Vie’s Verses – How The PMRC Defeated Blackie Lawless
Anyone who remembers WASP from back in the day knows what a rowdy, raunchy, and exceptional metal band they were. These wild boys from the Sunset Strip did everything in excess – pills, booze, women, and cursing; a whole lot of cursing. One of the bands signature songs was called Animal (F*CK Like A Beast). Such language and themes brought the ire of parents who did not like their children hearing that kind of music. This then brought forth the rallying cry of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), fronted by (then Senator) Al Gore’s wife, Tipper.
The PMRC was a group of senators wives formed in 1985 with the intent to make parents aware of albums that contained “explicit content” by putting warning stickers on album covers. The PMRC claimed that the change in rock music was destroying the core of the American family. They recommended that the Recording Industry Association of America come up with a rating system for albums.
Blackie fought the PMRC with venom and refused to back down. At concerts, before playing Animal, he would curse the PMRC and call out Tipper Gore specifically. He would talk about freedom of speech and how WASP had a right to record and perform any songs that they wanted without being censored. He talked about the uptight Washington wives and what a joke they were. Then the band would cut into Animal.
This went on for years. As recently as 2007, Blackie was still cutting down the PMRC and Tipper Gore. Blackie was still fighting the fight and still singing Animal, to the delight of many WASP fans. Then a strange thing happened. Blackie found religion. He started to censor his own lyrics and the band completely stopped playing Animal.
Most notably the lyrics to Chainsaw Charlie were changed (in the live format) from “I’m a cocksucking asshole, yes that’s what they call me” to “I guess I’m a rock star, because that’s what they call me.” What? That doesn’t even make sense, Blackie. Charlie wasn’t the rock star, he was the record executive.
Lawless even went as far as saying he wasn’t proud of the songs he released in the past, specifically Animal. He didn’t find it right for 13-year-old kids to be singing that song. He said that the band would never play it live again.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a man’s religious beliefs, but doesn’t that make Blackie a total hypocrite? Here is the man who vehemently fought the PMRC and played his song with passion, only to years later remove it completely. Isn’t that what the PMRC wanted to do in 1985? Doesn’t this mean that in the end, the PMRC really won the battle?
The biggest disappointment in all of this though, is the knowledge that we will never hear Animal live again. I suppose we’ll never hear another Blackie rant on the PMRC again either, but perhaps that’s for the best. Tipper has other battles to fight these days, mainly her soon to be ex-husband, Al. Maybe Blackie will say a prayer for them.