MISFITS (1977–83, 1996–PRESENT). Glenn Danzig (vocals replaced in reunion by Michael Graves, then Jerry Only), Frank Licata, aka “Franche Coma” (guitar), Jerry “Only” Caiafa (bass, now lead vocals as well), James “Mr. Jim” Catania (drums, later Arthur Googy, then Robo, then Dr. Chud, then Marky Ramone, now Robo), Doyle “Wolfgang Von Frankenstein” Caiafa (guitar, replaced by Dez Cadena).
The Misfits were one of the key punk and hardcore bands of the late seventies and early eighties, and their influence on metal is considerable. The band was one of the few punk bands influenced by the occult, B-grade zombie films, cheesy monster films, and their nostalgia for late-night double features that led them to become the poster boys for combining Halloween with everyday life. The band pioneered the blood-drenched look, the classic devilock haircut (hair grow extremely long in the front and slicked into a spike, almost a flattened-down, extremely long Mohawk), and dark and chilling lyrics about death, murder, and horror.
To a certain extent it was a joke, at least for most of the band, but for lead singer Glenn Danzig, it was either dead serious or a great career move to keep the shtick going in his subsequent bands, the goth/punk Samhain, and the operameets- Elvis version of metal/whatever he founded with the much more popular Danzig. But even before Danzig left to form his later projects, the Misfits were certainly a template not only for the thrash/speed metal crossover scene (along with dark bands like the Swans) but also for the burgeoning death and black metal scenes. (It can be argued that the Misfits touch equally on both subjects at length in their songs and can therefore be considered a major influence based on lyrical content alone, much less their music, which was also a template.) But it was within the thrash community that the Misfits would receive the most recognition. Numerous metal bands, notably Metallica, were huge fans of the Misfits. The black metal bands that followed in their wake who were not borrowing directly from Venom or Black Sabbath surely owe the Misfits a debt of gratitude, as do thrash metal and grindcore band’s who were clearly influenced by the bands last great record with Danzig, the ultra-fast Earth A.D., one of the most brutal musical and lyrical records ever put down on vinyl.
Although the band’s classic period was relatively short, their legacy was long lasting on the metal scene. The next Danzig band, Samhain, was also a key influence on the black metal scene, with their lyrics dedicated to paganism and the occult and the raw darkness associated with the band. Danzig’s later band, Danzig, was more blues-based metal with occult leaning who sounded more like Elvis fronting Venom. Today Glenn Danzig still tours with a new version of Danzig, while the Misfits name and lucrative merchandising rights are held, by original member Jerry Only who valiantly still keeps the band going to this day. A reunion with Danzig has been rumored for years, but at this date there is no indication that it will happen any time soon, although during the last several years Danzig has included a short Misfits set in many of his longer headlining shows.
Discography: Bullet [EP] (Plan 9, 1978); Beware [EP] (Cherry Red, 1979); Evilive [EP] (Plan 9, 1982); Walk among Us (Ruby, 1982, 1988); Earth A.D./Wolfsblood (Plan 9, 1983); Earth A.D./Die Die My Darling [tape] (Plan 9, 1984); Legacy of Brutality (Plan 9/ Caroline, 1985); Misfits (Plan 9/Caroline, 1986); Misfits (Plan 9, 1986); Evilive (Plan 9/ Caroline, 1987); Static Age (Caroline, 1995); Collection II (Caroline, 1995); Box Set (Caroline, 1996); American Psycho (Geffen, 1997); Famous Monsters (Roadrunner, 1999); Cuts from the Crypt (Roadrunner, 2001); 12 Hits from Hell (Caroline, 2001); Undead: Nine Toes Later EP (Stiff, 1982); Never Say Die! (Ger. Rebel, 1986); Act Your Rage (Post Mortem, 1989); Live Slayer (Skyclad, 1991); Dawn of the Undead (Shagpile/Post Mortem, 1991; Shock/Post Mortem, 1997); Evening of Desire EP (Overground, 1992); Til Death! (Underworld/ Post Mortem, 1998); Samhain: Intium (Plan 9, 1984; Plan 9/Caroline, 1986); Unholy Passion EP (Plan 9, 1985; Plan 9/Caroline, 1986); November-Coming-Fire (Plan 9/Caroline, 1986); Final Descent (Plan 9/Caroline, 1990); Box Set (E-Magine, 2000); Samhain Live, 85–86 (E-Magine, 2002); Kryst the Conqueror: Deliver Us from Evil EP (Cyclopean, 1989).