Sebastian Bach

Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) – One of the most influential rock and metal singers of all time

This post is continuing to pay tribute to the greatest rock and melodic metal singers of all time. This time, we’re going to be featuring the man who famously sung about the “youth gone wild”. I am of course talking about the one and only Sebastian Bach, most famously known for his role as front man for Skid Row.

Sebastian Bach was born Sebastian Philip Bierk on April 3, 1968. He is a Canadian-American, born in the Bahamas and raised in Peterborough, Ontario with his seven siblings.

He was the lead singer for Skid Row from 1987 to 1996. He has achieved many creative feats including performing on Broadway, acting in film and television (including Trailer Park Boys, The Masked Singer and Gilmore Girls). Sebastian now continues his music career as a highly successful solo artist.

Sebastian Bach is an anomaly among singers. He has a high tenor voice with extremely thick vocal cords, which not only allow him to sing high C5s and D5s in chest voice, but also to have the ability to mix chest and head voice with his “false cords” to create grit and gravel in the highest notes of his mixed register.

Speaking as a vocal coach, Sebastian’s voice is extremely special in its characteristics and its tonal nature. He is famous for having so much girth and width in his high vocals. This creates a gritty, gravelly scream that Sebastian uses to great effect in songs like “18 and Life” and “I Remember You”, among others.

Sebastian’s early years

Sebastian was surrounded by music at home growing up. His mother and aunt sing informally at home, which inspired Sebastian to join a choir at eight years of age. According to Sebastian Bach himself, he was always getting into trouble from a young age. He was curious to try new things, and he had no fear.

His first credited band was “Kid Wikkid”. Upon hearing of the band and unaware of their ages, Bach auditioned for the group when he was 14. He was hired by Jason Delorme, who was the guitar player and band leader of the group. Kid Wikkid moved to Toronto, and Bach’s dad eventually allowed Bach to move in with an aunt who lived there.

Side note: Sebastian Bach’s dad is actually a very accomplished artist in his own right. His paintings would grace the cover of various Skid Row albums. More on this later!

Fast forward to the 1980s

The formation of Skid Row happened in the mid-1980s. At that time, the vocal duties were handled by Matt Fallon.

The band began playing in various clubs around the New Jersey area. However, the band itself failed to make an initial positive impact with record companies and potential managers. It was obvious to everybody from the outset that Matt Fallon didn’t have what it took to make it big. He was absolutely committed to the band and worked his ass off on stage, but vocally lacked the critical firepower to truly bring Skid Row’s songs to life.

Below is an example of Matt Fallon, the original front man for Skid Row, performing an early demo song with the band.

In 1987, Fallon left the band (largely by mutual decision). This presented an opportunity for Skid Row to find a new singer and the search had begun.

A star is born

Sebastian Bach was spotted singing at rock photographer Mark Weiss’ wedding by Jon Bon Jovi‘s parents. They immediately approached him and suggested that he get in touch with Jon’s friend, Dave Sabo (the guitarist better known as “Snake”), who was originally jamming with Jon Bon Jovi before founding Skid Row with Rachel Bolan (the bassist).

Footage from Sebastian performing at the wedding still exists today!

This was not the first time that Sebastian was offered an opportunity to front an American rock band. Prior to hearing about Skid Row, he was briefly a member of a band called “Madam X”, from Detroit. Madam X had gone through a number of singers in a very short time, and Sebastian was their third. There were issues with Sebastian getting into the US to perform and combined with disagreements between him and the bassist of the band, it was short-lived position.

After Madam X, Bach was cautious of auditioning for another American band. When he heard Skid Row’s demo tapes he changed his mind and immediately flew to New Jersey to audition. Sebastian quickly proved that he was the voice that Skid Row had been looking for.

With their new front man in place, Skid Row was set for mega stardom.

The first tour

Dave “The Snake” Sabo leveraged his relationship with Jon Bon Jovi to get Skid Row to open for Bon Jovi’s New Jersey tour in 1989 (who were promoting their fourth album). In turn, Jon Bon Jovi leveraged his success with his own band’s album, Slippery When Wet, to help Skid Row get their first recording contract. Jon was a shrewd businessman and recognised Skid Row’s potential early on.

Bon Jovi set himself up as the middleman and had Skid Row sign a contract with him. He agreed to take Skid Row under his wing. Skid Row then performed over 9 months in 1989 for some of Bon Jovi’s largest crowds during their New Jersey syndicate tour, propelling their careers and securing another opening spot for Aerosmith a year later.

During the Bon Jovi tour, Skid Row’s reputation and fanbase were growing rapidly to the point where Sebastian Bach would later claim that Skid Row’s merchandise had begun outselling Bon Jovi’s. Possibly to keep Sebastian Bach in his place, during one of the shows Bon Jovi’s crew poured ice milk on Sebastian before he took the stage.

Fun fact: The tradition of the headlining band pranking the opening band has been going on for years and traces its roots right back to Black Sabbath (Tony Iommi is famous for pranking both other bands, and his own band members).

After signing with their new manager, Doc McGhee, Skid Row’s self-titled debut studio album was released on the 24th of January, 1989 by Atlantic Records. The album was initially received with mixed reviews in the music press.

At the time, Skid Row were very different from the glam bands that had come before them. They were mixing melodic music with Sebastian’s high-powered, fiery vocal deliveries. It was only a matter of time before the band was to find a legion of fans.

Need more Sebastian Bach?

To learn how Skid Row went from an opening act to a world class headlining show, check out Sebastian Bach’s biography. It is a must read for every up and coming rock or metal singer. I personally enjoyed learning about why Sebastian Bach’s vocal tone changed noticeably between his debut album and Slave to the Grind, in 1991.

The Skid Row records that Sebastian Bach sang on are as follows (I have included links to the vinyl copies of each of these in case you’re interested):

  1. Skid Row (released 24th of January, 1989)
  2. Slave to the Grind (released 11th of June, 1991)
  3. B-Side Ourselves (released 22nd of September, 1992)
  4. Subhuman Race (released 28th of March, 1995)

Skid Row went on to produce additional albums after Sebastian Bach’s departure, but in my humble opinion, they were never as good as their glory days with Sebastian at the helm. He was such a hard act to follow that they went through a succession of four different singers following Sebastian, before disbanding. The list of singers that replaced Sebastian consisted of Johnny Solinger (1999-2015), Tony Harnell (2015), ZP Theart (2016-2022) and most recently Erik Grönwall (2022-2024).

Sebastian himself went on to live out his own successful solo career. His solo albums (I’ve managed to track down some CD copies and streaming links for these) include:

  1. Bring ‘Em Bach Alive! (live album released 2nd of November, 1999)
  2. Angel Down (released 20th of November, 2007)
  3. Kicking and Screaming (released 27th of September, 2011)
  4. ABachalypse Now (live album released 22nd of March, 2013)
  5. Give ‘Em Hell (released 22nd of April, 2014)

There is no doubt in my mind that if Sebastian Bach and Skid Row were able to put their disagreements behind them and go on tour once more, within a year Skid Row would undoubtedly become one of the largest grossing bands in rock and metal today.

Disclaimer: If you make a purchase from one of the above Amazon Associate links, a tiny commission goes to supporting the site. In keeping with my “No BS” policy, I only ever recommend products that I personally use or know are beneficial to my readers.

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