By Niki D’Andrea
Believe it or not, Arizona has always been a haven for heavy metal icons. From the earliest days of heavy metal, the Valley of the Sun has housed and spawned some of the most influential acts in the genre: Flotsam and Jetsam, Sacred Reich, Megadeth, Soulfly, Linkin Park -- hell, our state even has ties to Slayer and Metallica. We’re not sure if it’s the purgatory-worthy heat, the mystic mountains, or the minions of metalheads here, but one thing’s for certain: more famous metal musicians live or have lived in Arizona than the average Joe realizes. The 14 most noteworthy Arizona metal men are listed below, in no particular order.
1. Rob Halford (Judas Priest) : Quite possibly the most revered singer in the history of metal (behind perhaps only Ozzy Osbourne), Rob Halford has called Phoenix home since 1985. His home sits on a mountaintop in Paradise Valley, and when the monsoon season hits, he loves to look out over the Valley during thunderstorms. Halford has said Phoenix is “in my soul” and “means everything to me.” (Read more about Rob Halford’s favorite Phoenix haunts in Up on the Sun on Wednesday, August 27).
2. Alice Cooper : The original shock rocker is probably the most famous of our musical residents (unless you count Stevie Nicks, a rare Arizona native who’s in a whole other genre). Although born in Detroit, Cooper’s called Phoenix home since his teenage years in the ‘60s, when he attended Cortez High School. He’s been the face of Phoenix ever since, and his downtown restaurant/sports bar/music venue, Alice Cooper’stown, is a must-see for out of towners and a mainstay for Phoenicians. When not touring or recording, Cooper can often be found playing golf at the Arizona Biltmore.
3. Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer): Keenan owns the Merkins Vineyards and Caduceus Wine Cellars in Cornville, Arizona, a sleepy mountain town about two hours north of Phoenix and ten minutes from the red rock city of Sedona. He also maintains a residence there. (Read about my visit to Page Springs Cellars and my tastings of Keenan’s wines in Up on the Sun on Monday, August 25).
4. Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, The Cavalera Conspiracy): Cavalera moved to Phoenix from his native Brazil in the early 1990s. His home in northwest Phoenix doubles as headquarters for Soulfly’s management, and is also located less than two blocks from where I live. So yes, I’ve run into Cavalera at our neighborhood Walgreen’s.
5. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth): Although now living in California, Mustaine lived in Phoenix and made the city headquarters for Megadeth throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. His former bandmate, bassist Dave Ellefson, still lives in the Valley and has formed a new band called F5.
6. Kerry King (Slayer): The Slayer guitarist lived in Phoenix during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, even playing briefly with Megadeth before quitting to focus on Slayer. An avowed snake breeder and enthusiast, King’s love of reptiles may have been one of his reasons for taking up residency here: the Arizona desert is home to more variety of rattlesnakes than anywhere else in the world. Interestingly, King has had public feuds with two other notable metal bands, both of which have ties to Arizona: Megadeth, and Machine Head (the latter band features drummer Dave McLean, formerly of Phoenix thrash band Sacred Reich).
7. Jason Newsted (Flotsam and Jetsam, Metallica, Voivod): Thrash metal band Flotsam and Jetsam formed in Phoenix in 1982, and bassist Jason Newsted had been a member for as long when Metallica hired him to replace the late Cliff Burton in 1986. Newsted left Metallica in 2001, but continues to play bass in Voivod and maintains a low profile in the Valley, where he enjoys mountain biking and rooting for the Phoenix Suns.
8. Chester Bennington (Linkin Park): Born in Phoenix, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington attended Greenway High School on Phoenix’s west side, and in 1995, he co-founded the Club Tattoo body art studios in Tempe with Sean Dowdell. He now lives in Orange County, California, but returns to the Valley every year for the annual Club Tattoo anniversary celebrations.
9. George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob): Guitarist George Lynch was one of Phoenix’s most celebrated residents in the early ‘90s. His home in northwest Phoenix was well-known for housing countless guitars and every type of effects pedal known to man. I went to middle school with Lynch’s daughter Natasha, and my one run-in with the six-string slinger came after Natasha and I egged somebody’s house and they called our parents. He now lives near Los Angeles.
10. Troy Luccketta (Tesla): The drummer for Tesla currently in Scottsdale, which explains why the band held the release party for its last album at the Martini Ranch.
11. Bret Michaels (Poison) : Although he has multiple residences, the singer of Poison and the star of VH1’s reality show Rock of Love also has a home in Scottsdale.
12. Michael Schenker (Scorpions, USO) : The German hard rock guitarist has a residence in Scottsdale.
13. Roger Miret (Agnostic Front): The vocalist for NYC hardcore group Agnostic Front lives in the Valley, where he also fronts the band Roger Miret and the Disasters.
14. Wiley Arnett (Sacred Reich): The former guitarist for Sacred Reich still lives in Phoenix, where he’s rocking the metal scene in his new band, The Human Condition.