exactly one year into its young life, in March of 1988, Greg Balk
and Joe Campagna quit the band. That next week end Ralph was out at
a bar and bumped into Tommy O'Brien. Tommy asked how the band was
doing, and mentioned that he had always regretted not joining when
asked. When Ralph filled him in on Greg and Joe quitting, Tommy smiled
and said, "Well, I guess we need to start looking for a bass
search went on into the next fall. The band continued to play occasional
shows with a number of different bass players, including Mark Malbouef,
who years later co-produced the Birthday album with Ralph. Pickles
Piekarski became available when long-time club hits Mike Jordan
and the Rockamatics broke up. After considerable discussion, he
agreed to join the band, and the first great Bad Examples line-up
was in place: Terry Wathen, Ralph Covert, Tommy O'Brien, and Pickles
As the band continued
to play around town, their reputation as a great live band began
to grow. Work resumed on a follow up album to MEAT. The band recorded
an album's worth of demos in the Wicker Park apartment of their
soundman, Rob Williams. Michael Freeman was retained as producer,
and work began at Short Order Recorder, with the band putting all
of their gig money toward studio costs.
In the Winter
of 1989, the band was contacted by AEMMP Records, Columbia College's
student record label, with an offer to release "Not Dead Yet,"
and the band signed its first record deal. The AEMMP Records 12
inch single made its way across the Atlantic Ocean to Fred Haayen,
a Dutch record executive who had worked with The Who and Rod Stewart
earlier in his career, and who was running a Dutch label called
CNR Records. Ralph negotiated to retain the US market in the record
deal, and called Jay Whitehouse, who had been national sales manager
for Alligator Records in Chicago before leaving to form his own
band and label. Ralph then set up Waterdog Records with help from
an investor, and asked Jay if he would run the day to day activities
of the label. That Spring the band worked hard with producer Michael
Freeman to finish the album, and began planning to tour to support
the CD, which was now to be released world-wide - in the US on Waterdog,
and in Europe on CNR.
At this point,
guitarist Tommy O'Brien gave the band notice that he would be unable
to tour, and, after a month of auditions, blues great John Duich
was hired to replace Tommy. The original "Bad Is Beautiful"
album did not include "Ragtime to Rags," had a different
version of "Not Dead Yet," and had a slightly different
version of "Ashes of My Heart."
As 1990 rolled
to a close and Waterdog prepared to release the album, CNR announced
the first of a number of postponements of the European release.
The band members had all quit their jobs to start touring, and so
in December Ralph, Terry, Pickles and John headed out in their newly
purchased motor home on "The Take It On The Chin Tour,"
their first road trip. The band had given it that nickname as the
tour approached because they knew they were heading into all brand-new
markets, and they would have to fight for every fan they made. The
tour started in Chicago, and looped down through West Virginia into
the southeast to Charleston, South Carolina, then around back north.
man Ronald van der Meijden from CNR flew over to travel with the
band for the last leg of the tour, as the boys drove north into
the freezing midwest winter. This was right around the time Styx
had decided to record a version of "Not Dead Yet," and
both band and labels felt it was important to re-record the song.
Ralph had just written "Ragtime to Rags," and everyone
felt it added a nice depth to the album, so it was redone as well.
"Ashes of My Heart" had not had a bridge in its original
released version, and through a little studio wizardry one was added
which improved the song immensely.
on any chapter heading below for a chronological history!