Vicious Rumors

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Vicious Rumors
OriginAlameda, California, United States
GenresPower metal, heavy metal
Years active1979–present
LabelsShrapnel, Roadrunner, Atlantic, SPV, Massacre
Associated acts7th Order, Alameda All Stars, Testament, Vinnie Moore, Death Angel, Spiralarms, Nevermore, Nightranger, Heathen
Past membersSee: Timeline
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This article is about the power metal band. For their eponymous album, see Vicious Rumors (Vicious Rumors album). For the album by Timex Social Club, see Vicious Rumors (Timex Social Club album).
Vicious Rumors
OriginAlameda, California, United States
GenresPower metal, heavy metal
Years active1979–present
LabelsShrapnel, Roadrunner, Atlantic, SPV, Massacre
Associated acts7th Order, Alameda All Stars, Testament, Vinnie Moore, Death Angel, Spiralarms, Nevermore, Nightranger, Heathen
Past membersSee: Timeline

Vicious Rumors is an American power metal band founded in 1979 in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. The brainchild of Geoff Thorpe, the band has been active on the metal scene since its inception in 1979. Vicious Rumors is recognized for their guitar works and harmonies, as well as the variety of their music.

Band leader Thorpe is also known for recording with the American rock & roll band 7th Order, alongside veteran British session guitarist Martin Pugh (of Steamhammer, the 1st Rod Stewart solo album and Armageddon[1]) and drummer Tim Kelliher (of Randy Hansen's Machine Gun[2]) on their debut CD, The Lake of Memory - released in 2007.


Pioneeristic years and the debut Soldiers of the Night (1979-1986)[edit]

The only constant member in every Vicious Rumors line-up is founder, leader and main composer Geoff Thorpe,[3] who formed the band in 1979. The group was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, during the years when the metal scene was becoming popular and stronger in that part of the States. Bands like Megadeth, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Metallica, Slayer, Forbidden were all seeing the light in the same years, but the fact is: Vicious Rumors was actually the first real bay area straight-forward metal band ever. Even though Vicious Rumors shared the same stages, venues and were even close friends to many of those young musicians in the aforementioned bands, they focused on another music direction, only marginally influenced by the Bay Area thrash metal which in a few years became very popular worldwide.

Without a definite line-up, Vicious Rumors played everywhere in the US between 1980 and 1985 and appeared on KMEL's New Oasis compilation and on the compilations U.S. Metal vol. III and IV, finally gaining an important record deal with the legendary Shrapnel Records.

The first album Soldiers of the Night, published in 1985, is considered a milestone and a cult classic in US power metal and features Geoff Thorpe, Larry Howe (drums), Dave Starr (bass), Gary St.Pierre (vocals) and future guitar hero Vinnie Moore. Moore's participation was suggested by Shrapnel's mastermind Mike Varney.[4]

The classic era: from Digital Dictator to Word of Mouth (1987-1994)[edit]

The second album Digital Dictator, released in 1988, fixed Vicious Rumors' classic sound, with versatile singer Carl Albert (Villain, Ruffians) and guitarist Mark McGee (Overdrive, Starcastle), after St. Pierre and Moore had left. Digital Dictator achieved #1 album in the biggest german metal magazine, RockHard, gained interest in Asia, especially Japan, where Vicious Rumors became a hit. The band played in Mexico and Europe for the first time. In the Netherlands they appeared at the Aardschok festival alongside Megadeth, Testament, Nuclear Assault and others, playing infront of thousands. The success and recognition created by the first two albums on Shrapnel generated interest in the band from the major labels and in 1989 Vicious Rumors signed a deal with one of the biggest and most respected record labels of all time, Atlantic Records. They released their self-titled album Vicious Rumors in 1990. In support of this album the band toured the US and Europe with Death Angel and Forbidden.

The band was featured on the main stage at the fourth edition of Dynamo Open Air Festival in 1989, where they played infront of 40,000 people in the Netherlands and the band's first video for the song, "Don't Wait for Me" was put on regular rotation on MTV's, Headbangers Ball. After returning from Europe, the band set out on their first full US tour for 3-4 months.

In 1991, Vicious Rumors released their best seller Welcome to the Ball. The album received a Bay Area Music Awards nomination for "Outstanding Metal Album" alongside the ranks of Metallica and Tesla.[5] The band went on a one month European tour with Savatage. Their 2nd MTV video, "Children" went beyond the exposure normally limited to metal bands on Headbangers Ball and got regular daytime air play. And to top all of this off, Vicious Rumors was nominated for a Bammie Award (from Bam magazine) for best new metal album. Vicious Rumors toured the US for 4 months, building and strengthening their fan base in the States.

After the tour with label-mates Savatage,[6][7] and the live album Plug In and Hang On: Live in Tokyo, guitarist Geoff Thorpe got ill with carpal tunnel syndrome.[8] The band was not sure if they would continue and, at that time, they also split with bassist Dave Starr.

