Rock Star Feuds by Ray Zell for BathroomWall T-shirts

All The Young Feuds


Rock star feuds make a great story. We love ’em, so all act like kids in the playground circling the protagonists chanting “fight, fight, fight, fight” at them like an adolescent amphitheatre. The reality of rock star feuds, as our friendly visitor from the Planet Zell explains, usually has less beef in than a Pot Noddle. So we’ll let Ray explain…


FUNNY INNIT, all those great interviews in Kerrang! over the years, but, what is it readers remember the most? The ones where it got confrontational and the interviewee went a bit bonkers. In my case, it was ‘the Phil Lewis encounter’, where the LA Guns frontman walked out on me.

Too many Raises and Hells

I had people accuse me of stitching Phil up, but, on that interview especially, I transcribed it literally word-for-word. The crux of it bein’ because I’d given LA Guns album ‘Cocked & Loaded’ a mediocre review, and Phil was annoyed with me. He actually gave me credit for turning up for the interview as he said he didn’t think I’d have the nerve to. But, in the middle of all this, and, it gets confusing… there appeared to be a case of mistaken identity! See, I think he got ‘Ray Zell’ confused with a friend of mine called ‘Kelv Hellraiser’. Which, you can kinda get, with all the raises and the hells. Phil said, “You hang around with us in L.A, we look after you and then you slag off our album”. I’m going “I’ve never hung out with you in LA…!”. You could see the confusion on his face.

Probably adding to this, being the fact that, we had met and got on a few times years before. My band Marionette had supported two of his previous bands, The New Torpedoes and Torme. In fact, unbelievably, it was Phil who phoned me and personally offered me the Torme support at the Marquee. And, I don’t mind, saying, it opened the door to Marionette at that legendary venue, as we got offered more gigs afterwards. Even better was I started to get let in for free because I was a now a genuine scumbag superstar!

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“Look Ma, made it, MTV”

And, let me state, I’m a great admirer of Phil’s! I loved that first Girl album and even went to see ‘em live. Adding to this, one of my fav stories was hearing that L.A. Guns (Pre-Lewis) used to have the DJ play Marionette songs before they hit the stage! So, believe me, if there was anyone I did not have a personal vendetta against, it was Phil and LA Guns! I mean, I just honestly was not impressed with ‘Cocked & Loaded’. HA!

I remember watching LA Guns being interviewed on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball by Vanessa Warwick, and they started bitchin’ about someone or other. I obviously hadn’t connected the dots, but Vanessa clarifies with, “You’re talking about journalist Ray Zell.”. Honestly, my jaw hit the floor. They’re talking’ ‘bout me on the bleedin’ TV! I’m thinkin’ – I’m seriously not worth this*!!! On top of this, as the months went by, I kept hearing ‘Cocked & Loaded’ tracks on MTV or the K! office an’ stuff, and it did start to grow on me. Which shows ya, record reviewing is not science. I mean, I’ve got lots of albums that took years to grab. My fav Van Halen album ‘Women & Children First’- when I first bought it, I thought it sounded like a bunch of drunks playin’ half-finished songs in an expensive studio. Now… that’s exactly why I love it!

(*yes you are. Ed)

To wind this up, at one point, Ginger Wildheart was hanging’ out with LA Guns guitarist Tracii Guns and Ginge said he still spoke affectionately of Marionette. And, some years back, out of the blue, I had a MySpace message from Phil offerin’ me to come to L.A. and hang out. Which was sweet of him. So, maybe he’s forgiven me. Or…thought I was Kelv Hellraiser…

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LA Guns in Pandora Peroxide


“Death to False Cartoons”

DESPITE WHAT you might imagine, more bands actually liked my Pandora Peroxide strip takin’ the piss out of ‘em than wanted to start the latest rock star feud. In fact, I only discovered one band in particular had a grievance, because a journalist at a rival rock mag informed me they told him so. Probably over a flagon of mead…
The band? That would be self-proclaimed Kings Of Metal and wearers of furry nappies – MANOWAR! I mean, hard to believe they didn’t have a sense o’ humour – Ross The Boss of the Dictators was in the band for cryin’ out loud!!!

“How do you call your loverboy?”

I also remember being at one gig and Mick Ransome, who was the drummer of the Tattooed Love Boys, heartily informed me that I was being hunted down by a band I’d given a bad live review to. Mick said, “They came up to me and asked if I’d seen Ray Zell? When I asked why – they said they were gonna sort you out cos of the review. I started laughing and said, have you met Ray? Not only will you really like him, you’ll end up agreeing with him!”. But alas, they never came up to me that night.

“Little Kens”

Little Angels in Pandora Peroxide
One band that did demand a showdown and got one was Scarborough rockers Little Angels. So at this point, around ’91, they were sick of the endless taunts, not only the Pandora Peroxide strip, but also from K!’s infamous gossip pages View From The Bar, which I tag-teamed with greatest rock journalist of all time Sir Mick Wall (possible relation to Bathsheba…). In View From The Bar. We had an item called ‘Ken Of The Week’ which spotlighted the most forgettable and nondescript member of a band. For Little Angels, we re-named it ‘Kens Of The Week’ and spotlighted THE WHOLE BAND! I think this is what finally pushed the Angelic little ones over the edge. I knew their press officer and he said he kept telling them that their arch-enemy was a ‘really nice guy’.

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Little Angels in Pandora Peroxide

Anyway, so when K! needed to send someone to report on Little Angels recording their new single (‘Boneyard’ I believe – great song by the way…), their press officer suggested… me. HA! Can’t remember where the studio was, maybe Scarborough, but, when I walked in, the band stopped playing and started eyeballing me. So guitarist Bruce John Dickinson, kept his distance, but circled like a shark! Some hours later, in the upstairs lounge we were all laughing about it and getting wrecked. The band were in hysterics, telling me about how after Bruce read the ’Kens Of The Week’ thing, he threw down the issue and exclaimed, “That’s it!”. He then stormed off and headed straight to the bus station to get a bus to London to track me down! The rest of the band had to literally drag Bruce off the bus! The BUS! How rock n’ roll is that!!

Little Angles in Pandora Peroxide again

“Fake News”

What’s that sayin’, that no publicity is bad publicity? I even told those Little Angels scamps about how when my band Marionette got great live reviews in Sounds music paper, I used to write fake letters in saying things like, ‘I was at that gig, Marionette are an insult to music and I’ll stop buying Sounds if you feature those talentless bastards again’. Rock star feuds? Pah! There’s often love at the end of that spiky tunnel.


  1. Hey Ray…. how you doing? You review this bra first ever gig in London at the Wellington in Shepherd’s Bush , and then went on to really get behind the band and I’ll always be grateful for that would be good to see you again at a gig one day ? Still got my Pandora feature framed in my house …. Big love to you always my dear friend …. Garry Mielle (Tattooed Love Boys) xx

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