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Joey Belladonna had ‘no clue’ who Anthrax were when he auditioned for them

Joey Belladonna
(Image credit: Anthrax)

Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna knew nothing whatsoever about Anthrax when he auditioned to join the New York band, and hadn’t even heard their debut album Fistful Of Metal

Belladonna’s admission comes in the latest Anthrax 40 for 40 webisode, Episode IV - A New Hope - Armed & Dangerous. Following a legendary Raven/Metallica/Anthrax show at New York’s Roseland Ballroom on August 3, 1984, all three bands signed major labels deals - Raven with Atlantic, Metallica with Elektra and Anthrax with Island - and the New York thrashers entered Pyramid Sound Studios in Ithaca, New York soon afterwards to work on their second full length album. The only dark cloud on the horizon was the minor detail that they no longer had a vocalist, as original singer Neil Turbin had quit the band ahead of the studio sessions. 

As guitarist Scott Ian reveals, such was Anthrax’s desperation at this point that they considered utilising a Kiss-style approach, with bassist Frank Bello taking on the majority of vocals, and Ian himself taking on a supporting role, acting as the Gene Simmons to Bello’s Paul Stanley. However, at the suggestion of producer Carl Canedy (formerly the drummer with The Rods), they agreed to audition Joey Belladonna, who Canedy had seen fronting a covers band called Bible Black. For his part, Belladonna had zero idea about the band he was trying out for. 

“I had no clue,” Belladonna admits. “I’d never heard of them,”

“I’m in ripped jeans and an Agnostic Front T-shirt and in walks this guy who looks like he should be in Whitesnake,” Scott Ian recalls. “And the dude fucking nails it. And we all just look at each other like... [open mouth astonishment].”

“I wasn’t up there in Ithaca and they played it for me over the phone,” recalls drummer Charlie Benante, “and I was like, ‘That’s it, sign him up, let’s go’. The first song he sang was a song called Medusa, and he fucking nailed it. When Joey came into the band it was right, it just sounded like, that’s it, that’s the band right there, don”t touch it.”

Check out the full episode below.