Quiet Riot frontman Kevin DuBrow died this weekend. He was found dead in his Las Vegas home Sunday, November 25. It’s easy to forget: Even though Quiet Riot was technically a one-hit wonder, and even though it wasn’t the heaviest band to break out of the Sunset Strip, Riot was a landmark metal act.
An early lineup survived after Ozzy Osbourne poached their guitarist, a young Randy Rhoads. Frontman DuBrow lead the band to unprecedented commercial success for a hard-rock band: Driven by a smash cover of Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize,” 1983’s Metal Health album was the first metal album to hit no. 1 on the Billboard chart. Riding in the wake of Van Halen, Quiet Riot’s success paved the way for Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and legion of lesser party-hearty bands. Even Metallica might not have had the kind of commercial career they did without Quiet Riot.
Quiet Riot quickly slid out of favor, chucked to the side in favor of glammy successors like Cinderella. With one of metal’s biggest sets of lungs and a mouth to match, DuBrow public feuded with every L.A. band you’d care to mention -- hilariously, though public opinion usually branded him the loser. The tour for 1986’s QRIII was booked in arenas. But the trek sold so poorly, the crew was sometimes forced to turn the stage around, and the band played to the seats behind the stage. Ouch.
The band persevered, though. DuBrow led various lineups through club shows, international tours, and major festival appearances. A lot of people still cared about the group. And a lot of people played with them -- 20 members came and went.
Cleveland’s Billy Morris, a former Warrant guitarist and owner of Lakewood's Hi-Fi club, played guitar with Quiet Riot off and on during the later years. Here’s what he had to say about his fallen leader:
“Wow,” Morris told Scene in an email. “Today I learned that my friend Kevin DuBrow passed away. This blows me away. No one would ever imagine this happening to Kevin, especially me, after knowing him for the past eight years. During our tours together, he would really take care of himself, eating well (certainly better than the rest of us). He'd take his vitamins every day, and always kept his body and voice in check. One thing about Kevin was that he was always so thankful for what he had. Performing live and creating music were his passions, and he was grateful for the time he spent with his friends and fans. The rock scene has lost an icon, an individual who brought it every night! Kevin, you will be missed.” -- D.X. Ferris