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The Rock City Angels began as teenagers. Bassist ANDY PANIK at age 15 had been the vicitm of a divorce. After spending the first 15 yeats of his life living in the affluent suburb of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, his mother moved to Florida and Andy never seemed to fit into his new environment. Bored, one night Andy went to the movies to see DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION. While at the movies he met BOBBY DURANGO who was from Oakland, California but was vacationing in Florida for the summer. Together Andy and Bobby formed a band called THE ABUSERS and by the end of the summer were opening up for the CIRCLE JERKS and BLACK FLAG.

After the summer, Bobby's parents became very unhappy with their son's new-found interests in music and, although he was only 16, kicked him out of the house. At first Bobby moved south where he lived on the streets of Hollywood andeventually rejoined his friend Andy in Florida where he slept on the roof of Andy's Mother's apartment. Together Andy and Bobby formed a new band. Andy liked the name ROCK CITY and Bobby liked the name UNDERGROUND ANGELS. They put the two names together and came up with the name ROCK CITY ANGELS.

Meanwhile another unhappy teen was also discovering the alure of rock 'n roll. Johnny Depp, like Andy, had lived a happy life until moving to Florida after the dath of his grandfather. It was there, too, that he learned to play in bands such as the KIDS. Depp was the first of the Florida rockers to head for Hollywood with the intention of becoming a rock star.

Although the ROCK CITY ANGELS developed a major following in Palm Beach, the group felt they had reached the height of their potential by 1986. They'd recorded a demo, and after receiving no interest from the record companies, decided to split-up. However, just as the band was preparing to perform their fare-well concert, a letter arrived from an indy label called New Renaissance Records.

Although noone in Los Angeles knew anything about the ROCK CITY ANGELS, label manager ANN BOLEYN (herself an underground metal hero of sorts), devised a plan that would put the Angels on the city's rock and roll map! Although the band had already signed to New Renaissance, the band members agreed to say nothing about the deal to the public. The strategy was to give the public the illusion that the band had been entirely responsible for generating their own publicity.

The plan could not have worked better. Since GUNS AND ROSES had been signed to Geffen and were no longer playing in clubs, ROCK CITY ANGELS quickly took over much of their following. When the time was right, New Renaissance shipped advance-copies of the Angels' album to local stations who immediately began playing the record and announced the albums pending release.

In an interview Ann Boleyn of New Renaissance commented,"Things began getting very strange about two weeks before the ROCK CITY ANGELS' album came out. Once night at about 4 a.m. I was awakened on my private phone line by a stranger and told to stay away from the Rock City Angels. On another night someone tried to run me off of the road when I was driving through Topanga Canyon. I heard rumors that Geffen was interested in the band and I was immediately suspicious of their intentions because the band was so similar to Guns And Roses. When I found out that Geffen had signed the band I went to a couple attorneys and they, too, were suspicious. I had two choices. I legal fight would have cost me a fortune and would have tied-up the band's career. If Geffen wanted to stop any competition from Rock City Angels, a lawsuit would have just aided them and I would have ended up looking like the bad guy. The other choice was to let them go.

A few days prior to the planned release-date of the Rock City Angel's debut on New Renaissance, the band's newly appointed manager made sure that all evidence of that album was destroyed. "I grabbed a copy of the cassette j-card out of the trash and had to keep it hidden," commented Andy Panik in am interview conducted after the group had disbanded. "It seemed like everyone wanted to destroy any evidence that we had existed before signing to Geffen."

Things declined from there. "The record company people told us they didn't want us to wear makeup, that they didn't like our name and that they didn't like our songs. Then they flew us to Tennessee."

While Guns And Roses careers skyrocketed, Rock City Angels hung out in Memphis, month after month.

It was nearly two years later before the Rock City Angels album on Geffen was released. Even though Geffen was famous for their ability to promote their acts, their lack of effort on the Rock Angels debut did not go unnoticed. In his book "Stairway To Hell, " veteran Rolling Stone jounalist Chuck Eddy states "Beats me why he (David Geffen) followed up with such a two-bit promo-blitz..." (Chuck Eddy, however, still included the band's debut, "Young Man's Blues" in his "Best 500 Albums of Heavy Metal." The band's album was listed at #106.)

The band that emerged on "Young Man's Blues" was a dissappointment to most anyone who'd heard them prior to being signed by Geffen. Although the band had always been infuenced by both the blues and punk music, the punk and glam aspect had been sanitized. One journalist commented that "It is interesting how Guns And Roses' live shows were terrible but how their album sounded great. With Rock City Angels it was the other way around, the live show was great but the studio recordings were a disappointment."

Although the band is forgotten by most people, anyone who ever saw them live prior to signing to Geffen is sure to never forget their energy and charisma. I have asked myself many times why such a great band could have been treated in this manner? Did Geffen sign ROCK CITY ANGELS for the sole purpose of keeping them from stealing GUNS AND ROSES' spotlight? Did the Hollywood movers and shakers decide that Johnny Depp was too valuable to them to allow him to fullfil his dream as a rocker. Is that another reason why the band was shipped to Tennessee (which forced Depp to quit)?! I do not know, but, I think the whole things smells really fishy!

NOTE: I doubt that hardly anybody will visit my webpage. Nobody I knew these days even knows who this band was. However, if anyone from the band ever reads this please know that your fans miss you!


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