20?s w/ X-WildSide Guitarist Benny "Rhyno" Rhynedance!
Rhyno should’ve got a shampoo endorsement with that shag!
Well, we have to say, this is what Metal Sludge was built on. Stories like the one you are about to read are priceless. Sure WildSide was a blip on the mega map and didn’t touch Warrant, Winger, White Lion, or White Snake when it came to sales of hair bands that started with a "W’. But, the guys from this band walked the walk on the legendary Sunset Strip during a magical time. Look at the bright side, you outsold War Babies, Warrior Soul, & Wrathchild America!
Benny "Rhyno" Rhynedance was bleached, buckled & cowboy booted like every other jackass. But, again there is a but, he along with his band mates beat the odds and stepped up the ladder a few rungs. They got spins on Mtv’s Headbangers Ball with "Hang on Lucy" and headlined the rock stage at Summerfest in Milwaukee to thousands. This is something the guys from Wanted, Pair-a-dice, Lage, Creature, Rings of Saturn, Hysteria, 22 Skidoo, Dr. Starr and many others could not claim. For that, we give mega props and Sludge salutes to WildSide & the Rhyno!
Please enjoy this killer story of overdoses, egos, dreams and reality!
1. Here you go plug away at what is current in the life of the Rhyno?
Before I start, I would like to voice how much of a fan and a participant of Metal Sludge I have been for many years. I think my first logon was about 1999. I had a real sneaking suspicion about who the "masked man" behind the site was, and I was right all along. Have had many a laugh at the content on MS. I was a member of the original Gossip Board and got banned 2X by the former and now fired Nazi-mod. Joined the new board after the "shake up" and have gotten into it with a few of you on occasion. Good times on the Gossip Board. Lots of fun. Still in there at least once a week. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to tell my story as a former card carrying member of the Hollywood Hairband Militia.
Ok, enough ass kissing. Here is my chance to tell my side of the WildSide saga and our meteoric rise to mediocrity then our fireball crash to metal obscurity. Whether you know me or my old band or nor not, I represent what all musicians stand for. The music, the lifestyle, the passion that drives an artist to achieve. All I ever wanted to be was a "Rock Star." Not so much of a star, but to have a recording contract and be able to earn a real living playing my guitar every night in a different city. I had no idea how hard it would be, and how long it would take, to make my dreams into a living reality.
I have been out of the music business for over 11 years. Haven’t picked up a guitar in 9 years. Haven’t listened to Under The Influence in a decade. Bitter? No way. Jaded? Nope. Disappointed? Absolutely. It took me 5 years to get over the failure of WildSide and my crushed rock-n-roll dreams. I went from small town zero, to Hollywood Hair-Farmer hero, and back again, but what a ride it was.
The only thing I have to plug is a book project to be released around the end of 2006 that will raise a few eyebrows. Stay tuned. Alright, let’s light this candle…
WildSide circa 1991 in Metal Edge posing like nice lil’ bitches!
2. Cutting right to the chase. The rumors circulated that you were kicked out of WildSide. What’s your take on that?
Those rumors are complete bullshit. I quit WildSide in early spring of 1994, and I did it in a bad way over the phone with Darryl *********. (Darryl is Drew Hanna’s real name – I refuse to call the guy by that dorky fake name) In 1994, I was really angry that WildSide was over. I was angry at the music business and how screwed up I found out it truly was. I was angry that Darryl took off to Australia. I was angry that it was over with my girlfriend of 2 years, and how I newly homeless without a dime to my name. I called Darryl up one evening and said, "I quit," then hung up the phone, and never saw or talked to those guys ever again. Straight up, I quit that band on my own. Here’s how things REALLY played out…
After WILDSIDE was released in May of 1992, we went on tour with Babylon A.D. and Roxy Blue. It was a great summer. We were selling product and doing well. We were Rock Stars for a few minutes, were getting laid, getting mass quantities of good drugs for free, playing almost every night, living on the tour bus and in the hotel rooms, meeting fans/groupies, having our pathetic egos stroked, and enjoying the hell out of our new career. It was everything most musicians dream of doing. We thought we actually made it. We did in a way. And then…. <insert drum roll> GRUNGE came along!! Cobain killed us that fall and it was almost instantaneous.
We kept on milking it and touring into 1993. We were big in the Midwest, still on the radio, and selling CD’s. We didn’t know what the hell else to do. We loved being out on the road and maintaining the "fantasy rocker lifestyle." Being at home in L.A. boring after about a week, another way to face grim reality, have to pay for cocaine, incur more debt, and have to deal with our then stripper girlfriends at the time. We liked being out there playing live. Our egos demanded it.
Somewhere around fall of 1993, Capitol Records and their stockholders fired everybody in the building that loved us. There was a big bulls-eye on our backs. The new president at Capitol dropped us immediately as we were signed by the former label head, Hale Milgrim. Regardless of our signed contract, which obviously meant shit, they said, "Bu-bye WildSide!" GREAT WHITE got the axe, then it was POISON. They then signed Phish! The new Capitol records was making a statement. Hair bands were done.
We didn’t know what to do, so we kept touring the Midwest for absolutely no reason. Brent Woods and I could NOT get along at all during this time. We had a bar-brawl during our last tour together and he quit when we got home, around October 1993. I think he had the Vince Neil gig lined up, so he jumped off the cliff and called it a day with WildSide. More power to him. He did end up quite the guitar player, and I have respect for Brent in that way, even if he did always hate me for getting all the babes that he couldn’t pull, and for getting MY pictures in Metal Edge next to Steven Tyler and Bret Michaels. Boy, he was always upset that no one would publish his picture.
