Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 24: Stephen Pearcy

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

American vocalist Stephen Pearcy is the founder, led singer and songwriter of Ratt. He is still actively touring with the band as well as doing work as a solo artist. Ratt, formed as Mickey Ratt in San Diego, California in 1977, relocated to Los Angeles in 1980 and was at the forefront of the early 1980s glam metal scene in LA. Stephen published his autobiography “Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll: My Life in Rock” in 2013. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson asked Stephen about the records that changed his life.

Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath” (1970)

“I heard Black Sabbath at 14 years old. It absolutely blew my mind!”

Led Zeppelin “Houses of the Holy” (1973)

Van Halen “Van Halen” (1978)

“Van Halen was the reason that I moved to LA to pursue my dreams. Actually, I had been going to Van Halen shows and befriended Ed Van Halen prior to the record release but Van Halen was THE reason I moved my San Diego band to LA.”

Judas Priest “Sin After Sin” (1977)

“Robbin Crosby introduced me to Judas Priest. I was into Led Zeppelin and Blue Öyster Cult. He had me listen to Judas Priest one day and it totally blew me away.”

Adam Ant “Friend or Foe” (1982)

“I was a rocker. My band Mickey Ratt would play a lot of Blue Öyster Cult B-sides like ‘Dominance and Submission’ from ‘Career of Evil’. One day someone turned me onto Adam Ant and I fell in love with the drums! Then when I saw his look…I was sold! Ultimately, my early 80s look is based on Adam Ant’s style.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 23: Mats Karlsson

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish guitarist Mats Karlsson co-founded melodic heavy metal band 220 Volt in 1979. He remains active with the band as well as releasing music as a solo artist. His latest solo album “The Time Optimist” was released in December 2019. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Mats to find out what albums rocked his world.

Deep Purple “Made in Japan” (1972)

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin II” (1969)

“The first two albums that changed my life were Deep Purple’s ‘Made in Japan’ and ‘Led Zeppelin II’. They were the first hard rock albums I heard. An older cousin played those albums to me and my older brother when I was around eight years old. I was floored! My interest in hard rock started to grow. I always liked the melodic and musical bands with great musicians. But I’ve also had periods when I’ve zoomed in to other stuff.”

Kansas “Point of Know Return” (1977)

“This is a fantastic album and I rank Steve Walsh as one of the best singers in rock. I like almost all their catalogue, but this was the first one.”

Rainbow “Rising” (1976)

“When that keyboard intro comes and end and the guitar starts to fade in on ‘Tarot Woman’ is, to me, maybe the coolest intro ever on an album. It changed my life.”

Sheryl Crow “Sheryl Crow” (1996)

“Her second – actually third if you count the first unreleased one – album is an example of singer/songwriter album that stands out for me and opened the door to that world for me. She’s just got an incredible voice and write fantastic middle eight parts.”

“On another day I might have chosen only hard rock and metal albums but I listen to a lot more than that, and a fair bit of the prog bands and artists, so the list could also have included stuff like that.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 22: Denise Dufort

Denise Dufort of Girlschool in Tokyo in 2019. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

British drummer Denise Dufort co-founded Girlschool in London in 1978. She has been in every line-up of the band and remains the foundation of the band’s rock-steady rhythm section. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson had a chat with Denise about albums that had an impact on her.

Colosseum “Daughter of Time” (1970)

“Jon Hiseman in Colosseum, fantastic drummer! He really inspired me.”

Status Quo “Blue for You” (1976)

“I used to love Status Quo but my fave album at the time was ‘Blue for You’.”

Deep Purple “Machine Head” (1972)

“Deep Purple’s ‘Machine Head’ was absolutely brilliant and I loved it because it was a really heavy album with great songs and fantastic drumming.”

Rainbow “Rising” (1976)

“’Rising’ by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow had fantastic and brilliant drumming by Cozy Powell and amazing vocals by Dio.”

T. Rex “Electric Warrior” (1971)

“I also loved Marc Bolan and T. Rex but my favourite album by them was ‘Electric Warrior’.”

“I have so many more that inspired me but these are the ones that I think did the most…”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 21: Blaze Bayley

Blaze Bayley. Photo: Artur Tarczewski

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Having made a name for himself by fronting Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane, British vocalist Blaze Bayley, then embarked on a very productive solo career, both in the studio and on tour. He has reunited with Wolfsbane and combines that with a still busy solo career. During his years as Iron Maiden’s lead vocalist, he sang on the albums “The X-Factor” and “Virtual XI” and toured globally. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson caught up with Blaze to find out what albums changed his world.

Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” (1982)

“The voice of Bruce Dickinson and the powerful rhythms gripped me. This is an album I would listen to when I was 18 years old working nights cleaning the hotel I worked at. I saw Iron Maiden four times at Birmingham Oden near my home. I came to love them. I never dreamed I would have the great honour of becoming the singer in Iron Maiden, and writing with those giants of metal music.”