In 1994, with new bass-player Tommy Sisco (ex-Villain with Carl Albert), they released the album Word of Mouth on a new label, Rising Sun. This record includes the song "Thunder and Rain" (part 1 & part 2) dedicated to the memory of Criss Oliva of Savatage.[9]

This album generated immediate attention and put the band back on the road. In Europe, Vicious Rumors were back at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in the Netherlands, then joined with Accept for more festival dates. After the completion of that tour, they were called back for a second European tour that year, this time with Metal Church, Paul Di'Anno's Killers, and Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction.

Life after Carl Albert (1995-2005)[edit]

At the end of the Word of Mouth tour, Mark McGee decided to leave and went on to play with Gregg Allman & Friends. Steve Smyth (later of Nevermore, Testament and Forbidden fame) was the choice as new guitarist.

After a new successful tour with Savatage, singer Carl Albert (born 1962) died on April 22, 1995 as a result of a car accident.[10][11]

The band decided to go on in memory of their talented singer. The CD A Tribute to Carl Albert (including bootleg recordings taken from the Word of Mouth European tour) and the home-video The First Ten Years were released first. Mark McGee, for one of his solo projects (actually unpublished), composed and recorded the song "Find Your Way Home" dedicated to the memory of his lost friend.[12]

After the death of Carl Albert, the band became more unstable. Tommy Sisco and Larry Howe stayed for two more albums: Something Burning in 1996 (this album is sung by Geoff Thorpe because "no one could take Carl's place"). The song "Perpetual", included on the Something Burning album, was the last track written by Albert. Vicious Rumors went on a long European tour with Accept. In 1998 they released a new studio album, Cyberchrist with Brian O'Connor on vocals. The band toured heavily again and were invited to play an european tour with Blind Guardian on their highly successful "Nightfall in Middle-Earth" tour as special guests, playing 30 dates. The longest break between Vicious Rumors studio albums in their then almost 20 year old career took place between 1998 and 2001. The band was totally renewed by VR mainman Geoff Thorpe in 2001/2002: Cornbread became the new bass player replacing Sisco, Ira Black (ex Heathen, later with Lizzy Borden) filled the spot left by guitarist Smyth (who joined bay area thrashers Testament), while world famous session players Atma Anur, Dan Lawson and Will Carroll (later with Death Angel) took Larry Howe's place until his return. In 2001 the band finally released Sadistic Symphony with new singer Morgan Thorn, who would suddenly be replaced by the returning O'Connor. These three albums are different and known for their more groovy and thrash approach and also for the vocal style.

Those musicians (and the classic ones) appeared on the Crushing the World DVD that sums up various eras of Vicious Rumors and offers audio-video footage of three unreleased tracks: "Poveglia", "Broken Wings", "Fight", songs, which also appeared on the infamous demo Immortal (2004) which never became an album (a few songs ended up on the Warball album). In 2004, in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of "Word of Mouth", there's also the occasional reunion of that line-up (Thorpe, McGee, Sisco, Howe, with O'Connor handling vocal duties). Afterwards, the band is forced to cancel his live schedule due to Geoff Thorpe health issues (back surgery). Cornbread (with Sisco occasionally called back to fill in) and O'Connor leave the band later in the year marking the end of a chapter for Vicious Rumors.

Return to a classic sound (2006-2013)[edit]

In 2006, the album Warball, produced by Juan Urteaga, was released with a surprise of an "all star" line-up: Geoff Thorpe announced the return of classic members Larry Howe and Dave Starr together with two big names of the scene: vocalist James Rivera (Helstar) and guitarist Brad Gillis (Night Ranger, Ozzy Osbourne). Guitarist Thaen Rasmussen (Heathen, Anvil Chorus) took part of the recordings of Warball and later became the second guitarist. Warball is a return to a more classic sound. But the stability of the line-up was not destined to last. Dave Starr, unable to tour and not happy with the direction of things, was replaced by Stephen Goodwin as live bassist.[13] At the end of the world tour with Agent Steel, Rivera and Rasmussen also parted ways with Vicious Rumors.

Ronnie Stixx (Divine Ruins, Blood Redskies, Shadowkeep) was chosen for the live singing,[14] but never made it to an album. Rasmussen was replaced by Kiyoshi Morgan as second guitarist.[15] The line-up finally found a new frontman when Stixx was replaced with old style screamer Brian Allen (Last Empire, Malice).[16]

Classic members Thorpe and Howe rebuilt Vicious Rumors with Allen, Goodwin and Morgan. This will become the longer lasting VR line-up in recent years. To celebrate the new blood of the band they paid tribute to their prestigious history. In the occasion of Vicious Rumors's 30th anniversary some songs from the first album Soldiers of the Night were played live with the original singer Gary St.Pierre at the Headbanger's Open Air festival 2009 in Germany.[17] And in 2011, at the Keep It True Festival (always in Germany) a special event saw a one-off temporary return of historical members Mark McGee and Tommy Sisco after 15 and more years. On the vocals was Kevin Albert, Carl's son, for a unique night of tribute to the golden-era. The band co-headlined the festival with Crimson Glory, Agent Steel.

