The history of Black Rose goes back to 1976 when three young guys in their last year of school decided to
form a band. These guys were Steve Bardsley (Vocals/guitar), Marty Rajn (Bass) and Mark Eason (Drums). Altho-
ugh none of them were proper musicians or anything, they had a desire to create a noise and armed with a col-
lection of real and home made instruments, thats what they did. Influenced by big 70's rock bands like Deep
Purple, Led Zepplin & Pink Floyd, the guys started to write some very basic songs and practised in the garage
of Mark's house , much to the annoyence of Mark's parents and neighbours.
The science teacher at their school heard about the guys and after hearing them asked if he could record
them on his 4 track, which they did and that was the begining of what was to become Black Rose.
The band called themselves ICE and played their debut gig in August 1977 at a church hall in Saltburn, En-
gland. This prompted a local newspaper to write a feature on the band which was published alongside a photo &
became their first taste of fame. A local hotel started to have Live Music nights on a sunday night and the
guys went down to check out some of the more established local bands performing on stage. One night the sup-
porting act was a local three piece band and the guys were really impressed with their guitarist, a guy cal-
led Kenny Nicholson. It later transpired that his band were just a bit of fun, nothing serious just three
lads enjoying playing music.So ICE stepped in and asked Kenny if he fancied joining a band with more serious ambitions, which he did and the band became a four piece.
The band practised harder, got better and put together a set of songs that included a selection of well
known rock cover songs and some of thier own material. They played local pubs and clubs and started to get a
small army of supporters, but Mark became unhappy with the rock scene and left the band. He had to be replac-
ed and they asked a local lad called Charlie McKenzie who was playing in a band called Anvil, if he fancied
the job. He did and became the new drummer which also inspired a name change to…..BLACK ROSE.
A north east of England recording studio was running a special offer where you could spend the day in the
studio and record live for a set fee, so the guys pooled their money together and recorded their first ever demo-tape, which was raw as it was live, but it was invaluable experience.
The demo was recorded at Impulse studios in Wallsend, Newcastle and the track listing for this demo was:
Alright on the night / Biker / Ready, Aim, Fire / Killer / Loveshock / Raising Hell. Unreleased demo 1981
They sent the demo off to various music magazines, radio stations and got a lot of feedback, with one of
the tracks "Killer" getting into a national rock D.Js top ten playlist which was published in the uk rock ma-
Although the band were starting to progress in both their live performances and songwriting, the lure of
bigger and better things was too much for Charlie and Kenny who both got offers they couldn't refuse from mo-
re established bigger bands (Charlie joined Emerson and then Samson whilst Ken auditioned for White Spirit,
but this didn't work out so he went on to appear with bands like Fast Kutz, Holland and Hammer).
So now a new guitarist and drummer were sought and after holding auditions, guitarist Chris "Wah Wah" Wat-
son and drummer "Malla" Smith joined the band.
A local businessman, a guy called Jim Sculley, also showed an intrest in the band.He was a venue promoter
and Agent but decided he would like to have a go at band management and try to help guide the band to success.
Jim was also willing to put his money where his mouth was and payed for the band to go into a local studio &
record a demo which was later released as their debut single. The single was recorded at Teesbeat recording
studios in Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland, England in 1982 on the Teesbeat label.
The single got an excellent response from the uk rock media, and was played continuously on various rock
music radio shows and featured in a lot of playlists, including charting in the official British Heavy Metal
In order to help promote the band and the new single, the guys were to go on tour as support to a band cal-
led Vardis. This however did not quite go according to plan as the tour only got to play one gig and for one
reason or another the whole thing fell through.
The band also went into the Tyne Tees TV studios in Newcastle to appear on a local pop program called Check
it Out and made a video for the song which was basically live on set with a girl dancer superemposed on top,
pretty naff but effective at the time. This went out on air in the North East and now the video for the song
is vary rare to find.
Jim decided it was time for the band to go back into the studio and record some more songs, and this time
a couple of tracks from the session featured on a compilation album called "Roxcalibur". This album also fea-
tured tracks from other English rock hopefuls such as Satan, Battleaxe and Brands Hatch. The album did reaso-
nably well, getting mainly good reviews and a couple of gigs were arranged featuring some of the bands from
the album to help promote it.
The album was recorded at Guardian Studios, Pity Me, Co. Durham, England in 1982.
