Grave Digger Biography, Discography. Grave Digger MP3

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Style: Heavy / Trash
Year of birth: 1980
Country: Germany
Views: 5907. Updated: 27 November, 2004 by Project Moderators

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Biography of Band

GRAVE DIGGER are true survivors of the early eighties German Thrash Metal boom. Whilst the band was lumped in with the emerging Thrash acts of the day for convenience sake by the Rock media, particularly in the UK, GRAVE DIGGER was in fact always a more sophisticated musical act. Once the Thrash phenomonen had died down GRAVE DIGGER, after a disastrous wayward period of confusion billed as DIGGER, re-invented themselves as an epic, conceptually orientated complex Heavy Metal band, finding renewed commercial fortune in the process.

GRAVE DIGGER formed in 1980 in Gladbeck and their debut album, 'Heavy Metal Breakdown', with keyboard contributions from Dietmar Dillhardt, sold more than 40,000 copies in Europe, although the band had initially made their recording debut supplying two tracks to the 'Rock From Hell' compilation album.

The original line-up of the band comprised of vocalist / guitarist Peter Masson, bassist Chris Boltendahl and drummer Lutz Schmelzer, a trio that remained stable until 1982 when Schmelzer left and was replaced by Philipp Seibel. The following year a decision was taken for Masson to concentrate on guitar duties and allowing Boltendahl to take over the microphone. A new bassist, Willi Lackmann was promptly recruited.

By the time the band came to record the 'Heavy Metal Breakdown' debut album Siebel had been replaced on drums by Albert Eckhart, although Willi Lackmann soon departed and Boltendahl filled the vacancy in order to record the 'Shoot Her Down' EP released after the album.

one Rene T. Bone (real name Rene Teichmann) is credited for playing bass on GRAVE DIGGER's second album, 1985's 'Witch Hunter', a brand new bassist, C.F. Brank had joined the band by the time Noise released the record. Indeed, bass duties were actually undertaken by both Boltendahl and Masson on the record as they had fired Teichmann during recording in March 1985.

GRAVE DIGGER's third album, 'Wargames', appeared in 1986 it was something of a disappointment to all concerned in terms of sales and led to the departure of Masson from the ranks. Opting to go in a more commercial direction with new guitarist Uwe Lulis in tow the German outfit adopted the new title of DIGGER and recorded an album titled, rather misleadingly in hindsight, 'Stronger Than Ever'. Needless to say, the record flopped and the group split.

In the wake of the DIGGER disaster bassist Brank hooked up with S.A.D.O. whilst Lulis and Boltendahl opted to stay together and formed HAWAII with drummer Jochen Börner and bassist Rainer Bandzus, although the project never got beyond the demo stage.

1993 Boltendahl decided to reform GRAVE DIGGER, the new line-up featuring Boltendahl, Uwe Lulis, bassist Tomi Gottlich, ex-ASGARD and IRON ANGEL, and drummer Peter Breitenbach. This group released a four-track promo CD and 1993's 'The Reaper'. However, by 1994 Breitenbach was out, joining WARHEAD, in favour of the well travelled Jörg Michael, ex-AVENGER, MEKONG DELTA, RAGE and HEADHUNTER.

GRAVE DIGGER recorded the album 'Symphony Of Death' before Michael joined RUNNING WILD and new drummer Frank Ulrich, a veteran of MENDACIOUS MESSIAH, X WILD, LIVING DEATH and VANIZE, teamed up with the Gladbeck crew. Ulrich's tenure with the band was to be relatively brief. Although he played on 1995's 'Heart Of Darkness' album he encountered personal differences with his bandmates and departed, being succeeded by former CAPRICORN and WALLOP drummer Stefan Arnold. Ulrich joined X WILD for their third album 'Savage Land'.

Returning to action with the conceptual 'Tunes Of War' record in 1996 the band toured Germany in 1997 with support from SINNER, the record having enjoyed several weeks in the loftier regions of the German national charts. GRAVE DIGGER's return to form came courtesy of 'Tunes Of War's ambitious concept. A conceptual piece based upon Scottish history and liberal in its use of that tried and trusted Heavy Metal instrument the bagpipes. The band also novelly invited the German Rock media on a trip through the ancient battlefields of Scotland.