Dio “Holy Diver” (1983)

“The musical power in the voice of Ronnie James Dio changed my life. Before ‘Holy Diver’ I was a fan of metal. After ‘Holy Diver’ I wanted to be just like Ronnie James Dio, a singer in a band performing in countries around the world.”

Led Zeppelin “The Song Remains the Same” (1976)

“The soundtrack to the legendary concert film of the same name. I was an ordinary boy of 17, listening alone on a Walkman in my bedroom in the dark with my eyes closed. This was my first Led Zeppelin album. It opened my imagination and took me far away from the small town I lived in.”

Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath” (1970)

“Spooky and disturbing. It asked me many questions. The first question was, how can four people make this darkness? It taught me that music can be uncomfortable but still hypnotic. It changed my perception of darkness.”

Sex Pistols “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)

“Shocking irreverent and brilliant. The shape of planet earth changed for me and my school friends when we heard this record. It seemed to be the most dangerous recording in musical history. We felt we became dangerous when we listened to it. This album started a fire that would burn forever in my teenage heart. Truth and rebellion had a soundtrack.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 20: Jan Rechberger

Jan Rechberger of Amorphis in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jan Rechberger is the drummer and one of the founding members of Finnish heavy metal band Amorphis. In addition to drumming, Jan is also a composer and producer with his own studio, Moon Unit Studio in Helsinki. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson checked in with Jan to find out what five albums rocked his world.

KISS “KISS” (1974)

“My first vinyl record ever. My dad took me to the record shop on my 11th birthday and this was the first record I saw when I entered the store. I told him that this is the one ‘cause the cover photo looked so cool. He asked me if i wanted listen to it first or perhaps browse through some other records before I decide. I said no, this is it. The first spin and the opening fill to ‘Strutter’ got me into rock and roll forever.”

AC/DC “High Voltage” (1976)

“Another rock classic that I´ve listened to more than perhaps any other record when I was a kid. My friend from the neighbour flat got me into this as well as all the other records from AC/DC. Timeless classic that still sounds magically fresh to me, every time.”

Iron Maiden “Live After Death” (1985)

“This iconic Maiden record needs no introduction. My father got me this on some random winter day, and I still remember how the vinyl was a little bent because it was like -25 Celsius outside. The first time I spun it the sound was ‘wobbly’. An amazing collection of the best songs from the best era of Iron Maiden, played live! I’ve listened to this so much, that eventually had to get another copy ‘cause it got so scratchy and worn out.”

Dio “Holy Diver” (1983)

“I had this one as an original copy in cassette format. To me, this was the heaviest stuff I’ve listened to so far. An absolute classic featuring one of my all-time favourites Vinny Appice on drums.”

Metallica “Ride the Lightning” (1984)

“This record got me into the heavier realm of metal music for good. I mean, at the time, it sounded faster and heavier than anything else I’ve heard so far. There were of course others as heavy and aggressive, but this album totally separated itself from the masses with its musicality, catchiness and emotional qualities.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 19: Morgan Fisher

Morgan Fisher. Photo: Tia Haygood

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

British musician Morgan Fisher was a member of Mott the Hoople in the 70s and toured with Queen in the 80s. The keyboard player and composer, who is based in Japan since 1985, has remained active as a solo artist and with various projects and collaborations, including working with Yoko Ono. In recent years, Morgan has participated in several Mott the Hoople reunion tours. Morgan talked with Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson about five of the albums that have mattered the most to him.

Various Artists “Rhythm And Blues” (1963)

“Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Jimmy Witherspoon, Willie Dixon, Memphis Slim, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and more – all on one album! And as it was on the Pye Golden Guinea Records budget label it was only a guinea (21 shillings) while most albums were 30 shillings or more, so on my meagre paper round wages I could afford that! I’d only ever heard very occasional blues tracks on BBC radio, usually drily presented as a kind of exotic example of US folk. These raw, classic performances literally scraped the inside of my brain and prepared me to be able to handle seeing Hendrix just three years later! Inevitably I lost the LP much later, and decided to buy it again a few years ago, used on eBay. BIG SURPRISE: the sleeve notes, and compiling, were by Guy Stevens – the man who put Mott the Hoople together!”

Booker T & The MGs “Soul Dressing” (1965)

“Of course, it was Booker T’s first single ‘Green Onions’ that blew the minds of hundreds of us young would-be organists as it coolly breezed out of speakers in clubs and boutiques all over London when I was a teen. But their second album took the magic further, beyond the straight Stax soul/funk into deep, deep sounds. It was like they were developing the creative use of studio techniques even faster than The Beatles were, and with more soul and gravitas, and it still hooks me in today. Produced by Jim Stewart – the ‘ST’ of ‘Stax Records’ – there are keyboard and guitar sounds on there that I’d never heard before. Two standout tracks: ‘Chinese Checkers’ and ‘Plum Nellie’. And I can’t resist giving a shout-out to Billy Preston’s equally thrilling organ sounds on ‘The Most Exciting Organ Ever’ from 1964!”

