Supergroups rarely last a long time. The combination of various egos usually leads to burnout pretty quickly. In the case of Blackthorne (featuring Graham Bonnet along with members of Quiet Riot, House of Lords and Skull), there wasn’t really anything you’d call genuine longevity, but their course ran a little longer than most. Formed in 1991, they released their debut ‘Afterlife’ in 1993 which led to some success in Japan. Work on a second album was undertaken in the mid-90s, but the band called it a day before the record was ready for release. The tapes remained unreleased until HNE Recordings unearthed them as part of their extensive (and excellent) Graham Bonnet reissue campaign. It’s a shame Blackthorne’s proposed second album couldn’t be heard in 1995, as at least half of it was an improvement over their first release.
Having already released ‘Afterlife’ with a handful of bonus tracks and finally gettiing ‘Blackthorne II: Don’t Kill The Thrill’ out to the fans in 2016, you’d expect that Cherry Red/HNE Recordings would have nothing more to give from Blackthorne’s all too short career, but this compilation (released in October 2019) actually adds a lot more to the band’s recorded legacy. Not so much a career overview with a few unreleased trinkets, this set is actually a vault of demos and alternate takes, peppered with a few album cuts to give a fairer overview of their short life span. Presented among the 44 tracks in this set are 30 unreleased cuts, a couple of which go right back to the band’s origins when the rhythm section featured White Lion men James Lomenzo and Greg D’Angelo. In other words, there’s a huge amount for fans to get their ears around.
In 1991, ex-Balance guitarist Bob Kulick teamed up with ex-Rainbow/Alcatrazz vocalist Graham Bonnet, his Alcatrazz mate Jimmy Waldo, Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright and sometime W.A.S.P. drummer Frankie Banali and formed metal supergroup Blackthorne. In 1993, the band unleashed ‘Afterlife’, a cliché-ridden debut album that needs to be heard to be believed. Rarely have four such talented musicians come together and produced such a bewildering results. Nevertheless, it was a success in Japan and by by the mid 90s, Blackthorne (minus Wright) had a second album written, demoed and almost ready to go. …And then Bonnet quit. With no band polish up and then promote the recordings, the tapes were shelved by the record company and seemed destined to never see the light of day. On the basis of about half of their debut, that might’ve seemed like a blessing.
Following his departure from Rainbow in 1980, Graham Bonnet carried on his musical journey. In 1981 he recorded his fourth solo album (‘Line Up’) and in 1982 replaced Gary Barden as the voice of the Michael Schenker Group. In 1983, Bonnet joined Alcatrazz, with whom he recorded three albums. Their 1985 disc ‘Disturbing The Peace’ (featuring Steve Vai) ranks alongside Rainbow’s ‘Down To Earth’ as a career high point for the prolific vocalist. After brief stints providing vocals for Forcefield (a band featuring his old Rainbow mate Cozy Powell), Pretty Maids and Chris Impelliteri, he landed a job in 1991 as the frontman for an all-star rock band named Blackthorne.
In 2016, The Graham Bonnet Band released ‘The Book’, a brilliant release that managed to look forwards and backwards simultaneously. Its first disc presented a selection of brand new hard rock numbers – many of which represented Bonnet’s best work for a long time – and the second celebrated his past by offering re-recordings of songs originally released by Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Alcatrazz and more. The record didn’t especially care for being fashionable, but it was a timely reminder – at least for some – that Bonnet could still deliver the goods when backed by the right musicians.
In the late 60’s singer-songwriter Graham Bonnet scored a UK #5 single with cover of the Bee Gees’ ‘Only One Woman’ as part of pop duo Marbles, after which his career took somewhat of a downturn. After two more flop singles with Marbles, he made the move into recording advertising jingles, before releasing a couple more unsuccessful singles in the early 70s. After an appearance in the 1975 UK comedy film ‘Three For All’ – starring his then partner Adrienne Posta – Bonnet signed a deal with the small Ring-O record label, with whom he released two full length albums, ‘Graham Bonnet’ (1977) and ‘No Bad Habits’ (1978).