In the glam rock scene, looks have always been just as important as the music. From the clothes they wear to the wild hair styles that adorn their heads, glam rockers want to stand out
In the cases of bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison, glam involved spandex, big hair, and women’s makeup. If you’re a good-looking bunch of rockers, you can get away with that.
But not every band is made up of future pinup models. The Zeros were a glam punk metal band that rose to fame in the early 1990s. They didn’t have the poster-boy looks of Warrant, rather they were a bunch of odd looking East Coast transplants. So, their gimmick wasn’t pretty boy looks, their gimmick was the color purple.
PURPLE TO THE CORE
Part of the calling card of the goofballs in The Zeros was their purple hair. All of the four original members of the band wore their hair colored bright purple. In fact, to celebrate the release of their debut album 4-3-2-1 The Zeros, Restless Records arranged for the legendary Sunset Strip club The Whiskey a Go Go to be painted purple as well.
If you were to translate the color purple into music, you would have the original lineup of The Zeros. They were fun and playful, but artistically interesting and captivating at the same time.
Keeping with the glam rock scene of the time, The Zeros featured stage names for all of its members. On drums you had Mr. Insane (Jim Hutchinson), on bass was Danny Dangerous (Danny Lucas), on guitar was Joe Normal (Joe Hutchinson), and fronting the band was Sammy Serious (Sammy Sadowitz).
EAST COAST ORIGINS
The band started life in New Jersey as The Double “O” Zeros in 1982. Their first brush with fame occurred in 1984 when they wrote and recorded a tribute to radio shock jock Howard Stern that so impressed the DJ that he used it as his official theme song for years.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1986, the band signed with Poison’s former manager Howie Hubberman. Hubberman arranged for a number of media opportunities for the band including appearing on the television program Easy Street, and recording singles for the soundtracks of the films Tape Heads starring John Cusack and Caged Fury starring Erik Estrada.
Finally, as the 1980s drew to a close and the 1990s kicked off, The Zeros were signed to Reckless Records. In 1991, their debut album hit record stores around the country. And what an album it was.
As you might guess from stage monikers like Sammy Serious and Mr. Insane, there is a certain cartoon quality to The Zeros. They are playful and fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. You won’t confuse them with bands that tout political messages, like U2, Anti-Flag, or Green Day.
The Zero’s debut album is a thematic ride that could almost be considered the band’s glam punk equivalent to The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. While each of the songs stands on its own, they all weave together into an overall music tapestry.
Love’s Not Fair is a tune filled with crunchy chords from Joe Normal and playful vocals from Sammy Serious, backed by the powerful rhythm section of Danny Dangerous and Mr. Insane. While a fun song, it is one of the band’s more straight forward rock tunes. Like all of the songs on the album, it features pretty harmonies as well.
Sticky Sweet Girls is a power pop tune that will have your feet tapping to the wild, peppy beat. Zero to Mom has a nice melodic intro followed by a bouncy hook and chorus. Rich Chicks keeps the humor running, but with a pounding party anthem approach.
TIME TO LAUGH
The band is at its best when Sammy Serious embraces comedy with his lyrics and delivery. Society is my favorite song on an album packed full of quality tunes. It manages to be both musically complex and interesting, while featuring some of the band’s most fun lyrics.
Nobody Cares is an awesome ballad, that shows off Joe Normal’s guitar work. Too Young is more upbeat and is one of the songs on the album that best capture’s the brilliance of Mr. Insane’s drum work and Danny Dangerous’ plucky bass lines.
In all there are 15 tracks on this killer gem of a debut album. Almost all of the songs are 2 to 4 minutes in length. There are no nine-minute version of Free Bird on the album, but each song is delicious in its own way. The band always finds a way to mix good music with good time lyrics.
In 1993, Sammy and the boys served up Names (Vol. 1) as a follow up album. You could argue that the sophomore effort is even better. That’s not to take anything away from the brilliance of 4-3-2-1. To find out which of the two albums you prefer, I suggest you check out both.
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
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This year, I had the great pleasure of appearing in the hilarious Paul Rudnick comedy I Hate Hamlet for Elgin Theatre Company in the greater Chicago area. To our great honor, I Hate Hamlet has been nominated for seven prizes in the 2022 Broadway World Chicago Theatre Awards:
- Best Direction of a Play – Regina Belt-Daniels
- Best Ensemble Performance
- Best Play
- Best Performer in a Play – Rikki Lee Travolta
- Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Trace Gamache
- Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Travis Greuel
- Best Supporting Performer in a Play – David Gasior
If you want to voice your support for the Elgin Theatre Company production of I Hate Hamlet, you can cast your vote at: https://www.broadwayworld.com/chicago/voteregion.cfm