Even to the most extreme fans of the 80's rock revolution, Enuff Z’Nuff seemed to take their glam metal image over the top to an almost parody of the once hailed Hollywood rock scene of past decades. But over the last twenty years the Illinois-based group have struggled through personal tragedies, legal troubles and addiction. It is somewhat ironic that the group would be formed by an ex-high school jock who had taken the stage name of Chip Z’Nuff. A fan of basketball, baseball & hockey, Z’Nuff had turned to music at the age of fourteen when he began performing in public and recording demos at home on his cassette player. His first band was called 'We’re Staying' but it would be after meeting another piece of the puzzle that he would decide to form his own group. Donnie Vie had raised his two younger sisters while his mother worked and his father was absent, taking them with him to local shows and hiding them out of view of patrons and officials. Vie & Z'Nuff immediately sensed a connection and began recording songs together, eventually recruiting guitarist Gino Martino and drummer B.W. Boeski to form the foundation of the band.  Shortly after this Pete Comita (ex-bass player Cheap Trick) was hired to record guitar on the band's first demo but this relationship was short-lived when Vie befriend local guitarist Alex Kane and finding an instant comradery amoungst the three was asked to join the band. 

 

Seeking financial assistance, the band’s first recording session took place in 1985 and was distributed as an independent demo entitled Hollywood Squares. The group would soon undergo a radical change, first with the departure of Alex Kane, who played on much of the early demos, replacing Boeski with Vikki Foxx and Kane with Derek Frigo and then finally renaming themselves Enuff Z’Nuff . The son of jazz violinist Johnny Frigo, who first started out as a session bassist during the 1950s, Derek Frigo was first inspired to play guitar after hearing Eddie Van Halen in the late 70's. Performing around Chicago, Enuff Z’Nuff‘s first break came when they were approached by local filmmaker John McNaughton about including one of their songs on the soundtrack to his independent exploitation movie, a sleazy and sadistic thriller called Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The track selected would be "Fingers on It", which had been included on the band’s earlier demo, but the movie would encounter censorship issues and would remain unreleased for four years.

 

Despite disappointment over the treatment of the film, Enuff Z’Nuff managed to attract the attention of several record labels, including Capitol & Warner Brothers, but it would be ATCO Records C.E.O. (a division of Atlantic Records) Derek Shulman, the man who had previously discovered Bon Jovi & Cinderella, who would offer the most promising deal. The label wasted no time in hiring producer Ron Fajerstein and engineer Dan Harjung, both of whom had collaborated on The Bears‘ Rise and Shine, and set to work on the recording of their debut album. Among the tracks written during the sessions were a power ballad called 'Fly High Michelle', dedicated to the memory of Vie’s friend who had recently died. Despite the group insisting that the song "Baby Loves You" be included on the album the label eventually overruled them, although it would later surface on their follow-up 'Strength'.  Despite issues with Fajerstein resulting in him being fired, Enuff Z’Nuff‘s album was released on August 22th, 1989 and became a surprise success.

 

Their first single "New Thing" was released along with their self-titled album and brought the band their first hit. However, they were frustrated with the bright colours and over-the-top glam image that its accompanying video boasted, something that would prompt many metal fans to dismiss them as being comical and pretentious. The video for their next single, "Fly High Michelle", would take the camp glamour even further, with rainbows & clouds adding an almost cartoon-like look, far removed from the tragedy that had inspired the song. Opinions on the band were mixed; some critics were impressed by the overall tone of the album, while others dismissed them as ridiculous and lacking any depth. Within twelve months after the release of "Fly High Michelle'" glam-metal had begun to die and fans no longer wanted to see men in make-up and blonde hair running around the stage and winking at the camera.   (Beavis and Butt-head)

 

Enuff Z’Nuff, who had been frustrated by how their label had portrayed them, embraced the new change in music taste and decided to turn their back on their glam image and venture into darker territories for their next album. With Fajerstein long gone, the band reunited with Paul Lani, who had mixed their debut, to handle the production on what would become Strength. For Frigo the sessions would prove to be a memorable experience as his father would contribute both violin and viola on the songs "Strength" & "Goodbye". The title track would also see appearances from Lani on the mellotron and cellist Dennis Karmazyn, later known for his work on the video game Resident Evil 5.

 

Strength was released through Atlantic on March 26th, 1991, the same day that Mr. Big would unleash their commercial breakthrough 'Lean Into It'. Stripped of their make-up, Enuff Z’Nuff returned to the charts with the single "Mother’s Eyes", which saw the band exploring more mature subjects such as racism. But like many similar bands their popularity would suffer in the new decade and soon they were forced to file for bankruptcy. Enuff Z’Nuff‘s time with ATCO would also come to an end, while the band members began to struggle with depression and addiction. Although for the first time in several years they found themselves without a label, a deal was soon struck with Arista Records, under the watchful eye of Clive Davis, who had overseen the careers of Janis Joplin and Earth, Wind & Fire while at CBS. The band’s third album, Animals with Human Intelligence, would follow on March 9th 1993 but the experience would be a troublesome affair, with Vie struggling with drug withdrawal and Foxx deciding to leave the band in order to perform with former Mötley Crüe frontman on his first solo album "Exposed".

