Metal Sludge

Metal Sludge

TUFF DIARIES #13 … Recording our debut, Bret Michaels, Kane Roberts & Sex is fine, but you can’t sleep over



Recording our Atlantic Records debut, Bret Michaels, Kane Roberts and Sex is fine, but you can’t sleep over

Nude Magazines, F.M. Station, Frankie KOTH, Suicide, Sir Arthur Payson, Ken Mary & Scott Campbell.

Stevie_Rachelle_Signature_Metal_Sludge_June_2018_1 — Pre-production is over… we’re as ready as ever to begin the recording of our debut album.

But, before we get into the studio, let me go over the breakdown of songs.

Who wrote what and how we went through this process.

Songwriting in our band was pretty evenly balanced.

Or should I say…we definitely all contributed.

Some bands have 1 guy or a duo who do most of the song-writing, but in Tuff it was definitely a group effort.

This is (was) never an easy process, but we all seemed to agree for the most part.

Not that we didn’t argue – because we did, but in the end we were all involved in the writing.

Really if there was a songwriter in the band, I’d have to say it was Todd.

Not so much the singer-songwriter type, but a guy who understood all the instruments, at least better than the rest of us did.

Todd was essentially the musical director of our band and still is in modern day.

He would usually lead the way in rehearsals, writing and did most of the arranging of our songs.

Todd wasn’t a great guitar player, or even a good drummer, but he could play both.

Kind of.

No doubt, Todd is and always was a very solid bassist.

Often Todd would be the hand, mouth, lap, knee drummer guy.

What I mean is…. he would write an idea on bass, then be air drumming, slapping hands on knees and coming up with a drum pattern.

All the while beatbox’ing with his mouth, making snare sounds (ka-doosh) and tom fills (bam, ba ba bam).

Many times after rehearsal was over, Todd would sit down and (try to) play Michael’s drum kit.

Michael was always adding a unique feel with his drum patterns and would often take Todd’s basic idea and elaborate on it.

Example: If you listen to the opening of “Lonely Lucy”, the song has a real swing to it.

Kind of an Aerosmith feel, which was all Michael Lean.

That “Lonely Lucy” riff was Todd’s idea, but Michael put the swing in it which makes it fit right in the pocket.

As songs were structured, I became a bit of a prick when it came to writing lyrics.

My thought was, I am singing it and I can’t sing your feelings or your words.

Which is kind of close-minded, but that is what I was thinking and feeling at the time.

Todd was always a riff guy.

Tuff_Song_Listing_Studio_1990_1He liked Iron Maiden, and no doubt Steve Harris was a big influence.

So, the songs with the busier parts were usually Todd’s ideas.

Examples: “Lonely Lucy”, “Spit Like This” and “Ain’t’ Worth A Dime”.

Jorge was definitely a student of his instrument as well.

Many thought he was above average and at times he got compared to Jake E. Lee, Randy Rhoads or George Lynch.

But in the end, Jorge’s musical ideas were more basic than Todd’s songs.

Example: “Good Guys Wear Black”, “All New Generation” and “Forever Yours.”

I found a song list amongst my lyrics, and it has about 2 dozen songs, listed as follows. Some of the songs have ‘1st’ written next to them, while others have ‘2nd’.

“Ruck-A-Pit Bridge” was a combination of Jorge’s intro riff and Todd added the rest.

The funky ending on “Ruck-A-Pit Bridge”, that was also a Todd section.

He was always coming up with the weird time changes, adding different parts and more complex arrangements.

I was limited on my ability to play guitar, so my songs were usually pretty simple.

Three chords: D, A, G and occasionally a C.

Verse, Chorus, Verse #2, Chorus #2, Bridge, Solo, Chorus out.

Examples: “So Many Seasons” and “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye”.

Oddly, both of these songs used D, A, G and C chords.

Michael wasn’t so much a musical contributor or songwriter, but he was an idea guy.

He would often steer us in a direction, “We need a song like this in the set” then give an example of something by Motley Crue or Ratt.

Michael also wrote more lyrics or melody before I joined, but I kind of forced this into my hand.

Besides, songwriting skills aside, Michael was absolutely our leader and shot caller.

He was better suited doing business for the band than writing about girls and parties.


I guess this was a list of 1st choices for the record, and a partial list of 2nd choices.

1. Good Guys Wear Black
2. Money Talks (It was never recorded, but we ended up playing it at almost every live show of 1991)
3. What Comes Around Goes Around (Also, never recorded it, until 2012, but we played it regularly during the 1991 tour)
4. I Hate Kissing You Goodbye
5. When We Were Young (Another ballad of mine, which we had played live off and on during 1989 & 1990, but it didn’t make the record)
6. So Many Seasons
7. Forever Yours
8. Brick City Boys (Was a newer song, that we had played live a handful of times but it didn’t make the cut)
9. Lonely Lucy
10. She’s So Heavy (Became “Spit Like This”, and was almost called “Slick Like Spit”)

The 2nd noted songs were…
1. Ain’t Worth A Dime (Moved up and made the final cut, years later I realized Todd stole this intro from Roxx Gang’s “Scratch My Back”)
2. Don’t Know Where I’m Going
3. Alone Without You
4. Sinner Street
5. Play The Game

Other songs on the working list were…
1. Summertime Goodbye
2. Dancing With The Devil (This was a song we had played live for a while in 1989 & 1990, it was very Dr. Feelgood era Motley, but it was never demo’d)
3. Put Out Or Get Out
4. Round ‘Em Up
5. Want Trouble You Got It
6. Stop Pulling My Chain
7. School Bell Hell
8. Boys Will Be Boys (This moved up, made the cut and became “All New Generation”)

Not even listed on the sheet…
1. Ruck-A-Pit-Bridge (Was called The Dokken idea off an idea’s list, and was finished during pre-production)
2. Wake Me Up (Was submitted to us by Bret Michaels near the end of the recording sessions)
3, Place Where Love Can’t Go (A Todd Meagher ballad, that we were slated to record, but for whatever reason, it didn’t make it, but “Wake Me Up” did)


Ready, Set, Record.