Unfortunatly all was not 'rosy' behind the scenes as Marty was disagreeing about things that were going on
and causing unrest, so the guys decided it was best for the band if Marty was to leave and they get another
bass player.A young man who had been playing in a local band called Omen was approached and he jumped at the
chance to join. His name was Mick Thompson. Marty decided to move down to the south east coast of England whe-
re he ended up playing the bass for Chinatown.
This line up was to become the main line up for the next few years and was now as follows:
Steve Bardsley: Lead vocals, guitar
Chris Watson: Lead guitar, vocals
Mick Thompson: Bass, vocals
'Malla' Smith: Drums, vocals.
Over the next couple of years the band continued giging in the UK and Europe , and also spent time going
into various recording studios around England demo-ing a lot of material some of which was released as singles, compilation E.P's and eventually their debut album, Boys will be Boys. A single was also released which featu-
red the album title track and a bonus B side plus it came with a free patch.
The album got positive reviews from the uk and from around the world and with "Rose" fans were popping up
all over the place, Europe, the US, Canada, Japan and even Brazil, it was looking like this might be the shape
of things to come.
A couple of Major record companies were starting to take an intrest, both Bronze records (Motorhead and Girlschool label) and Atlantic records (loads of big name bands label) came to see the band perform in the
city of London at various venues, but unfortunatly it never materialized into a concrete deal.
After about 6 months of high expectation it all went a bit quiet, Chris had became a bit unhappy with it
all and after 3 years with the band decided to call it day, a replacement had to be found, auditions were held
and a guitarist called Ian Iredale was enlisted.
A new guitarist, new inspiration, new demo and eventually a new record was released called Nightmare featu-
ring 4 brand new songs.
This was to be a move into a more melodic approach to songwriting, still rocking but using harmony vocals
and with less emphasis on the guitar solos. Again the new EP got great reviews with comparisons being made to
some of the top rock bands in the world, everyone it seemed thought that this was going to be the record that
pushed Black Rose up the ladder to success.
The band were busy rehearsing for forthcoming uk gigs when one day Ian didn't turn up to practise and was
never seen again, well not by the band that is. However Mr. Wah Wah Watson, or Chris as he was also known, had
heard the new songs on the Ep and thought they were great so asked if he could rejoin the band … how could
they refuse. Black Rose were back in business.
The next few months were spent gigging up and down the uk promoting the new record, doing interviews for ra-
dio and press, then eventually it was back into the studio and some more recording.
But something else also happened during this period of time, Steve decided to concentrate on being a front-
man /vocalist so dropped playing the guitar for live shows and a new recruit joined up with the guys in the
shape of Gary Todd; guitar & Keyboards … WAT WAZ ZAT … KEEYBOARDS ????.
Yep … the band decided to introduce a new aspect to their sound which was to change the style into a more commercial rock sound.
A new demo was recorded, and with a more melodic Black Rose came an invitation to record at the Maida Vale studios for the Friday Rock show with Tommy Vance for BBC Radio One, the top Radio station in the UK.
Unfortunatly Chris decided for the second time that he would quit the band and move to the south of England
where all the main record companies were based, and give it a crack "darn sarf".( down south )
The new guitarist was a baby at only 16 years of age but "What a Player", his name was Pat O' Neil.
Neat Records, who had released some of the previous records by the band, had heard the new demo and wanted
to put the guys in the studio to record their second album, which they did and "Walk it how you Talk it" was released.
Malla also decided that he'd had enough and wanted to pursue a slightly different musical direction, so af-
ter recording the album he left the band. New drummer Barry "Bazza" Youll was credited with the skin bashing
on the album, although in truth it was Mal who did the recording.
Although a lot more commercial than the first album it was still a heavy rock record, only it had a bit mo-
re melody and, featured for the first time, keyboards. It also featured some fine guitar work from Pat mixing
with some incredible bass histronics from Mick imitating the then legendary Stevie Vai/Billy Sheean combo from
the David Lee Roth Band.
The album received rave reviews and although some of their more dedicated fans didn't like the keyboard influences, it was a definate step in the right direction. Rock Journalists were proclaiming Black Rose were
gonna be massive and were the UK's answer to Bon Jovi and all the other US bands that seemed to be leading the
The guys were gigging again to promote the album when a call came from Neat to Jim saying a top American re-
cord company wanted to buy the rights to produce the album in the US. The company were the giant K-Tel Organi-
sation who although not known for their rock records in the Uk were a big record company in the US.
