Ving performing with Fear on the 2010 Warped Tour
|Birth name||Lee James Jude Capallero|
|Born||April 10, 1950|
|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Genres||Hardcore punk, blues, country|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica, bass guitar|
|Labels||Slash, Fear, Sector 2|
|Associated acts||Fear, MD.45, Teenage Time Killers|
As a musician he is best known as the frontman of the Los Angeles-based hardcore punk band Fear. As an actor, Ving is best known for his roles as topless club owner Johnny C. in Flashdance (1983), motorcycle gang leader Greer in Streets of Fire (1984) and murder victim Mr. Boddy in the murder mystery film Clue (1985).
Ving was born Lee James Jude Capallero in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up in the city's Kensington neighborhood. The Capallero family later moved to the suburbs and Ving attended St. Luke's Elementary School in Glenside as well as St. John of the Cross in Roslyn, before graduating from Abington Senior High School.
Ving's mother taught him to play the mandolin at 4 years of age. He began studying guitar at age 11 and later studied with musicians Jim Hall, John Abercrombie. He also studied with Ted Greene after moving to Los Angeles. As a teen he listened to blues records and particularly enjoyed their striking guitar sounds. He was also interested in Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, as well as the experimental New York rock group The Fugs. He joined his first band while still in high school.
In 1966 Ving enlisted in the army and served stateside during the Vietnam War.
After leaving the army, Ving became involved in Philadelphia's folk, blues and R&B music scenes while studying Sociology at Villanova University. He joined the electric blues band Sweet Stavin Chain (SSC) as a vocalist and harmonica player. SSC frequently collaborated with jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker. The band also opened for The Who at the Electric Factory in 1968 and also opened for Cream at the Spectrum during Cream's farewell tour later that same year. After leaving SSC, Ving moved to New York and studied voice and guitar, then in the mid-1970s he moved to Los Angeles, playing briefly with heavy metal bands before forming the hardcore punk band Fear. The band's first concert was in 1978.
Ving is Fear's lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and harmonica player and is the only member to have remained with the band since its inception. During Fear's performances at the L.A. punk scene, Ving was known for baiting his audience with insults, earning him the nickname "the Don Rickles of rock." Ving's vocals have been described as "bluesy", evoking Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, while also having a "commanding, drill-sergeant vocal delivery and surly attitude helped to build a new breed of bad-tempered hardcore" and "a vein-busting rage that lends [Ving] the air of a loco Marine on a rampage."
1981 marked an important year for Ving and Fear. The band was featured in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization about Los Angeles's punk scene. Ving was initially approached by the film's director, Penelope Spheeris, while he was posting concert promo flyers to telephone poles in Los Angeles. Spheeris also introduced Fear to her husband Bob Biggs, the founder and then president of Slash Records, who signed the group to his label; Fear released their debut album The Record with the label in 1982.
Fear also appeared on the 1981 Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) at the suggestion of SNL writer Michael O'Donoghue and then ex-SNL cast-member John Belushi. Belushi became a fan of Fear after seeing them perform in 1980 on the L.A.-based music television show New Wave Theatre and O'Donoghue had seen the band in The Decline of Western Civilization. Belushi had initially commissioned the band to record a song for his film Neighbors, but the movie studio rejected the recording and it never made the soundtrack. As a favor to Fear, Belushi and O'Donoghue made a deal with then producer Dick Ebersol whereby Belushi would make a cameo appearance on the show upon condition that Fear be allowed to perform as the episode's musical guests. A large portion of the crowd were punk music fans and included members of the bands Minor Threat, Cro-mags, The Meatmen and Negative Approach who rushed the stage and were moshing. One of the slam dancers yelled "Fuck New York!" which was broadcast live. Dick Ebersol, who was stage manager at the time, decided to cut to tape once the obscenities could be heard.
Fear's performance was initially pulled from subsequent SNL reruns and recorded releases of the episode, but has subsequently been released in an edited form. The New York Post had initially reported that attendees of the performance caused $200,000 worth of damage, however both the Los Angeles Times and Billboard later reported that a program spokesperson confirmed the cost of damages was actually a $40 fine for "labor penalties." Both The Decline of Western Civilization and the Halloween SNL performance were an integral part of the history of hardcore punk, having exposed the music genre to a much wider audience.
Ving's vocals and harmonica playing were featured on the track "Got to Get Out of New York" from saxophonist Tom Scott's 1983 album Target. Fear found it difficult to find clubs willing to let them perform after their SNL performance and the band stopped playing in 1987. That same year Ving formed a country band called Range War that toured California and Texas. Two years later Ving moved with his wife and son to Austin.
Fear re-formed briefly under the band's original lineup in 1993. A couple of years later, Ving fronted an Austin-based band called Lee Ving's Army that later toured under the name Fear and included former Frank Zappa bassist Scott Thunes, drummer Andrew Jaimez and guitarist Sean Cruse.
Ving was also the vocalist for the band MD.45, which also featured Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. The band released their only album The Craving in 1996, however in 2004 the album was remastered and re-released with Mustaine's vocals replacing those of Ving.
