Glenn Danzig (born Glenn Allen Anzalone; June 23, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter and musician from Lodi, New Jersey. He is a founder of bands the Misfits, Samhain, andDanzig. He owns the Evilive record label as well as Verotik, an adult-oriented comic book publishing company.
Having begun in the mid-1970s, Danzig's musical career has encompassed a number of genres through the years, including punk rock, heavy metal, industrial, blues and classical music. He has written songs for other musicians, most notably Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.
As a singer, he is noted for his baritone voice and tenor vocal range; his style has been compared to those of Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, and Howlin' Wolf. Danzig has also cited Bill Medley as a vocal influence. As an author, he is known for his fascination with horror, gore, occult, erotic, and religious themes.
Danzig was born Glenn Allen Anzalone, the third of four sons born to a Protestant family of Italian, German, and Scottish heritage in Lodi, New Jersey. His father was a television repairman and a United States Marine Corps veteran of World War II and the Korean War. His mother worked at a record store. Danzig and his family also spent some time living inRevere, Massachusetts. Danzig began listening to heavy music at an early age, and has described Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and The Doors as being among his early musical influences.
While growing up, Danzig began reading the works of authors including Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe, developing his appreciation for horror. Danzig became an avid collector of occult books, horror related articles, B movieposters, Japanese animation videos, rare Japanese toys, and animal skulls. Danzig also collected comic books and, frustrated by American comics, he began producing his own "crazy, violent, erotic comics."
Danzig graduated from Lodi High School in June 1973, aspiring to become a comic book creator and professional photographer. He attended the Tisch School of the Arts and later the New York Institute of Photography. Danzig eventually formed an adult-oriented comic book company called Verotik in the mid-1990s.
Glenn Danzig's introduction to performing music began when he took piano and clarinet lessons as a child. He later taught himself how to play the guitar. Danzig started in the music business at the age of 11, first as a drum roadie and then playing in local garage bands. He had never taken vocal lessons, but his vocal prowess gained him attention in the local scene. Throughout his teenage years he sang for several local bands, such as Talus and Whodat And Boojang, most of which played half original songs and half Black Sabbath songs.
In the mid-1970s, Danzig started the Misfits, releasing the band's records through his own label, (originally known as Blank, then later as Plan 9). Danzig had attempted to get the Misfits signed to several record labels, only to be told that he would never have a career in music. The impetus for the band's name comes from Marilyn Monroe's last film, combined with Danzig considering himself to be a "social misfit." In October 1983, after releasing several singles and three albums, and gaining a small underground following, Danzig disbanded the Misfits due to increasing animosity among the band members and his dissatisfaction with their musical abilities. Danzig explained his decision: “It was difficult for me to work with those guys, because they weren't prepared to put in the hours practicing. I wanted to move things forward, and they didn't seem to have the same outlook. So it was time for me to move on.”
After the Misfits, he began work on a new band project: Samhain. The origins of Samhain began when Danzig started rehearsing with Eerie Von, formerly of Rosemary's Babies. Danzig took the name of the band from the ancientCeltic New Year, which influenced the evolution of the modern Halloween. Initially Samhain was conceived as a punk rock "super group". The band briefly featured members of Minor Threat and Reagan Youth, who contributed to Samhain's 1984 debut, Initium. The band then settled with a lineup consisting of Eerie Von on bass, Damien on guitar, and Steve Zing on drums (later replaced by London May). In 1985 the Unholy Passion EP was released, followed by November-Coming-Fire in 1986.
Samhain eventually began to attract the interest of major labels including Epic and Elektra. Rick Rubin, music producer and head of the Def American label, would see the band perform at the 1986 New Music Seminar, on the advice of then-Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. Danzig has credited both Burton and Metallica frontman James Hetfield with helping to raise awareness about his music: “I first met them at a Black Flag gig, and then we became kinda friends. We'd often bump into each other on the road...James and Cliff helped to spread the word about me, and I was very grateful to them.”
In 1987, after two albums and an EP, Samhain was signed to a major label by Rubin and the name of the band was changed to Danzig to allow the band to retain its name in the event of line-up changes. Danzig discussed the reasoning behind the name change: “Rick [Rubin] convinced me it was the way to go, and would also provide me with a lot more artistic freedom. After all, I was now in charge of where we were going musically, so if I didn't want to do something, it was a lot easier to say so.” Danzig's intention at the time was for each album he recorded to consist of a different recording line-up, allowing him to keep working with different musicians. The original band consisted of guitarist John Christ, bassist Eerie Von, and former Circle Jerks–D.O.A.–Black Flag drummer Chuck Biscuits.
