LILLIAN AXE

Country USA

Style Hard Rock

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From humble beginnings in 1983, the New Orleans-based hard rock act rose above the cream of the bands touring the southern U.S. club circuit. Within three years, the band’s live show had built a reputation that could not be denied and was becoming legendary throughout the south. While performing an opening stint with Ratt, Poison and Queensryche, the guys caught the eye of MCA Records and also Marshall Berle (nephew of Milton Berle) who, at the time, was managing rock superstars, Ratt.

In August of 1987, guitarist, Steve Blaze and drummer, Danny King of Lillian Axe joined forces with vocalist, Ron Taylor, guitarist, Jon Ster and bassist, Rob Stratton of another popular regional touring band, Stiff. One month later a deal with MCA Records was in the can, and in April of 1988, the band’s self-titled debut album (produced by Ratt guitaritst Robbin Crosby) was released. Spawning the MTV and radio hit, “Dream Of A Lifetime”, the band hit the touring trail, supporting the likes of KrokusLillian Axe, Stryper and Lita Ford, as well as headlining shows of their own.

In November of 1988, the quintet re-entered the studio with legendary engineer/producer, Tony Platt, to begin work on the Love & War album – one which many hold in high regard as one of the most underrated albums of the past decade. Once again, radio and MTV hammered out the first single, “Show A Little Love”, propelling Lillian Axe even closer to becoming one of the most up-and- coming and respected bands of the day. However, a fatal blow was dealt to the band’s soaring momentum when the label failed to sustain the support and give the band that extra little push it needed to truly rise to the top. Radio, MTV and a huge fan base just didn’t seem to be enough to satisfy their relationship with MCA, and in early 1990 the band and the label parted ways.

April of 1991 found Lillian Axe with a new bassist, Darrin DeLatte, a new drummer, Gene Barnett (Dirty Looks) and a new home with Grand Slamm/IRS Records. After releasing a successful compilation record of the first two MCA records called “Out Of The Darkness Into The Light”, Lillian Axe unleashed their most successful album to dateLillian Axe, Poetic Justice, which hit the streets in January of 1992. Fueled by the hit single, “True Believer” and followed by their cover of the Badfinger classic, “No Matter What”, Poetic Justice reached the upper 100 of the Billboard album charts and with True Believer hitting number 37 with a “bullet” on radio’s R&R charts, Lillian Axe was well on their way to finally becoming a well deserved success story.

Spending the better part of 1992 on the road, the band criss-crossed the states numerous times and at the end of that year, finally got to meet their European fans by playing shows in the England, Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Spring of ’93 saw Lillian Axe back in the studio with new drummer, Tommy Stewart (Godsmack), in the fold. The recording sessions for Psychoschizophrenia, again with Poetic Justice producer Leif Mases (Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page), were some of the most creative to date and brought out some of the most dynamic performances of the band’s career. Shortly after the recording sessions, the band once again found themselves in their second home – a tour bus. This time the tour would last for nearly three years as the band played any and every place that would have them, including yet another trip to Europe and an extended co-headlining tour of the States with Accept.

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By 1995 the band found themselves to be simply worn out, as anyone would be who kept up the pace that Lillian Axe had set for themselves over the last eight years. The band had always been most at home when on the road together, but the time had finally come to move out of that house for a while and do something different. There was never a big “break-up” or typical soap opera story, the guys just took a break to do different things. Who knew the break would turn into four years away from the “old girl Lillian”? During this new time of discovery and experimentation, Steve Blaze formed Near Life Experience with his little brother Craig (Crowbar) on drums, and explored a whole new side of his songwriting, and now, singing abilities. Ron Taylor also took on new form with his band The Bridge, with old Stiff bandmate Drew Smith.

Both Near Life Experience and The Bridge can be heard on self-released CD’s available over the Internet. Tommy Scott Stewart, after playing drums on most of the Bridge CD, went on to join a band from Boston called Godsmack, and is now enjoying huge success. Jon Ster and Darrin DeLatte spent their time off building new families of their own, both having children over this time. Before the decade could come to an end, the band was contacted by Z Records, an independent European label, and Pony Canyon Records, a Japanese label, about putting out a collection of unreleased Lillian Axe songs. The guys accepted, and in the summer of 1999, Fields Of Yesterday was released, giving the band’s hardcore following the breath of new life they had been waiting for. Advertisements for the new CD read, “The Bitch is Back”, and that statement was oh, so true.

