Kevin DuBrow: R.I.P.
By Alun Thomas
Having been firmly entrenched in Army training and service for the last six months, things tend to slip by me very simply these days. When all my mind is focused on is the next physical fitness test, another classroom assignment due or the reality of a year long unaccompanied tour of South Korea (which I am two weeks into), the things that seemed important once, metal, metal and more metal, sometimes take a back seat. When Norm Winick sent me an e-mail a few days ago asking if I'd heard that Kevin Dubrow, lead vocalist for Quiet Riot, had died, I paid attention for the first time in a while.
Dead rockers, actors, wrestlers etc are par for the course seemingly every week. But Dubrow held a significant spot for me as he was the first musician I ever interviewed, not just for The Zephyr, but in general. The interview, which can still be accessed on The Zephyr's website, was understandably a big event for me at the time. Despite Quiet Riot's diminished profile in 2001, DuBrow still had a sizable reputation as the singer who led his band to a number one album in 1983, 'Metal Health', shocking the music world in the process. When I read how Dubrow was found dead at his Las Vegas residence at the age of 52 on Nov. 19th of unknown causes, I couldn't help but think of that interview.
At the time of the interview Quiet Riot were touring on the back of that years 'Guilty Pleasures', which still holds up well six years later as a consumate hard rock album. Through the interview I quizzed DuBrow about all the familiar subjects, the number one album, Dubrow's reputation as a loudmouth that he earned in the 80's and the decline of real rock. DuBrow was a professional throughout and answered with trademark enthusiasm. Read the interview. Somehow it shines through.
DuBrow appeared to be one of had rock's enduring figures in the years following the interview. Quiet Riot split for a brief period, but reformed soon after, with the nucleus of DuBrow and drummer Frankie Banali at the forefront as usual. In the interim Dubrow released a covers album 'In For The Kill'. In my review for The Zephyr I stated, 'vocally the man has been underrated his whole career....if you want credibility, DuBrow has yards of it.' In the days after his death words like this were spewed by many people on various websites. I have proof I wrote that when nobody was paying attention.
Quiet Riot were still going strong when DuBrow died, and 2006's 'Rehab' was a solid effort which bordered on Who like hard rock, with Banali's splashing drums giving it that muscular kick. Musically it was a long way off 'Metal Health' or even 'Guilty Pleasures', but it still worked. Whatever DuBrow's problems were still remain a mystery in the light of his death. Acknowledged as a one time drinker and all round party animal, DuBrow had toned his act down as he aged, according to best friend, ex Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes. Something must have gone seriously wrong then for DuBrow to die suddenly and remain undsicovered for six days.
But it doesn't matter. Dubrow is dead. But won't die is the impact he had on metal. To break through like Quiet Riot did in 1983, when metal was still a dirty word, was one of the biggest accomplishments in metal history. And the identifiable vocal style that DuBrow roared into existence will never be imitated. I'm honored to have spoken to him and tried to give his music the justice it deserved. I knew he was a legend then. He's an even bigger one now. Rest in peace.