Over the next few months the American version of the album was made and featured a complete makeover from
the British version featuring different photos on the back and a much improved cover sleeve.
The band were on a massive high with talk of them going over to the US of A to promote the album and going
on tour as support act to a well known American band.
Things were going on the up and up, it finally seemed that the 'Rose' were gonna be in the big time.But
then it all went horribly wrong.
Just when everything was going so well it all went tits up and the dream came crashing down to earth with
an almighty BANG!
An American band with the same name - Black Rose, had seen the albums for sale in an American record store
and decided to check out who had copywrite to the name. It seemed that it was ok to import records from the uk
with the name of Black Rose into the USA, but it became a different matter when it was actually produced, re-
packaged and released from within the US. The American Black Rose had their complaint upheld and a New York
lawyer sent out papers to stop K-Tel producing the album and ordered them to take any already on sale from off
the shelves. K-Tel had to abandon the whole thing after already spending a considerable amount of money on the
album they were not prepared to face more expensive costs battling it out in a court of law.
The guys back in the Uk thought at first it was a sick joke … but it was no joke … no US tour …no US
How could something so stupid as copywrite to a name ruin the dreams of this band , but it did…
By the way if by any chance the guys who were in that US version of Black Rose happen to visit this site we
would just like to say:
"Thanks alot you F**Kin' bunch of T***ers !! " … no bad feelings.
Some copies of the K-Tel version of the album are still out there as well as some very rare versions of the
album on cd, and if you're lucky you may be able to pick one up. ( e-bay is a good source )
Over the years the guys got to meet and had the pleasure to play with some great bands including: fellow Ne-
at records Stablemates Raven & Venom, legandary bands like Atomic Rooster, Budgie, Geordie, The Groundhogs and
a whole host of nwobhm bands like Diamond Head, Chrome Molly, Mendes Prey, Satan, Brands Hatch, Terraplane (la-
ter to become Thunder) Limelight, Vardis, Spider, Thunderstick and Trust (french rockers).
The band stayed together for a few more years and recorded some more demos the last one being in January
1989 the track list was:
Walk like a Woman / Come and stay the Night / Go , Go , Go (Down to the City) Unreleased demo 1989
The last line up (the lads who appeared on this demo) was:
Steve Bardsley: Lead Vocals
Mick Thompson: Bass Guitar
Gary Todd: Lead Guitar and Keyboards
Davey Patterson: Lead Guitar
Paul Fowler: Drums
This was to be the last material ever recorded by the band and not long after recording the demo, coupled
with the fact that they never really got over that whole experience with K-Tel, the band eventually folded in
Black Rose were formed back in the early 1980's in the North East of England. They released quite a few re-
cords including various singles, ep's and 2 albums - Boys Will Be Boys (Bullet records 1984) and Walk It How
You Talk It (Neat records UK - AJK USA 1987). After splitting up in 1989 two original members of the band Steve Bardsley (Vocals & Guitar) and Chris Watson (Lead Guitar) decided to get back together and write some brand new material. They were then joined by Kiko Rivers (Bass Guitar) and original member Mal "malla" Smith (Drums) and started working in the studios recording some material for a new album which should be released sometime in the
near future. They have just had a 15 track compilation cd featuring some of their original 80's material, rele-
ased on Majestic Rock records called "Bright Lights Burnin" and it's available now from various internet music
sites (Amazon, CD universe, CD Now etc.) For all info regarding Black Rose please visit the blackrose-rockband.
co.uk website. STOP PRESS!! At long last it looks like the brand new Black Rose album is showing some light at
the end of the tunnel. After almost 3 years the album is nearly complete and hopefully will be released early
2010. There is no title for the new album but some samples of some of the tracks are now on here for you to en-
joy. North East DJ Mark Gregory has released a book (out on Oct 31st from lulu.com) called "No Sleep till Salt-
burn" and it's all about the North East of England rock music scene in the early 80's. Featuring bands like
Black Rose, Satan, Battleaxe, Arizona and many more it's a facinating insight into how the area created so many great nwobhm bands. The book also comes with a link to download a free brand new song from Black Rose.
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