During a VIP Experience at one of their 40 Years Live World Tour North American Shows, W.A.S.P leader Blackie Lawless spoke of his regret in losing drummer Tony Richards from the first W.A.S.P. and how it “made me sick to my stomach because I remembered how good we were.” Richards played with the band from 1982 until after the release of their debut album, W.A.S.P, in 1984.
“Tony was stunning as a drummer and performer. Tony was one of those five-point guys. He looked great, looked great in photos, and performed great. You know, could sing his ass off and perform his butt off. When we lost him, we were mortally wounded, and we knew it.”
Lawless spoke of the amazing chemistry between himself, Tony and guitarists Chris Holmes and Randy Piper and how that left him covering bass duties. “The other two, I knew they were never gonna play bass,” he said. “So I thought, well, I got the chemistry of the guys to make it work. I’ll do it. You know, I’m a team player. I don’t care how the job gets done, just get it done.
Blackie is often asked if he has any regrets. “There was nothing we could do about it. But losing Tony, like I said, we were mortally wounded. To give you an example, look at that first album. It’s all four of us on the cover. Second and third albums are just me. That was a conscious decision we made because when Tony was gone, we were not the same band anymore. We knew it. In the early days, we promoted ourselves as a band, and we thought when Tony was gone, we didn’t have that strength anymore.”
Blackie is not apportioning blame, though. “I’m not blaming Tony. It’s unfortunate what happened, but I never felt that we had the strength of a band as a unit, as we had in the very beginning.”
That reflects on subsequent album covers, too. “So, like I said, you look at every record we’ve done since. No one is on that cover anymore, and that’s the reason for it. Because I remember what we were, and again, I had my memory refreshed over the summer listening to that stuff [the first W.A.S.P. album studio tapes] cause I got to hear outtakes, and I got to hear individual tracks that I hadn’t heard. I’m listening to Randy and Tony sing. They’re singing their asses off. Them suckers were good, you know? I listened to it, and it kind of made me sick to my stomach because I remembered how good we were.”