Bob "Kick*Ass" Muldowney, RIP

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Ulrich, Muldowney, and Zazula, circa 1984

Bob Muldowney, former editor of the pioneering independent metal magazine Kick*Ass Monthly, died Monday, November 5, 2007 after succumbing to heart muscle disease.

It’s hard to call him simply a mentor or a hero because his contributions to heavy metal were so immense. Armed with an innate sense of heaviness, he almost single-handedly drove the fissure between mainstream “poser” metal and valuable “power” metal in the early 1980s, helping to create a realm where Metallica, Slayer, Exciter, Celtic Frost, and others would thrive. He championed Hellhammer, Bathory, Medieval, and hardcore punk when it was noxiously unfashionable, and changed the framework by which metal was judged.

He was notoriously opinionated, and HATED Mercyful Fate and its singer, whom he dubbed “Queen Rhinestone.” I have a Fate bootleg where the crowd incredibly chants “Queen Rhinestone sucks” between songs — a measure of Bob’s influence. He folded Kick*Ass at the top of his game in the late 1980s, allowing Metal Forces to take over his turf. Even the full staff of that legendary metal resource couldn’t fill Bob’s shoes.

Bob responded to an earlier Bang! Bang! blog post about Medieval, confirming that this telling of his exit from metaldom was accurate: “[Medieval] literally came from nowhere, and tragically their greatest attempt to escape — a coveted opening slot at L’Amour in Brooklyn in its heyday — turned out to be a long lonely van ride to rejection, as hip NY headbangers scoffed at Medieval’s short hair and lack of vogue pentagram and upsidedown cross trappings. The tragedy is detailed in full in a scathing editorial in Kick*Ass Monthly, where disillusioned editor Bob Muldowney called out the “new breed posers” who worshipped Dark Angel but wouldn’t know honest, powerful metal if it drove 18 hours from Michigan and bit them on the ass. In fact, I’m pretty sure the poor reception for Medieval was a major reason Muldowney soon lost interest in the metal scene and folded Kick*Ass.”

And then he was gone for nearly 20 years. Writing Sound of the Beast, at least a dozen interviews with Lars Ulrich, Ron Quintana, Brian Slagel, Tom Warrior, and so on ended with them asking me if I’d managed to locate Bob. It’s been great getting back in touch with Bob since he’s been more social in recent years, and talking about carrying on the KAM legacy in some way. This is like losing an older brother. I didn’t know his metal heart was straining the whole time.I used to call Bob up in the middle of the night when I was an obnoxious 14-year old, and bug him about metal for hours. He was always totally patient, totally funny, and stuck to his guns concerning his highly-opinionated convictions. I owe Bob for turning me on to Hellhammer, Overkill, Bathory, Medieval, Sodom, the Accused, not to mention Discharge and GBH — and of course, the dubious Satan’s Penis. His respect and integrity meant everything — check the thanks lists on your old tattered Kill ‘Em All and Show No Mercy albums.

Rest in Peace, ‘banger. I know you’re doing Three Stooges routines down there with Rhett Forrester and Guy Speranza.

KICK*ASS MEMORIAL/MYSPACE LINK

UPDATE: This sad news has reached the crystal castle of Lars Ulrich, and thoughtfully he contacted Blabbermouth.net with condolences. Says the Danish drummer: “Bob was one of the early believers in the cause, the metal cause that we all championed and that we all were inspired by. Later, we were fortunate enough that Bob also became a believer in the ‘Tallica cause and we in return were inspired by his belief in us and his championing our cause. Bob will be missed…”

13 COMMENTS

  1. That really sucks. I pull out those issues and they really take me back. You could respect Bob’s opinions cos they were so well thought-out, whether you agreed or not. That’s a lot of history lost. RIP.

  2. Man, what bad news.
    I recently did a piece on Medievel in Classic Rock magazine, and used a quote from that editorial: “Fuck you, buddy, you’re the poser. You probably read Metal Forces.”
    They cut that bit out, though. The editor of Metal Forces is on staff at CR. Anyway, Kick Ass was a HUGE influence on me, although I never understood Bob’s problem with Quee…er, King Diamond.
    RIP Bob.

  3. Well, being the person who started KAM with Bob, I can say this is sad. Not too many people know the REAL truth about the very early days of KAM, but I was there and it was great. Bob and I started something and he took it farther than we thought it could go. Those older issues that were Xeroxed by my Dad are still a blast to read! RIP Bob

  4. Thank you for all of the kind things you have said about Bob over the years, Ian. That “crystal castle” comment is a classic unto itself. Bob would have loved it. Yes, Satan’s Penis was/is quite “dubious”!

  5. I don’t know the date, but the boot’s called “Live Circa In the Shadows,” and I’m sure it’s on the East Coast somewhere.

  6. Oh, Bob …
    My heart is so sad to hear we lost you. Back in OUR day, you were a champion of so may of us who were out there trying to bring our metal music to the the masses. I love and thank you for finding a special place in your heart for BlackLace. We always looked forward to seeing you at shows and reading the wonderfully kind things you ALWAYS wrote about us. We will miss you on this planet , my dear old friend. You were one of the truest of the true. Thank you for everything through all the years. You leave behind a wonderful legacy and many people who love and respect you… especially us. See you again one day, brother.

    Love Always,
    MaryAnn Scandiffio
    Anthony Fragnito
    Carlo Fragnito
    Steve Werner
    (Your Friends from BlackLace)

  7. Damn, that’s sad. RIP, Bob. Nasty Ronnie gave him a shout out on one of those “band interviews themselves” thing they recorded on the B-side of their “Wage of Mayhem” demo (Anyone have a copy of this? I’d even pay for it!).

    Even though I disagreed with his anti-Mercyful Fate and W.A.S.P. stances (calling Blackie Lawless “Faggy Ball Less”), I REALLY loved read K.A.M. Especially the one issue where they did a short feature on both Slaughter (Canada) and Mannslaughter. A few weeks later my friend & I were at the bus stop en route to Berkeley. We noticed someone had scrawled the logos of both bands on bus stop windows. Must’ve been Bob’s influence from afar?

  8. He was quite the wordsmith too – Even though I was a Carnivore fan at the time, I had to laugh at his “Carnivore, what a bore, they look and sound like Manowar.” It was that sort of drawing a line in the sand that made him great, and some would say also doomed Kick*Ass. Probably both. Right on. If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t it also Kick*Ass that had the pic of Vince Neil that said “Murderer” on it? Classic…

  9. It was Bob who did us more right in the early days than we could ever thank him for. It was Bob who got behind At War from day one and he became an ardent supporter. I was pleasantly suprised when he contacted me again about a year ago when he heard we had refowned. Bob told it like it was! You will be missed!
    Paul Arnold

  10. Funny for years i have had a laugh with others about the Queen Rhinestone thing….the fanzine was always great the writing fun and all the info about bands and demos in an age when we did not have instant access…wish someone would reprint all those kick ass magazines.

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