We entered the studio on December 26th 1990.

That’s right, the day after the biggest Holiday of the year we begin recording our debut album.

Tuff_Dennis_Rat_Dudek_drum_tech_1990_1991_Aug_2019_1What a Christmas present.

We loaded into Track Record Studios in North Hollywood.

The studio is located at 5102 Vineland between Lankershim and Magnolia and it’s still there today.

This week Howard Benson (Producer) and Scott Campbell (Engineer) will record drums and bass.

They spend most of day 1 just getting drum sounds for Michael.

Michael’s drum-tech Dennis “Rat” Dudek is hard at work.

Dennis who is also from Phoenix, has been working with Michael since he was about 14.

Dennis “Rat” Dudek, Michael’s tech, went on to work for Ronnie James Dio, Pantera, Soul Fly and countless others.

This studio has been home to many great recording sessions, including: Kiss “Revenge”, Aerosmith “9 Lives”, Red Hot Chili Peppers “Mother’s Milk”, Megadeth “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” and The Offspring “Smash” to name a few.

More on Track Audio can be found on Wikipedia.

This is such a painful process, as they hit drums, change heads, adjust microphones and hit the drums some more.

It was hours of this. Ugh. 

I was there for very little of the basic tracks, as there was really nothing for me to do.

Besides, Howard had me working on lyrics, going to vocal lessons with Sabine and resting up good as they would need me soon enough.

Drum and bass rig sounds are sorted, so the guys begin running through songs.

Meaning, Todd, Michael and Jorge would run through the instrumentals.

No vocals, and not even a guide vocal was laid, just those 3.

Going back, over the years Todd and Michael would rehearse just bass and drums at times.

Just locking in as the rhythm section and running the set with no guitar or vocals.


By this point, these 3 had been playing together since early 1985, so a solid 5+ years.

We were not Rush, but I think our band had a few more chops than our image allowed people to believe we had.

Just more of the up-hill battle that had presented itself on-going, but look at us now.

Michael Lean, sporting an Atlantic Records t-shirt and a Raider’s hat! Michael was our driving force, our Gene Simmons, our Nikki Sixx. 

It was a full week at Track Record Studios and the guys were working hard daily.

That first day was really getting sounds and then by day #2, they were plowing through 2-3 songs a day.

Not sure which song was first or last, but Michael and Todd both did a great job.

Finally the Drums and Bass are finished and we move to a new studio out in Woodland Hills.


Ready, Set, Look at Nude Magazines!

This smaller overdub studio is in a residential neighborhood.

Preferred Sound Studios was West of Topanga Canyon Blvd. just South of Ventura Blvd and North of Mulholland Highway.

This place will be our home for the next month doing guitars, lead vocals and a bunch of other overdubs.

This includes Howard playing keyboards on a few tunes, Michael doing some percussion and our guest back-up singers.

Jorge_DeSaint_Tuff_1990_1991_studio_mic_amp_Aug_2This whole process was super exciting as each day something new was happening.

And along the way, now we could really start to hear the songs come to life.

A few polaroids taken of Jorge’s Marshall cabinets mic’d up for the recording of “What Comes Around Goes Around.”  Note there are actually 4 different mics, all placed in different areas on the cabinet.

We had done this before, but recording a 3 or 4 song demo over a few days’ time is much different than recording a full length album for a major record label.

Previous demo sessions were done for a couple thousand dollars over a few days.

This time, we’re going to have 50 times the budget and 4-5 weeks times to do it in.

I recall one day Howard gave our studio runner $100.00 and sent him to the store.

He was ordered to get some essentials for the studio.

An hour later he returned with a few bags full of candy, gum and dirty magazines.

Correct, nude magazines for us to look at – likely to keep us out of Howard’s hair.

FYI: the runner is a person who is there to basically do what their name suggests, run and get this or that when needed.

My guess is he was paid $100 a day, to basically wait for Howard to say “It’s lunch time, go get us 3 pizzas” and then hand the guy a crisp fifty.

Howard was a lot of fun but was all business when he needed to be.

I remember all of us being there the first few days, and loving it.

Michael had a video camera and recorded much of the shenanigans. Maybe one day we can unearth these epic clips.


The studio was awesome but after a few incidents of everyone interjecting their opinions “Hey do this on that part” Howard yelled at us.

He wasn’t mean, but he had to take control and let us know who the boss was.

Something like our parents would tell us when we were kids, “To be seen and not heard.”

He didn’t need everyone’s 2-cents on which vocal or guitar riff sounded better.

So after a week or so of goofing around the law was laid down.

If you weren’t recording, you didn’t need to be there.

Michael was the exception to that rule as he was usually my ride, and he was also the sanest and most mature of the group.

Todd was done with bass tracks but at some point he was there to sing backgrounds too.

I do recall Todd getting mad that he wasn’t going to sing backgrounds on every song.

Todd is not really a singer, but he definitely helped define our vocal sound, especially as the main backup voice in the band.

But fact is, he’s just not a great singer and that is where Howard hired some professionals.

Chase as we called him, was less than happy and voiced his opinion more than a few times.

But he was overruled by the band and ultimately the Producer.

Jorge was there for all guitar parts.

The days he was not, he was likely sleeping until 2:00pm or later.

Jorge awake before noon was laughable.

JTE-191_Zendozone_160_600_Sky_Digital_Ad.FA[1] (3)

We’re about two weeks in now and things are running like clock-work.

Our recording schedule was similar to our pre-production (rehearsal) schedule.

Start time was 12:00 noon, and we’d go until 6:00pm. Monday thru Friday.

Some days we would go later, but we were usually done by 8:00 or at the latest 9:00pm.

As we approached week #3 Howard informed me I was on deck.

He started to alternate days, for me (singing) and Jorge (playing solos).

Obviously there were a lot of vocal and guitar parts, much more than basic drums or bass.

A typical day would go like this.

Usually Scott would arrive first (11:00am) and prep for Howard based on that day’s schedule.

