The Headless Children

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The Headless Children
The Headless Children (W.A.S.P. album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 15, 1989 (1989-04-15)[1]
GenreHeavy metal
ProducerBlackie Lawless
W.A.S.P. chronology
Live... In the Raw
The Headless Children
The Crimson Idol
Singles from The Headless Children
  1. "Mean Man"
    Released: March 1989
  2. "The Real Me"
    Released: May 1989
  3. "Forever Free"
    Released: September 1989
  4. "Headless Children""
    Released: 1989 (promo)

The Headless Children is the fourth studio album by heavy metal band W.A.S.P., released in April 1989 through Capitol Records.[2] The album reached No. 48 on the US Billboard 200 chart,[3] the band's highest chart position,[3] and remained on that chart for thirteen weeks.[4]


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, based on "Gateway to Stalingrad", a cartoon by Daniel R. Fitzpatrick, 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 guitarist Chris 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 of the single "Mean Man"). "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
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[5]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal7/10[6]
Rock Hard7.0/10[7]

In a contemporary review for the German magazine Rock Hard, Thomas Kupfer considered The Headless Children second only to W.A.S.P. "brilliant debut album" and remarked how the song structures were simpler and the music more melodic than in previous works, but Lawless' voice had "lost nothing of its charisma".[7]

More recently, Greg Prato at AllMusic called The Headless Children 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.[5] Canadian journalist Martin Popoff described the album as "the W.A.S.P. record for those who don't like W.A.S.P., hollow, damp and alone, integrity discovered, humanity revealed."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Blackie Lawless, except where noted.

1."The Heretic (The Lost Child) " (Lawless, Chris Holmes)7:16
2."The Real Me" (Pete Townshend; The Who cover)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
10."Rebel in the F.D.G."5:08
Total length:48:32
^† – 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
  • Ken Hensleykeyboards
  • Frankie Banalidrums, percussion
  • Mark Humphreys – background vocals
  • Diana Fennell – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • Lita Ford – backing vocals on "Thunderhead"
  • 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"




  1. ^ "Frankie Banali Post". Facebook. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  2. ^ "The Headless Children". Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  3. ^ a b c "W.A.S.P. Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on January 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  4. ^ "W.A.S.P. - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  5. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "W.A.S.P. - The Headless Children review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  6. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (November 1, 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 407. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5.
  7. ^ a b Kupfer, Thomas (1989). "Review Album : W.A.S.P. - The Headless Children". Rock Hard (in German). No. 32. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "W.A.S.P. Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  9. ^ "W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children (Album)". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1961: W > W.A.S.P." Sisältää hitin / Timo Pennanen. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  11. ^ "W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children". (in German). Media Control Charts. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  12. ^ "W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Album – W.A.S.P., The Headless Children". (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 50, No. 4, May 22, 1989". Library and Archives Canada. May 22, 1989. Retrieved 19 October 2019.