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Long before ex-Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider fronted a short-lived heavy metal band named Widowmaker in the early '90s, there was another band called Widowmaker, a British-based one that was active for an even shorter spell during the mid-'70s. This band was created in 1975 by former Mott the Hoople guitarist Ariel Bender (aka Luther Grosvenor), and was considered something of a semi-supergroup at the time because it also boasted the talents of singer Steve Ellis (previously with U.K. chart-toppers Love Affair), guitarist Hugh Lloyd-Langton (formerly with Hawkwind), Australian bassist Bob Daisley (ex-Khavas Jute, Chicken Shack, and Mungo Jerry), and drummer Paul Nicholls (ex-Lindisfare). In fact, though they'd only been rehearsing together for a few months (at Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Manticore Studios, in London, no less), the quintet quickly parlayed their pre-existing music business connections into a contract with Jet Records, and had their first single, "On the Road," in stores come February of 1976. This was followed in short order by Widowmaker's eponymous debut, which actually charted in America (barely, at number 196) and featured an incredibly eclectic, even confusing, cross-section of sounds — none of them nearly as menacing as the band's moniker, it should be noted. Rather, these included blues, country, folk, and hard rock elements, among others, and thus, simultaneously showed endless compositional possibilities and the inevitable musical and personality differences that would lead to their demise. Sure enough, it didn't take long for relationships to go sour once Widowmaker headed out on the road — touring the U.K. with Nazareth and in the U.S. with ELO — and by the time they returned home, Ellis had announced his departure, stating he was tired of clashing repeatedly with Bender. Singer John Butler was brought in to replace him for 1977's sophomore Too Late to Cry album, but Widowmaker wound up falling apart only months after its release. The musicians scattered to the four winds, with bassist Daisley enjoying the longest and busiest subsequent résumé of the bunch, as he went on to hook up with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath, and countless others. Actually his subsequent fame, even as a career sideman, easily overshadowed Widowmaker's modest legacy, which at least was eventually compiled into 2002's nearly complete, two-disc anthology, Straight Faced Fighters.
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