The song proved Skid Row could be as real as the broken streets they are named after.
Whether you admit it or not, Skid Row was once a dominant force in metal. Unfortunately not everyone knows their improbable story. Skid Row has been around since 1986 and began their career in New Jersey. Guitarist and founding member Dave Sabo was a childhood friend of John Bongiovi. Together they made a pact, if one of them ever ‘made it’ in the music business they would help the other. When Bon Jovi hit the big time, their band manager sought out Skid Row and helped land them a deal with Atlantic records. Part of the deal was a lopsided contract which essentially gave John Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora ownership to the publishing rights of Skid Row’s debut release. The self-titled album went platinum five times! Sambora gave his rights back to the band but Bon Jovi did not.
The song and video that put this self-titled effort over the top was “18 and Life”. Over played on MTV until it was overrated, the plot follows a party hard headbanger from the wrong side of town. The loser couldn’t put his weapon away when he drank. Firing a gun drunk, he accidently kills a child playing on the street. The story is an age old tale that still holds a moral relevancy today. The song proved Skid Row could be as real as the broken streets they are named after.
Skid Row followed up their debut release by doing the unthinkable. Instead trying to firebomb the airwaves with more media friendly hits they went in the complete opposite direction releasing Slave to The Grind, a heavier darker album which immediately created controversy. The song “Get The Fuck Out” was rejected by mainstream retailers and a ‘clean’ version of the album was released to appease the politically correct. The band’s record label may have done a head spin but the metal community embraced this change immediately. Hell, even Kerry King of Slayer admitted Slave to the Grind was one of his favorite albums of 1991.
Skid Row started the tour opening for Guns N’ Roses (Use Your Illusion) but by the end of it they were headling stadiums on their own. The band remembered their roots and selected an unknown thrash act from Texas to open for them. That’s right mutherfuckers it was Pantera, supporting Cowboys from Hell!! In retrospect, I thank the metal gods Skid Row weren’t selfish pricks. Consider 1991 from a musical standpoint, Nirvana was about to ruin mainstream metal so what would the ‘90s have been like without Pantera?
After this release Skid Row went on a self-imposed hiatus, waiting for the ‘grunge movement’ to end. When the band finally resurfaced with Subhuman Race in 1995, it received more critical acclaim than album sales. The group went from selling out stadiums to barely filling a smaller venue. Vocalist Sebastian Bach left the band a short time later after it was revealed the group turned down an opportunity to open for Kiss.
“Skid Row’s “18 and Life” remains a timeless classic. Check out this video and re-live the force that was once Skid Row. \m/
Skid Row (1989-1992):
- Rob Affuso – Drums
- Dave Sabo – Guitars
- Sebastian Bach – Vocals
- Rachel Bolan – Bass
- Scotti Hill – Guitars