By 1994, WildSide was sooooooo over. Brent was gone, and the rest of us had jammed with and tried to get Jon E. Love from Love/Hate, and Dave Lizmi from The Four Horsemen to join us. They both bailed, and we ended up hiring this weird guitar guy named Bruce Draper, from Jimmy D’s (WS drummer) old band NRG. Bruce was totally not in the same mind set as me, was somewhat older, somewhat more f-cked up, played a completely different style, but we needed him to complete the line-up for an upcoming and useless Salt Lake City gig. It was getting hard to get gigs anymore, and we could barely make enough money to cover the costs of throwing a show.
Out of the blue in March of ’94, singer Darryl/"Drew" announced to us that he was moving to Australia. Huh? I found this to be such an idiotic move. He was chasing after some nutty stripper he met, thinking she was "the one." His reasoning was, "The singer of WildSide lives in Australia" was a cool thing to say about our band when talking to new record labels. Good thinking Darryl! How the fuck were we supposed to be a band when our singer was Down Under? He left to Australia and worked in a bakery of all places, to support himself, while the nutty stripper chick wouldn’t even let him live with her.
WildSide fizzled. No one cared anymore about us. Grunge was in full swing. WildSide was dead. When Darryl got back from his Australian bread making tour, I picked up the phone and quit. I said, "Dude I’m tired of all this, and I quit." Then I hung up. I quit the band and I broke up with MY OWN nutty stripper, who I thought was "the one" (damn we were all so dumb!) all on the same day. I haven’t talked to him since. Haven’t talked to any of them, only recently to bassist Marc Simon. I do totally regret how I ended it with the guys and some of the mistakes I made afterward. It was shitty, but I was a f-cked up mess and recovering from cocaine addiction at the time. I had no band, no money, no friends, nowhere to live and absolutely no life. It was frightening. One minute I was rocking the masses around the country, the next, I was living day to day in a LaQuinta Inn in Anaheim, CA. wondering what the f-ck happened.
Young Gunns logo from 1988!
3. Your early days were spent in Seattle, and then after moving to Hollywood you & Drew Hannah formed Rogue. What happened with that early project?
Darryl and I hit Reseda of all places in May of 1986 as ROGUE. We thought we were going to make it right away. WRONG! We couldn’t get arrested. It took us 6 months to even get a gig, and we had to "pay-to-play," but we started out at THE COUNTRY CLUB on Sherman Way which is a legendary place in the annals of 80’s Hollywood metal. At the time, TUFF were the glam slam kings of Hollywood. More people should know what a force these guys were in L.A. in the 80’s. They looked, sounded, and acted like a pro band. We would go to their shows and marvel (everyone did) at what a spectacle they would create. Flyers on every pole, double page ads in all the L.A. rock papers, babes everywhere, triple amp stacks, huge drum kits, custom guitars with airbrushing, custom leather clothes, etc. It was ridiculous. These guys were money. We wanted to be like TUFF. As ROGUE, we tried hard, but band personnel changes happened, and it always boiled down to just Darryl and I, since we grew up in high school together, we were like brothers. ROGUE had one single chance with a record label, and they came out to see us play at Filthy McNasty’s in North Hollywood. LITTLE CAESAR opened for us, and THEY got signed, not us. ROGUE broke up in early 1988, and Darryl and I regrouped and went on to form the first incarnation of YOUNG GUNNS without Brent Woods. Kenny Hillary was our bass player. (RIP Ken)
To see even more rediculous shots of Rogue & WildSide check Exposed!
4. The guys did a few re-union shows in Salt Lake City a while back to very positive reviews, but you were not involved. In addition WildSide "The Wasted Years" was issued via RLS Records. Were you involved in any of this and have you heard it yet?
No, I was not involved in any way, never heard it, and was surprised to see it appear. I hadn’t spoken to anyone in WildSide in over 10 years. All I know was that I co-wrote Easy As 1, 2, 3, City Of Love, Dance-Swing, Sweet Little Sinner, Just Another Night, Kiss This Love Goodbye, AND my picture is on the back cover. Go figure? Whether or not I got credit for anything is another issue. I found it funny that they used my picture when I was clearly not part of the project. Oh well. I see it didn’t set the world on fire.
(Editors Note: Of course it set the world on fire, To buy it go to RLS Records.)
5. Rate a guitar player 1-10. 1 being a joke and 10 being a Guitar God.
Eddie Van Halen = 10. A God. A ground breaker. An innovator. The reason millions of kids ever picked up a guitar. Was the nicest famous person I ever met and my hero as a kid. Tongue, or no tongue…. Respect for Ed Van Halen.
Bruce Draper = 2. I wasn’t impressed the 3 months I knew the guy.
Erik Turner = Underrated. I say 6. I hung with Erik a few times at the Rainbow circa 1990, drank booze, and talked shop. He seemed to be a cool dude. Plus, he’s a golf nut like myself so he can’t be half bad. Seems like he has some good things happening for himself outside of the music business. Respect for keeping it going and making a business out of it.
CC DeVille = Solid 7. CC can play when he wants to. He’s going to be on the new Surreal Life reality show on VH-1 this month, and it looks like a damn train wreck. Oh man, that fuckin voice of his. Dark days of late 1992 hangin around his "House of Horrors." CC was cool in 1986.
Jorge DeSaint = 6. I always liked George. Both of us were "brothers of the straw" at that time. TUFF and YOUNG GUNNS shared a bitchin rehearsal warehouse so I kicked it a few times with Jorge. I always liked his approach to playing. His style was not my taste, but he had decent tone and was a likeable guy. I once met a HOT bartender girl in some college bar in Richmond, VA. Took her back to her place and closed the deal all night. She was so tiny and such a smokin lil hottie, and all our guys were pissed that I left with her. Turns out DeSaint had been there on tour the week before me and had pile-drove the little slut for 2 days straight! I got Jorge’s sloppy seconds. Damn you Jorge!! <<shaking my fist!>> Always wanted to know how he ended up. He was a cool kid.
