Growing up listening to thrash metal in the small college town of Peterborough, Ontario was tough. A two hundred pound stamp collector with facial acne had a better chance of a social life. 'Moondance', our independent record store had one plastic milk crate… a cardboard label with the heavenly words scripted upon it “M E T A L” Occasionally with enough begging and pleading they would Import a “Music for Nations” release from Europe to place alongside the TWISTED SISTER and POISON albums. Along with the Imported vinyl usually came a British magazine called ‘Metal Forces’ It was my bible.
Often out dated by the time it reached our shores, I poured through each page, reading about these new and upcoming acts. Often writing to them to receive their demos, or to find out what life, ...and the "scene" was like in other countries. Through the magazine's Pen Bangers section, I shared music and amazing correspondence. Tape trading with companions, and bands all over the planet our gift economy was legendary.
One day a package arrived from a woman in Ohio who went by the name 'Stella The Thrash Queen'. She was a DJ who did a show on W.R.U.W. called 'The Wrath Of The Thrash Queen'. Eager I immediately slipped the "tape cassette" into my "getto blaster", to get some sort of feel for who this girl was. Between the sounds of bands like EXODUS; AGNOSTIC FRONT; CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER and DESTRUCTION, I listened to her strange sounding drawled out Ohio accent. As I listened to the music from her radio show, and read her very long letter Cleveland became somewhere exotic
Our relationship grew over the following year, and into the next summer, where we spent a lot of time together in Canada. Drinking beer, listening to metal, parting hard, and living the thrash metal lifestyle as much as humanly possible. We spent most of the summer hanging out in Toronto. I introduced her to the head shops on Young Street, and we spent a lot of money on vinyl at the Record Peddler on Carlton Street. Or sometimes we just killed time hanging out at places like Happy House, or INFERNAL MAJESTY’s band practice space Whenever we got a moment, we did interviews for radio and fanzines with Canadian bands
In August of 1988 I flew into Cleveland to visit the United States for the first time. Stella met me at the airport with a huge airbrushed skull sign that her brother had made for me, and within minutes we were off in someone’s vehicle drinking beer on our way to see FANG / FALSE HOPE and CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE at September's Night Club. The thing I remember most about Ohio, are the small differences that no one talks about. We called them pipes, not a bowls, and we used bottlers, not mufflers. I caught on quickly and learned to always order Imported alcohol, instead of the watered down crap the domestic companies passed off as beer. Another good thing to remember is always pay with an American two dollar bill. The bar staff consider them unlucky and refuse to take them [I still have mine] A stranger will always feel sorry for you and offer to buy your drink.
The next few days were a whirlwind of memories… I met Stella’s son Ian for the first time. He was probably around five years old. The same age as my youngest boy is today. Stella cooked dinner and Ian and I played with his toys. Stella was such a great mother, who always looked out for her son’s best interests. That week I also met Stella’s friend Roger for the first time. He was so good to us both when I was visiting. I owe him a thousand thanks and many dollars for showing me around while I was there. When I wasn’t getting him kicked out of motels, we visited local attractions and spent some time in Detroit at the Henry Ford Museum. We also saw a bunch of Punk bands play the Agora Ballroom or maybe it was the Phantasy Theatre. It doesn‘t matter I guess. While on my trip, I also managed to stop by W.R.U.W. 91.1 on join Stella on the air while she hosted her radio show ‘The Wrath Of The Thrash Queen’. I was impressed by her professional attitude, and how much she really tried to help plug the newer up and coming bands.
I don’t remember much about the next time Stella came to visit. I do know it was Nov of 1988, because I have some video of us hanging out backstage with SUDDEN IMPACT; SACRIFICE and ANVIL again at the Concert Hall. Sam, and Dave from FALSE HOPE and another friend drove her up. I remember them being upset that they had to pick me up, and never realized how far North of Toronto, [2 hours] Peterborough is. When we got back to Toronto Sam and Dave took off, while the three of us went to the show. It’s too bad, because whenever Stella visited I always cashed in my favours and made sure that she was treated like royalty. Bands and promoters always had beer waiting for us…
It wasn’t until the following fall that that we saw each other again. Her friend “Psycho Tim” drove her up and they both spent a week with my room-mates and I at my Peterborough apartment. We drank way too much, and had tons of fun that week. Saw a local band called ALCHEMY play a house party… Got harassed by the cops for doing nothing. That happens a lot in Canada.