Pentagram was formed in 1971 by Bobby Liebling along with Geof O'Keefe. Bobby had earlier played in Shades of Darkness (1966-1969), while Geof had been in a band called Space Meat. At some point, for about three months, Bobby had joined Space Meat, when the band was called Stone Bunny.
The original line-up of Pentagram consisted of Bobby Liebling (vocals), Vincent McAllister (bass), Geof O'Keefe (guitar) and Steve Martin (drums). A month later, John Jennings, formerly also in Space Meat, joins on guitar. Then Steve Martin leaves the band and O’Keefe switches to drums. John Jennings leaves the band. The remaining three do a few rehearsals without a guitar player.
On Christmas day 1971, Vincent McAllister switches to guitar and Greg Mayne joins on bass to form the classic 'Pentagram MK IV' line-up of Bobby Liebling (vocals), Geof O’Keefe (drums), Vincent McAllister (guitar), and Greg Mayne (bass).
The band changes names several times. When they release their first single in July 1972, 'Be Forewarned' `` b/w 'Lazy Lady' ``, it was under the moniker of Macabre (misspelled as 'Macbre' on half of the 1,000 copies). The following year, the band releases its next single, 'Hurricane' b/w 'Earth Flight', and performs its first live show. In 1974 and again in 1975, the band is briefly joined by a second guitar player, Randy Palmer, who also starts a project under the name of Bedemon, in which he is joined by Bobby, Geof O'Keefe, and Mike Matthews. The project is revived in 2000 and new songs are recorded in 2001. Tragically, on August 8, 2002, Randy Plamer dies from complications of a car accident a week before. Randy co-wrote with Bobby the song 'Starlady' which Pentagram later recorded.
Another single, 'Under My Thumb b/w When The Screams Come,' is released in October 1974 by the 5-member Pentagram. Also in 1974, Columbia Records shows interest in signing Pentagram, and a demo is recorded in 1975, including the songs 'Run My Course,' 'When the Screams Come,' and 'Wheel of Fortune.' The producers of these recordings are Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman of Blue Oyster Cult fame. Arguments in the studio prevent the signing with CBS, which instead signs Judas Priest. In 1975, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of Kiss express an interest in signing Pentagram to Casablanca Records and in buying the rights to the Pentagram songs 'Starlady' and 'Much Too Young to Know.' Neither happens, and Kiss signs the band Angel.
In 1976 Pentagram record an unreleased EP, including the songs 'Teaser,' 'Smoke Screen,' 'Much Too Young to Know,' 'Little Games,' and 'Starlady.' These recordings are now known as the Underground Sound Recordings. Thereafter, the band breaks up, reforms again with an additional guitar player, Marty Iverson, but soon disbands again. O'Keefe and McAllister go on to join Sex, which also features Bret Reiss, who was formerly with The Boyz, a band which also included one Joe Hasselvander.
Later in 1977, yet another Pentagram incarnation emerges, with Bobby Liebling, Randy Palmer, John Ossea on drums, and a guitar player. But this line-up too is not meant to be.
On Halloween 1978, Bobby Liebling meets Joe Hasselvander. They soon form another Pentagram, along with Richard Kueht and Paul Trowbridge on guitar, and Martin Swaney on bass. This line-up is know as the 'High Voltage Pentagram'. In December they record the single 'Livin' in Ram's Head' b/w 'When the Screams Come,' and the single is released the following year. In 1978, also, Pentagram plays support to Judas Priest, but after a few more live shows, the band breaks up.
On Halloween 1981, Bobby Liebling is introduced to Victor Griffin of the band Death Row, in which Joe Hasselvander is now drummer. Bobby joins Death Row. Marty Swaney replaces Lee Abney on bass. In 1982 they record a demo called 'All Your Sins' and sign an album deal. The band does many live shows, especially on the East Coast. Death Row changes its name to Pentagram.
In 1985, with the help of Tom Lyle of the punk band, Government Issue, Pentagram works out a deal with Dutch East Recordings as distributor to release its first, self-titled LP on Pentagram Records. Just before the album is released, Joe Hasselvander leaves the band to join Raven and is replaced by Stuart Rose. Rose plays on all but one song of the band's second album, 'Day of Reckoning', released in 1987 on Napalm Records. Pentagram does live shows in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area, in New York, and in Tennessee. In the Summer of 1988, Griffin quits the band. Soon thereafter, but briefly, Pentagram reforms with some of its 70's members, including, next to Bobby, Randy Palmer, Greg Mayne, and Teddy Feldman. This group, again, soon disbands.
In 1990, Peaceville Records shows an interest in re-releasing the Pentagram LPs from the 80s and in producing a new album. In 1991, Liebling signs to Peaceville. A year later, Peaceville includes the Pentagram songs 'Sign of the Wolf' and “All Your Sins” on the label's “Volume 4” and 'Aspects of Vol. 4' compilations. Later, a limited Collectors Club single, “Relentless b/w Day of Reckoning,” is also released.
In 1993, Pentagram reforms in the 'Death Row' line-up of Bobby Liebling, Victor Griffin, Joe Hasselvander, and Marty Swaney. In May of that year also the self-titled LP (1985) is re-released on CD and LP as 'Relentless'. In August 1993, 'Day of Reckoning' (1987) is also re-released in a remixed format with the drums rerecorded by Joe Hasselvander.
On September 14, 1993, Pentagram play their first show in over six years at Tikifala, Virginia. A new album is recorded from January to April 1994. In 1994, from April to June, Victor Griffin and Joe Hasselvander play as guest musicians in Cathedral for the band's support slot to Black Sabbath. Later that year, in November, the band release their new album 'Be Forewarned' on CD and double LP.