Yngwie Malmsteen = 10. Ya have to give it to him. It was so cool to hear that shit when I was first seriously going after my dreams of a music career. No one was doing what Yngwie was doing in the early 80’s. He was a virtuoso and still is. He was an influence of mine. Made me take my instrument and tone more seriously when I was first buying gear.
Warren DeMartini = 10. Hands down. Easy one. Never met him, but Out of The Cellar blew my mind. Unreal tone he got out of those Laney heads. His pinky finger was flying all over the place, and he dragged his hand around the neck like George Lynch. Another influence. Absolute 10 for that guy. The Chinese writing on the strat bodies was so cool.
Sid Fletcher = 7. Sid could play. He was an Eddie clone, but he did it well. You couldn’t NOT like this kid. He was from Memphis. Friendly as all get out, and liked to have a good time with it. Sid would turn it all the way up and rip off a little lead, hit the whammy bar and phaser then just stand there and smile. You couldn’t help but be into it. Can’t believe he’s a successful dentist now. Happy to hear he landed on his feet with a healthy thud. Hanging it up, going back to college and joining a frat took serious balls. Congrats Sid. Respect.
Ace Frehley = I would say 6 back in the day, but after seeing the very first Farewell Tour with Ace and Peter in 2001 or so, I have to give Ace a 3 now. Yeah, I know… Ace was the shit long ago but he really declined. The show I saw at The Gorge at George outside of Seattle, he made so many elementary mistakes I was in shock. At one point he could barely stand and wouldn’t even be playing, yet clear chords and leads would pump out the P.A.?! Cue Tommy Thayer shredding behind the curtain on stage left. I loved New York Groove.
Brent Woods = Even though he was once a goof, I’m giving this guy a 9. Shocking huh? Well, what can I say? Brent CAN play. Always could. He took lessons from George Lynch (my all-time favorite) and Randy Rhoads. When we got him to join YOUNG GUNNS, all I did was soak up all of his style and his tone. I would try to sound and play like him. He would drop out all the time when we played live with busted strings, gear problems, whatever, and our sound guy would crank the hell out of my amp. You couldn’t tell the difference, although I think my amp sounded fatter! Ha! This drove Brent nuts. By the end of WildSide, Brent was just noodling around over the top of all our songs, and would jump in on the songs he wrote or liked. Yeah, I gotta hand it to Brent, he did make me a better player, even if he wasn’t aware of it. Kudos to Brent *******. Someone said he wears a wig onstage now. Is this true?? Brent can play.
The Rhyno rocks out live!
A real rock star would’ve had a roadie tune that shit up!
6. What rock star deserves a big smack in the mouth and why?
Easy one. Darryl aka Drew Hannah. Even though he was never even close to being a "Rock Star," I think I owe him. Ok, let’s be realistic here, not a real smack mind you, but maybe a verbal smack. His blatant "Benny-Bashing" for 10 years and his 20 Questions was so out in left field, I think a "pimp hand" is in order. I was a little miffed at all his anger after 11 long years had passed. I had very good reasons for quitting WS. I know I quit the band in poor fashion, told Darryl to fuck off, but man, at some point you have to let it go. I haven’t talked to this kid for 2 lifetimes, and yet he threw me under the bus like it was still 1994. What can I do? I wish the guy happiness and health in his life. Oh yeah, add former Creed front man Scott Stapp to this list.
7. Tell us about working up at Eddie Van Halen’s studio? Give us a good Sludge’y Ed story if you got one? Also, is it true the first time you all met him he was playing and took his guitar off and handed it you, which left you light headed and cause you to nearly faint?
Going to Eddie Van Halen’s house/studio was AWESOME! We worked up there for months with ANDY JOHNS. Brent cut all his tracks there, and even re-cut everyone else’s! I would record guitar parts in the afternoon, come back the next day and hear completely different guitars recorded over where mine should have been. Brent would hang around all night and completely re-do all sorts of shit without telling anyone! Thank God Brent couldn’t sing! All the background vocals on UTI are mainly me, and sometimes Darryl and I for the gang-style vocals. All those harmonies in How Many Lies. All me. It Looks Like Love with the Nazareth style 3 and 4-part stuff? Hello! Andy Johns called me the "Michael Anthony" of WildSide. I loved recording vocals!
Yep, the first night I met Ed Van Halen, he was so damn nice I was floored. He said, "Hi there! I’m Ed. Here…<<hands me a guitar>> check out my new Peavey Wolfgang guitar! Cool, huh?" I felt woozy. It was sensory overload. It was like meeting Jesus, and HIM saying, "Yeah, I’M real!" Ed was so down to earth and such a normal guy. He really impressed me by how he went out of his way to be friendly and not a heartless prick. Twenty minutes later we were in the control room of 5150 listening to a rough mix of "Poundcake" and Alex Van Halen yelled at Darryl/Drew to "stay away from the tape machine, kid!" "Make sure he doesn’t accidentally hit a button or something!" I always thought that was funny. Alex wasn’t a friendly dude. Saw him twice. Dick both times.
Ed’s studio manager was his long term Pasadena friend named Ken Dean. Ken took a liking to me and would show me parts of the studio during the day that were very much off limits. Keep in mind that WS was the only other band beside Patti Smyth and Scandal that had ever recorded at Ed’s personal home studio. One afternoon Ken took me upstairs to Eddie’s "lock and key" home guitar shop/vault. This was like opening King Tut’s tomb in the Valley Of The Kings! Imagine 6 foot tall stacks of blank Strat bodies all red and white striped and fully 5150’d out. I’m talking 3 and 4 stacks deep. All of his old guitars from the 70’s were hung up on the walls like at a guitar store – the black and yellow VH II, the early shark explorer, and MANY others. It really was just so surreal. I knew every single guitar. I got to noodle about on one of the original and VERY used VH I white and black strats. I played the first homemade Wolfgang prototype guitar. Raw wood, no paint, and no-name electronics. I could have died at that point and felt like I had achieved my dreams.
