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Virginia Wolf

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Biography

Despite their obvious lack of commercial success, British AOR export Virginia Wolf certainly seemed to be living the high life when they made their lunge for the brass ring, armed with a major-label contract, pristine sounds and looks, and, oh yeah, only the most coveted heir apparent to rock & roll's drum throne in Jason Bonham. But it certainly didn't start out that way, when vocalist/guitarist Nick Bold teamed up with bassist Clive Corner and vocalist/drummer Paul Johnson to launch Virginia Wolf in Manchester, 1976. Not only did they gamely set out to cut against the grain of punk rock as a Cream-inspired power trio, but with the arrival of lead singer Chris Ousey in 1980, they morphed into a more mainstream rock proposition, just in time to weather the fast-rising New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Well, there's no accounting for taste, as they say, and so while the rest of the U.K. was headbanging in denim and leather, Virginia Wolf wanted nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of AOR kings Foreigner — a choice that cost the band several more years of anonymous songwriting and rehearsal, shaping the sound of their dreams in obscurity. But the band was eventually recompensed very handsomely for its commitment to this vision, when it entered into a management contract with the agency behind such superstars as Genesis and Ian Gillan, and subsequently netted an incredible $1.2 million recording deal with Atlantic Records!

But wait, it got better: Ousey and Bold were then paired with none other than Roger Taylor of Queen to produce Virginia Wolf's eponymous debut album (over separate sessions in Germany, London, and Ibiza!), and after hiring an experienced session bassist in Jo Burt, came the apparent coup de grace of attracting drummer Jason "Son of John" Bonham…nothing like having friends in high places. The album arrived in stores in February of 1986 and was shortly followed by a U.S. tour opening for Jimmy Page's newest supergroup, the Firm, but, unfortunately, this was where Virginia Wolf's recently charmed existence began to hit some snags, when having to fight for the attention of their high-profile management company while trying to justify disappointingly soft album sales began to catch up with the sizable investment made by Atlantic Records. For a while, there was serious doubt that the label (concurrently mining the glam metal surge with bands like Ratt and Twisted Sister, instead of peddling glossy AOR) would even pick up Virginia Wolf's option, but the green light was eventually given for the recording of sophomore album Push. This time the band spent three months in the San Francisco Bay area working with respected producer Kevin Elson (whose past credits ranged from Journey to Lynyrd Skynyrd to recent chart-toppers Europe), attempting to craft an even more commercial and irresistible confection for release in the summer of 1987, but it too was dead on arrival, and, with it, Virginia Wolf's career, which proceeded to unravel at an alarming rate once Atlantic dropped them, Bonham up and quit, and their management company really lost interest.

Genre
Years Active:

'80s