In 1987, Danzig, owing to his association with Rubin, was asked to write a song for Roy Orbison. The result was "Life Fades Away", featured in the 1987 movie Less than Zero. Danzig also contributed to the film's soundtrack with "You and Me (Less than Zero)". Danzig had originally been asked to write the song for a female vocalist, but when Rubin could not find a suitable singer Danzig recorded the vocals himself. The song is credited to "Glenn Danzig and the Power and Fury Orchestra", which featured the same membership as the initial lineup of Danzig, with the exception of Eerie Von. Since Von did not like the way producer Rubin wanted the bass played on the song, George Drakoulias played the bass instead.
In 1988, the newly formed band Danzig released their eponymous debut. Its sound showed a progression from the gothic–deathrock sound of Samhain, to a slower, heavier, more blues-based heavy metal sound.
In 1990, the band's sophomore effort Danzig II: Lucifuge marked an immediate change in musical direction. The album's overall bluesier tone and somewhat milder approach were departures from Danzig, featuring a 50s-style ballad ("Blood & Tears") and a full-on acoustic blues ("I'm the One".)
Other projects in 1990 included the final Samhain album Final Descent. The album was started under the title Samhain Grim several years prior. The album contained previously unreleased studio recordings, at least some of which had been intended for the Samhain Grim album before it was aborted.
In 1992, Danzig once again changed musical direction, releasing the darker Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. Several songs would feature a more textured, slower sound in between fast, dominant guitar riffs.
In 1993, Danzig released Thrall: Demonsweatlive, an EP featuring both studio recordings and live tracks. Danzig broke into the mainstream when the live video of "Mother '93" became a hit on MTV and earned Buzz Bin rotation, six years after the original song was recorded. During this time the band reached its commercial peak, with both the debut album and Thrall: Demonsweatlive being certified Gold, and "Mother" becoming the band's highest charting single. Both Danzig and Thrall: Demonsweatlive have since been certified Platinum.
In 1994, the release of Danzig 4 saw the band going further into a darker and more experimental sound. The album also saw further development of his vocal style and range; most notable in songs like "Let It Be Captured" and a more blues based approach on songs like "Going Down to Die".
In 1996, the band underwent a complete overhaul. The original lineup had fallen apart, as had Glenn Danzig's relationship with their record label, American Recordings, with label owner Rick Rubin's involvement as producer diminishing with each album. Danzig would later engage in a legal battle with Rubin over unpaid royalties and the rights to the band's unreleased songs.Danzig enlisted new band mates, most notably Joey Castillo who would continue to be the band's drummer until 2002.
Once again, he explored a new musical direction and recorded Blackacidevil; this time infusing heavy metal with industrial rock. Danzig went on to sign a deal with Hollywood Records, which led to several religious groups boycotting its parent company Disney for signing a controversial "satanic" band. As a result the label pulled support for Blackacidevil and the record deal was severed.
In September 1999, Danzig signed his band to E-Magine Records, becoming the first artist on the label. The deal also led to the release of a Samhain box set and the re-release ofBlackacidevil.
Danzig's subsequent three albums, 6:66 Satan's Child (1999), I Luciferi (2002) and Circle of Snakes (2004), all musically and lyrically evolved to a more stripped down, heavier gothic metalsound. The Danzig lineup continued to change with each album, while Danzig's voice started to show change after years of touring.
In 1999, during the U.S. touring for the album 6:66 Satan's Child Danzig reunited Samhain along with drummers Steve Zing and London May. Then-Danzig guitarist Todd Youth was invited by Glenn Danzig to fill in the guitar position for the Samhain reunion tour, replacing Samhain's original guitarist, Pete "Damien" Marshall, who had opted out in order to tour with Iggy Pop. Eerie Von was not invited to rejoin Samhain due to personal issues within the band. Both Zing and May handled bass duties, switching from drums to bass in between the "Blood Show".
In 2003, Danzig founded the Blackest of the Black tour to provide a platform for dark and extreme bands of his choosing from around the world. Bands featured on the tour have includedDimmu Borgir, Superjoint Ritual, Nile, Opeth, Lacuna Coil, Behemoth, Skeletonwitch, Mortiis and Marduk.
