Happy “Mother” Day – Remembering Danzig’s Most Infamous NSFW Video

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Happy “Mother” Day, folks. We here at The Pit know an opportunity when we see it, and we are all too happy to debase ourselves by embracing this terrible pun with all of our blackened hearts.

As Samhain evolved from an experimental punk outfit into blues based heavy metal, head honcho Glenn Danzig opted to change the name of the project to his surname. Now simply called Danzig, this new incarnation of the band signed to producer Rick Rubin’s fledgling Def American label and released their self-titled full length album in late August of 1988. The crowning jewel of the record was an earworm that sounded like an Elvis dispatch from hell, with a call to arms that stood in stark opposition to pearl-clutching parents the nation over. It was called “Mother.”

Released as a single, “Mother” was intended as a scathing indictment of the PMRC (Parental Music Resource Centre). Co-founded by Senator Al Gore’s wife, Tipper, the PMRC was the committee responsible for the introduction of the infamous Parental Advisory sticker. While they theoretically were supposed to serve as a ratings board similar to the MPAA, their scattershot aim towards art they didn’t understand only served to bolster the appeal of what the PMRC were attempting to restrict. 

While the song itself was sure to ruffle a few feathers, it was the video that cemented his reputation among authority figures and MTV as a potentially dangerous practitioner of the dark arts.

In an essay on his website, assistant director Vincent Giordano explained: “Rick Rubin wanted this video shoot to go off without any problems because it was critical to the launch of his new band. He put together Glenn Danzig and Ric [Menello, the video’s director] to begin hammering out a concept. The rough treatment was cobbled together quickly and was a crazy quilt of unusual film references and ideas to be shot in black and white.”

While the production itself took stylistic influence from German expressionist cinema, the overt Satanic references were an arbitrary hodgepodge of button-pushing shock rock and delicious camp. We’ve got pretentious quotes from archaic tomes of yore, scantily clad metal chicks, a flaming fist, and… a chicken. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: It’s one of the best music videos of all time.


As cool as it is, there is a scene in the video that pushed the envelope straight off the cliff of good taste for MTV. Hot metal chick no.1 lays on a sacrificial altar, presided over by Danzig and hot metal chick no. 2. Danzig brandishes a chicken, which he subsequently tears apart; allowing the blood to spatter on hot metal chick no. 1’s belly. Hot metal chick no. 2 draws an inverted cross in said chicken blood, then licks her fingers. 


At the time, MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball was ground zero for all things metal. The network  demanded heavy edits in order to run the video, to which the director complied. It seemed routine enough, but when the video premiered the network accidentally ran the uncensored version. Director Ric Menello recalls: “Rick Rubin got one hundred people to call MTV, ‘Yo, I want to see the video where they sacrifice the chicken!’” he wrote. “For a whole weekend, the original version was on the air.”


As to be expected, although it wasn’t anyone’s fault in Danzig’s camp, MTV banned the video. For years, Danzig’s other videos were left to die on the vine of late night MTV. His reputation as a Satanist pushed him into the position of persona non-grata. Danzig told the Washington Post in 1990: “I don’t like to be lumped in with a lot of those bands that are supposed to be Satanic. A lot of research goes into my songs, the lyrics, the things I talk about. There are witch hunts going on, they’re looking for people to crucify, of course. What are they gonna do, attack me? They’ll be attacking the Bible. I don’t like to preach, but if someone wants a message, it’s there in the songs.”


In a hilarious twist of fate, five years after the “Mother” incident, Danzig released an EP called Thrall: Demonsweatlive. A slightly remixed version of the song called “Mother ‘93” was released as a single, which picked up heavy play on modern rock radio. Under immense public pressure, MTV released a video for the song composed of live footage. It got heavy rotation and pushed Danzig’s self-titled album to gold status by the middle of the decade.

Check out the original uncensored version here!




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