 

Foxx was almost immediately replaced by Ricky Parent, who had followed the band and had insisted on joining. Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Parent had moved to Los Angeles to launch a music career and had joined forces with ex-Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson for the “supergroup” War & Peace. Frigo would also leave soon afterwards, while the band parted ways with yet another label. After dealing with two major companies, Enuff Z’Nuff opted for an independent label and signed with Caroline Records, who had handled fellow Chicago group the Smashing Pumpkins during their earlier career. Their next release would be an unusual choice; originally titled "Hollywood Squares", the band’s original demos had been remastered and released under the title 1985, allowing fans to discover their humble beginnings, before ATCO had transformed them into a glam metal act. The release would see Enuff Z’Nuff reunite with their original guitarist Martino, resulting in a brand new album, 1995′s Tweaked.

 

His time with the band would be brief and in 1996 was replaced by now singer/guitarist/frontman Johnny Monaco with his first album with Enuff Z’Nuff being 1997′s Seven.  Ten years since the release of their debut and the group were struggling to match their earlier success.  This critically acclaimed line up would tour for the next six years including 2001's arena tour Glam Slam Metal Jam featuring Poison, Quiet Riot & Warrant and in the process recorded two more studio CD's Paraphernalia (1999) and 10 (2000).

 

In September of 2002 following the release of the group’s next album, Welcome to Blue Island (named after the area of Illinois Chip & Donnie originated from), Vie suddenly backed out of a tour without warning, forcing Monaco to step up as the singer for the subsequent dates with Mr. Big singer Eric Martin. Vie had still been dealing with drug abuse, legal issues & depression and needed to escape the pressures of the band, eventually relocating to Los Angeles, where he attempted to start the project L.A. Smogg and eventually the short lived Donnie Vie Band.  This Monaco/Z'Nuff/Parent 3-piece would continue touring the globe for the next few years with similar 80's genre acts including as LA Guns, Faster Pussy Cat & Pretty Boy Floyd.

 

In 2004 their former guitarist Derek Frigo died from an apparent drug overdose in Hollywood, CA at the age of thirty-seven and when Ricky Parent, who had been with the band for the last thirteen years, was diagnosed with cancer and became too sick to continue touring, Randi Scott was asked to join the band.  In late 2004 Erik Donner, the son of the late rock & roll musician Ral Donner, best known for the 1961 song 'You Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Until You Lose It)', filled in as touring drummer for the band and was eventually asked to join full time in 2005 for the Mike Tramp's White Lion tour.  Over the next few years, the band continued touring throughout the US, UK & Europe as a power trio with fellow acts Bang Tango, Pretty Boy Floyd, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Rik Emmett, Glenn Hughes & Gilby Clarke. Shortly after this Chip & Monaco headed to Vegas to track demos that would ultimately become their 2010 release Dissonance with Donnie Vie involved in only the studio end of things.  While in Las Vegas the band was asked to be a part of VH1's "Bands On The Run" featuring original member Vik Foxx.  Donner left the band in the spring of 2006 to begin working with his own band, Trash Martini.  During this time the drumming position became a bit of a revolving door including fill in drummers Chad Stewart & Gregg Potter.  Ricky Parent eventually lost his battle with cancer and sadly passed in 2007.  Randi Scott  returned to the band and continued on with the 3-piece for multiple US & UK tours.

 

After a six-year hiatus Vie eventually rejoined the band in 2008 and at the same time Johnny Monaco left to focus on his own material. Z'Nuff recruited guitarist Tory Stoffregen from the Iowa group The Black Mollys and the band toured on as a four piece four the next five years.  In the spring of 2013 Donnie Vie, still struggling with his own personal issues, once again suddenly left the band after a falling out on their final UK tour and Johnny Monaco returned as lead singer/guitarist for the band's US '80's Invasion Tour' and UK Winter Tour. This line up remained together for close to a year and then in spring of 2014 Tory Stoffregan left the band to focus solely on his current, alt country-rock band, The New Black 7, with drummer Randi Scott leaving shortly after taking the road manager gig for American Christian heavy metal band Stryper.

 

In June of 2014, drummer Erik Donner rejoined the band and Enuff Z'Nuff continues to tour regularly throughout the US & Europe and is releasing their eighteenth studio CD entitled Covered In Gold. Chip Z'Nuff recently joined the cast of American radio & television personality Mancow Muller and can be seen daily on the radio host's live morning show.  Johnny Monaco currently lives between Chicago & Los Angeles and just released his latest solo EP LA Vacation.  Donnie Vie no longer tours with the band but has released several solo CDs over the years avaialble on iTunes.

 

- LOVE-IT-LOUD.com

2009
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