On days I was to sing, I would be instructed to arrive around 1:00pm.

This way Scott and Howard could do some edits, other studio work and prepare the track I was going to sing that day.

For me, this meant me warming up earlier, getting my tea, honey, lyrics and anything else I was going to need in advance.

Same applied for Jorge, and his guitar tracks.

I was always prepared, on time and I’d like to think easy to work with.

Not that the others were not, but there were some incidents that stand out.

One especially involving Jorge.

Jorge was always a late sleeper as noted above.

Which when having a strict recording schedule, with paid studio time, the Producer and Engineer both getting a salary as well – you’d think most would understand their responsibility.

Of course we all did.

Except for Jorge.

If we had a time-clock from these sessions, I’d bet he was tardy more than the other 3 of us combined.

And even if he was on time, Jorge was this guy; “Shit, I forgot to get batteries.”

Of course he didn’t realize this until he was at the studio, literally opening up his guitar case.

Howard would then instruct the runner to do his job.

Now the 1:00pm start time would be more like 1:30 or 1:45.

So one day Jorge is there, and they are starting to record guitars.

He’s a few takes in and suddenly the phone is ringing and Jorge has to take an important call.


Note: this is before cell phones or at least, before any of us owned one.

Jorge is now in the studio lounge arguing with his then girlfriend on the phone.

There was always drama with these two.

Now after a few heated phone calls Jorge informs Howard and Scott, he must go home.


Because his girlfriend is going to commit suicide.

Typical shit with this guy.

Jorge DeSaint, lead guitars, lead bongs, lead late sleeper. But regardless of all the drama, Jorge ripped on guitar that was for sure. 

Who knows what they were really fighting about, but needless to say – everyone was pissed.

I was there, and Michael was too.

I’ve always been a bit cut-throat and a joker for sure, so I voiced the following: “Let her, we’ve got a record to make for Atlantic.”

Then I would just return to eating my licorice looking at the latest issue of Big Boobs Bizarre.

Michael was likely thinking the same but was more controlled with his emotions.

I think they call that a filter.

I didn’t have one and always spoke my mind. Even if it hurt people’s feelings.

Of course Jorge is now all worked up, flustered and yelling into the phone.

I’d bet she never even said anything about suicide.

My guess is whatever their argument was over probably had her saying something along the lines of: “And if you don’t come home right now, I’ll be flushing your pot down the toilet.”

This of course would have had him lose his mind.

So in typical Jorge fashion, he left the Woodland Hills studio and drove back to their apartment in North Hollywood.

Noting, that’s easily 30-40 minutes in traffic 1-way.

Howard and Scott found other work to keep them busy while Michael and I fumed at his decision.

Like many group arguments, we all vented while he was gone.

WildSide_Block_2013_150X250“Fuck that midget” and a lot worse was likely spewed throughout the room.

A few hours later he returned but in typical Jorge fashion, he was careless and carefree.

I guess she lived and Jorge didn’t understand why everyone was annoyed with him.

Jorge never took responsibility for any of his bad decisions. Ever.

Oh well, we’re a team and he is part of the group, so we just dealt with it.

Truth is, we all had our faults, myself included.

I as Michael referred to it, “Went Axl” a few times for sure.

I’ll drop a few bombs, in time.


Time for some Lead Vocals.

Just to give you a baisc idea of how I recorded my lead vocals.

On the days I was scheduled to record, I would do a little warm up at home before I would get to the studio.

Then once in the vocal booth, they’d play the track back and just let me sing through it.

Like 2-3 times,  as if it was a live band with me singing along. Just to give Howard an idea of what I was trying to do.

Of course he had already been with us in pre-production for several weeks, so he knew our basic ideas and where we were going with the songs.

But on the day of,  we would start with a little run through from me, to get him reaquainted with each song.

And remember, some of these songs were still going through various lyric and melody tweaks as these songs came to life.

Howard also knew I wasn’t some supreme vocalist, he knew I wasn’t Geoff Tate or Bruce Dickinson.

I recall one day back in pre-production Howard asking me to sing a C-note, with my full voice.

I had no clue what that was. Lol.

He then told me, “Sing this note…like this” and he belted out a note.

I tried, and kinda half-assed it and felt a bit embarassed.

He then said, something like; “Your range is this, your this is that…” and went into some studio mumbo jumbo talk telling me what my range was.

I don’t recall exactly what he said, but I guess I am more of a baritone than a tenor.

Stevie_Rachelle_Tuff_1990_1991_studio_Aug_1I am not 100% sure, but I believe this pic of me was taken in studio, during the sessions. It appears there are some cable boxes behind me, and what appears to be some studio style wall and ceiling decor. 

Either way, Howard was very smart who had went to school for music and engineering.

He knew much about many instruments, the voice, the various singing keys and much more.

I guess this is why he was (and still is) a professional producer.

I have great respect for Howard as he taught me so much during this time.

I mean, how silly is that… I didn’t know a C note from a ham-sandwich, yet I was signed to Atlantic Records.

In looking back, there were things that I did, the band did, and situations that took place that were just laughable.

Yet we still managed to pull a few tricks out of the proverbial hat.

I mean, Vince Neil sold 50 million records, and I am guessing while recording “Shout At The Devil” he didn’t know shit from shinola either.

And even if Sebastian Bach could sing his ass off, he didn’t know squat about the business, publishing and a lot of other stuff per his memoir.

But if we’re being real here, very few of us in our early 20’s were seasoned pros, full of music business knowledge.

It’s kind of like the tall guy in school who gets recruited by the basketball coach, “Hey, you’re 7 foot tall, just stand here, and when someone throws you the ball put it in the hoop.”

We all do our thing and eventually, if we’re doing enough to get noticed, some next level people (managers, label types) find us and plug us into their program.

A lot of rock stars, or wanna-be rock stars were in that mode. We were mostly looking at posters of Van Halen and Aerosmith, and then plunking away in our rooms.

Soon it was garage or basement jams, which turned into local club cover gigs.

Then if you had something in the way of flash, flare, talent or a combination of those – you just might get noticed.

