Friday, February 26, 2016

Doro talks losing Lemmy and Dio, escaping sexism in metal

 I first spotted Doro on "Headbanger's Ball" singing the anthem "All We Are" in the late `80s. At the time Lita Ford was the only woman I ever saw on the MTV video series. Metal back then was relegated to the wee hours on Saturday night (although not quite as bad as alternative music, which was given the Sunday midnight slot). So when a blonde woman in skintight leather began belting out a sort of hopeful war cry in a thick German accent, I - an 11 year old girl - took notice. I bought the cassette of that album, "Triumph and Agony" and loved everything on it. I remember listening to it on repeat on my little yellow Sony Walkman (along with Edie Brickel and Guns n' Roses). Almost 30 years later I spoke to Doro, who continued her career as a solo artist, for the following story. Talking to Doro about her friendships, how she didn't encounter sexism or discrimination, and her genuine excitement over her new song and video and the upcoming 30th anniversary DVD, was a career highlight. I nearly froze when she asked which songs I wanted to hear (much like I did when Stone Cold Steve Austin asked me what I thought of  WWE's current storylines during an interview long ago). "Um, anything off 'Triumph and Agony,' I finally mustered, "I woke up at 6 a.m. that day with (the song) 'East Meets West' in my head." She went on to tell me that was the first song she and Joey Balin wrote for the album.
Here's the full version of the story - a shorter one ran in Friday's paper. - Courtney Devores


The 1980s was the height of heavy metal with the dawn of thrash, speed, death, pop and glam’s tawdrier cousin, hair metal. The decade spawned hundreds of bands, but few of those featured female players. When German singer Doro Pesch and her band Warlock appeared on MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” in 1987 amidst the Testaments, Judas Priests, and Megadeths, she was a revelation (I was in fifth grade at the time and would sleep on the couch in the living room, struggling to make it through the end of the two-hour program so I could watch the entire show). 

With striking blonde hair, Doro wore head to toe leather like Rob Halford, but (unlike many of her male counterparts) her hair wasn’t teased to the heavens and (unlike video vixens) she didn’t dance around in bikinis or lingerie to sell her music. She was fierce before the term existed in pop culture.
Maybe that’s the reason she didn't encounter resistance among peers or fans despite working in a male dominated industry. 

“Over the last 30 years, there was never anything strange or bad happening. I was treated so good and supported,” says Doro, who plays Amos’ Southend Wednesday. 

Now 51, Doro is considered the Queen of Metal and remains a big draw in Europe. She divides her time between Long Beach on Long Island, where she’s lived off and on since Warlock’s final 1987 album “Triumph and Agony,” and her hometown of Dusseldorf.  
She gushes about her successful recent Kickstarter to fund a new video, which is a precursor to a 30th anniversary DVD that is set for summer release and she’s full of stories of her life on the road opening for her heroes.
W.A.S.P.’s notorious frontman Blackie Lawless, for instance, once nursed the pneumonia-stricken singer backstage with medicinal tonics and fresh fruit juice – which was unheard of during an English winter at the time.
“Another singer would say, ‘I have to stay away because I can’t catch your cold,’” she says with a laugh.
“I never felt second best. Never felt like being a girl or a woman made a difference. I always had a great connection with the fans. Now I think it’s a much better balance,” she adds.
She’s lost her two most important mentors in recent years – Ronnie James Dio in 2010 and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister in December. Her portrayals of metal’s toughest rockers aren’t what one might expect.
“Lemmy was an angel to me,” she recalls. “He saved my life because he worked with me (at) the time my dad died in 2000. I was devastated and heartbroken and one day later the phone rang and it was it Lemmy. I didn’t even want to answer. I wrote him a letter months before, to management saying (that) we are labelmates now and I was wondering if we could do a song together. I’d forgotten about it.”
Doro questioned whether she could continue making music, but Kilmister insisted she come to Los Angeles to record a duet. She spent three weeks recording two duets with him and Kiss’ Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer.
“Between Lemmy and Dio I lost the most important people in my life in music, the closest friends,” she says. “Life is not forever. It made me think. I want to get the single out now and not wait for a new record, which will come out next year.”
Her East Coast trek marks a rare trip to markets she hasn’t visited in years and she promises to dig through her back catalog to appease old fans.
Having weathered the bleak `90s, she’s happy to see that metal is back in favor.
“Metal is on the rise, which makes me so happy,” she says. When grunge was getting bigger and metal was getting smaller. It was tough to survive.”

(Photo credit: Nuclear Blast)