Samhain during the mid 1980s.
|Origin||Lodi, New Jersey, USA|
|Genres||Horror Punk, Deathrock, Gothic Rock, Doom Rock, Heavy Metal|
|Years active||1983 - 1987, 1999, 2011, 2012, 2014|
|Labels||Plan 9, Caroline, E-Magine, Evilive|
|Associated acts||Misfits, Danzig, Son of Sam, Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Reagan Youth, Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Implosion, Mourning Noise, The Undead, Chyna, Son of Sam, Marra's Drug, Rosemary's Babies, Iggy Pop, Dag Nasty, Reptile House, Ministry, Valkyrie, Baroness|
Both Samhain and its successor, Danzig, use the same horned skull image originally drawn by artist Michael Golden for the cover of the 1984 comic book The Saga of Crystar No. 8, published by Marvel Comics. The font often used in the name logo of Samhain, and later Danzig, is taken from the film The Giant Gila Monster. Danzig took the name of the band from the ancient Celtic New Year: Samhain, the origin of the modern Halloween. The band's name is typically pronounced "sam-hane", though when the word occurs in song lyrics, Danzig himself pronounces it "sah-win", in conformity with the generally accepted pronunciation of the eponymous ancient holiday. Sometimes Danzig could be seen donning a horned leather S&M mask, and occasionally he and his bandmates went onstage covered in pig's blood. Danzig would play guitar on live performances of the song "Archangel", freeing his guitarist to instead perform a second bass track. The band was also notable for working in select Misfits songs into their live performances as well.
In their initial run the band released three studio releases with one posthumous "album" and eventually a box set containing the majority of their studio output and more. Almost all of the band's releases are long out of print.
Formation and Initium (1983 - 1984)Edit
Glenn Danzig originally planned Samhain as a side project with Eerie Von, a photographer and friend of Danzig along with The Misfits, Danzig's current band at the time. with the earliest known contribution to the band being "Archangel" written back in 1981 and some of the songs on The Misfits' Earth A.D. originally intending to be on the first Samhain record such as "Death Comes Ripping" and "Bloodfeast". However these songs were recorded with The Misfits instead to round out for a full-length at the time.
In the middle of 1983 Danzig rehearsed with a host of musicians to initially build this project as a sort of a "supergroup" such as Al Pike (Reagan Youth), Graham McColluch, Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat), Brian Baker (Minor Threat) and Eric Zelsder to name a few. The lineup in rehearsals changed before settling in October 1983 with the lineup of Danzig, Von, drummer Steve Zing and guitarist Lyle Preslar (Minor Threat)When The Misfits performed their final live show on 29 October 1983 in Detroit, Michigan Samhain became Danzig's full-time musical project with recording for the band's first album beginning late that year along with Danzig teaching Eerie Von the bass.
Samhain's first live performance on 31 March 1984 at The Ritz in New York City with the lineup of Danzig, Von, Zing and Preslar. Preslar had agreed to play in the band at the time though wasn't interested in the horror-punk style and once saw the band's image chose to only play the band's first show and depart afterwards. Eventually, Pete Marshall (Also known as "Damien") would join the band. In July The Saga of Crystar would be published with the horned skull used for Samhain (and later Danzig) and eventually the band's debut album entitled Initium would see a release in the fall that year leading up to a two-week tour of the United States, the first show with the new lineup being on 14 September 1984 at The Pop Shop in Cleveland.
Unholy Passion and November-Coming-Fire (1985 - 1987)Edit
In October of 1984 the band would also begin to record five songs for an EP released the next year entitled Unholy Passion and tour the United States throughout April and May of 1985. By June 1985 Steve Zing would depart from the band with London May rehearsing with the band throughout June and recording the band's second album in August. By the fall the band would tour once again throughout the fall of that year, showcasing new songs as well.
In February 1986 the band released their second studio album entitled Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire, further shifting away from punk rock into more of a gothic doom rock. Touring in support of the album through the spring and summer that year. The band would perform their final live show at the time at The Ritz (As part of the New Music Seminar) on 14 July 1987. Notably famed producer Rick Rubin was in attendance for this show and offered to sign the band to his label Def Jam American. Damien would be kicked out of the band when Rubin suggest the band adopt more of a metallic sound.
Samhain Grim, Final Descent and Aftermath (1987 - 1990)Edit
For the next six months the band rehearsed in New York as a three-piece, auditioning and refusing various guitarists (With some people also joining along to jam such as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett). The band would record songs for the band's then fourth album intended to be titled Samhain Grim. Interesting of note is Danzig and Eerie Von also re-recorded Misfits songs for future releases, namely Collection II (Which some fans label as Samhain on those particular recordings). In February 1987 one John Christ would join the band after his second audition and contribute recordings to the Samhain Grim sessions while Danzig would re-record guitar on Unholy Passion. On March of 1987 upon the suggestion of Rick Rubin to avoid lawsuits the band officially renamed themselves Danzig.
In 1990 amid the success of the eponymous band, Danzig would take some studio time to finish some Samhain recordings, with Chuck Biscuits contributing to one track. Samhain's final album Final Descent was released on 31 October 1990 on Plan 9, five tracks being previously unreleased songs intended for Samhain Grim while the remaining six were remixed versions of the Unholy Passion EP (Though the 2001 reissue would also include four unreleased Samhain demos, two of the songs being re-recorded for Danzig).
- Glenn Danzig would remain active with his eponymous band along with his own comic book company entitled Verotik. Against all odds he would also perform twice at Riot Fest with the Misfits (Billed as "The Original Misfits") 2016. The Original Misfits reunion is still going as of 2020.
