How Manowar Met Orson Welles

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There are metal bands and there are METAL bands. 

Of the former, metal bands might play fast and nasty or slow and heavy. They might have long hair and tattoos. Hell, they might even ride motorcycles and have run-ins with authority figures from time to time. At the end of the day though, the members of metal bands are average citizens who have families, pay taxes, and blend in well enough with polite society. For example, Metallica is a metal band.

On the other hand, METAL bands are an entirely different beast. Their music is a backdrop for their lives, and theatrical as it might seem they mean they practice what they preach. Outlaw biker culture and the organized crime elements that go with it might be how they make their money. They might practice theological Satanism or worship Heathen gods. Leather and human bones are not mere stage props but battle armor by which they live and die. For example, Mercyful Fate is a METAL band.

Perhaps the ultimate METAL band is Manowar. Their commitment to metal in all of its grandiose glory is without parallel. Not even the theatrics and craftsmanship of Iron Maiden can hold a torch to what Manowar does with sheer volume and intensity. Manowar are a band that take everything about metal to another realm. They play for the longest and they play the loudest. They are leather, motorcycles, and heavy metal as religion. If the band’s slogan of DEATH TO FALSE METAL doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, I don’t know what does.

In a true celebration of grandiosity, Manowar managed to convince revered actor and filmmaker Orson Welles to collaborate with the band not once, but twice! Welles provided the spoken word element in the epic track “Dark Avenger” from their legendary debut Battle Hymns and “Defender” from Fighting The World.

In an interview with Vintage Vinyl News podcast, Manowar founder and songwriter Ross “The Boss” Friedman had this to say of the experience (via

“I had written Dark Avenger. It was an epic song. We needed a narration. We needed a voice – but we needed a REAL voice.

“We sent him the text. He loved it and the next thing you know we are at Media Sounds on 57th Street recording Dark Avenger and Defender…. We did two at once.”

According to Friedman, the appearance of Orson Welles caused dramatic emotional reactions everywhere he went.

“Let me tell you something, this man was a big man, Orson Welles, a huge guy in latter days. When he got out of the limousine … on 57th Street in Manhattan by the Carnegie – y’know, that neighborhood has some hot shit over there. When he stepped out into that neighborhood, women in mink coats were throwing themselves on him. It was just like ‘Oh, Orson, oh.’ It was like Frank Sinatra in the 40s. Seriously, I saw it with my own eyes. People were in awe of this man because he was so incredible.”

“He was a legendary guy, legendary maverick.”