Eventually all of those early learning years leads to making moves, that you think will get you in the game. The next level of the game.

For me, that was leaving Oshkosh and throwing myself head-first into the Hollywood scene and Sunset Strip.

The very scene that built, molded and spit out Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison and Guns N’ Roses.

Let’s not forget, The Eagles, The Runaways, The Doors and Van Halen too.

Now after Todd, Jorge, Michael and myself graduated this school of hard knocks, it was onto the next phase. Being a signed band with a clean slate in front of us.

Truth is, we weren’t perfect, but we didn’t suck either.

Neither did those others mentioned above, or anyone (group of guys or girls) who rose through all of those “early learning years” to achieve such a title, as National Recording Artist.

It was no joke, no easy task and no one handed us anything.

We earned it, all of it. And many more times than I could count, we heard, “You’ll never make it.”

Of course, the term “make it”, back in those days meant just getting signed. So I guess we did “make it” as silly as that sounds.

I am proud to have been part of that small group who not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk.

We made it… oh well, sorry for the side-track… time to finish my lead vocals I guess.

Record_Store_FREE_Space_300_Block_Sept_2019_2Back to the studio January 1991….

Even though I had never been in chorus, and had never taken a voice lesson until the month prior to recording our debut, I guess I had something.

And what I lacked in vocal knowledge or ability, I made up for in sheer tenacity, grit and sure, my looks didn’t hurt me either. At least not yet.

Upon joining Tuff, I was given Jim Gillette’s Metal Power vocal tapes. True.

And I did use them, but not as religiously as I should have.

But seriously, Jim’s lessons taught me some basics, and I learned to control my voice, strengthen it and not lose it.

A very importan thing, when you’re a singer, is to not lose your voice.

I can honestly say, after all these years, I (we) have never once had to cancel a show or a tour because of me – losing my voice.

In the studio, Howard would have me run through that day’s song a few times, and then we’d start to work on sections.

First I would sing the first verse, lines 1, 2, 3 & 4.

Howard would then say something like, “I like the way you sing: “Smoke Clears, All Around”… but the line after needs better phrasing.

And then I would sing: “A Chesterfield, is hanging down…”

Howard would say: “Sing it again”


Then… “Again”

And each time, they (Scott or Howard) would have to roll the tape back, and give me a little leader, meaning the song part leading up to that line.

Then give me the cue: “Quiet, and Rolling…” as they would both be looking at me through the glass yet listening intently to the speakers.

This was a tedious process, and it happened, hundreds of times, per song. Many lines I would sing 8-10 or 12 times.

DemonDoll_Nov_2015_160_600_1Then some lines I would let it rip and Howard would stand up, smile and into the talk back: “THAT WAS KILLER!”

Which was such a good feeling, knowing I was making him happy.

But then there were also the talk back replies as his look was not too happy: “You’re a bit flat”, or “You’re sharp” and “You’re ahead of the beat” and then, “You’re behind it…”

Honestly, most of this meant little to me. I mean, I could tell if I was in key, and it’s something I’ve always felt I did okay, meaning sing in key.

But now I am dealing with a trained professional, who could hear the tiniest waiver in my voice.

I mean, there were times when I did sing in key, but now Howard would say: “Stevie, I need more emotion…do it again.”

And to be fair, I think I was a quick learner, and usually I didn’t have to be told twice.

The tape would roll, I would have my headphones on, (1 ear in & 1 ear out) and then I would concentrate and re-sing the part.

Meanwhile, I would have a little area with my tea, a coffee pot, honey, jucy fruit gum, a little garbage can (to spit in) and my lyrics on a stand.

Some days, if it was a moody song, a ballad, etc… we might dim the lights or burn some candles.

It was a lot of fun, but also it was work. And I was trying to be (and believe I was) as professional as I could be,

Again, I knew I wasn’t Geoff or Bruce, but I think in the end I delivered more than may have been expected of me.

I say that, as the stereo-typical singer guy, often is the drunk, smoker, late-sleeper, lazy and unorganzied guy.

Not all, but there were plenty, so I hope that I was at times a pleasant surprise to Howard and Scott.

Usually I would sing for the better part of the afternoon, meaning 3-4 hours.

It would usually be an hour or 90 minutes, then maybe a 15-20 minute break and then hammer it home for another hour or two.

And once the main vocal was done, meaning the Verses, the Chorus’, Bridge, etc.. each part was then doubled.

My job was to sing the main lead vocal, double it, and of course add in some ad-libs.

Something I have been told over the years, was that I was very good at doubling my own voice.

Once you make that initial pass, and it’s laid out, they want you to re-sing it, as is, and double your voice.

Layering harmonies, or gang backgrounds, that was done in other sessions, while the lead vocals were done by themselves.

Also, on lead vocal days, it was usually Howard, Scott, and Michael. Very seldom was there anyone else there.


Backup Singers and a Body Builder?

At some point Howard informed us that he was going to invite down a few guys to sing some backgrounds.


One afternoon to my surprise, in walks Kane Roberts and Ken Mary.

I had never met either guy, but upon learning who they had previously played with (Alice Cooper) it was cool to meet and work with them.

I remember Kane being such a fun and friendly guy.

And he wasn’t the body-builder sized freak he was while touring with Alice.

He had scaled back a ton and just looked like a really fit gym guy.

Not Arnold Schwarzenegger with the Machine Gun guitar. Lol.

Ken Mary (inset left) during his tenure in the Alice Cooper Band. 

Both Kane and Ken were awesome.

They sang a bunch of backgrounds on “All New Generation” and “Lonely Lucy” if my memory is correct.

I am still friends with both and we catch up every now and then.

I reached out and asked Kane and Ken for a little tidbit on their experience with Tuff.

Super stoked to report, that they both agreed.

Read Kane and Ken’s mini blog right here.

Blog #1 is right here, from Ken Mary…

“So, I was called by Howard Benson to sing backgrounds on the album of a new band that was coming out on Atlantic records called Tuff. Kane Roberts and I had done backing vocals on some of Howard’s other productions as well, so this was something we were used to doing and we always had a great time doing it.

