released as part of the Headless Children release, (the other being "Locomotive Breath", by Jethro Tull, which was the b-side). "The Real Me" however was the only song of the two to make the album. The song was written by Pete Townshend of The Who's and is from their classic rock opera album, "Quadrophenia"

"Mean Man", written by lead singer/bassist Blackie Lawless, is about guitarist Chris Holmes' wild lifestyle and is dedicated to him; ironically Holmes left the band shortly after the album's release, though he did return 10 years later.

Lawless stated in an interview shortly after the release of the album, that "The Neutron Bomber", is about Ronald Reagan and the power he and America had over the world, with such a large nuclear arsenal. The song despite most likely being written during his Presidency, was however released a few months after his retirement and the election of George Bush Sr.

"Forever Free" is a ballad typical of the time in the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal genre, which is supposedly a homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird".

According to the liner notes, the "F.D.G." in "Rebel in the F.D.G." stands for "Fucking Decadent Generation".

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[12]
Rock Hard 7/10 stars[13]

Greg Prato at AllMusic gave The Headless Children 4.5 stars out of five, calling it W.A.S.P.'s "most accomplished work" and their "best constructed album". He also noted "The Real Me", "Mean Man", "The Heretic", "Forever Free" and the title track as highlights.[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Blackie Lawless, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "The Heretic (The Lost Child) " (Lawless, Chris Holmes) 7:16
2. "The Real Me" (Pete Townshend) 3:21
3. "The Headless Children"   5:47
4. "Thunderhead" (Lawless, Holmes) 6:45
5. "Mean Man"   4:50
6. "The Neutron Bomber"   4:03
7. "Mephisto Waltz"   1:27
8. "Forever Free"   5:09
9. "Maneater"   4:46
10. "Rebel in the F.D.G."   5:08
Total length:
^† – On the 1998 reissue, "The Heretic (The Lost Child)" has been edited to remove a small portion of a guitar riff in order to fit all the bonus material on the same CD.


Additional musicians[edit]

  • Ken Hensleykeyboard
  • Frankie Banalidrums, percussion
  • Diana Fennell – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Lita Ford – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Mark Humphreys – background vocals
  • Jimi Image – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Minka Kelly – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Thomas Nellen – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Cathi Paige – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Mike Solan – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Kevin Wallace – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Melba Wallace – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Ron Wallace – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"

Technical team[edit]

  • Mikey Davis – engineering, mixing
  • Tom Nellen – engineering assistance
  • Rhonda Schoen – editing engineering
  • Steve Hall – mastering
  • George Marino – mastering

Chart performance[edit]

Year Chart Peak position
1989 Austrian albums chart 19[11]
Billboard 200 48[7]
German albums chart 22[10]
Norwegian albums chart 13[10]
Swiss albums chart 19[11]
UK albums chart 08[14]


  1. ^ a b "The Headless Children". Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  2. ^ The Headless Children (CD release "CDP 7 48942 2").
  3. ^ "W.A.S.P. – The Real Me". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  4. ^ "W.A.S.P. – Forever Free". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  5. ^ "W.A.S.P. – Mean Man". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  6. ^ "W.A.S.P. – Headless Children". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  7. ^ a b "The Headless Children - W.A.S.P. | Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "W.A.S.P. - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  10. ^ a b c "W.A.S.P. - The Headless Children (album)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  11. ^ a b c "W. A. S. P. - The Headless Children (album)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  12. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "The Headless Children - W.A.S.P.". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  13. ^ Kupfer, Thomas. "Review Album". (in German). Rock Hard. Hi-Media. 32. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  14. ^ Cite error: The named reference officialcharts was invoked but never defined (see the help page).