I remember being bummed out that I didn’t win the 1984 "Van Halen Lost Weekend" contest on MTV after I mailed in over 1,000 postcards. Seven years later I hit the jackpot and was standing in Eddie’s personal guitar workshop. This was my equivalent to summiting Mt. Everest or meeting Santa Clause face to face.
Valerie Bertinelli once opened a window from the main mansion (and let me tell ya, it was a BIG ass mansion!) below the studio and yelled at me to be quiet. "Ssshhh! Wolfie’s sleeping!" This was just after little Wolfie was born and apparently I was making a racket as I was skateboarding above the house in front of the studio. I saw her 2 years later at the grocery store on Coldwater Canyon and Ventura Blvd. She said "Hi" and blew by me to Express Checkout with a bag of Chips Ahoy and a box of Hot Pockets.
Eddie once caught me red handed tracing one of his old strats on a piece of poster board. He didn’t look too happy. Ken gave me one of Ed’s old axes to map out on paper as I wanted Gibson guitars Custom Shop to build me this weird-ass custom Strat/Explorer guitar. Ed walks up and says,"What the fuck are you doin, man?" I say, "Uh… sorry Ed (never called him Eddie to his face) I was just designing a guitar I want to have made." He says, "Oh really? Okay, but why don’t you try this other one I got ’cause it’s smaller and you definitely want this wood, but also….." and he went into a whole other mode. The guy was so accommodating, and into building guitars. We spent half an hour futzing around with my design. Pure heaven!
How about the day Long Beach Exotics delivered a brand new red Lamborghini to Ed’s house. Apparently Rod Stewart bought it, drove it for the weekend and decided he didn’t want it, so they custom painted the mirrors all 5150-like and dropped it off at Eddie’s place the next weekend trying to sell it. This Lambo was so sweet looking. No one was around, or so I thought, and I’d never been close to this kind of car, so I jumped in the drivers seat. Little did I know that Ed had zoomed up the hill behind me in his funky 5150 golf cart and had seen me jump in. I had no idea he was right behind me. I put my hands on the wheel and was caressing the stick, when Ed yells, "HEY!" so loud in my ear that I almost pissed myself. He laughed his ass off as he saw how much he really surprised me. Then he kicked my ass out of the driver seat, jumped in, cranked it up and proceeded to back the $235,000 red euro supercar into a security camera pole, crushing the rear spoiler. And what did he say after doing this? "Hey man, this thing’s a piece of shit – Get this thing outta here!"
Ed is one class act, and I’ll never forget my time at his house. Hanging at 5150 made going through everything in WildSide worth it and I’ll never forget it.
8. WildSide also worked with the legendary Andy Johns (Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin). How about a good Andy story too?
Oh man, Andy is such a character. He’s a tall guy, 6′ 2" – 235lbs. maybe? Imagine a big Joe Elliot football player lookin guy. This is Andy Johns. He is a classic old school Englishman to a tee. There are so many stories with Andy. Most of the time he was VERY drunk and in quite a festive mood. No one would want to drive him home after studio sessions because he would make you hang out in his guest house and talk until 7am or whenever he passed out, which ever came first. I once dared him to down a fifth of cheap vodka so he would pass out and I could get back to my naked and waiting girlfriend in No. Hollywood.
Darryl once told Andy that he had to "earn his respect." Of course this was a totally pompous, arrogant, and ignorant thing to say to a producer that had recorded Led Zeppelin and been around the block a few times. You really didn’t want to piss Andy off. Andy flew over the console and I thought he would go through the control room window to get at Darryl and kick his skinny ass. We got Andy out of the studio, then he quit, walked down the street to the Pig & Whistle on Sunset, had some "cocktails and a fine beverage" then re-hired himself. Andy was a kick. You never knew what to expect day to day.
There was the time Andy and his wife threw a big barbeque at their house about halfway through the recording process in ’91, to bring everyone together, and keep it friendly. I just remember Andy went out and purchased about $1000 worth of Lobster Tails. This sounded great. Andy had the bbq set up on the side of the yard away from the pool. He wore a big white chef’s hat and apron. He looked funny. I looked away for second, then looked back, and Andy is cooking away on the bbq with one hand, flipping lobster tails, then with the other hand, has his running shorts pulled to the side, his hairy English cock out and hangin down, and is pissing straight into the lawn by his foot like it’s no big deal. This is happening in front of maybe 20 people including children. Nobody said a word. I’ll never forget that image. I was howling.
Andy was the best. I learned a lot about recording and how a real producer does it. Him and I had fun recording vocals and tricking Darryl into singing vocal lines 10 and 20X in a row for no reason. Darryl would get so pissed. We thought it was funny.
9. Let’s journey back to the Sunset Strip now. What was your first, worst & best impressions of what was the Sunset Strip, the Rainbow, Gazzarris and all that was the forever remembered heyday of hairbands in LA?
Drew Hannah & Benny "Rhyno" Rhynedance in happier times!
Looks like Benny is gonna blow a load from rubbin’ on him here.
My first memory when I hit Hollywood in May of ’86 was a poster of the first POISON album cover, and I thought "What the hell is that??" I’d never heard of POISON up in Seattle. A week later I had white bleached-blonde hair, wore eyeliner and an orange overcoat in the middle of summer. The chicks dug it! What an idiot I was!!! Hey fuck that, I remember Brent Woods wearing a PINK sequined suit-coat onstage, and Darryl wearing these VERY GAY pink flamingo earrings! Ha, dudes! Ah, we were young and stupid.