Meanwhile the new line-up worked hard in the studio a few months before. The band's tenth album, Razorback Killers, was produced by Juan Urteaga and released on March 28, 2011, with guest appearances by several musicians including former guitarist Mark McGee, Testament guitarist Eric Peterson, Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis, and the first Vicious Rumors studio appearances of Stephen Goodwin, Kiyoshi Morgan and Brian Allen. The band did an extensive European tour, headlining 60 shows and supporting Hammerfall on 30 shows with Thaen Rasmussen occasionally stepping in again in Vicious Rumors in place of Morgan (who left the band in February 2012). Vicious Rumors played cca. 100 shows in 2011. In early 2012 the band took part in the world-famous heavy metal cruise "70,000 Tones of Metal".

In late 2012, after some summer gigs in Europe (with Bob Capka as second guitarist), Vicious Rumors mainman Geoff Thorpe announced two new releases for the upcoming months: a live album Live You to Death, out in November 2012,[18] and a new studio chapter Electric Punishment, again produced by Juan Urteaga, due to be released in 2013 with appearances - alongside mastermind Thorpe - of a first class team of guitarists: Rasmussen, McGee, Gillis and Capka. According to Thorpe, the band is still "hungry" so they played more than 70 shows, including several metal festivals (Alcatraz festival, Metaldays, Stonehenge festival, Bang Your Head festival, Headbanger's Open Air, Turock summerfest...) in 2013. One of them, the pre-show of Bang Your Head!!! in Germany, featured special guest appearance of Kevin Albert, Carl's son infront of thousands.[19]

European blood in the band (present)[edit]

After a period of relative stability, in 2013 the band still faced more line-up changes around classic members Thorpe and Howe: in the first leg of Electric Punishment European tour Brian Allen was temporarily replaced by James Rivera due to serious family matters. In the second leg of European gigs and in the US tour, Slovenian multi-instrumentalist Tilen Hudrap (Thraw, Keller, Wartune) stepped in for Stephen Goodwin on bass and took over the bass duties permanently. Also Thaen Rasmussen left his spot later in the year, with Bob Capka rejoining VR ranks on guitar. During the American tour, surprisingly, young Dutch singer Nick Holleman (Powerized, Methusalem) took care of vocal duties, with Allen stating he and VR parted ways.[20] Entering in the line-up alongside Thorpe, Howe and Capka, Hudrap and later Holleman became the first European official members in Vicious Rumors history, bringing fresh blood to the band before a very intense 2014 which carries VR in no less than three continents: first, Vicious Rumors will play "70,000 Tons of Metal" cruise - where they will play the legendary "Digital Dictator" album in its entirety for the first time in the history of the band - and then, not only many European summer festival gigs but also the long awaited South American and Australia/New Zealand/Japan tours. The band will release a new live album, entitled"Live You To Death 2: American Punishment" in June 2014 (which marks the first official release by the new line-up, consisting of Thorpe, Howe, Hudrap, Capka and Holleman), achieving the goal of four album in four years.

Band members[edit]

Current line-up[edit]

Previous members, session and live musicians[edit]


Official releases[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]





  1. ^ "Playlist". 17). Steamhammer - Ridin' On The L & N. The Rockit Scientist. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  2. ^ "7th Order - the history". 7th Order Official Website. Archived from the original on 24 May 2006. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  3. ^ "The Dean Artists: Geoff Thorpe of Vicious Rumors". Dean Guitars. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  4. ^ Moore, Vinnie. "Soldiers of the Night". Vinnie Moore Official Website. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  5. ^ "The Alameda All Stars Mark McGhee". Alameda All Stars Official Website. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  6. ^ Sharpe-Young, Garry (2009). "Vicious Rumors". MusicMight. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  7. ^ Schowe, Andreas (25 October 1991). "Savatage - Vicious Rumors". Real Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Vicious Rumors Remembers Criss Oliva". Real September 1999. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  10. ^ "Died On This Date (April 22, 1995) Carl Albert / Vicious Rumors". The Music's 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  11. ^ "Carl Albert". Encyclopaedia Metallum. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  12. ^ "Solo Project". Mark McGee Official Website. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  13. ^ "Stephen Goodwin - Bassist". Movement in 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  14. ^ "VICIOUS RUMORS Announces New Singer". 12 February 2008. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  15. ^ "VICIOUS RUMORS Announces New Guitarist". 9 March 2008. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  16. ^ "VICIOUS RUMORS Taps LAST EMPIRE/WILD DOGS Singer". 4 December 2009. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  17. ^ "Headbanger's Open Air 2009". Headbanger's Open Air Official Website. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  18. ^ "VICIOUS RUMORS To Release 'Live You To Death' Live Albumt". 25 September 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  19. ^ Rowhel, Dennis (17 April 2013). "Vicious Rumors - Surfing Metal and Electric Punishment". Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  20. ^ "Vicious Rumors Taps Powerized Singer For U.S. Tour". 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2014-08-02. 

External links[edit]