Blue Murder (band)
|Genres||Hard rock, heavy metal|
|Associated acts||Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath|
Blue Murder were an English hard rock band led by guitarist-vocalist John Sykes. The group was formed in 1988 following Sykes' dismissal from Whitesnake. The initial line-up was rounded out by bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Carmine Appice. In its nascent stage, vocalist Ray Gillen and drummer Cozy Powell were attached to the project. In 1989, Blue Murder released their self-titled debut album, which cracked the Billboard 200 chart and spawned a minor hit with "Jelly Roll". By the early 1990s, however, Blue Murder's music had fallen out of fashion with the popularity of grunge. Thus, Franklin and Appice left the band. Sykes continued on, forming a new line-up and releasing Nothin' But Trouble in 1993. After a live album the following year, Blue Murder were dropped by their record label and broke-up. Since then, there have been numerous attempts at reuniting the original line-up of the band to no avail.
Formation and debut album (1988–1990)
In 1987, guitarist John Sykes was fired from the English hard rock group Whitesnake by its vocalist David Coverdale. Sykes had just finished recording the band's self-titled album, which would go on to achieve multi-platinum status. Eager to prove himself, Sykes signed a recording contract with Whitesnake's label Geffen and formed Blue Murder in 1988. Drummer Cozy Powell was initially tapped for the project, having previously played with Sykes in Whitesnake. Through Powell, Sykes was also able to recruit bassist Tony Franklin, formerly of The Firm. The initial line-up was rounded out by vocalist Ray Gillen, who had previously fronted Black Sabbath for a short time. After recording some demos in England and sending them to Geffen, A&R executive John Kalodner was not sold on Gillen and encouraged Sykes to sing lead vocals, having already sung the band's initial demo recordings. Eventually, Gillen was let go from Blue Murder after only a few months in the band. Other singers who auditioned for the group include David Glen Eisley, Tony Martin, and Derek St. Holmes. Cozy Powell eventually left the band as well to join Black Sabbath. He was replaced by Carmine Appice, best known from Vanilla Fudge, Beck, Bogert & Appice, and King Kobra, among others.
After solidifying their line-up, Blue Murder entered the studio to record their debut album with producer Bob Rock. The resulting record eponymously titled Blue Murder was released in April 1989. It debuted at number 172 on the Billboard 200 chart, eventually peaking at number 69 in June 1989. On the UK Albums Chart, it reached number 45. The album received positive reviews, with Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic, in a retrospective review, giving it four-and-a-half star out of a possible five. The single "Jelly Roll" also proved to be a minor hit, reaching number fifteen on the Mainstream Rock chart. However, Tony Franklin stated that MTV's refusal to play the music video for "Jelly Roll" prevented it from becoming a crossover hit. In support of their debut album, Blue Murder toured America supporting Bon Jovi and Billy Squier, and later headlined in Japan.
While their debut album would go on to sell an estimated 500,000 copies according to Sykes, Blue Murder's success fell short of expectations. Carmine Appice stated that the decision to release "Valley of the Kings" as the band's first music video was a mistake, as it was deemed too long and not "commercial enough" for MTV. Conversely, Sykes felt Geffen did not properly promote the band, stating: "I think they were trying to get me and David [Coverdale] back together. They wanted me to get back with the 'winning formula'. But the wounds were too fresh. I stayed with the same label. In hindsight, I would have done better with a different label."
Decline and dissolution (1991–1994)
With the release of Nirvana's Nevermind in 1991, grunge became popular in the mainstream, leaving groups such as Blue Murder by the wayside. Eventually, Tony Franklin and Carmine Appice quit the band, feeling that the group had "run its course". However, Franklin had already laid down tracks for Blue Murder's second album, which Sykes was producing himself. Sykes then recruited bassist Marco Mendoza and drummer Tommy O'Steen to the band. Keyboardist Nik Green was also promoted to a full-time member, having already played on the band's debut record. Carmine Appice was also brought back briefly as a session drummer. Blue Murder's second album Nothin' But Trouble was released in 1993, but it failed to chart. Sykes once again attributed this to Geffen, whom he felt "didn't do anything" to promote the record.
In 1994, the band released the live album Screaming Blue Murder: Dedicated to Phil Lynott, which was recorded in Tokyo. Having fulfilled their contractual obligations to their label, Blue Murder was dropped by Geffen after which the band broke-up. Sykes signed to Mercury Records in Japan, taking Mendoza and O'Steen with him to play in his solo band.
Proposed reunion (2000–present)
There have been numerous attempts to reunite the original Blue Murder line-up. According to Carmine Appice, he made several attempts to reunite the group between 2000 and 2012 to no avail. When asked in a 2001 interview if there will be another Blue Murder album, Sykes responded: "Maybe at some point there will be. I don't know." In 2019, Carmine Appice revealed that the group had rehearsed together, but Sykes wanted the band to tour under the moniker John Sykes & Blue Murder, something Appice was unwilling to do. In 2020, Appice stated that he and Sykes had once again talked about the possibility of a Blue Murder reunion, but nothing came of the conversation.
- John Sykes - lead vocals, guitar (1988–1994)
- Tony Franklin - bass (1988–1992)
- Carmine Appice - drums (1988–1992)
- Cozy Powell - drums (1988, died 1998)
- Ray Gillen - lead vocals (1988, died 1993)
- Marco Mendoza - bass (1992–1994)
- Tommy O'Steen - drums, backing vocals (1992–1994)
- Nik Green - keyboards (1992–1994, died 2016)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who’s Who of Heavy Metal (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 0-85112-656-1.
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- "2001 Interview with Troy Wells of Ball Buster - The Official Underground Hard Music Report". Johnsykes.com. Archived from the original on 19 December 2009.
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- "Billboard 200 - Week of May 13, 1989". Billboard. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
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- "Blue Murder". Official Charts. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- Eduardo Rivadavia. "Blue Murder - Blue Murder". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- "Mainstream Rock Songs - Week of August 26, 1989". Billboard. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- "Blue Murder Bassist Talks John Sykes, the Breakup & Whitesnake". full in bloom. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020 – via YouTube.
- "Carmine Appice - The full in bloom Interview - Guitar Zeus, Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy, Book, Blue Murder". full in bloom. 11 November 2019. Retrieved 9 July 2020 – via YouTube.
- Carmine Appice, Ian Gittins (2016). Stick It!: My Life of Sex, Drums, and Rock 'n' Roll (Second ed.). Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1613735529.
- "Carmine Appice Talks Blue Murder Breakup, 1989 Album, Nothin' But Trouble, John Sykes, Budgets". full in bloom. 2 May 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020 – via YouTube.
- Nothin' But Trouble album sleeve notes pp. 1.
- "Carmine Appice Explains Why Blue Murder Reunion Didn't Happen, Talks John Sykes Turning Down Mike Portnoy". Ultimate Guitar. 29 November 2019. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- "CARMINE APPICE Talks Aborted BLUE MURDER Reunion - "I Don't Need To Go Out And Play Under JOHN SYKES As JOHN SYKES & BLUE MURDER"". BraveWords. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- "CARMINE APPICE on Why BLUE MURDER Reunion Hasn't Happened Yet: We Still Can't Get JOHN SYKES Out of the House". Blabbermouth.net. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.