I remember coming into the Tuff session and there was just a great vibe. Everyone was super nice and also very professional, and you could feel the energy of the band both as you walked into the room and on the recorded songs as well. The singer Stevie made us feel right at home, and was a super nice guy and hung out in the studio as we did our work. He had this crazy star quality that lead singers need to possess; and you just knew the record was going to be huge.


We did our tracks, and left the session. Kane and I said amongst ourselves that this was a no brainer, and that these guys are going to break big. We were happy that they were super cool . . . you always want the super cool guys to do well, lol.

They had all the ingredients; some great songs, a great producer, a star lead singer . . . and we looked forward to the album coming out and to be a part of it.”
— Ken Mary ex-Alice Cooper Band drummer

Kane Roberts at right, with his trademark Machine Gun style Guitar.

Blog #2 from Kane Roberts…

”I remember when producer Howard Benson gave me a call to sing backgrounds on an album he was working on with a band called TUFF.

Truth is, when you’re knocking out studio work, you never know what kind of situation you’re gonna be walking into but Howard is a trusted friend so I was hopeful the music and recording band would be cool.

As soon as I met Stevie and the band I felt the massive positive energy these guys put out and the music just rocked hard. The songs kicked ass and TUFF was a legit LA street band that was the real deal top to bottom!

One of the recording highlights for me from back in the day. RTFO!”
Kane Roberts ex-Alice Cooper Band guitarist


Another guest vocalist was Tommy Funderburk.

Tommy is a super pro veteran vocalist and has recorded with everyone including: Richard Marx, Whitesnake, Yes, Motley Crue, Reo Speedwagon and many more.

He’s one of those pitch perfect, crystal clear voice studio specialists.

Tuff_Lyrics_So_Many_Seasons_1990_1991_Aug_2019_1Tommy’s voice is who you hear doing all the layers of harmonies on “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye”, “So Many Seasons”, “Forever Yours” and “Wake Me Up.”

Tommy was a really nice guy as well, but we didn’t connect with him the way we did with Kane and Ken.

Something I found interesting and recall on how Tommy got paid.

He’s in the vocal booth and Howard is instructing Tommy which lines, and what type of harmony he’s going to do on each.

Tommy then sings a line and after every vocal take, he makes a little check mark on the side of the lyric sheet, next to the line in that song.

By this time I had already sang the lead vocals, so the lyrics were done. And part of my job was to get all the songs (lyrics) typed out and printed for Tommy to have a copy, the other singers (Ken & Kane) and Howard inside the control room as well.

Of course I was on it, and made sure all was done. Including the title of song at top, Tuff logo and multiple copies ready to go… all printed and legit looking thanks to Kinko’s.

This may sound silly but I took pride in what I (we) did and wanted to be as professional as possible.

So, we’re in the session and Howard would tell Tommy: “It’s the 1st verse, 3rd line, sing a 5th (harmony) on the line {I see it in your eyes}.”

Tommy sings the line, and is also making notes as he goes along, but not just where to sing. But, how many times he actually sings each line.

Whether the take was good, bad or other – each time he sang a line, he marked his paper.

Then at the end of the session, Tommy sat with a calculator and added up all the check marks.

Then he multiplied that number of takes, by his studio rate ($??) per line.

He then tells Howard the grand total, and Howard cuts him a check from the studio budget check-book on the spot.

Lastly, another guest vocalist who came down was Frankie Muriel from KingOfTheHill.

Howard had just finished producing their debut album as well.

But we didn’t meet Frankie through Howard.

Nope, back in the summer of 1989 while Tuff toured the U.S. we hit St. Louis.


And on that stop we played a club called “Furst Rock.”

Not a typo, that’s how the club spelled it.

A local band called Broken Toyz played with us and wow were they awesome.

KingOfTheHill inset right, a great band out of St. Louis. 

We actually met and saw them play at sound-check and immediately we knew they had something special.

We urged the guys to go to L.A. as we were sure they’d get signed.

And they did.

Frankie, Jimmy, George and Vito signed with SBK and changed their name to KingOfTheHill.

Great band and better guys.

Frankie did some scat-style rapping with me on the ending of “Ruck-A-Pit Bridge” that night.

Such a great guy and an amazing talent as well.

A few others of note who added their voices to our gang background vocals were Todd’s brother Kenny Chaisson (Keel), Vince Kelly (Tommi Gunn) and Spike (Howard Benson).


No Sex! Huh?

I know we’re recording, but I can’t write a blog with absolutely no crazy sex stories, so…here’s a good one that happened around this time frame.

At this point I was starting to have a serious girlfriend.

But in truth, it could not have been a worse time.

I mean, I was serious and really loved this girl immensely.

But the timing sucked.

Tuff_Lyrics_Ruck_A_Pit_Bridge_1990_1991_Aug_2019_1I was now signed to a record deal, and about to go on this amazing journey.

There was no way I could do this and keep my dick in my pants.

Especially since girls were pretty much throwing their pussy at me from all angles.

Ever since High School, I loved sex and was barely if ever faithful.

Just being honest.


So this girl I was dating had just moved to Southern California from Texas.

We had been seeing other kind of steady, but she hadn’t completely moved into my apartment quite yet and was staying in Orange County.

One night Jorge and I went to F.M. Station to celebrate our new found success.

It was a weeknight and I am guessing it was a Jani Lane’s Policeman’s Ball night, so probably a Wednesday.

I meet this girl, and we’re flirting.

Her name was Shannon.

She was very attractive and younger than I, so probably 21-22.

Jorge was driving, and had his girlfriend’s car.

This is the same girl who was going to kill herself, yeah, that one.

It’s getting late, like midnight and at some point Jorge wants to bail but I wanted to stay.

This chick and I are chatting in the back room at F.M. and Jorge is pestering me to leave.

So, I tell her; “I gotta go, unless you can give me a ride home?”

Shannon gives me a look, and immediately says: “I will give you a ride home, but I am not going to fuck you!”

