Rob Affuso was the drummer for Skid Row, the heavy-metal band led by singer Sebastian Bach that was popular during the late '80s and early '90s. After a hiatus caused by Bach's departure, Skid Row splintered a new version of the band will open Kiss' farewell tour, beginning later this month.
Robert James Affuso was born March 1, 1963, in Newburgh, N.Y. While growing up, Affuso took drum classes; his first drum set was made of parts of old, broken kits that his teacher gathered together. Affuso said he was most inspired by Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Carl Palmer and Rush's Neil Peart.
Affuso first gigged in a Rush cover band called Minstrel. He then joined the rock group Sutton Thomas, which never recorded. Meanwhile, the seeds of Skid Row were being sown in New Jersey by songwriters Dave Sabo (a guitarist who had played in Bon Jovi's original lineup) and Rachel Bolan (bass). The two decided to form a hard-rock band to play their tunes.
Bolan recruited second guitarist Scotti Hill; Sabo knew Affuso, who had since relocated to Jersey. Affuso convinced Sabo that he should be Skid Row's drummer by constantly phoning and by joining jam sessions.
In 1988, dissatisfied with their original lead singer Matt Fallon, Skid Row recruited Bach, after sending a tape of their music around Canada, where the singer lived. With the charismatic Bach on board, Skid Row were signed to McGhee Entertainment, which also handled successful New Jersey rock band Bon Jovi. McGhee got Skid Row a contract with Atlantic Records and an opening slot on Bon Jovi's U.S. stadium tour.
Skid Row's 1989 eponymous debut LP sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. MTV put the video for the band's "Youth Gone Wild" in heavy rotation; Skid Row hit the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 with "18 and Life" (RealAudio excerpt). They also had a top-10 hit from the LP with "I Remember You."
Bach brought controversy to the band in 1989 when he threw a bottle back into the audience and injured a girl. Bach also punched out the concert-goer he assumed first threw the bottle at him. Bach was charged with assault and one count of mayhem and received three years of probation. During this time, he also was photographed wearing a shirt reading "AIDS kills fags dead," which angered civil-rights groups.
The punk-influenced Slave to the Grind (1991) debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at #1, but didn't sell as well as its predecessor and yielded no hits. Skid Row backed the album with a lengthy world tour.
After a hiatus, the group returned in 1995 with Subhuman Race, featuring such tracks as "My Enemy" and "Bonehead." It was the band's final LP of new material.
Following another tour, tensions within the band grew, and Bach said he was kicked out in 1997. He began a solo career, while Affuso and the others resolved to continue with a new singer under a different name. However, no album surfaced from Affuso and company.
In 1998 Atlantic issued 40 Seasons: Best of Skid Row. Affuso handled talent booking for the New Jersey club Maxwell's and played drums in the soul-funk cover band Soul System.
The current Skid Row lineup, which will open for Kiss, will feature Bolan, Sabo and Hill, from the classic lineup.
Other birthdays on Wednesday: Harry Belafonte, 73; Jerry Fisher (Blood, Sweat and Tears), 57; Mike D'Abo (Manfred Mann), 56; Roger Daltrey (Who), 56; Burning Spear, 55; Jon Carroll (Starland Vocal Band), 43; Nik Kershaw, 42; and Bill Leen (Gin Blossoms), 37.