Worst impression was a drunk homeless guy with no pants on, disgustingly filthy, wandering around the curb in front of the ROXY pissing on people, and flinging poop all over the place while we were all trying to hand out our flyers for a show we had coming up with Tommi Gunn and Taz. Circa 1987.
Summer nights on the strip in 1986, ’87, and ’88 were absolutely phenomenal. We would get our fucked up, broken off straw hair all Aqua Netted up to the sky, put on our best $5 ripped up Levi’s, jump in our broken down ghetto Datsun trucks and head over the hill to Hollywood. From the Whisky to Gazzarri’s we would go back and forth about 10X handing out flyers. We were always eyeballing babes trying to hook up. How we did it looking like scary transsexuals, I don’t know, but it was working back then.
About 11pm or so, we’d call it a night for flyering and worm our way into the Rainbow where all hell would break loose. The best place was upstairs in the attic area where the dance floor was. You could practically do it in the coat check room, or in those little elevated VIP table areas. The Rainbow was heaven on earth for broke ass aspiring rocker dudes with nothing but lint in their pockets and rocks in their heads. That was me!
The Sunset Strip was such a magical place in the mid 80’s. It represented hope at that time. People there were like-minded. It was a community of positive feelings about rock-n-roll. Everyone on the Strip was there for the same reason – to have fun! On any given night, there were high level record execs all around with check writing powers that were offering contracts left and right. You never knew when it could be your night. If it wasn’t, you always had The Rainbow to make everything better. That scene will never exist again. Glad I was part of it.
10. Memory Lane:
All my memories revolve around music. Most of them anyways…
1978 = Junior High. Van Halen I. Eddie on the cover of Guitar Player. Listening to AC/DC and digging it. Dreaming about being David Cassidy and rocking out like Keith Partridge. First make-out in a janitor closet at a local Elks club with a girl named Erin. She stuck her tongue in my mouth and massaged my young buttocks. Sent me on a life long quest for that first feeling of lust. Thanks Erin….you bitch. ha! Life was easy then.
1982 = I was a junior in high school. President Reagan. DeLorean guy arrested for cocaine. I went to Hawaii. Diver Down. Sabbath w/Dio : Neon Knights. Loverboy had a killer album out. Rush: Moving Pictures was on my turntable. I was fully into Judas Priest. Didn’t know Halford was gay. None of us did. Van Halen were my boys. Journey was everywhere. Quiet Riot and Motley Crue were about to shock the world and bring the Sunset Strip into my bedroom, and to the world’s attention. My fate would be sealed.
1986 = After 2 years in Seattle playing high school dances and biker bars as NUPROPHET, Darryl and I sold what few things we owned, changed the name of the band from NUPROPHET to ROGUE and moved to L.A. Our parents were not happy. Had no money, no job, no outlook, nothing to fall back on, and no real hope. Quite a gamble, but I had my guitar, and was in ROGUE!! Saw TUFF perform at The Country Club. Was blown away. No lie. TUFF was HUGE in Hollywood. Maybe I was just impressionable and stupid. Saw POISON for the first time at The Palace across from Capitol Records in Hollywood. Blown away again! People were so into it!! Glam was taking over. Ran from the LAPD across a parking lot by The Country Club after we were caught posting ROGUE posters on a wall on Reseda Blvd. He let us go. Phew!! Spent that whole summer practically living at Zuma Beach north of Malibu Pier. Best summer of my life.
1989 = First time I tried cocaine. Greatest high ever experienced, aside from thousands of cheering fans. Bad move. Barely survived the next 4 years of personal misery, misfortune, and disappointment chasing that "great high" that I would never experience again. <<cue the psa for NOT doing cocaine ever!>> I was really into Skid Row at this point. Great guitar sounds. YOUNG GUNNS began to take over the Sunset Strip. We were "house band" at the Whisky on Monday night jam nights. Label interest. Looking like we might have a shot at rock stardom. Buzz on the street. Everyone else around us was getting a recording contract. I worked with Stevie Rachelle of TUFF at a phone sales job. I was kind of star struck at first. Stevie was a cool cat.
1992 = First tour with The Four Horsemen. Capitol CD released in May. Met the only girl I ever really loved, even if she turned out to be a chaotic stripper single mother with daddy issues and bi-polar/obsessive compulsive disorder. Boy, I sure can pick ‘em! The girl rocked my world, then shot it all to hell with a heck of a bang – literally. Big summer package tour with Babylon A.D. and Roxy Blue. Both WS and RB killed Babylon all summer long, night after night. We had such a blast on that tour. Roxy Blue and WS shared a 45′ Prevost Tour coach. We rocked ‘em from L.A. to Montreal, to Vancouver, to Miami and back to L.A. So many woman, so much free drugs. We were bullet proof, on a rocket ride, and destined for greatness….or so we thought.
1995 = I thought I would be an actor. I had a regular part as a bartender named Kevin on Melrose Place. Had a few speaking lines. Easiest money ever for doing nothing. Howard Stern is right. Anyone can act! Was friends with Heather Locklear because she knew my sister from her acting class. NICE CHICK!! So hot! Did the movie Exit To Eden. Had 2 big close ups 35 minutes in. Regular part on Beverly Hills 90210 as a "Peach Pit patron" and "a buddy" of Ian Zeiring. Once ate lunch with Tori Spelling. I thought I could get her. She seemed interested. I blew my chance. Dang! WildSide without Brent and I continued on and released a REALLY SHITTY fake-grunge type release. Everyone I knew that heard it, and knew us prior, thought it SUCKED badly. I tried to listen to it once at a Blockbuster Music store, on one of those "listening stations." I really wanted to like it, but every song stunk. I laughed out loud. What were they thinking? First time I heard the famous rumor that I was a Pirate working in Las Vegas. Ha!! I wasn’t. Became an uncle for the third time!