In 2005, Danzig's tours to support the Circle of Snakes album and the Blackest of the Black Tour were highlighted by the special guest appearance of Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. Doyle joined Danzig on stage for a 20-minute set of classic Misfits songs: ”To do this right, I invited Doyle to join Danzig on stage at 'Blackest of the Black' for a special guest set. This is the first time we will be performing on stage together in 20 years. It's the closest thing to a Misfits reunion anyone is ever going to see.“
In November 2006, Danzig toured the west coast with former Samhain drummer Steve Zing on bass. They played three Samhain songs including "All Murder All Guts All Fun". In Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Doyle joined the band onstage for the encore and played two Misfits songs, "Skulls" and "Astro Zombies".
In July 2007, Danzig released The Lost Tracks of Danzig, a compilation of previously unreleased songs. The project took nine months to complete with Glenn Danzig having to add extra vocal and instrument tracks to songs that had been unfinished. The album included the controversial "White Devil Rise", recorded during the sessions for Danzig 4 in response to inflammatory comments by Louis Farrakhan and his use of the term "The White Devil". The song is Danzig's conjecture as to what would happen if Farrakhan incited the passive white race to rise up and start a race war: “No one wants to see a race war. It would be terrible, so the song's saying, 'Be careful what you wish for.'” Danzig himself has bluntly denied any accusations of racism: “As far as me being an Aryan or a racist, anyone who knows me knows that's bullshit.”
In October and November 2007, Danzig toured the western United States, along with Gorgeous Frankenstein, Horrorpops, and Suicide City. This "3 Weeks of Halloween" tour was in support of his most recent album, The Lost Tracks of Danzig, as well as the newest graphic novel release from Verotik, Drukija: Countessa of Blood. On October 23, 2007, Danzig was performing the song "How the Gods Kill" in Baltimore and fell off the stage, injuring his left arm. He did not perform the Misfits set that night, but he continued the tour and played classic Misfits tunes with Doyle onstage as an encore with a sling on his left arm after the injury.
In 2008, Danzig confirmed he had recorded the first duet of his career, with Melissa Auf der Maur. The song, titled "Father's Grave", features Danzig singing from the perspective of agravedigger and appears on Auf der Maur's 2010 album Out of Our Minds. Auf der Maur has spoken highly about the experience of meeting and working with Danzig.
In a July 2010 interview with Metal Injection, Glenn Danzig was asked if he was going to make another Danzig record after Deth Red Sabaoth. His response was, “I don't know, we'll see. With the way record sales are now...I won't do some stupid pro-tool record in someone's living room where all the drum beats are stolen from somebody and just mashed together...and I'm not going to do that if I can't do a record how I want to do it, and if it's not financially feasible, I'm just not going to do one.”
During the later quarter of 2011 Danzig performed a string of one-off reunion shows called the "Danzig Legacy" tour. The shows consisted of a Danzig set, followed by a Samhain set, then closing off with Danzig and Doyle performing Misfits songs.
During the third date of Metallica's 30 year anniversary shows at the Fillmore Theater in San Francisco; Danzig went on stage with Metallica to perform the Misfits songs "Die, Die My Darling", "Last Caress", and "Green Hell".
Danzig has said he wishes to avoid extensive and exhaustive touring in the future, preferring instead to focus on his various music, film and comic book projects: “I don’t really want to tour. My reason for not doing it is because I’m bored of it. I like being onstage, but I don’t like sitting around all day doing nothing. I could be home, working” Danzig has started work on a third Black Aria album, and a covers album is set for release by the end of 2013.Danzig hopes to record a dark blues album involving Jerry Cantrell and Hank III. He is currently working on new Danzig material with Tommy Victor and Johnny Kelly.
Danzig's musical career has encompassed a number of genres, from punk rock and heavy metal to classical music. He is noted for his baritone voice and tenor vocal range; his style has been compared to those of Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and Howlin' Wolf.
The Misfits combined Danzig's harmonic vocals with camp-horror imagery and lyrics. The Misfits sound was a faster, heavier derivation of Ramones-style punk with rockabilly influences. Glenn Danzig's Misfits songs dealt almost exclusively with themes derived from B-grade horror and science fiction movies (e.g. "Night of the Living Dead") as well as comic books (e.g. "Wasp Women", "I Turned Into a Martian"). Unlike the later incarnation of the Misfits, Danzig also dealt with Atomic Era scandals in songs like "Bullet" (about the assassination of John F. Kennedy), "Who Killed Marilyn" (which alluded to alternate theories about Marilyn Monroe's suicide), and "Hollywood Babylon" (inspired by the Kenneth Anger book on scandals associated with the early, formative years of Hollywood). In later years the Misfits style was noticeably heavier and faster than during their earlier releases, introducing elements ofhardcore punk.
