July 9, 2008
By David Huff
House Of Lords - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13
Finding A Way Home
When Gregg Guiffria’s namesake group was dropped by MCA records after just two albums in 1986, the band was left with nothing but a demo tape of music for their next record. Undaunted by the turn of events, the keyboardist ran into an old friend at a movie premiere, Gene Simmons, and talked about his band. The KISS icon had discovered Guiffria’s first group, Angel, performing at a nightclub in the Washington, D.C. area in 1975. Impressed with their music and all white stage presence, Gene persuaded his label, Casablanca, to sign the group. The band unofficially disbanded after a live album in 1980. The 25-year old keyboardist started his own band with singer David Glen Eisley. MCA, thinking they had another Journey on their hands, signed the group. The band rewarded the label with a Top Ten hit, “Call to the Heart”, off their 1984 debut, Guiffria. Deep Purple asked the group to open their sold-out Perfect Strangers tour. The group was hitting on all cylinders – or so they thought. The 1986 release of Silk and Steel had no Top 40 hit and the disc quietly fell off the charts. MCA threw in the towel.
With an album’s worth of material recorded, and no takers, the tongue wagging bassist offered his friend a contract with his own label. Two problems had to be fixed. First, Simmons suggested the Guiffria name be changed to House of Lords. Second, vocalist Eisley needed to be replaced. Bassist Chuck Wright suggested James Christian, and after one audition, he was in.
House of Lords’ eponymous debut was released in 1988, featuring a heavier sound than Giuffria. With a slightly less emphasis on keyboards, and powered by the smash hit “I Wanna Be Loved”, the album received critical acclaim. Their next effort, 1990’s Sahara, gained the group considerable chart success with their cover version of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”. It was the number one most requested song on rock radio in the U.S. that year. After a long tour with Nelson in 1991, the group got caught in the crosshairs of the grunge movement, and disbanded.
A new House of Lords album, The Power & the Mob was released in 2004, with original members Lanny Cordola, Chuck Wright and Ken Mary joining Christian and Guiffria. Guiffria never finished the album, opting out when a business opportunity presented itself to him. In 2006 House of Lords released World Upside Down with a new lineup, followed by Come to My Kingdom two years later.
House Of Lords
James Christian - vocals
Jeff Kent - bass, keyboards
Jimi Bell - guitar
B.J Zampa - drums
Gregg Giuffria - keyboards