1998 = I was tired of Hollywood. The grind was old. My tastes in music changed. My interests in the music business and the passions that drove me for years completely left me. Sold everything I owned music-wise. I had been recruited by a friend in late 1996 to work for one of L.A.’s biggest and most notorious Investment Brokers. I was brought into, and taught the world of Investment Banking and Money Management. I returned home to Seattle in ’98 and pondered my next move. Opened up my first online brokerage account.
2001 = Living in Seattle. Helped my aging parents sell their home of 17 years and move out of state. Built a 120′ fence, and rebuilt a HUGE redwood deck with zero construction experience. Built my first computer from scratch. Grew a soul patch and thought I was cool. Wrong! I wasn’t. Addicted to Starbucks coffee, golf, and the Seattle Mariners. 9/11 happened. Was working out listening to Creed "My Sacrifice" when I saw the TV reports. My brother was inside the Pentagon in an outer blast zone, and survived.
2005 = Sitting around waiting for my invite back into WildSide version 3.0. Ha! Naw, just living life. My mother fell ill, and I took care of her and got her well again. Working on my car projects. Bought and sold Sirius Satellite Radio and Microsoft stock all year long.
Benny claims the summer of 1986 was the best of his life!
This photo is from 1986. Dear Ben, we’d hate to see what you
looked like during a bad summer. Just saying!
11. Name the 3 high points and the 3 low points of your music career?
High points were getting a 1.8 million dollar, 5 album recording contract with Capitol Records. That in itself was a feat to behold. The odds against us NOT getting that contract were staggering. Meeting Ed Van Halen. Meeting Peter Frampton. Meeting Gene Simmons and eating lunch with him everyday for a week in the fish-lounge at A&M recording studios and listening to his "Rock 101" stories. Great man. Smarter than Bill Gates. Hanging out with Paul Stanley at a pool party in Beverly Hills, watching these hot babes splash around in the pool and trying not freak out.
Low points had to be taking 2 years to release our CD from the time we got signed. Missing the deadline for the "Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" tour with Van Halen. We couldn’t finish our CD in time. VH took a then unknown ALICE IN CHAINS instead, and the rest is history. Overdosing (for the second time) on cocaine and about 5 other drugs in Dallas, TX. on April 8th, 1993. Nearly died. "Went to edge and definitely looked down." Never touched another drug ever again. Losing our record deal in late 1993 was our biggest failure.
Towards the end the guys added some scruff, a scowl & Benny
used less conditioner to go for that ratty split end look.
12. Of all the bands you guys played with who were the coolest and who were the biggest dicks to deal with?
Babylon AD were jealous jerks. TUFF turned out to be pretty cool, which was surprising. When YOUNG GUNNS started becoming a force in Hollywood, we ended up sharing a killer rehearsal space with them for 2 years or so, but rarely saw them. I was psyched to play with TUFF at THE TROUBADOUR once, but our set was cut short and we got limited P.A. use. Jorge still gave me free blow, so all was well, since that was the only thing that mattered back then.
After we got our record deal and had all the huge double page spreads in all the Rock papers in L.A. and sold-out Roxy shows, guys started hating on us big time. It was really weird. Kik Tracee, Mozart, Swingin Thing, Taz, Lancia, and all these local dudes just talking smack non-stop. It was petty jealousy but people were pretty cruel. Rarely did anyone put their hand out and say "Good job guys, congrats!" Usually it was something like, "Man you guys have changed…" Ugh.
13. What rock band should pack it in and call it a day for good and why?
WildSide. It’s over.
VanHalen. That reunion tour was hard to watch. It was clear that Ed and Sammy weren’t into it. I’m pissed that KISS did 18 Farewell Tours! I thought I was seeing the final concert, and 5 years later they’re still coming around? What gives? Good show though.
Hate to say it, but Motley needs to stop. I just can’t witness any further Vince destruction. I want him to succeed so badly, but he keeps blowing it.
14. Fans are currently selling your guitar picks on eBay for $ 5.00 to $ 20.00 and they are listed next to picks from Ron Wood, Steve Vai and other Gods.
How do you feel that nearly 20 years later someone still cares about you and the band you helped to form?
I’ve seen the picks for sale on eBay!! That is so strange to me. What is up with that? I was so nothing back then as far as guitar players go. Just a rhythm player Hollywood hack that looked the part and had super long hair. Kids would come up to me and say, " You’re one of the best rhythm players I’ve ever heard." I would quietly think to myself, "No, I’ve just played these songs 8 million times and I can play these songs stoned, and in my sleep, but thank you." More props here go to Brent Woods for making me a fairly decent player. I’m flattered that people buy that stuff and still give a rat’s ass about me. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that people still listen to our first CD and consider it a "hair band must have." Cripes, it cost over $600,000 to make so I know it sounds decent sonically (even though the snare is way too hot in the mix on half the songs). My sincere appreciation goes out to those that continue to enjoy UTI. That’s why we created it in the first place. Party on rockers!
15. Okay, the rumor has been circulated for years and according to the ubl.com ( www.ubl.com/wildsideundertheinfluence ) "After a brief stint in 1995 at the Las Vegas Treasure Island Hotel as a pirate/stuntman, guitarist Benny Rhynedance went into Investment Banking in L.A. in ’96 and ended up on Wall Street with a known firm in 1998." So is it true? Were you a pirate on the famed Vegas Strip Treasure Island show?
