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Flash Metal Suicide: Adam Bomb

This week: the finest hour of Adam Bomb — the man, the group, the concept, whatever it was

“You know the only place to go/ is a heavy metal show” - I Want My Heavy Metal

Look, I don’t know how much is true, how much is sorta-true, and how much is merely puffs of purple smoke, but when it comes to Flash Metal Suicides, nobody’s committed more of them than Adam Bomb. Back in the 80s, you could crash an Aqua Net blowout just about anywhere – New York, LA, Seattle- and there’d be somebody jabbering about Adam Bomb. Sure, it wasn’t always good - some angry ex-cohort telling tales of flying-high egos, or a stiletto-heeled vixen smashing windows to ease her trampled heart, or the cops flashing badges and warrants and Adam Bomb record covers – but that cat was most definitely in the mix, where the action was, right there at the very scene of the crime. If you want stories, then Adam fuckin’ Bomb is the cartoon-monikered man to ask, because believe me, the dude has lived a hundred rock'n'roll lives.

Adam Bomb (Adam Brenner to his lawyers) was born sometime in 1963 and grew up in Seattle, where, in his early teenage years, he played guitar in a metal cover band called Tyrant. The band featured an equally peach-fuzzed Geoff Tate, future Queensryche front-falsetto, on proto-prog metal vox. Two years later, he joined legendary Seattle hard-rockers TKO. Although Kjarten Kristofferson (later of the Bang Gang) is credited on the album cover, Mr Bomb was actually the guitar player for TKO’s finest album, 1984’s In Your Face, which was actually recorded in ’81, but shelved for years. Shelved albums have been a mainstay of Bomb’s career.

Rumour has it that Adam Bomb took the TKO gig after his first audition, with Kiss, fell through. He was 16 in ‘81, by the way.

In 1982, Bomb quit TKO and moved to LA, to become a solo artist. He shared a room with a pre-GNR Izzy Stradlin, who lived next door to Black N’ Blue axeman Tommy Thayer, who gave ‘em the “Bomb” part of his name, ‘cuz ‘Adam Brenner’ wasn’t gonna cut it in a town full of, well, Izzys and Slash’s and Dukey Flyswatters. Adam briefly joined Steeler, replacing Yngwie Malmsteen after he split for that hare-brained Viking solo project of his, but mostly, he spent the next year and half recording songs for the first Adam Bomb record. 

Adam Bomb signed to Geffen in 1984 (admittedly, not a hard thing for a metal band to do in 1984, but still) and released Fatal Attraction a year later. Word has it that Adam Bomb himself actually played everything on the album, but the back cover credits Billy Idol’s bass player Phil Feit, ex-Riot man Sandy Slavin on drums, and ex-Aerosmith fill-in Jimmy Crespo on guitar. There’s about 500 other people credited on this ‘un too, including AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams, who added a little extra chug on I Want My Heavy Metal.

Personally, I really don’t care who played what. What I do know is that this was Adam Bomb’s — the man, the group, the concept, whatever it was — finest hour. Many, many people will argue this point, however. Not that they will steer you towards other stages in AB’s career, mind you. No, it’s just that lots of “metal” dudes in the 80’s hated Adam Bomb. Mostly because of his name, surely, and at least a little because he had a song in metal-radio rotation with the impossibly dim-witted title I Want My Heavy Metal, but believe me, he was not beloved amongst kids with Slayer or Iron Maiden back-patches. But so what? Sure, he wore shoulder pads and had supermodel cheekbones, but the fact is, Fatal Attraction was a plastic-fantastic flash metal gem that neatly sutured 70’s glitter-rock with LA preen-metal, creating a cock n’ roll sensation that paved the way for glad-rag dandies from the UK and Sweden to make a decent living outta acting like they fuckin’ invented the idea of swirling Aerosmith’s raunch with Gary Glitter’s goofball pomp. 

Despite suffering from major-label concessions at every turn, the high-flying glitter-metal of Fatal Attraction showed great promise, and even today, tracks like I Want My Heavy Metal and Shape of the World sound like a young, horny Slade with stun-gun guitars, declaring war on phoney rock'n'roll. Which is what all Flash Metal records are supposed to sound like. The hell of it is, although Adam Bomb enjoyed regional accolades and was probably invited to a lot of out-of-control after-parties in LA, Fatal Attraction never rose above ‘cult’ record, and even then, it wasn’t the cool kids forming the cult. Which is quite a tragedy, once you find out what Mister Bomb did with the rest of his time

Looking to capitalise on their buzz, Adam Bomb and his band went to England to record a new album, Pure S.E.X. (original title: “Dangerous When Lit”), but it would be another 100 or so years before it would see the light of day. Meanwhile, the band toured with Lords of the New Church, and Bomb himself appeared in Playgirl, in a Mick Rock-shot spread entitled "The Bad Boys of Rock”. I don’t know who else was in said spread, but I betcha nobody called GG Allin, El Duce, or any members of the Replacements for it.

In 1988, Adam Bomb-the-band still had no new record out. Adam-the-man, however, was having a hell of a year. He jammed with Chuck Berry on New Year’s Eve. He did a solo three week tour of the UK, using ex-Babysitters drunk-glam legends The Last of the Teenage Idols as his backing band. Then he went to Stockholm and played guitar in the Johnny Thunders band for two months. ’88 was a good year for me too, man, but not that good.

In ’89, Adam wrote and recorded songs with Steve Stevens, but you know how it goes with that cat. A year later, Pure Sex was finally released. However, it was on a French label, Musidisc, which was really no help to you and I. Meanwhile, the studio in New York where Bomb and Stevens recorded their new flash metal tracks went bankrupt, and their master tapes went missing. Or so the story goes. A year later, Adam emerged in the UK, where he formed the Last Bandits, with Dogs D’Amour bassist Steve James. They toured England throughout 1991.

Then Little Steven asked him join his band. Then Axl told him Izzy almost asked him to join GNR in’84. Then somebody held his master tapes from the Stevens sessions for ransom. Then Adam played a few gigs with Mike Monroe. And so on. It’s the craziest goddamn rock'n'roll story you ever heard, and almost all of it is true. And while Adam has mostly stayed a solo act in the past couple decades, he has definitely not kept quiet. 

In the late 90's, he formed, recorded and toured with the furious Get Animal band. In 2003, Adam Bomb (the man) released a 9/11 themed album called Third World Roar and toured England with Swede sleaze-rock sensations the Diamond Dogs. In 2012, Adam Bomb-the-band released the aptly named Rock On Rock Hard Rock Animal, and just last year he toured the world in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Fatal Attraction. According to his online bio, Adam's goals are to 'Promote the electric guitar and keep rock'n'roll alive”. And I believe him, brother. That part I know is true.

Next week: who wrote the book of rock'n'roll?

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