Lillian Axe was definitely back indeed. Culled from master tapes that had been waiting to surface at some point in time, the thirteen songs that comprised Fields Of Yesterday had been held in high regard by Lillian Axe fans who had passed these unreleased songs through the tape trading channels for years. Now, for the first time, fans were able to enjoy songs such as, “Pulling the Rats Out”, “For Crying Out Loud”, “Death Valley Daze”, “Twilight in Hell” and more, on CD. As a predecessor to the album’s release, the quintet finally returned to their old stomping grounds, the clubs that they had regularly toured for years during the early days, and were met with overwhelming response from old and new fans alike. Make no mistake about it, the fans, as well as the guys in the band, were very happy to see Lillian Axe back. And, for the first time ever, their longtime Japanese fans would finally get their chance to experience the magic of a live Lillian Axe show when the band hit the Land Of The Rising Sun, in April of 2000.

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In May 2002, Lillian Axe recorded a much anticipated live CD in Houston, TX to a packed house filled with fans from all over the world. In August 2002, the long awaited Live CD was released and with drummer Ken Koudelka and guitarist Sam Poitevent on board, the guys set out in support of “Lillian Axe: Live 2002.” Summer 2004 saw Lillian Axe return to Europe for the first time in nine years, playing to a rabid throng of 27,000 fans at Germany’s Bang Your Head Festival. The overwhelming European response ignited the band’s yearning to return to Europe for a more extensive tour in 2005.

However, fall 2004 brought the resignation of vocalist Ron Taylor and the introduction of new vocalist Derrick LeFevre. New Year’s Eve 2004, LeFevre was introduced to the world for his first appearance as the new Lillian Axe vocalist to massive acclaim. According to Blaze, “There are very large shoes to fill with Ron leaving the band. He is a great singer and a great performer and he will be highly missed, however, Derrick is the most incredible replacement we could have found and I am thoroughly convinced that the fans will be highly impressed. The new album will take Lillian Axe into a new chapter of the band’s history, which we feel will be the most exciting yet.” 

After several line-up changes, the band recruited lead vocalist Derrick LeFevre, who appeared on Waters Rising (2007), Sad Day on Planet Earth (2009), and Deep Red Shadows (2010). On June 23, 2010, Ronny Munroe, formerly of Metal Church, replaced Derrick LeFevre as lead vocalist but departed four months later before recording any material with the band. He was replaced Brian C. Jones who can be heard on the latest release, XI The Days Before Tomorrow (2012).

Although Lillian Axe has been through some tough times and taken the long road; they still create new music that is both relevant and exciting and continue to tour while others have forsaken the live performances. Lillian Axe respects its past but looks forward to the future by reinventing themselves with the current times. On August 8, 2013, Lillian Axe was involved in an automobile accident.

2014, is going to be a banner year for Lillian Axe. Lillian Axe released a colossal 13 CD box set, entitled Convergence on February 1, 2014 containing all of Lillian Axe’s releases from 1988-2012 with a bonus CD of highly sought after unreleased Lillian Axe songs. Convergence was sold as a limited edition release through the Lillian Axe fan club and immediately sold out. On April 15, 2014, Lillian Axe unleashes their thirteenth release entitled, “One Night In The Temple”, a 2 CD (20 songs), DVD and Blu-Ray celebration featuring all their hits and fan favorite voted songs performed acoustically in an intimate setting housed in a Masonic Temple where Lillian Axe has recorded their last few albums. On November 29, 2014, former guitarist Jon Ster passed away from heart failure at the age of 52.

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– Lillian Axe [1988]
– Love And War [1989]
– Poetic Justice [1992]
– Psychoschizophrenia [1993]
– Fields Of Yesterday [1999]
– Waters Rising [2007]
– Sad Day On Planet Earth [2009]
– Deep Red Shadows [2010]
– The Days Before Tomorrow [2012]
– One Night In The Temple [2014]

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