I was never a pirate in Las Vegas. That was some goofy rumor that Darryl started in some AOL music chat area in 1995. Always loved that one. It’s STILL going around to this day. What’s funny is that they changed the show at Treasure Island in 2002 to some bad-girl-Britney-type sexy girl pirate show where they do battle against good guy English sailors. Really dumb. The long hair pirate stunt guys have been gone for years. Also, I was never with any Investment firms In NYC. I only worked in L.A. and went out on my own after that. I also heard that I was married and had 3 kids! Wrong. Never been married properly. I married that crazy hottie stripper chick in a courthouse in Orange County in 1993, but it turned out she was already married to 2 other guys at the same time, so nothing was legal. Again, I sure can pick the winners!
Same stance, different chord, same hair, different stage clothes!
16. WildSide did tours with The Four Horsemen, Babylon AD & Roxy Blue. Give us some good, bad & evil about these tours?
The Four Horsemen tour was such a blast. It was our first tour. It was the dead of friggin winter. We were up in Canada and the Northeast. It was brutal. We were green. We were still fresh. The Horsemen guys hated us ’cause we kept getting all the girls and we sounded great. Our sound guy was Jeff Dunn, who was the Black Crowe’s sound guy. Jeff could really work a board and had a killer set of ears. We sounded like Motley every night. Having sampled backing vocals, and a fully sampled and triggered drum kit probably helped as well. We exploded every night. The main guy that ran the band for the Horsemen, Haggis, was a real prick. Frank Starr (RIP Frank) was a great guy. Club Eastbrook in Grand Rapids, MI. was the best!
We had a great time with Roxy Blue. They were our buddies. We all really clicked. We were young, hungry, horny and stupid. Killer combination! Babylon guys didn’t want anything to do with us. We blew them off the stage every night. They knew it and hated us for it. People would stay to see WS and Roxy Blue, then leave with us to a local bar to tear it up. Babylon would play to an empty house.
17. What 3 bands should’ve gotten a deal off the Strip and what 3 bands had no business getting signed?
Who didn’t get signed off the Strip?? TUFF should have done better. Their label dropped the ball. Kik Tracee shouldn’t have been signed. Mozart shouldn’t have been signed. My brain is so scrambled, I can barely remember our competition on The Strip. Once YOUNG GUNNS started kicking ass, and things looked rosy, I kind of stopped paying attention to the other bands. We went up to another level.
Pre-WildSide as Young Gunns 1989 w/ original drummer Johnny Dean!
We’d like to award Benny & Drew 1st & 2nd place for looking the gayest in this photo. It was a toss up, not sure what looks worse – the mirrored glasses or the Sears Roebuck photo shoot pose with the hand resting under the chin look?
18. What was your biggest ever musical related pay check for and what did you buy with it?
In the beginning we got a big advance from Capitol Records, and one from Virgin Music publishing. This was in early 1991. Maybe $10G’s or less?? The big push was always to quit the jobs and just do music. Well, we finally got to quit, but we didn’t work from the end of 1990 all the way through 1994. We all got snazzy overpriced apartments that we never stayed at, that were a total waste of money. Monthly bills still had to be paid, and you spend your money out on the road like wildfire on bullshit stuff that never even makes it home, like strippers, blow, booze, and other crap. Before you know it you have nothing left. I honestly can’t remember anything substantial that I bought aside from a really expensive Hoover vacuum cleaner for my old place in Huntington Beach. I still get checks for Just Another Night and So Far Away being played in Poland, and Ukraine. They’re like .23 cents. Pretty funny. My television residual checks from 1995 are bigger than that to this day. Better than nothing I guess. I still get excited to receive a music publishing check, even if it’s only one dime. Makes me remember what I did.
19. Word Association:
Andy Johns = English. Talented producer. A scoundrel from The Barbary Coast. Respect.
Marc Simon = Smart businessman. Marc and I shared a mic stand and stage right for 5 years. Marc is such a friendly guy, and he never sugar-coated anything. He was the only one who was straight with me. I admire Marc and what he’s done. Stand up guy.
Dito Godwin = Zitty, scar face, old Baba-Booey lookin dude with gnarly green breath. I knew Dito from way back, like 1987. First producer Darryl and I ever met. Never liked the guy. He treated me like scum. He was too old and too out of touch then. Those demos that he "produced" that supposedly got us our record deal, were really produced by Brent, myself and Darryl and mixed by this really talented guy with bad hair plugs. (forgot his name) Our attorney is the guy responsible for getting us our deal.
Paul Stanley = A legend. Quiet guy. A true player when it came to the ladies. No one can beat that wail he has. Respect. "Ho, No! Tears Are Fallin…" Fuckin classic!
Jimmy D. = San Berdu rich kid. Great drummer. Great equipment. We hired him on the spot because he drove a new Nissan Pathfinder with a trailer to house his MEGA drum kit and electronics. Only drummer I ever met that OWNED his own separate PA for just his drum sounds. Jim ended up hating me. Never knew why. Last thing he ever said to me was, "You never wanna hang out with me!" I always liked Jim. We were different types of people, but I enjoyed playing with him for 4 years. We nicknamed him "father-time." The guy could play to a click track or flashing light like nobody’s business and he had stone cold chops. Nuff said. Respect.
Corey Draper = Billy Bob!! Program Director at KBEAR 101 in SLC Utah!! This guy was the king of porn and of Salt Lake City radio back in 1992. He had a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet and looked like Brett Favre. He could get us anything we needed. Need something questionable? Ask Corey Draper! He was the white "Huggy Bear" of Mormon town. He blew us up in SLC. Thanks Corey, wherever you are!
Axl Rose = Corn Rows. Axl was a KING from ’87 to ’94. I am interested in what he has coming up. There will never be another band like GNR. Axl was the last Rock Star. Think about that. He was the last one. As kooky and artsy as he is, he gets… Respect.
