The Heavy Metal Kids were formed by the merger of two previous bands: Heaven and Biggles. They took their name from a gang of street kids, featured in the novel Nova Express by William S. Burroughs.
The initial, pre-recording line-up consisted of Mickey Waller (guitar), Ronnie Thomas (bass and vocals), Gary Holton (lead vocals), Keith Boyce (drums) and Cosmo (guitar). They were the first signing by Atlantic Records’ new London offices, having been spotted by their A&R man, Dave Dee. In January 1974, they recorded their first, self-titled album, produced by Dave Dee and engineered by Phil Chapman.
Waller left the band shortly before they went in to Island Studios, to record the follow-up album Anvil Chorus, in January 1975, which was produced by Andy Johns. At this point keyboard player Danny Peyronel left to join UFO and was replaced by John Sinclair. Shortly after, Cosmo was replaced by Barry Paul, and the band moved to Mickie Most’s RAK Records where they recorded Kitsch, which was produced by Most.
John Sinclair left to join Uriah Heep and was replaced by Jay Williams.
Keith Boyce left and was replaced by Ricky Squires, previously of the Dead End Kids on CBS records.
After Holton’s death in 1985, the band went into a long hiatus until, in 2002, they recorded a new album, Hit The Right Button, released in 2003 and featuring Peyronel, now on lead vocals and keyboards, Ronnie Thomas, Keith Boyce, Marco Barusso (guitars and vocals) and Marco Guarnerio (guitars and vocals). The album was produced by Barusso.
Hit The Right Button enjoyed critical success. The ‘twentieth century’ Heavy Metal Kids embarked on a series of tours of the UK and Europe. In early 2008, a ‘special edition’ of the album was released by Angel Air Records. Under the name Hit The Right Button Plus, the CD featured four of their songs performed live in London and Milan between 2003 and 2005 as bonus tracks, as well as fully re-designed artwork.
In October 2008, and now featuring Matteo Salvadori replacing Guarnerio, the Heavy Metal Kids went into Massive Arts Studio in Milan, where initial recordings were made. Barusso worked for nearly two years with Salvadori and Peyronel trying to finish the album, but it was never completed.
On 8 August 2010, Peyronel left the band and shortly after this, the actor John Altman was unveiled as the new lead singer. Altman was a friend of the original frontman, Holton, and he appeared with him in Quadrophenia.
In October 2010, the Heavy Metal Kids embarked on a tour with the new line-up featuring John Altman (vocals), Ronnie Thomas (bass/vocals), Cosmo (guitar), Keith Boyce (drums) and Justin McConville (guitar/vocals/keyboards). They have been working on their album to be titled ‘Uncontrollable!’. A single of the same title has been released.
In early 2011 John Altman announced he was leaving the band to focus on his other commitments. L.A. Guns frontman Phil Lewis joined the band for a couple of gigs and will return to the band for some performances later this year. The band is currently operating as a four-piece with Justin McConville taking on lead vocal duties.
In October 2011 Ronnie Thomas appeared in the Identity Parade round of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, preceded by VT of the Top of the Pops recording of She’s no Angel. In 2012 Thomas left the band. He was replaced by Ronnie Garrity. (by wikipedia)
The Heavy Metal Kids never became stars, never won any readers polls, never had a hit record. But, if you could roll back time to that moment in 1974 when the very first needle hit the very first pressing of their eponymous debut album, it would be impossible to predict that sordid fate. Quite frankly, Heavy Metal Kids rises so far above the rest of the period pack that — Sparks and Cockney Rebel notwithstanding — there was no more exciting proposition to be found on the new-release shelves. Part unrepentant boogie band, part pub rock leviathan, and part good-time distillation of the best of Slade and the Faces, fronted by the utterly irresistible cackle of singer Gary Holton, the Kids’ flash, slash, and sashay assault had a cosmic energy that could transform even the ballads (“It’s the Same,” “Nature of My Game”) into fists-in-the-air anthems. A decade later, the band could have so rewritten the notion of the power ballad that suffering through the 1980s might never have been necessary; a decade earlier, the British Invasion could have been the new prog. Imagine Jim Steinman producing Them, and you’re close to the majesty of Heavy Metal Kids. As it is, the only people who seem to have truly noted what the Kids were doing were the Rolling Stones — the laconic reggae of “Run Around Eyes” is a dry run for the Stones’ later romp through “Cherry Oh Baby.” Heavy Metal Kids hits so many peaks — “Ain’t It Hard,” “Always Plenty of Women,” “Hangin’ On” — that the end of the album comes so quickly that even they seemed to be taken by surprise. The closing “Rock n’ Roll Man,” heralded by one of the most triumphant roars in rock history, is followed not by the sound of needle scraping label, but by a violent reprise for what remains the Kids’ finest hour: the stomping, storming “We Gotta Go.” And that is not only a juxtaposition that will have you talking Cockney for the rest of the day, it also tells you everything you need to know about The Heavy Metal Kids. Nothing can be taken for granted — and nothing was. Including the fame and glory that this album still demands. (by Dave Thompson)
01. Hangin On’ (Waller) 3.05
02. Ain’t It Hard (Holton/Waller/Thomas) 3.00
03. It’s The Same (Peyronel/Soulé) 5.40
04. Run Around Eyes (Boyce/Holton/Peyronel/Thomas/Waller) 2.57
05. We Gotta Go (Boyce/Holton/Peyronel/Thomas/Waller) 4.55
06. Always Plenty Of Women (Thomas) 3.25
07. Nature Of My Game (Holton/Waller) 3.35
08. Kind Woman (Waller) 4.28
09. Rock ‘N’ Roll Man (Buddah/Thomas) 7.30
10. We Gotta Go (Reprise) (Boyce/Holton/Peyronel/Thomas/Waller) 1.20