Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes (2021)

Anyone who watched The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years can tell you that Chris Holmes is the highlight of that film. When we finished watching it, my wife asked when he died. I said, “Believe it or not, Chris Holmes is still alive.”

As the guitarist for W.A.S.P. — if you’ve seen The Dungeonmaster, they’re in it — Holmes was as much a maniac on stage as off. He wasn’t a founding member, as the band rose out of the ashes of Blackie Lawless and Randy Piper’s other band, Circus Circus, along with Rik Fox (who soon left to be in the band Steeler) and Tony Richards (who left the band Dante Fox to join, which became Great White).

By the time the band’s self-titled first album was released, Holmes had joined, also played on The Last Command, the band’s best selling record and one that brought Steve Riley from Keel* and King Kobra bassist Johnny Rod into the lineup.

Although Inside the Electric Circus was a commercial success (and critical failure) and The Headless Children was a critical success (and at the time, a commercial failure), Holmes wouldn’t last. He married Lita Ford and then left the band, saying, that he wanted to “have fun, you know.” Lawless responded by saying, “Some guys want to stay at home and wear aprons.” He would also claim that he was going to play the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which sounds like a completely ridiculous apocryphal story.

While Holmes would rejoin for a brief period from 1996-2001, he and Lawless were not destined to get along.

The movie finds the guitarist reflecting on a life of the highest highs and lowest lows, as he has lost the publishing rights of his own songs and must start over again with a new band named Mean Man while living with his mother-in-law in Nice, France. Unlike other films like I Am Thor, Holmes doesn’t come across as a buffoon or unaware of his place in the world.

This is a man that weather the storm of the Sunset Strip, of six DUIs, of sex, drugs and rock and roll, yet has remained alive, despite all common sense saying that there’s no way that should be true. Yet here he is, hugging his dog Ugg, enjoying being married and screaming at cars in traffic. It’s too good to be true, but sometimes, that actually happens.

You can learn more about this movie on the offical website.

*Ironically, Rik Fox’s band he left for, Steeler, had Keel singing. And Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar, if you’re keeping score at home.

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