Barry Levine = No teeth. Began every sentence with the word, "Guy,…" I have terrible thoughts about this man to this day. He was our manager and had no business being our manager. There was an alleged mystery surrounding Barry and "missing money" and other shenanigans with our crooked business manager. Barry was part of the reason we lost our deal. He had no managerial experience at the time. He was an ex-photographer from the 70’s that had some limited success, but ruined himself in the early 80’s. How we didn’t fire him after 3 weeks, I’ll never know. Dennis Rider, our attorney, did all the work. He should have been our manager. I know Barry is still around and has gone on to other things in the Hollywood industry, but I hate the guy for ruining our career. Sorry Barry, but you failed big time. Brent and Darryl loved the guy. Oy vey!
Bret Michaels = The pout! Stevie’s main influence! Hey, Bret was the poster boy for hair bands. Sure he looked goofy, and was too pretty, but the guy sold a TON of records. You can’t argue with sales. I hung out with Bret and Pamela once at a swank club off of Rodeo. This was 1997, POISON was way over and Bret was still considered a rock God. The dude pulled up in a Black Lambo Diablo with Pamela in the front seat, and this was before Pam had hit the wall, and was still tight. Props to Bret. He liked WildSide, we were once label mates, and he bought me Crystal and Sambuca all night. I fucked one of Pam’s friends later that night. Not gonna say who though!!
Drew Hannah = Oh….how to answer this one. Have to think it through. Darryl and I were childhood pals. We use to water-ski at my house before school at 6am. We use to go bass fishing together and ponder over our lives. We went on a musical adventure. Chased an impossible dream together. Experienced unbelievable moments together as musicians and artists. When I recount what we went through, it plays like a movie and is mostly positive and highly entertaining. I think my bad memories with Darryl stem from my quitting the band in a bad way and deserting him. Even though Darryl and Brent fucked me over with the publishing money, and pulled some really dirty shit when WildSide started making some money, I don’t think I can dislike the guy any further. Yeah, he acted stupid and did write a really dumb letter to my mom of all people, to tell her that I was "a bad person" etc., but honestly, it’s just been too long, and it’s faded too far away. Darryl *********? Drew Hannah? It’s all a haze. I knew the kid in Issaquah, WA. and we were once in a band together.
Benny in Nu-Prophet from Seattle 1985.
Black Flying V from Guitar Center = $ 1,200.00
Leif Garret feathered hair cut & shampoo = $ 23.00
Black wrist bands from Sportmart = $ 7.50
A Zebra Pattern top = Priceless.
20. The last of Benny…
Last gig you played with WildSide = March 1994?
Last time you signed an autograph = March 1994?
Last time you heard Hang on Lucy on the radio = 1992 on Pirate Radio in L.A. Your own songs sound so good on radio all compressed. I was on the 405 freeway getting off at Goldenwest into Huntington Beach. Had my nutty stripper chick in the Camaro with me. Received instant blowjob while driving. I felt like a Rock Star. THIS was what it was all about.
Last time you had hair to your ass = 1995. I started slowly cutting the hair after I quit the band. Had the Eddie Vedder look and short pony-tail until 1997, then said "Ah screw it, chop this shit off!" Have the Johnny Knoxville hairdo as of yesterday. Still have plenty of hair! Shocking to see dudes from Trixter and other bands totally bald now! The aging process is harsh.
Last time you felt like you were gonna die = April 8, 1993. "Cocaine is a helluva drug"….if you wanna meet your maker prematurely. Well, actually I got food poisoning recently (Norovirus) and had projectile vomiting. Wasn’t fun. Hadn’t puked in 13 years or so.
Last time you cried = Last year when my mother was in the hospital. Did the whole bedside vigil with my whole family. I don’t wish that on anyone. All good though. Mom pulled through like a champ!
Last time you talked to Brent Woods = 1993. Followed his career silently online, though. Glad he continued to play. Time for a revelation : I admit it Brent, I DID nail your ex-Jenny, and that chick from the phone sales job that looked like Marcia Brady. Kim? I had to. Sorry dude. Cripes, they begged for it!
Last rock star you shook hands with = Wayne Newton. What a guy!!
Last concert you watched from the crowd = Van Halen Reunion. Wolfie came out on stage! He’s 15 now! Coolness. I left before they finished. Guess I’m getting old!
Last time you visited Metal Sludge = Yesterday? No, today! It’s bookmarked. I’ve always cruised the site. It’s genius stuff. The boards are huge and tons of fun.
Final confessions : I used to call up the TUFF HOTLINE and disguise my voice, say I was Paul Lancia, or Bart Walsh and say stuff like I was going kick all of their asses, that they were fags, that I was going to come to their concert and spray them with cow urine during Good Guys Wear Black. I used to call up the Lancia Hotline as well and threaten Paul Lancia. It drove him batty! I met the guy like 1X. WTF?? Yeah I know, I was a prankster muthafucka.
Well SLUDGE people that’s it. WildSide was my 12 minutes of semi-fame. Although it was the greatest success I had as a young man, it was also my greatest failure ever realized. Do it again? I would do it over in a heartbeat. I was once a kid with a guitar around his neck dreaming of playing stadiums. I was in a band in Hollywood trying to make it, and going for the brass ring. We had all the ingredients for success, but for whatever reasons the stars didn’t align and we didn’t make it big. Just goes to show ya that getting the multi-million dollar, multiple album contract, and a big name producer is not a free pass to success in the business of rock-n-roll. Might have been a different scenario for WildSide, had we started our Hollywood opus about 4 years earlier.
All it takes in the music business is a little bit of talent, a little bit of timing, some persistence, and a lot of LUCK. Thanks for reading and ROCK ON!!!
Ben, you just gave Metal Sludge a Top 25 and maybe even Top 10 All-Time 20 Questions. To date we’ve run upwards of 500 interviews! You are in good company and we hope the Sludge faithfull enjoyed reading your story as much as we did!
Hang on Sludge