Remembering Steve Riley: Iconic Drummer From W.A.S.P And L.A. Guns Dead At 67

American drummer Steve Riley, known for his work with Keel, W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns, has died aged 67. “He will be missed,” Blackie Lawless said, “but his individual legacy will indeed live on.”

Steve Riley’s passing was confirmed by the Riley family in a statement. “We are devastated to share that Steve Riley has passed away at the age of 67,” the statement reads. “Steve had been battling a severe case of pneumonia for several weeks and on Tuesday, Oct. 24, succumbed to the illness. His wife Mary Louise and son Cole were by his side in his final moments.

“Steve spent the past five decades building up a rich music legacy, touring the world countless times, selling millions of records, sharing the stage with incredible bandmates and bringing joy to fans across the globe. His style was unmatched, influenced by the greats like Buddy Rich, Ginger Baker and John Bonham, and his passion for the craft was evident until the very end.

“But Steve’s greatest legacy was his role as a loving husband and caring father. At home, he was more than just a rocker. He was a Boston sports fanatic, a World War II buff and an avid reader. As much as he loved being on the road, nothing brought him more joy than coming home to his family.

“Steve is survived by his wife and son, as well as his brothers Michael and Daniel.”

Riley was the drummer with W.A.S.P on the band’s second and third studio albums, The Last Command and Inside The Electric Circus. He toured the world with the band from ’84 to ’87. Live… in the Raw, which featured the Harder Faster song which saw the PMRC declare W.A.S.P “sexual perverts”, was Riley’s last with W.A.S.P.

Riley would leave the band after that tour to join L.A. Guns. His work on albums like Cocked & Loaded and Hollywood Vampires showcased his exceptional drumming skills.

“The entire W.A.S.P. family are saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former bandmate Steve Riley,” Blackie Lawless said. “Steve was a native of Boston and came from a large family. He had several brothers, which, from the beginning, I dubbed ‘The Dalton Gang’. That came from an old Quick Draw McGraw cartoon, and in a fun type of way, they reminded me of some crazy kind of wannabe outlaws. They all loved the name, so it stuck.

“It was Steve’s drumming you hear providing the steady beat on songs such as Wild Child, Blind In Texas, and I Don’t Need No Doctor. Those songs helped cement our legacy, and Steve was a big part of that. Most drummers have some [of] the best humour in any band. It’s just the way they are wired, and he was no exception.

“Steve could make a dog laugh, and that’s no joke. For any band, being on the road can be a grind. If you have someone in the band that can come in and break the tension just by being themselves, then that’s a gift that’s sorely missed when that vacuum can no longer be filled.

“One of the Dalton Gang has now slipped away, and our hearts are truly saddened. He will be missed. But his individual legacy will indeed live on.

“God Speed Steve Riley.”

Sleeve Notes

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