Jon Schaffer in 2012
|Birth name||Jon Ryan Schaffer|
|Born||March 15, 1968|
|Genres||Heavy metal, power metal, thrash metal, progressive metal|
|Instruments||Guitar, bass guitar, vocals|
|Labels||Century Media, SPV|
|Associated acts||Iced Earth, Demons and Wizards, Sons of Liberty|
Jon Ryan Schaffer (born March 15, 1968) is an American heavy metal musician. He is best known as the rhythm guitarist and last remaining original member of the Florida-based heavy metal band Iced Earth, which he formed in 1985 under the name "Purgatory". He also sings in his side project Sons of Liberty and played guitar for Demons and Wizards, his collaboration with Blind Guardian frontman Hansi Kürsch.
Schaffer was originally introduced to rock music at the age of three. His older sister introduced Jon to bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult. In 1979, at the age of eleven, Schaffer attended a Kiss concert with his father. Since then, he has said that this was the moment when he realized what he wanted to do for a living.
Schaffer went to a Lutheran school for five years, during which he developed a lot of anger and rebellion, due to the abusive nature of the pastors. On one occasion, one of the pastors shoved a bar of soap down Schaffer's throat, because the pastor felt threatened due to his refusal to submit, after he could not answer Schaffer's questions about evolution versus creationism. According to Schaffer, this did have an effect on him forming a band, so that he could "prove these people wrong".
In 1984, at the age of 16, Schaffer moved to Tampa, Florida. Shortly before he left, one of Schaffer's childhood friends died in a motorcycle accident, which made Schaffer even more determined to move to Florida and start a band. While in Tampa, Schaffer slept in his car until he nearly lost his life in a car accident, after which he got an apartment and a job as a roofer.
In 1984, Schaffer formed a short-lived band called "The Rose". The band quickly broke up, after which Jon formed, what would later become Iced Earth, under the name "Purgatory" on January 20, 1985. Schaffer played rhythm guitar and also designed the band's logo. The logo had originally been used for The Rose, but after the band broke up, Schaffer reused the logo for Purgatory and later on for Iced Earth.
In 1990, after some line up changes, the band (now known as Iced Earth) released their self-titled debut album. Besides playing rhythm guitar and singing backing vocals, Jon also acted as co-producer on the album, as he has done on all Iced Earth albums since. The following year, the band released the follow-up album, Night of the Stormrider, which also featured Jon singing lead vocals on the song "Stormrider".
After some downtime between 1992 and 1995, Iced Earth re-emerged with a new line up, which included singer Matt Barlow, who would stay with the band until 2003. The band released the albums Burnt Offerings and The Dark Saga in 1995 and 1996 respectively, until in 1998, Iced Earth released the album Something Wicked This Way Comes, which featured three songs ("Prophecy", "Birth of the Wicked" and "The Coming Curse") that were based on Jon Schaffer's Something Wicked concept. The songs tell the story of a character that Jon created, called Set Abominae, who also appears on the album's front cover.
After Something Wicked This Way Comes, Iced Earth released the album Horror Show in 2001, after which work began on the follow-up album, The Glorious Burden. Originally Matt Barlow had recorded the vocal tracks for the album, but due to his lack of interest in the band following the events of 9/11, he left the group in 2003 and joined the Georgetown Police Department in Georgetown, Delaware. Matt was replaced by former Judas Priest-singer Tim "Ripper" Owens, who resung the entire album. The Glorious Burden was released in January 2004, after which Jon started work on two concept albums based on his Something Wicked storyline. The first album, Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1 was released on September 11, 2007, after which, in December 2007, it was announced that Matt Barlow would be returning to Iced Earth. The second album, The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part 2, was released September 5, 2008, and featured Matt once again on vocals.
In 2011, after about two years back in the band, Matt Barlow issued a statement saying that he was leaving Iced Earth in order to spend more time with his family. Matt Barlow was later replaced by Stu Block from Into Eternity, who had opened for Iced Earth in 2008. With Block, the band recorded the album Dystopia, which was released on October 17, 2011. From October 2011, to December 2012, Iced Earth toured in support of Dystopia, during which time they recorded the album Live in Ancient Kourion.
Demons and Wizards
Demons and Wizards is a side project Schaffer put together with Blind Guardian frontman Hansi Kürsch. Schaffer and Hansi had originally met in the early 1990s, when Iced Earth and Blind Guardian toured together. Demons and Wizards released their self-titled debut album in 2000. Besides Jon and Hansi, the album also featured Mark Prator on drums and Jim Morris on lead guitar. The group's second album, Touched by the Crimson King was released in 2005, and featured a number of guest musicians, including Bobby Jarzombek, Jim Morris, Rubin Drake, Howard Helm, Kathy Helm, Tori Fuson, Jesse Morris and Krystyna Kolaczynski.
In a video update in 2011, Schaffer and Kürsch talked about the future of Demons and Wizards and stated, that it is only a matter of their schedules lining up when they are going to start work on a third album.
Sons of Liberty
—Jon Schaffer on the inception of Sons of Liberty
Sons of Liberty is a highly political side project Jon Schaffer formed in 2009. Sons of Liberty's debut album, Brush-fires of the Mind, was released in December 2009 as a free download on the band's website (the album was later made available on CD and vinyl as well). Schaffer sang, played guitar and programmed the drums, but the album also featured a number of guests, including Jim Morris, Ruben Drake, Troy Seele, Howard Helm and Jeff Brandt. During the supporting tour, Jon Schaffer was backed up by Seele, Freddie Vidales and Brent Smedley.
In December 2011, Sons of Liberty released the EP Spirit of the Times. Once again, the album featured Schaffer singing, playing guitar and programming the drums, as well as Jim Morris and Ruben Drake.
Schaffer used to own a store called the "Spirit of '76". He also participated in the film Silver Circle. In 2012, Schaffer was featured as a guest vocalist on Anarchadia's album Let Us All Unite, performing on the track "True World Order." Schaffer has also expressed interest in doing comic book series based on the Night of the Stormrider album and the Something Wicked Saga.
In a 2011 interview with Alex Jones discussing their mutual political views, Schaffer revealed that "My father was a John Birch guy. When I was a young child I remember things that he and his friends would talk about, concerning the UN and stuff". In the same interview, he also revealed that he has a younger brother who had served in Iraq. In 1996, while performing in Berlin, Schaffer injured his neck for which he had surgery in 2000. In the early 2000s, he had surgery again, this time for lower-back problems. In 2005, Schaffer's daughter was born, whom he credits for giving him "perspective", that he "never had before".
Besides playing music, Schaffer enjoys studying history and current events, as well as "standing against, and exposing, tyranny". He also enjoys riding motorcycles, scuba diving, white water rafting and exercising. Schaffer has listed Tom Schaffer, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Stephen Toboz, Steve Harris, Ronnie James Dio, Hansi Kürsch, Aaron Russo, G. Edward Griffin and Ron Paul as people who inspire him.
With Iced Earth
- 1990: Iced Earth
- 1991: Night of the Stormrider
- 1995: Burnt Offerings
- 1996: The Dark Saga
- 1998: Something Wicked This Way Comes
- 2001: Horror Show
- 2004: The Glorious Burden
- 2007: Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1
- 2008: The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part 2
- 2011: Dystopia
- 2014: Plagues of Babylon
- 2017: Incorruptible
With Demons and Wizards
With Sons of Liberty
- 2009: Brush-fires of the Mind
- 2011: Spirit of the Times (EP)
With Jon Schaffer's Purgatory
- 2018: Purgatory (EP)
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