The Mothers of Invention “Freak Out!” (1966)

“I bought this in late ’66, around the time I first saw Hendrix playing – in a pub. That was a very special year. I was 16, just starting to play live, and my mind was so irrevocably blown just by the music that I never ever felt the desire for drugs. OK, I still like a glass of wine on occasion. Interestingly, neither did the madcap genius Frank Zappa. I’d never seen a gatefold double album before, and this one was bubbling over with a kaleidoscopic montage of astonishing music from ultra-avant-garde atonalism – in memoriam Edgard Varese, who’d died a year before this release – to lobotomised doo-wop on ‘Go Cry On Somebody Else’s Shoulder’ and everything in between. I lapped it all up voraciously (most of my friends just liked the funny bits). This album certainly influenced my production of the Miniatures compilation album in 1980, which had 51 completely different tracks, none longer than a minute.”

Gabor Szabo “Dreams” (1968)

“Ever bought an album just because the cover was amazing? I fell in love with this sensuous Beardsley-style cover and grabbed the album without even listening to it, which I could easily have done in the classy mahogany-panelled record boutique I found myself in. My jaw hit the floor when I played it at home. Gabor, who I’d never heard of, turned out to be a drug-addicted Hungarian guitar genius, who died at 45 having ruined his health. This is by far his best album, the others could get a bit sweet and muzaky with covers of groovy 60s hits, as it blends his folk roots and jazz prowess incredibly well, with an air of mystery and even menace at times, supported by riveting strings, brass, and amazing percussion. It was also in my honest opinion the best piece of work by his US arranger/producer Gary McFarland. He died of drugs at age 38… Sigh. There are moments on this album where Szabo’s eerie bending notes slide into weird feedback – on an acoustic guitar! OK, I guess it had a pickup. I still listen to it more often than any other album, ever. And it must be on vinyl to hear every detail of the vibrant acoustic sounds.”

Joe Walsh & Barnstorm “The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get” (1973)

“Brilliant title! Joe was part of a triple-whammy day in my life – my first gig with Mott, my first gig in the USA, and the first band I saw play in the USA. He opened for us on July 27, 1973 at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago. He and his band Barnstorm were at their absolute peak, riding high on their stomping hit ‘Rocky Mountain Way’. Joe was a total sweetheart: when I said, ‘I hear we’re all staying in the same hotel tonight’, he grinned mischievously and said, ‘That’s kinda dangerous!!!’ He was the best guitarist I’d seen since Hendrix – and that includes Clapton, Alvin Lee, Rory Gallagher, etc – plus his songs were magnificent and wide-ranging in styles. He was also a wizard on analogue synths, adding gorgeous rich layers to some of his slower songs, on his later album ‘So What’ he even plays a luscious synth version of Ravel’s ‘Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty’. We did several gigs together on that tour and I watched with utter delight every night, as the band played their hearts out brilliantly with all the power of a tidal wave but not an ounce of aggression. This album brings it all back. That’s my kind of hard rock – and I sincerely hope Mott managed to create some of that too.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 18: Mitch Malloy

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

American singer Mitch Malloy is the lead vocalist for hard rock band Great White and has also worked extensively as a solo artist. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson briefly checked in with Mitch to find out what five albums rocked his world the most.

Deep Purple “Machine Head” (1972)

“Deep Purple’s ‘Machine Head’ pretty much taught me how to play guitar and still holds up today as one of the best rock records of all time.”

Aerosmith “Aerosmith” (1973)

“Aerosmith’s debut is one of my favs. Amazing songs, amazing vibe. I still love it today.”

Boston “Boston” (1976)

“Boston’s debut is a total freak of nature LP.”

Van Halen “Van Halen” (1978) and Van Halen “Van Halen II” (1979)

“Then the Van Halen I and II albums. I listen to them nearly daily.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 17: Gary Shea

Gary Shea on stage with Alcatrazz in Tokyo in 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

American bassist Gary Shea co-founded Alcatrazz in 1983. Prior to that he made a name for himself with the band New England and briefly played with Vinnie Vincent in Warrior. Alcatrazz is currently recording its fifth full-length studio album which is expected to be released later this year. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson checked in with Gary to hear about the albums that inspired him.