I laughed out loud, “Who said anything about fucking?”

Her: “I am telling you, no problem on the ride, But I am not gonna fuck you!”

At this point we had been hanging out most of the night.

And of course I wanted to fuck her. #duh

Jorge finally bails and I am there acting goofy and she’s being coy in return.

Maybe 20 minutes go by and I suggest; “Should we get out of here?”


And again, she blasts me with: “Sure. But I told you, I will give you a ride. But no sex!”

“Okay, Okay, I heard you the first 3 times” was my sarcastic answer.

“Just letting you know in advance” as her eyes dart back n’ forth.

We’re now walking to her car and of course she reminds me again.

I am pretty sure I probably said something like: “Do you think I am like that?”

All the while doing all I could not to laugh.

As we drive north down Lankershim our small talk was all useless babble, but I can’t stop staring at her.

Damn, Shannon is super-hot. Her face, hair, body, lips, boobs, just smoking!

She was kind of new in town, meaning I hadn’t seen her around before. Usually you can spot the new arrivals.

A short 5 minute drive and we are pulling down my street in North Hollywood, I suggest she parks.

And you guessed it, her reply is about how she won’t fuck me.

We’re now in the middle of the street for a few minutes and I not only re-suggest parking, but now I add walking me up to my apartment.

I joke that I could get mugged, or robbed or even raped if I go by myself.

She doesn’t buy it, but of course thinks I am funny and cute.

Tuff_Sky_BannerSLOWBut not before she warns me if she does walk me up, there is not going to be any sex.

I then explain I am not like other guys, and just figured it would be nice for her to come up.

We’re now at the door of the apartment, I open it and I walk in.

She stands there in the hallway and I tell her to come on in.

The look on her face is one of defeat.

With arms crossed she lets out a big sigh and enters the apartment; “Okay.”

Basically she is a baby Seal and I am an adult Shark.

It’s only a matter of minutes before she is eaten alive.

Now we’re in my room and she reinforces her deal to me.

I pretty much ignore her, and start to change into some sweat-pants.

All I hear from her, is the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice.

I then offer her something to drink.

After 10-15 minutes of playful exchanges I finally lean over and kiss her.

A little kiss leads to a deeper kiss and all that previous babble is now muted.

Making out now turns to feeling up, and that leads to undressing.

Before I knew it, she’s naked on my bed and I am on top of her.

We’re now fucking like rabbits.

A beautiful face, a great stomach, nice tits and she’s soaked.

We fuck, we suck and at some point we lay there under the covers.

It’s now late and after our fun romp in the hay we both fall asleep.

The morning sun is up and so am I, it’s like 8.30am.

But not her, she’s snoring like a lumberjack in my bed.

Nude, with firm tits – one out and one under the covers.

I go to the kitchen and eat some cereal.

It’s now close to 9:00am but most of the house (apartment) is still sleeping.

Todd (Toy Stacy, who would later join The Zeros) was in his room, Fred (another roomie) is in his room and the 3rd bedroom was our roadie Dennis’ if memory suits me.

Add in, I think a roadie or two, may have set up shop in the living room.

It was a 4 bedroom apartment, with about 6-7 of us living there.

But, I had my own room.

An hour goes by and people are starting to wake up.

But not sleeping beauty. Nope, she’s still out like a light.

I am getting worried and for good reason.

The girl I have been seriously seeing is coming up to my place today.

But I am not sure when.

And this is before cell phones.

If she walks into my apartment, and finds this chick in my bed, I am toast.

Tuff_1987_MaxPose2Just a throw-back to our first ever group photo shoot, July 1987 photo by Gene Kirkland
It’s now January 1991, and Tuff are officially signed and recording our debut for Atlantic Records.
Even though we had only known each other a few weeks when this photo was taken, you can clearly see
that we were pretty much thinking “Get the FUCK out of our way” and nothing is going to stop us.
We were right!

Ugh…I’ve been up a few hours and decided I need to wake her up.

“Honey…wake up” as I try to be nice, friendly and fun.

She’s kind of moving around, moaning but not really buying it.

I try unsuccessfully a few times, but she’s pretty much not taking the bait.

Now sitting on the couch in the living room I start thinking this through.

In my head, this chick was hot, and I had fun last night, but I CANNOT let this situation risk my girlfriend material chick walking in on this.

I head back into my bedroom.

“Honey…you gotta wake up. It’s getting late. You gotta go.” I am a little more firm now.

“I am tired, why do I have to go” she murmurs with eyes half-closed.

“Ummm, well, I kind of have a, umm, a friend, who is going to be here soon.”

She immediately opens her eyes, and they are not happy eyes. Lol.

metalbabe_block_150_1“Huh? Really! So, you have a girlfriend?” as she sits up and starts looking for her clothes.

But I am way ahead of her, and have all her stuff folded and set it right next to her.

“Here ya go” smiling but she won’t even look at me.

She is PISSED!

There was little to no words, as she dressed in anger.

I tried to look at her, “Honey…are you mad?” but she would not make eye contact with me.

I tried to get her up for 2 hours, to no avail. But now with my recent revelation to her, she’s gone in 2 minutes.


As I watch from our balcony, I see her car pull away… a huge weight off my shoulders.

Now I race back into my room and change the sheets and scour the room for evidence.

About an hour later my chick pulled into the parking garage.

Whew…that was close.

Shannon stayed local and I’d see her around from time to time.

To my knowledge, I wasn’t her only friend either as she dated guys from Great White, Warrant and the Vince Neil Band too.

I saw her at a club a few years later but she looked pissed and ignored me.

I really didn’t mean any harm, but fuck, who sleeps past 11:00am anyway?

Besides Jorge.


Bret Michaels contributes a song last minute.

As we were right in the middle of recording Andy Secher interviewed Poison singer Bret Michaels for Hit Parader.

As you may recall from previous diaries, Andy is a partner in our label, Titanium Records.

So while Andy is chatting to Bret, he tells him that he has signed Tuff. And that Atlantic is on board, and we’re in studio (right now) recording our debut.