Ving appeared in Dave Grohl's 2013 documentary Sound City and is a member of the supergroup Teenage Time Killers that came about due to the film. In 2015 Fear's recordings from the Belushi film Neighbors were recovered by Belushi's widow and Fear's music was re-mastered and re-mixed by Ving at Dave Grohl’s 606 studios in Los Angeles. Ving released the music digitally that same year. In an interview with Rolling Stone about Sound City, Grohl stated that Fear's performance in The Decline of Western Civilization inspired him to become a musician and that performing with Ving 30 years later was a "profound, life-altering moment."
In 1983 Ving played a murderer in the horror anthology film Nightmares starring Emilio Estevez, he appeared in Flashdance as the owner of a topless club who tries to convince Jennifer Beals' character to work for him, and he played the over-the-top punk singer named 'Piggy' in the rock-and-roll comedy Get Crazy.
A year later, Ving played Greer, the henchman of Willem Dafoe's character in the neo-noir rock musical film Streets of Fire and also appeared as a criminal in a police lineup in an episode of the short-lived Three's Company spin-off Three's a Crowd.
In 1987 Ving appeared in the Who's the Boss episode titled "Walk on the Mild Side". Ving played Jake McGuire, a motorcyclist bad boy who Angela dates while fulfilling a list of wild things she wanted to do while in high school. Ving's county band Range War also performed two songs during the episode.
Ving reunited with director Penelope Spheeris for her 1987 film Dudes. Ving was cast as the main antagonist, a gang leader who murders one of the protagonists. The plot revolves around the murder victim's friends looking to bring the Ving's character to justice.
Ving appeared in a cameo role in the 2009 National Lampoon comedy Endless Bummer. He was also cast in Death Rider in the House of Vampires, a spaghetti western horror film directed by Glenn Danzig that is set for release in 2020.
Guitar and vocals on all.
- The Record (1982)
- More Beer (1985)
- Live...For the Record (1991)
- Have Another Beer With FEAR (1995)
- American Beer (2000)
- Home on the Range (recorded 1985, released 2017) - vocals, guitar
- The Craving (1995) - vocals, harmonica
With Sound City Players
- Sound City: Real to Reel (2013) - vocals on "Your Wife Is Calling"
|1981||American Pop||Punk Rocker (voice)||Credited as Lee James Jude|
|Nightmares||William Henry Glazier||Credited as Lee James Jude|
|1984||The Wild Life||Installer|
|Streets of Fire||Greer|
|The Ratings Game AKA The Mogul||Dawn Patrol||TV movie|
|1986||Black Moon Rising||Marvin Ringer|
|Oceans of Fire||Pembroke||TV movie|
|1987||Scenes from the Goldmine||Ian Weymouth|
|1989||Grave Secrets AKA Silent Screams||Zack|
|1990||Masters of Menace||Roy Boy|
|1991||The Taking of Beverly Hills||Varney||Credited as Lee Ving James|
|2001||Fast Sofa||Leather Jacket|
|2009||Endless Bummer||Hot Rod Guy|
|2009||I'm Calling Frank||Frank|
|1984||Legmen||Cole||Episode: "Take the Credit and Run"|
|Fame||Fred||Episode: "The Monster That Devoured Las Vegas"|
|1985||Streethawk||Virgil Powell||Episode: "Dog Eat Dog"|
|The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Curt Venner||Episode: "Pilot"; segment: "Incident in a Small Jail"|
|1986||Fast Times||Intimidating Guy||Episode: "The Last Laugh"|
|1987||Crime Story||Sam Taylor||Episode: "The Battle of Las Vegas"|
|Who's the Boss?||Jake Maguire||Episode: "Walk on the Mild Side"|
|Fame||Fred||Episode: "That Was the Weekend That Was"|
|1981||The Decline of Western Civilization||Himself||Documentary about the Los Angeles hardcore punk scene; Ving performs with Fear.|
|1982||The Slog Movie||Himself||Documentary about the Los Angeles hardcore punk scene; Ving performs with Fear.|
|2001||25 Years of Punk||Himself||TV documentary; Ving is interviewed about the Los Angeles hardcore punk scene.|
|2013||Sound City||Himself||Documentary about Sound City Studios; Ving is interviewed about recording The Record at Sound City.|
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Together just a year, Fear has hit its stride surprisingly quickly and functions as a well-oiled aural killing machine. Lead vocalist Lee Ving (ya' gotta' love 'im) is the heart of the band and sings with a vein-busting rage that lends him the air of a loco Marine on a rampage.
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Fear's Saturday Night Live appearance on Halloween 1981 played a major role in Hardcore's rise. The show made headlines after a horde of kids invited by John Belushi trashed the studio (for years that was the only SNL episode NBC never re-aired)...A few films dealt with Hardcore, foremost Penelope Spheeris' 1980 documentary The Decline Of Western Civilization. The film explains, through interviews and performances by Black FLag, Circle Jerks, Fear and others, the collapse of the American Dream and the alienated kids left strewn in its path. Anyone into HC saw the film, and anyone associated with it attained elite status within the movement.
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To be onstage with Lee Ving from Fear – I swear to God, The Decline of Western Civilization, the Penelope Spheeris movie, I got the record when I was like 12, and that really inspired me to become a musician and start a band and play punk rock music. So to stand next to Lee Ving and play "Beef Bologna," it doesn’t sound like it would be this profound, life-altering moment, but it really was. It was 30 years ago that I discovered this guy, and now I’m onstage playing the songs that inspired me to become a musician. That's fuckin' nuts.
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