Hail Glenn Danzig’s 6.66 Most Metal Moments

Punk-metal’s Evil Elvis is primed to paint his Golden Years black.

The baby beast who would become Glenn Danzig was born Glenn Allen Anzalone on June 23, 1955. His point of entry was scenic Lodi, New Jersey. Glenn’s father was United States Marine Corp veteran of two foreign wars; his mom clerked at a record shop.

From those beginnings that, in hindsight, seem to make perfect sense, young Glenn grew up a fanatical devotee of Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Edgar Allen Poe, vintage fright flicks, comic books, and collecting albums and singles from a sprawling variety of genres.

By the time Glenn reached his early 20s, he would actively alchemize all those influences along with his own dark genius into a combustive formula that has propelled his multifaceted career as one of the most innovative and unique icons in the annals of extreme rock.

Happy birthday, Glenn Danzig. We don’t expect you to blow out any candles, but we remain confident that each new project you take on will continue to blow us all away.

  1. The Misfits

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    From Hell they came—okay, actually, the Misfits hail from New Jersey, but Glenn Danzig’s horror-punk terror squad ignited both rock and the culture at large with an infernal blaze that continues to rage onward, very much, into eternity.

    Formed in 1977 and named after Marilyn Monroe’s final film, the Misfits quickly issued their records on their own Plan 9 label and played shows both locally and across the river, where the fearsome foursome stupefied even jaded Manhattan audiences with their ghoul makeup, ripped bodies, “devilock” hairstyles, and unprecedented intensity of sonic assault.

    Across the next five years, the Misfits scorched the earth with music, ideas, and aesthetics that rapidly became iconic. Each one of the original group’s singles and LPs is a flawless classic. The Misfits’ bone-faced mascot, the titular villain of the 1946 movie serial The Crimson Ghost, is one of the most recognized and universally embraced rock symbols of all time.

    By 1983, Glenn grew tired of running the Misfits and divulged to his friend Henry Rollins of Black Flag that he’d start composing material for an entire new band.

    In the meantime, ascending thrash artists—in particular, Cliff Burton of Metallica—embraced the Misfits as the bellwether of the punk-metal crossover that would take full flight by the mid-1980s. One way to tell it was happening was by how many Misfits shirts turned up at both punk and metal shows at the same time.

  2. Samhain

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    Slowing down and delving deeper into gloom than the Misfits’ full-throttle hyper-drive approach, Glenn Danzig’s second ensemble Samhain took its moniker from an ancient Celtic harvest celebration marked by live sacrifices and pagan rituals that eventually evolved into Halloween. And that’s exactly what the band sounds like.

    Between 1984 and 1990, Samhain unleashed three full-length albums and one EP. Among them, 1986’s Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire is a standout unholy marriage of brutal art rock, brooding gothic sophistication, and aggressive, Stooges-style fuzz-metal to a bulldozing effect of devastation.

    When Samhain played live, Glenn donned an S&M devil mask with horns and the entire group often played while doused in blood. They made the audience feel as though they were soaked in the hot red stuff, too.

  3. Danzig

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    Under the tutelage of producer Rick Rubin, Glenn Danzig’s third—and still going—major undertaking was bluntly called Danzig.

    Just like the he-demon for which the group is named, Danzig is an ever-evolving wellspring of dark and diabolical sounds and notions, each delivered from a pit beyond the measure of human imagination and hurled forth forward into a vast volcanic cosmos.

    Danzig’s self-titled 1988 debut is a chilling announcement of heavy blues and doom boogie to come. Danzig II: Lucifuge, a year later, amped up the rock even louder, empower Glenn to channel his heroes Elvis and Jim Morrison more directly than ever. 1993’s Danzig III: How the Gods Kill is the band’s masterpiece, an electrical storm of Thor-pounded thunder that whips up classic rock with roots in Hades by way of soaring metal virtuosity. Danzig 4, from 1994, only sharpened and intensified the attack.

    In 1995, things fell apart with the group’s original lineup going their separate ways and Glenn breaking ties with Rick Rubin. The following year, a new Danzig assemblage wrought forth Blackaciddevil, a scalding blast of industrial metal.

    Across the two ensuing decades, Danzig has been Glenn’s constant warehouse, war machine, and partner in crimes against musical complacency.

  4. Black Aria

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    In 1992, between monumental Danzig albums, Glenn Danzig brought forth Black Aria, a sumptuous instrumental LP of gothic-inflected classical music composed by our erstwhile hulking metal monster hero.

    Black Aria’s nine instrumental tracks are haunting and atmospheric, and with intervals involving strings, chimes, bells, and ghostly echoes that variously thrill and chill. Glenn was even thoughtful enough to affix each album with a warning to fans that Black Aria was not a rock release.

    Fourteen years later, Glenn released Black Aria II, a scintillating sequel he spent the much of the ensuing time between albums conceiving, composing, and recording. It’s twelve more flights of similar brilliance, capped by the Eastern-music-oriented “Lamenta Lilith,” an ode to ancient mythology’s original rebel woman.

  5. Verotik

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    Slamming together the words “violent” and “erotic,” Glenn Danzig launched Verotik publishing in 1994 to create and fill the world with explicit, adult-themed comic books that vociferously traffic in both those core fundamentals.

    Among Verotik’s most hotly regarded titles are Death Dealer, based on Frank Frazetta’s famously beloved-by-metalheads painting; the psycho Japanese manga Devilman; and the sensually sinister Satanika.

    Adult video director Craven Morehead adapted the Verotik comic Grub Girl, about a self-aware zombie sex worker, into an X-rated production of the same name in 2006.

    For some time now, Glenn Danzig himself has been preparing to direct his own big-screen adaptation of the Verotik title, Ge Rouge. It will most likely not be made for the identical market that snatched up the Grub Girl movie.

  6. Danzig Legacy Tour

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    “Intro/Death Comes Ripping”

    Toward the end of 2011, Glenn Danzig did the unthinkable: he went on stage in front a giant Crimson Skull and performed a full roster of Misfits songs, accompanied on guitar by classic Misfits member Doyle. It happened during a series of performances in various cities that were termed Danzig Legacy, and the entire show consisted of a Danzig set, a Samhain set, and then what we fans never thought would be possible, a complete Misfits set.

    Danzig Legacy was the ultimate gesture of respect from Glenn toward his fans. He gave his all at every gig and for the generations who only came of age after the Misfits broke up; here was that music of Satanic Biblical importance being belted out by its very own creator (we are ignoring, here, the Jerry Only version of the Misfits that has been working the punk nostalgia circuit for years now).

    This past April, Glenn issued The Danzig Legacy TV Special, a 50-minute video inspired by Elvis Presley’s 1968 comeback special. If you missed those shows a few years back, don’t miss this essential document.

    6.66 Aqua Teen Hunger Force

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Mike McPadden is the author of the book "HEAVY METAL MOVIES: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos, and Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big Scream Films Ever!" (Bazillion Points, 2014).