Bret seems interested, and tells Andy: “If they need any songs, I have some.”


Their talk heats up, and soon Andy tells the others at the label and our management about Bret’s song offer.

Of course, we were excited to hear this news but had yet to hear any songs.

At some point I guess Bret sent a tape and it ended up in our manager’s hands.

Hit Parader Magazine, January 1991 with Bret Michaels of Poison on the cover. 

Remember, this is way before digital, so it was literally a cassette tape sent in the mail.

Our manager then sends the tape to us and now we get to hear it.

Upon my first listen to “Wake Me Up” I thought, “This is not Bret singing.”

And the song wasn’t simple, like “Every Rose…” or “I Won’t Forget You”.

It was more complex, higher vocal register and some minor chords.

Nothing like a Poison song.

Either way, we agreed to do it.

Howard was pumped too.

All of us were thinking: “This could lead to a tour slot, like when Bon Jovi took out Skid Row.”

As most know, Jon and Richie Sambora got their hands on some publishing regarding Skid Row, and that was their way of helping to make that band break.

So in turn for their help, they would then make money off the publishing.

We were thinking (hoping) this could be the case for Tuff, with Poison.

I mean, if Bret wanted to make money off his song, on our major label debut, then he might push for Tuff to be part of a Poison tour.

Adding this, our management, Power Star, also represented Britny Fox.

Britny Fox had previously toured with Poison as support and no doubt that helped them sell records and eventually go Gold.


So Howard books a different studio (Sound Chamber Studios in Pasadena California) as our time at Preferred Sound was about to run out.

It’s now early February and Sir Arthur Payson was already starting to mix some songs at Aire L.A. Studios in Glendale California.

Dug this cassette out of a box in my endless storage of artifacts. 

So, Howard booked us into another room for a few days to cut “Wake Me Up” and wow did he have his hands full.

Actually Howard had booked 2 of the rooms at Sound Chamber, 1 for cutting drums and bass, and the other room for doing more last minute overdubs and edits of the other songs.

Then we had the record being mixed at Aire L.A., so Howard was working Producing the last song and then he’d run to Glendale to hear mixes with Arthur.

Anyway, after listening to “Wake Me Up” a few times I felt some of the lyrics and melody needed a tweak or two.

Why? I have no idea, but I did.

At some point I needed to call Bret, to get his approval to change them.

So going through the various channels, I am given a hotel and room number for Bret.

But I am told, when I call the hotel, I need to ask for Jack Cuzzi to get through.

As in, Jaccuzi.


Seriously, this was Bret’s code name. #WTF

After a few days of tweaking some lyrics I get on the phone with Bret and tell him I have some ideas.

He’s on the phone and now I am singing and playing “Wake Me Up” with my acoustic.

Me singing and playing: “Wake Me Up in the morning, I wanna hear you call my name, I need to hear that phone ring…” blah, blah, blah.

All this over the phone, Lol.

I found 3 faxes from Titanium, regarding the “Wake Me Up” song. Including, the one where I wrote the number down (and code name) to reach Bret while he was on tour with Poison. I called the number today, and it’s still active for the Ritz Carlton Chicago.

The faxes are very faded, but the one from Titanium dated Feb. 8th 1991, suggests Bret has sent new lyrics.

It’s hard to tell, but I think it also suggests, possibly using the title “Love Is Hard Game To Play”.

Then the fax goes onto to suggest, that they (the lyrics) don’t seem to fit the song. And we (Howard and Tuff) were asked to somehow make them work.

Which I did by making the “Wake Me Up” lyrics and idea work, by rewriting some of it myself.

So, after I re-wrote some of it, I am now singing to Bret Michaels over the phone long distance, and he’s just listening.

This was pretty whacky, but it had to be done and I must say, Bret was super nice.

He agreed to the changes and we finished our chat.

Now for the record, as of this point in my career, I was known as the Bret Michaels look-alike.

And clearly Bret knew about me, along with our band Tuff.

Going back in time, for those not in the know, Tuff actually opened for Poison in their club days. Meaning Poison’s club days.

When Poison went to play “Bootlegger’s” in Phoenix in 1985, before they signed their deal, Tuff was the hot local band and added to the bill.

So oddly, there is some weird winding history with Tuff and Poison that goes way back to 1985.

Fun Fact: On one of those shows back in the day, Bobby Dall fucked Todd Chase’s then girlfriend. Hysterical…that is some cold shit Bob! 😉

Anyway, back to Bret…

Bret and I had actually met a few times but we never hung out like buddies.

The first time I met Bret was actually on their “Look What The Cat Dragged In” tour in the fall of 1986.


Poison was on tour in support of Quiet Riot, and I saw the show in Steven’s Point Wisconsin.

My then girlfriend Jolane and her friend Thea went backstage, as they always got invited.

Then once she’d meet the band or crew, she’d say: “Can I have a pass for my friend?”

And the rock stars would ask: “Is your friend hot?” to which she replied: “Totally hot!”

Of course she never told them her friend, was her boy-friend. Lol.

This happened with Rikki Rockett, who gave her a pass for her “hot friend” who ended up being me.

Long story short, I got backstage, and met the Poison guys, or at least Bret for a minute, Bobby Dall for less and Rikki Rockett too.

That night I asked Bret for a beer as he walked off their bus, but he quickly declined.

Why the fuck I asked him for a beer, I’ll never know, as I don’t even drink, but I guess I was just trying to hang out.

However that night I did hang with Rikki, his girlfriend (Danielle) and my girlfriend (Jolane) and some others.

Rikki was super cool to us and even invited us back to his motel room.

And note, this was only a few months after “Cry Tough” was released, but before they blew up with “Talk Dirty To Me”.

Once I was in Tuff, I recall meeting Bret again in the fall of 1987 at a house party in Van Nuys.

We also said hello and shared a handshake at a TJ Martell Charity softball game somewhere along the way.

Then at some point I was invited to Bret’s house for a barbeque, but it was horrible timing.

The invite was for a weekend where Tuff was booked to play out of town, so I never got to go.

