SMASHED GLADYS

Back To The Past (26):


Here’s another full story of one of the most well known girl-fronted bands from the rock history, SMASHED GLADYS. This time we choose this American band who were busy for only a very few years and put the glam back into the rock. In the mid-eighties, glam rock was getting really popular. Especially in the US, with bands like POISON, MÖTLEY CRUE, CINDERELLA, RATT and QUIET RIOT. Who became very famous indeed and sold millions of records. Their weird hairdoes, fancy colourful clothes and sexy looks were their points of recognition. Their music contained lots of melody and their simple lyrics were dealing about beautiful women, sex and partying all night long. And although all this glitter and glamour started at the sunny East Coast, we also saw some action in New York in the mid-eighties. We can see SMASHED GLADYS as one of the most important contributors of the glam scene from that time. We go to Toronto, Canada, where the band originally started their career. Pretty soon after that, they will settle themselves in New York, but let’s not move ahead too fast. We start this ‘Back To The Past’ story in 1984, when SMASHED GLADYS was formed.

SMASHED GLADYS jumps on the bandwagon of the glam scene. No, they never got really famous. But they accomplished some nice things in their five years career. The band started their career in Toronto, but the down to earth Canadians don’t see anything at all in this glamorous band. They decide to move to New York real quick and it’s there where their career starts. That’s the city where the shit happens. That’s where the fancy people go to. At that time the band consists of J.D. Malo on bass, Matt Stelluto on drums, Bart Lewis on guitar, Marcel La Fleur on guitar and Sally Cato on vocals. Sally was one of a kind. There weren’t too many female glamsters around in these days. Besides the ladies of VIXEN maybe. Sally was also the brain of the band SMASHED GLADYS. She wrote most of the lyrics and came up with most of the ideas for the songs. Before this, she did a sexy photo shoot with the guys from MÖTLEY CRUE and also appeared in the MÖTLEY CRUE clip “Too Young To Fall In Love”. It’s not totally clear, if her looks or the bands musical qualities were responsible for the fact that nobody else but KISS boss Gene Simmons had a listen to their demo tape. It was not Sally’s first move, but it was a good move to start a flashing career. That is, if he would like the demo tape. And he actually did. In these days, KISS was also moving a bit towards the glamour side of the rock scene with their albums “Lick It Up”, “Animalize” and “Asylum”. Actually, it was Gene, who presented them to the Heavy Metal label. They were quite impressed. SMASHED GLADYS got a record deal and I think we can call this the first major move in the career of this band. There are some strange facts here already. An American band signed to a Wolverhampton based English record company. This was all based upon one demo tape, produced by Gene Simmons. But at that time, Heavy Metal Records signed every band that got away with hair varnish and make-up. Was SMASHED GLADYS really that special for this record label?

Nonetheless, their debut album was a fact in 1985. It was simply called “Smashed Gladys” and contained ten sleazy street rock songs. Nothing more, nothing less. Am I judging the band too hard here? No, I don’t think so. It’s just a fact that the album disappeared as rumourless, as it appeared. Let’s take a closer look at the first forty minutes of music that this band put on an album. Ten songs, of which nine were self-penned. They added the T-REX cover to the album, called “Metal Guru”. On the back cover of the record sleeve, Sally grins into the camera putting her thumb up. Like she would say: “I’ve fixed this nicely, didn’t I?”. The front cover shows some jewels, lace and lipstick. It’s obvious that we’re dealing with a glam rock band here. The ten songs were recorded at the Rockfield Studios in Wales. Compared to the bigger names in the scene, we could say that the sound of SMASHED GLADYS was sleazy, but not too glamorous. The raunchy vocals of Sally fitted very well with the music, that shows some resemblance with GARY GLITTER and JOAN JETT. But the compositions are definately weaker than the average glam rock songs. “Hard To Swallow” can be seen as the highlight of this debut album.

However, “17 Going Crazy” became the first single from this album. After the release of the album, the band started touring in the US. They played with CHEAP TRICK, the favorite band of bass player J.D. Malo. They played in almost every joint in New York, and through playing live they got the recognition that they were looking for. In 1986 they also played in New York, in the Cat Club. The band was joined on stage by Anton Fig, Richie Scarlett and Ace Frehley (all ACE FREHLEY’S COMET band members at that time) for the encores, playing KISS classic “Cold Gin” and ACE FREHLEY’S classic “Rip It Out”. This must have been a dream come true for the band and definitely a night to remember.

In 1987 they kept touring, but nothing more happened really. In the summer of this year they opened for NAZARETH, Sally’s all time favorite band. They had a great time. In 1988, the band started to show some activities again. They kept touring inbetween, but they also had written some new material for a future release. And then happened what nobody would have guessed. They got signed by major record company Elektra to record their new album “Social Intercourse”. On the front cover of the sleeve you can see Sally having some ‘social intercourse’ with a skeleton. The new album contained ten songs again, but funny enough we find back some oldies on this album, too. The album sounded much better than the debut album. Mainly because of the good production job, which was done by Rik Browde, who also worked with bands like POISON, etc. In the meantime, Marcel La Fleure had left the band. He was replaced by Roger Lane, who’s also to be heard on this second album. An album on which the guitars are spitting fire and the drums are pounding. The album sounds okay, and the band even had a fanclub at that time. Highlights were opener “Lick It Into Shape”, “Play Dirty”, “Legs Up” and “Hard To Swallow” (again). Highlight for the band must have been the fact that nobody else but OZZY OSBOURNE is to be heard in the background choirs of the song “Cast Of Nasties”. The band supported KILLER DWARFS in Ohio and after the release of this new album, the band starts touring again. But not for long. In 1989, SMASHED GLADYS falls apart. An extensive search for the career of the band members after 1989 didn’t bring us too much news. Sally completely disappears from the music scene. We couldn’t find back her name anywhere at all. Roger Lane joined THE THROBS. J.D. Malo, the bass player, joined THE MICHAEL MONROE BAND at the end of 1989. He played in this band for about a half year. Then he joined the back up band for THE CYCLE SLUTS FROM HELL. Together with former OVERKILL guitar-player Bobby Gustafson. After that he played guitar in a heavy metal punk band called YELLOW SCAB, under his own name Fernando Rosario Jr. J.D. Malo was his artist name, where J.D. stood for Jack Daniels and Malo was the Spanish word for bad. That was in 1997. The most recent band that J.D. played in, was HIGHER OCTANE.

And although SMASHED GLADYS never really made a tremendous impact on people, their name will always be remembered. But isn’t that the most important thing? Even twelve years after they broke up they got recognition for what they’ve been doing. Oh, and Sally, if you read these lines somehow. Please get in contact with us for some..... social intercourse.... will you????!!!!!

written by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens)

DISCOGRAPHY

Albums
SMASHED GLADYS (’85 Heavy Metal Records America)*
SOCIAL INTERCOURSE (’88 Elektra)
[*this album was also released on CD with 5 bonus tracks]

Singles/EPs
17 GOIN’ ON CRAZY (’87 HMR America)