The Beach Boys “Little Deuce Coupe” (1963)

“I was car crazy at this time and had just started taking guitar lessons. I loved all the imagery of sunny Southern California, singing about fast cars, racing, the beach and girls. I was inspired by the line ‘I’m getting bugged drivin’ up and down the same old strip, I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip’. I decided to leave home as soon as I finished high school.”

Stan Getz and João Gilberto “Getz/Gilberto” (1964)

“When this came out on the radio with Astrud Gilberto singing I was mesmerised by the bossa nova groove. I think ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ is one of the sexiest songs ever written. The whole album is incredible and the bass just grooves on and on. Smooth and so romantic.”

The Who “My Generation” (1965)

“When I heard this, it was the heaviest record ever with songs like ‘The Ox’ and ‘My Generation’. I sold my guitar and became a bass player listening to John Entwistle. These guys tore places apart and pioneered the first Marshall amplifiers and round wound bass strings. Got to see them live at Woodstock from about 40 feet away. ‘Live at Leeds’ showcased how great they were. I’d say they were the first heavy metal band.”

The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” (1967)

“I really like all their albums but this was the most trippy record ever recorded up to that time. I spent hours and hours listening to all of the orchestration and spacey studio magic on this record. I marvelled at the deep meaning of ‘Blue Jay Way’ later learning that George wrote it about his friends going down the hill on a cigarette run. Haha!”

King Crimson “The Court of the Crimson King” (1969)

“A one-of-a-kind record bringing forth what would become the progressive rock movement. I dug Greg Lake’s voice and old English poetic lyrics. Extended pieces and odd time signatures, etc. Another dreamy record not based on blues or rock and roll. I moved to London to play this kind of music and to find someone with a keyboard called the Mellotron which created the orchestra sounds. I met Greg Lake and had tea with him and the members of the Italian prog band PFM at his house. I found my Mellotron guy, Jimmy Waldo, back in the US and we helped form the group New England. We are still together in Alcatrazz and releasing our new album very soon, complete with Mellotrons.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 16: Elize Ryd

Elize Ryd of Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2019. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish singer Elize Ryd is best known as one of the lead vocalists for modern melodic metal band Amaranthe. During her career she has also toured and recorded with Kamelot and Gus G and in 2012 she did a last-minute one-off fill-in in Denver as vocalist for Nightwish. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson checked in with Elize to find out what five records changed her life.

KISS “Love Gun” (1977)

“One of the first music records I remember getting hooked on. I was born with this.”

Queen “Innuendo” (1991)

“This album was a gift from my brother. I got hooked. It stimulated my melodious brain for years from the age of five. This was the best voice I had ever heard. Freddie inspired me to work on my singing. I listened to ‘The Show Must Go On’ and ‘Innuendo’ all the time on repeat by changing sides on the cassette back and forth.”

ABBA “Super Trouper” (1980)

“The Swedish supergroup ABBA. They made me believe it’s possible to make a career outside of Sweden. I decided I wanted to be an artist and play in a band with several singers. I’ve been a sucker for harmonies ever since. ‘Me and I’ and ‘The Piper’ are the most interesting ABBA songs.”

Basic Element “The Ultimate Ride” (1995)

“Basic Element made me feel at last I’ve found a group and music that matched the speed and mood in my head. The entire album is as great as the band’s first album which was called ‘Basic Injection’. I’ve had this band in mind, together with Black Eyed Peas, as an inspiration while creating Amaranthe.”

Metallica “Metallica” aka “The Black Album” (1991)

“I got this album on cassette from my older brother. He influenced me to listen to metal. Of course, I loved ‘Nothing Else Matters’ the most from this album.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 15: Phil Lanzon

Phil Lanzon of Uriah Heep backstage in Tokyo in 2019. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Phil Lanzon has been playing keyboards with classic British rock band Uriah Heep since 1986. Alongside Heep’s founder Mick Box, Phil is the band’s main songwriter. During his career he has also played with The Sweet, Grand Prix and many other bands, artists and projects. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson caught up with Phil to find out what five albums changed his life.

Emerson Lake & Palmer “Works Volume 1” (1977)

“Keith Emerson’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 1’! One of the most talented keyboard players of modern music bringing jazz rock and classic together in the 70s.”

(Editor’s note: Keith Emerson’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” is an over 18-minute-long instrumental track that takes up the whole first side of this ELP album.)

Queen “Greatest Hits” (1981)

“Mini symphonies and one of the greatest examples for songwriters that will easily stand the test of time.”

The Divine Comedy (1990-2019)

“Most of the albums by The Divine Comedy. Neil Hannon’s lyrics are poignant and in your face with observational talent second to none.”

Styx “Pieces of Eight” (1978)

“Rock and harmonies that influenced me no end through the late 70s and early 80s.”

Genesis “Selling England by the Pound” (1973)

“Mini symphonies of a different kind. The measure of which never seen or heard since. Musical and vocal excellence.”