Late 1995, another line-up change occurs. Pentagram now consists of Bobby Liebling and Victor Griffin, with Greg Turley on bass, and Gary Isom on drums. This band plays three live shows: on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1995 at Spectator's in Frederick, MD; on January 20, 1996 at the 9:30 club (with Clutch); and on March 14, 1996 at Manny's in Rockville, MD (when a huge fight broke out in the middle of the song Wartime). Then Victor Griffin again leaves for Tennessee.
Another line-up of Pentagram also briefly exists around this time, when Bobby Liebling is reunited with Joe Hasselvander, as well as Greg Reeder on guitar, and Ned Malone on bass. This band records a demo, but also quickly disbands.
In 1998, Downtime Recordings releases a compilation CD of classic 1970s Pentagram recordings. The CD appears to be authorized by Bobby Liebling.
In 1999, Pentagram reforms and records as a two-piece group, consisting of Bobby Liebling on vocals and Joe Hasselvander who plays drums, bass, as well as guitar! The band releases a new CD, 'Review Your Choices' on the Black Widow Records label out of Italy. On August 14, Bobby and Joe perform the song “Relentless” with Trouble's Rick Wartell and Ron Holzner at the Stoner Hands of Doom festival `see Gallery for pix!`. Interviews with Joe and Bobby and a lengthy article by Perry Grayson in two issues of Metal Maniacs help the band (and its history) gain some much-needed exposure. `see Interviews page`.
In 2000, there are a few reunion shows of Pentagram, but the band plays under the name of Death Row. These reunions consist of Bobby and Joe teaming up with Victor Griffin and Lee Abney, who are now playing in Place of Skulls.
On November 25, 2000, a Death Row line-up of Bobby, Joe, Victor, and Lee performs four songs at the Velvet Lounge, DC. On February 9, 2001, Death Row does a full-set live show in Virginia. Later that year, also, a full-fledged Pentagram band is announced for live-shows, particularly for the Doomsday festival. This band should have consisted of Bobby and Joe along with Greg Turley on bass and Dale Russell on drums. However, this band never came together, because Greg Turley is committed to his new band Countershaft and had no time. Instead, the line-up that was to play the Doomsday show on July 14, 2001, was Bobby Liebling (vox), Joe Hasselvander (guitar), Dale Russell (drums), and Walter White, who joined on bass from Black Manta. At the Doomsday show, however, Joe, Dale, and Walter first played several songs as instrumentals without Bobby, who was late! Bobby showed up well after 1:00 a.m. and had time to sing half a song (Gorgon's Slave) before the venue closed and everyone was asked to leave...
On February 19, 2002, Relapse Records releases an official CD of original 1970s Pentagram recordings under the title, 'First Daze Here (The Vintage Collection).” That month, also, Bobby announced he would start a solo album, “I Call the Shots.” And there are plans for Relapse Records to release another CD of vintage 70s Pentagram material. Black Widow Records announces that it will release a live album of a 1978 Pentagram live show.
Sadly, one-time Pentagram member, Randy Palmer, dies on August 8, 2002. The founder of Bedemon, Randy also wrote essays and books about horror movies.
In December 2002, Pentagram is said to be working on a new album of covers (of Blue Cheer, Alice Cooper, Dust, Mountain, The Stooges, MC 5, Sir Lord Baltimore, and more). The working title of the new CD would be 'Deep Covers.' In January, 2003, Joe Hasselvander is recording drums and guitar --along with Mark Gallagher of Raven-- for Jack Starr's new album. Also in early 2003 Joe is recording with Forgotten Realm, and in May he would be touring with a band that calls itself Blue Cheer.
In May 2003, Black Widow Records releases 'A Keg Full of Dynamite,' a mostly live album of the High Voltage band, the 1978 line-up that first united Bobby and Joe in Pentagram and that also features future Death Row bassist Marty Swaney, along with the dual guitars of Trowbridge and Kueht. The CD/LP also includes the original 'Livin' in a Ram's Head' single and its flip side.
Since the Summer of 2003, Joe Hasselvander is no longer in Pentagram. The band began rehearsing under a new line-up of Bobby Liebling (vocals) along with Kelly Carmichael on guitars (from Internal Void), Adam S. Heinzmann on bass (also from Internal Void), and Mike Smail on drums (from Penance). The band has been rehearsing since August 2003 and there are plans for a new record, 'Show Em How,' to be recorded in September for a late December release from Black Widow. In October/November, the new band was recording with Chris Kozlowski at Polar Bear Lair Studios in Middletown, MD.Source: MetalMania.net
|Kelly Carmichael||Guitar||Internal Void|
|Adam S. Heinzmann||Bass||Internal Void|
|Mike Smail||Drums||Cathedral, Penance, Dream Death|
|Be Forewarned (7")||1972||No Label|
|Hurricane (7")||1973||No Label|
|Under My Thumb (7")||1974||No Label|
|Living In A Ram´s Head (Single)||1979||No Label|
|Day Of Reckoning (LP)||1987||Peaceville Records|
|Day Of Reckoning (Re-release)||1993||Peaceville Records|
|Be Forewarned||1994||Peaceville Records|
|Review Your Choices||1999||Black Widow Records|
|First Daze Here||2001||Relapse Records|
|Sub-Basement||2001||Black Widow Records|
|Turn To Stone (Comp.)||2002||Peaceville Records|
|A Keg Full Of Dynamite (Live)||2003||Black Widow Records|
|First Daze Here Too (Comp.)||2004||Relapse Records|
|Show Em How||2004||Black Widow Records|