- Lyle Preslar would work with The Meatmen, The 400 and Caroline Records.
- Steve Zing would play with Chyna, Son of Sam, Marra's Drug and was the lead vocalist for Doomtree. Since 2006 he has performed as the live bassist for Danzig.
- Al Pike would largely play with Reagan Youth and was mainly involved with a straight-edge zine in the mid 80s rather than playing with any bands at that point.
- Eerie Von remained as bassist for Danzig up to his first four albums and quit the band to form Bighouse along with various solo albums.
- Damien would go on to play guitar for Brain Eaters, Ditch Witch, Letch Patrol, Man Size Habit and Iggy Pop.
- London May would go on to drum for Voice of Doom, Dag Nasty, Lunchbox, Dead White and Blue, Distorted Pony, Sheppard Pratt, The Amazing Chan Clan, Tiger Army and Son of Sam. He would release a solo retrospective CD in 2016 entitled Devilution: The Early Years. As of 2020 London May is currently drumming for Ministry.
- John Christ went on to play lead guitar for Danzig on his first four records along with compositions for various TV shows and one solo album in 1999 entitled Flesh Caffeine.
- Todd Youth was involved with Agnostic Front (1983 - 1984) and Warzone, playing as early as 12 years old and earning the nickname of "Youth". Youth also performed with Murphy's Law, D Generation and Chrome Locust prior to his involvement with Danzig and Samhain. At the time of his involvement with the Samhain reunion he was the guitarist for Danzig from 1999 - 2003 and his involvement with the Samhain reunion, along with AFI touring with the band, led to the formation of Son of Sam featuring Youth, Steve Zing, London May and Davey Havok. After Danzig, Youth would play live and studio works with the likes of Motörhead, The Chelsea Smiles, Glen Campbell, Wednesday 13, Jesse Malin and Ace Frehley among others before his passing on 27 October 2018.
- Tommy Victor, prior to his involvement in the Samhain reunion, had worked as a soundman for CBGB's before forming Prong in 1986 until they dissolved in 1997. Victor had also been involved in Ministry and Danzig before Prong's reformation in 2002. Currently along with Prong, Victor has been the guitarist for Danzig since 2008.
- Peter Adams had been involved mainly with Baroness and Valkyrie prior to being involved in the 2014 Samhain reunion.
Reunions (1999, 2011, 2012, 2014)Edit
Samhain would reunite multiple times since the band changed their name in '87. The first reunion was in late 1999 where Samhain would open for Danzig on the Satan's Child tour. The lineup for the '99 reunion featured both drummers Zing and London alternating bass and drums with "Misery Tomb" as the intermission along with Todd Youth filling the guitar role. Damien and Eerie Von were both asked to participate in the reunion but Damien ultimately chose to tour with Iggy Pop at the time and Von has stated multiple times he'd only consider a reunion if Damien were involved. Damien would later go on to state that he was "glad to have not done it" in a 2014 interview. At the time of the 1999 reunion Danzig had stated there wouldn't be another reunion.
In 2000, Evilive Records would release the Samhain Box Set. Along with all of their studio output to a point, the box set also featured liner notes from Danzig, London May and Steve Zing along with a comic book, a VHS of live performances and a previously unreleased live album. The five CDs within the box set would be released individually the next year. In 2005 a live DVD entitled Samhain Live 1984 at the Stardust Ballroom would be released through Evilive.
In 2011, Danzig performed a handful of special "Danzig Legacy" sets featuring along with Misfits songs (With Doyle on second guitar) and classic Danzig songs a Samhain set featuring London May on drums, Zing on bass and Tommy Victor on guitar. The "Danzig Legacy" tour would follow up throughout May & June 2012, culminating at Bonnaroo. This same lineup would play a Samhain set once again at Housecore Horror Fest in late 2014.
Between the Housecore Horror set was announced that Samhain would reunite once again for the 30th anniversary of Initium, performing the album in it's entirety along with other classic Samhain songs with Peter Adams (Baroness) on guitar. This lineup also followed with eight more dates throughout 2014.
- Initium (Studio Album) (1984, Plan 9)
- Unholy Passion (EP) (Plan 9, E-Magine)
- Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire (Studio Album) (1986, Plan 9)
- Final Descent (Studio Album) (1990, Plan 9 / Caroline)
- Samhain Box Set (Box Set) (2000, Evilive / E-Magine)
- Live '85 - '86 (Live Album) (2000, Evilive / E-Magine)
- Live 1984 at The Stardust Ballroom (2005, Evilive / MVD)
- Glenn Danzig - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Drums (1983 - 1987, 1999, 2011, 2012, 2014)
- Eerie Von - Bass, Drums, Backing Vocals (1983 - 1987)
- Steve Zing - Drums, Bass, Backing Vocals (1983 - 1985, 1999, 2011, 2012, 2014)
- Al Pike - Bass (1983 - 1984)
- Brian Baker - Guitar (1983)
- Lyle Preslar - Guitar (1984)
- Pete Marshall aka Damien - Guitar (1984 - 1986)
- London May - Drums, Bass, Backing Vocals (1985 - 1987, 1999, 2011, 2012, 2014)
- John Christ - Guitar (1987)
- Todd Youth - Live Guitar (1999) (Died 2018)
- Tommy Victor - Live Guitar (2011, 2012, 2014)
- Peter Adams - Live Guitar (2014)
- Season Of The Dead (1984)
- Unholy Passion Tour (1985)
- November-Coming-Fire 1985 Tour (1985)
- November-Coming-Fire 1986 Tour (1986)
- 1999 Reunion Tour (With Danzig) (1999)
- Initium 30th Anniversary (With Midnight, Goatwhore) (2014)