Samhain's musical and lyrical style was much darker in tone than Misfits material, fusing an experimental combination of horror punk, gothic–deathrock, and heavy metal. With Samhain, Glenn Danzig began to introduce more complicated drum patterns. Samhain songs often combined tribal drum beats and distorted guitars. Samhain's lyrical themes were rooted in paganism and the occult, pain and violence, and the horrors of reality.
The band Danzig showed a progression to a slower, heavier, more blues-based and doom-driven heavy metal sound primarily influenced by the early sound of Black Sabbath. Other musical influences include The Doors, and theballads of Roy Orbison. Danzig opted for a thicker and heavier-sounding guitar tone than with his previous bands, retaining his preference for a single lead guitarist and short guitar solos. After replacing the bands original line-up, Danzig began to experiment with a more industrial sound, before merging into gothic metal. Later Danzig albums have returned to the bands original sound.
Glenn Danzig's lyrics, which had already evolved from those of the Misfits to the more serious style of Samhain, progressed even further with Danzig to become "frighteningly intense images of doom" which "convey their bleak messages with an eerie grace and intelligence". His lyrics are typically dark in subject matter, bearing "a heavily romanticized, brooding, gothic sensibility, more quietly sinister and darkly seductive than obviously threatening or satanic". Lyrical themes include love, sex, evil, death, religion, and occult imagery. Danzig's songs about love often deal with the pain of loss and loneliness using gothic romanticism. Sex is another common theme, with songs frequently alluding to various sexual practices and depicting powerful, seductive and sometimes supernatural female figures. Glenn Danzig has tackled Biblical subjects and has offered his criticisms of organised religion. He often promotes rebellion and anti-authoritarianism, whilst embracing independence and the left hand path. In other lyrics, Danzig deals with the subject of death and questions the concepts of evil and sin.
Glenn Danzig has served as the sole song writer for every band he has fronted, and described his writing process: "Sometimes I get the guitar lines, sometimes I write on the piano, sometimes I’ll write the lyrics first and then figure out the chord patterns on guitar, and sometimes I write the drum pattern first. It’s all different". Danzig also records basic song ideas when away from his home: "I usually hum it into a microcassette recorder and then I transpose it when I get home and work it out on guitar or piano".
Danzig guest-appeared as himself in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force entitled "Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future", where he purchased the house of the character Carl. Danzig also had a minor role as a fallen angel in the Christopher Walken film, The Prophecy II. He was invited by 20th Century Fox to audition for the role of Wolverine in X-Men, as his height and build closely resemble that of the film's protagonist, as described in the original comic books. However, he declined due to scheduling conflicts.
Danzig plays a personal role in the production of the band's music videos, suggesting ideas and sometimes directing them himself. He is currently working on a film version of the Verotik comic Ge Rouge. The possibility of an animated film version of the Satanika comic has also been discussed.
In January 1992, Danzig became a student of Jerry Poteet, a world-renowned martial artist in Jeet Kune Do. Danzig has since earned a teaching degree in the discipline. Danzig has also studied Muay Thai.
Danzig has several distinctive tattoos, all by tattoo artist Rick Spellman, which incorporate artwork based upon his music. These include a Danzig/Samhain skull symbol designed by Michael Golden, a bat with a Misfits Crimson Ghost skull, a wolf's head with the text "Wolfs Blood" (the title of a Misfits song), a skeleton as found on the cover art for the album November-Coming-Fire, and a demon woman as found on the cover art for Unholy Passion. His lower back features the logo for the Devilman manga.
Danzig is an avid reader and owns a large book collection on subjects including the occult, religious history and true murder cases. Danzig also has a long standing interest in New World Order related conspiracies.
Though sometimes portrayed as a Satanist by the media, Danzig has denied this in several interviews, elaborating that “I embrace both my light and dark side... I definitely believe in a yin and yang, good and evil. My religion is a patchwork of whatever is real to me. If I can draw the strength to get through the day from something, that's religion... I’m not trying to be preachy or tell people what to think.” Danzig has voiced his approval of certain aspects of Satanic ideologies, including the quest for knowledge and individual freedom. He has stated that religion does not play a role in how he perceives other bands and musicians.