Buckcherry’s 1999 debut album turned me into an instant lifelong fan. More accurately, it was a 1998 advance promo CD with a plain white insert (pictured below) that served as my introduction. In those early days, the band name was broken into two words before morphing into one in order to dispel confusion that singer Josh Todd was “Buck Cherry.” It also was reported by guitarist Keith Nelson that “Buckcherry” was the name of a Hollywood transvestite who used to bum cigarettes outside the band’s gigs. Great story, Keith, and it certainly amped up the Buckcherry sleaze factor, but as he would later admit, the band name is actually a play on Chuck Berry. Give Keith an “E” for effort.

The advance disc, which was sequenced differently than the final album and minus the song, “For the Movies,” came courtesy of Bryn Bridenthal who was the queen of Geffen Records publicity at the time thanks to her gigantic role in advancing the careers of Motley Crue, Guns ‘N Roses, Nirvana, White Zombie and other so-so bands (yes, that was sarcasm).

Bryn and I had been corresponding for a couple years in hopes of landing me on the Geffen payroll as a writer of promotional band bios. On a night I’ll never forget, Bryn arranged for us to meet at a Guns N’ Roses gig in Austin, TX. Backstage, she introduced me to Slash and opening act Brian May from Queen as a potential future employee (My buddy Al Kelly and I were literally walking Brian May to my car to give him a ride back to his hotel when his ride finally arrived. Damn!).

Anyway, after a few false starts writing bios for “bands” that didn’t exactly rock, Bryn eagerly passed along Buckcherry knowing their swaggering hard-rawk sound was right up my alley. In the end, my Buckcherry bio was spliced together with a submission from another commissioned writer and the band’s debut press kit was complete.

More importantly, though, I had first dibs on a band that stirred the kind of primal rock’n’roll excitement I hadn’t felt since Guns N’ Roses more than a decade earlier. I proudly took that advance Buckcherry CD to every party, every concert, every Sunday afternoon football gathering … everywhere!! I played that thing for everyone who would listen and even some who wouldn’t. Buckcherry was my proudest new discovery and I wanted to blast it to the world. Much to my surprise, even my most hardcore punk-rock friends loved the dirty Sunset Strip sounds of Buckcherry.

The live photo at the top of this post was taken by yours truly on the indoor stage at Stubb’s in Austin, TX on Valentine’s Day, 1999. Buckcherry’s debut single, “Lit Up,” had not yet made it to radio, which meant nobody outside of Los Angeles had a clue about the band. Nobody that is, except me and my Austin contingent of punk-rock friends, including the guys from Lower Class Brats, the Contradicks, Belligerent 86 and a few other local mohawks. Except for the handful of studded leather jackets in front of the stage, the gig was deader than dead. Not only was it Valentine’s Day (meaning people were spending their time and money on expensive dinners and not some unknown band), it was also a Sunday night. Can you spell “E-M-P-T-Y”? Me and the hapless punks didn’t give a toss. We were there to hear “Dead Again,” “Lawless & Lulu,” “Lit Up!” “Crushed” and other Cherry bombs!

After the gig, I introduced myself to singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson as the guy who interviewed them over the phone for the purpose of the bio. For my money, Josh Todd is one of the best rock singers/frontmen to ever take the stage. As for Keith, he is always a fantastic interview, a great slide guitarist and now a hilarious friend whose middle finger is the equivalent of a handshake when it comes to showing some love. The duo should also be one of Slash’s biggest regrets as he let them go after several rehearsals leading up to Velvet Revolver. Are you friggin’ serious?!

On the night pictured above, the Buckcherry guys were great! As a bonus, they drove me home in their cramped van at 3 a.m. after all the punks disappeared. To this day, Keith still asks me about the Lower Class Brats and Josh and I share photos of our kids (oddly enough, my son was born on Valentine’s Day, making the Buckcherry connection even stronger. Fate?). 

In a business where people and favors are used up and left for dead, Buckcherry always remembers me as one of their earliest champions. Thanks guys, but the pleasure’s been all mine. See ya at the next gig. Cheers, metal dave!

  1. jesi says:

    Dave you must bleed rock n roll…great read!

  2. The Buzzard says:

    Ah, yes….I remember it (not) so well. These guys were the reason for an unexpectedly extended stay in LA. The plan was to visit the city, take in some of the musically historical sites, and stumble along the strip of Sunset Blvd. But once we learned the BC boys were playing at the Viper Roomthe day after we were sheduled to leave, phone calls were made to change flights and extend hotel room stays. Short on clean clothes (who cares!!!) we headed to the gig. I’ll never forget… us two Texas boys feeling a bit out of our norm in LA, Metal Dave had nothing left to wear but ratty pair of camo shorts hanging down past his knees, and his beat-up chucks freshly stained from the curbside streams of Sunset’s phlegm. “Dude..they are NOT going to let you in looking like that!!” I said. But they did. Keith and Josh were totally cool and scooted us up the backstage stairs for a night of sleazy, LA style, rock and roll. Hell yeah!!!

    • Steven Blackmore says:

      I remember you telling me must had been about 7 years ago now that Buckcherry played on that small stage at Stubbs. As you know am 100% Buckcherry fan for me best US Hard Band to come out of LA or anywhere else for that matter. I forst saw them open for Kiss in March 1999 at Wembley Arena and thinking these guys ROCK!! A few months later I saw them kill small Manchester crowd.. hanging Brian May etc that’s beyond cool, yeah, Slash did make huge mistake not hooking up with Josh and Keith for VR.. That’s killer email from Buzz about being in LA with no cloths etc still getting in. It was awesome of you and Kim to let me hang out with Josh on his tour bus, when he did that solo show at SXSW in 2003 he was great, talking about Metal Hammer’s support for the band etc.. Keep these killer rock stories coming!!!

  3. Dude. I remember where I was when I first heard about these little known rockers… I was trying to get a band together that was nothing more than a punk rock assault but then I heard BC and said “FUCK! Someone already else is doing it…” I got real angry then got real stoked. In fact, I am listening to the self-titled album now. It will ALWAYS be one of my favorites.

    In fact, your post has inspired me to dig up some of my old stuff. Thanks for this post. It totally reminded me of a very VERY important time of my life. You have no idea.

    Thanks, brother.

    ~N

  4. PatIdle says:

    Well Dave, this article made me pull out my copy of the first album today. When that album came out it was a breath of fresh air in a world of total shit!. MTV was totally saturated with boy and girl bands and hip hop however they had a show called The Return of Rock which really was just horrible shit like creed and oleander just really watered down shit, ah but here comes the bastard child of Guns n Roses ( I remember people saying they were GnR jr) singing about blow and livin in the city all that fun stuff I tend to get off on in rock n roll. There was nothing like that coming out on major labels and to boot Steve Jones produced the first album. I started my first band in 1999 wanting to have that energy and well we did not but it was a nice kick in the ass. I saw them so many times during those first two records and I cant really say I have been into anything after that. But for a short period of time rock n roll was right in this dreary decade.

  5. Howard says:

    Excellent article. I first saw them opening for KISS in England, same show that Blackmore mentioned above. Seen them bunch of times since then and always have a blast, every time. In some ways I am almost glad that they have not had ridiculous amounts of success as this makes them much more accessible in the club scene.

    Great live band, top notch.