Other than a few little run-ins, and a phone call or two we didn’t know each other well.

Bret and I had plenty in common both growing up in the heart of the U.S.A. during the  70’s and 80’s.

We also share German roots, a love of old Van Halen and of course girls, girls, girls.

There were more than a few girls who we both seem to have had… relations with throughout the years.

Like March 1988 Playboy Playmate Susie Owens.

Then there was a strange by chance car-ride to Hollywood from the Valley with some random girls, one of whom was Susie Hatton.

There were also select others, including strippers, porn stars and groupies coast to coast.

Some of these situations at some point put as odds with each other, but that hatchet has long been burried.

Anyway… the Bret song was recorded, the track came out great and the album is now set.

We can only hope something develops in the way of friendships and business dealings with the band Poison.

Time to mix and master this thing… fingers crossed!


Stay tuned for Tuff Diaries # 14.

The spring of 1991 is coming, along with our debut album getting released on May 14th.

All kinds of details about the mixing, mastering, picking the first single & more.

Also, we’ll shoot a video, do photo shoots and start our assault on the U.S. tour circuit.

Thanks so much for reading…and I promise, the next few diaries, won’t be a long wait.

Stay tuned….

Message from the author.

People have said to me for years, “You should write a book, I’ll buy it.”

That’s not likely going to happen… not anytime soon at least. But if you are down with my blogs, my band or my various projects – I say thank you. 

I have self-released roughly 50 projects on CD. Cassette, VHS, DVD and Vinyl since 1994. All on my own. Without any label support. None. 

I have also kept Metal Sludge alive, afloat and online since 1998. For Free. You cannot imagine the workload a website of this magnitude can be.

No Kickstarters, no Go-Fund Me, and no Pay Me now and I’ll make a CD in a year and send it to you later. 

I am also self-managed, self-booked (most of the time) and 100% self reliant. A 1-man gang. 

If you want to support in anyway, buy a CD or Vinyl record from me, or a T-shirt. Or send me something direct via Pay Pal.

I am not begging. I am not sick and no hospital bill. Nope, just continuing my service to the fans that support my Rock N’ Roll. 

My direct Pay Pal email is – send a dollar, send ten or send fifty. Send whatever you like, or nothing at all. 

Many independent websites have Donate buttons, Metal Sludge has NOW added one, Top Right of this page.

No pressure, but hey, it’s an option if you care to do so. 

Thank you for all your loyal support of my projects.

There is more to come, more blogs and more music too. I have something in the can now it just hasn’t been packaged just yet. 

Thank you again and all of your support is greatly appreciated. 

Stevie Rachelle

Read my previous blogs linked below, numbered and dated.

Entry #1  How I Made My Way To California, 31 Years Ago Today  (June 25th 2018) 
Entry #2  My First Meeting With Tuff, “Is That All Your Real Hair?”   (June 29th 2018)
Entry #3  Tuff audition, Jim Gillette screams, a near fist fight & our debut show  (July 5th 2018)
Entry #4  The Metal Years, Famous People, Cocaine, Kiss & Sex with a Miss Gazzarri’s Dancer  (July 14th 2018)
Entry #5  Guns N’ Roses, Del James, 1988, Sound City, Strippers, Crabs & You’re Fired!  (July 30th 2018)
Entry #6  Summer on Sunset, Vinnie’s Invasion, Tracii’s Glue Gun, Vain & Sex by a Dumpster (August 11th 2018)
Entry #7  MTV’s NYE Big Bash, Riki & Taime’s Cathouse & My Girlfriend was a Poster at Spencer’s (August 20th 2018)
Entry #8  Jon Bon Jovi, Sebastian Bach, Rick Rubin, Howie Hubberman, BulletBoys & Gazzarri’s (Sept. 16th 2018)
Entry #9  Summer Tour ’89, Andy McCoy, Def Leftovers, Max the Model, Z-Rock, Tommi Gunn & Lit (Oct. 10th 2018)
Entry #10 Goodbye 1989, Jessica Hahn, Skid Row, Martha Quinn, Young Gunns, Flyer War & Cock-Rings (Nov. 9th 2018)
Entry #11 Hello 1990, Texas, Britny Fox Tour, Strippers, Hells Angels and Atlantic Records signs Tuff (March 24th 2019)
Entry #12 Ready to Record, Howard Benson, FM Station, Jani Lane, Court hearing & my 1st Playmate  (June 2nd 2019)
Entry #13 Recording our Atlantic debut, Bret Michaels, Kane Roberts & Sex is fine, but no sleepovers (Aug. 27th 2019)
Entry #14 New York City, Mixing our Record, Publishing Deal, Video Shoot , Cherry St. & Tigertailz (March 25th 2020)
Entry #15 Hello MTV, The Nelsons, Jason Newsted, U.S. Summer Tour, London & our Stolen Ryder Truck (May 19th 2020)
Entry #16 Lita Ford, Jason Flom, 75+ Shows, Cocaine, a Lawsuit, Sweet F.A. & the Freeway Fight (July 29th 2020)
Entry #17 Hello 1992, Gene Simmons, More Money, Mike Starr, a New Bassist & Jason Flom II (March 20th 2021)
Entry #18 WildSide, Dee Snider, Tour Drama, Baywatch, New Label Search and Living in Reseda (Aug. 21 2021)
Entry #19 Michael Resigns, River Phoenix, Thirsty Whale, He’s Got a Gun, Stolen Van & Danny Quits (Jan. 16th 2022)
Entry #20 1994, Northridge Earthquake, Kurt Cobain, RLS Records, releasing “Fist First” (May 2022)

Tuff @ Facebook –  eBay – Amazon– iTunes – Instagram – Twitter – Store – Discogs – YouTube 

Stevie Rachelle @ Twitter – Facebook – Facebook 2 – Intsagram –  Reverbnation – Metal SludgeDonate –





Metal Sludge is not responsible for offensive comments. That said, you have no right to free speech on this site. This is our site, and we are not the United States government. We reserve the right to edit all comments, and to moderate all comment threads, as we see fit. Happy Sludging!