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German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell is one of heavy metal's masterminds, thanks to his spiraling playing techniques, which helped Pell remain a mainstay in the hard rock genre for decades. His first band, Steeler, kicked off a career in Europe during the early part of the '80s, issuing three albums (1984's Steeler, 1985's Rulin' the Earth, 1986's Strike Back) prior to 1987's Undercover Animal, which signaled the beginning of Pell's solo career. This professional jaunt allowed Pell to fully expose his riveting playing power and collaborations between he and other musicians. His 1989 album Wild Obsession showcased ex-Steeler bassist Volker Krawczak and vocal charm from Charlie Huhn, but 1991's sophomore effort proved Pell's determination. Nasty Reputation was heavier, with Rob Rock on vocals and Pell bringing in neo-classical influences. Later albums such as Black Moon Pyramid (1996) and Oceans of Time (1998) were exquisitely mastered, churning similar sounds of Rainbow and Deep Purple. Axel Rudi Pell issued a slew of releases while remaining a chief force among the German charts. Aside from Rock, his lead singers included Jeff Scott Soto and Johnny Gioeli. ~ MacKenzie Wilson