GRAVE DIGGER stuck to the historical theme for 1998's 'Knights Of The Cross', an album based on the exploits of the knights Templar, this album providing further momentum to their revival. Japanese variants of the album saw bonus tracks in covers of BLACK SABBATHs Children Of The Grave and RAINBOWs Kill The King. Despite this welcome reversal of fortunes the man behind the revival Tomi Göttlich decamped and was superseded by ex RUNNING WILD, X WILD and CROSSROADS man Jens Becker.

Touring found the band on the road in Europe with IRON SAVIOUR and American act IMAGIKA. Both Boltendahl and Lulis would both guest on IMAGIKA's ' And So It Burns' album.

GRAVE DIGGER toured Germany in January of 2000 supported by Italians WHITE SKULL. Lulis departed toward the end of the year being swiftly replaced by Manni Schmidt, previously with RAGE. GRAVE DIGGER's tenth studio album, the mediaeval themed 'Excalibur', would once again find the band with a strong presence in the national album charts. The band this time taking journalists by bus from Germany to Stonehenge and Tintagel castle for the pre-launch listening party. A limited digi-pack run of this outing would include an exclusive track 'Black Cat' whilst the Japanese release, in keeping with tradition, held one more bonus cut namely a cover of IRON MAIDEN's 'Running Free'. GRAVE DIGGER would delve into cover territory once more in late 2001 cutting a version of LED ZEPPELIN's 'No Quarter'. This latter track was to resurface on the 2002 Locomotive Music LED ZEPPELIN tribute album 'The Metal Zeppelin The Music Remains The Same'. The band's set at the annual 'Wacken Open Air' in Germany would see the light of day as the 2002 live album 'Tunes Of Wacken'.

GRAVE DIGGER, together with support from BRAINSTORM, undertook European touring to kick off 2002. However, following January dates in Germany and shows in Southern Europe the band's projected Belgian and Dutch gigs for March would be cancelled as Schmidt was incapacitated with a virus the guitarist had caught whilst on the Iberian continent.

Also in March of 2002 ex members guitarist Uwe Lulis and bassist Tommi Göttlich returned to the fore with the adventurous conceptually based REBELLION, taking on no less than the bard's 'Macbeth' as the theme for their opening shot 'A Tragedy In Steele'. Joining the ex-GRAVE DIGGER personnel for REBELLION would be WARHEAD frontman Bjorn Eilen on second guitar, drummer Randy Black from Canadian Thrashers ANNIHILATOR and vocalist Michael Seifert from Osnabruck acts BLACK DESTINY and XIRON. GRAVE DIGGER would set to work on yet another conceptual album for 2002 release as well as an autobiography of the band. A first for the act came in November, GRAVE DIGGER's first gig in Moscow at the 4'500 capacity Luzhniki Small Sport Hall co-headlining with BLAZE.

GRAVE DIGGER plunged deep into ancient German folklore as the subject of their 2003 studio album 'Rheingold', basing their by now expected conceptual story upon Richard Wagner's Nibelungs saga. The band united with SYMPHORCE and WIZARD for European shows in January of 2004. Gearing back into recording mode the group entered Principal Studios in Münster during September to record 'The Last Supper', projecting into 2005 by announcing February tour dates utilising ASTRAL DOORS and STORMHAMMER as support act.

Members of Grave Digger

Current Members:
Chris Boltendahl (Founder). In Band at: 1980 - . Role: Vocals
Manni Schmidt. Role: Guitar
Side projects: ex-Rage
Jens Becker. Role: Bass
Side projects: ex-Running Wild, X Wild
Hans Peter (H.P.). Role: Keyboards
Stefan Arnold. Role: Drums
Side projects: Capricorn, Grinder
Past Members:
Peter Masson. Period: 1980 - 1986. Role: Guitars
Uwe Lulis. Period: 1986 - 2000. Role: Guitars
Side projects: Rebellion (Ger)
Martin Gerlitzki. Period: 1983 - 1983. Role: Bass
Willi Lackman. Period: 1983 - 1984. Role: Bass
Rene (T-Bone). Period: 1984 - 1984. Role: Bass
C.F. Brank. Period: 1985 - 1987. Role: Bass
Side projects: S.A.D.O.
Tomi Göttlich. Period: 1991 - 1997. Role: Bass
Side projects: Rebellion (Ger)
Lutz Schmelzer. Period: 1980 - 1980. Role: Drums
Philip Seibel (R.I.P.). Period: 1981 - 1983. Role: Drums
Albert Eckardt. Period: 1983 - 1987. Role: Drums
Peter Breitenbach. Period: 1991 - 1993. Role: Drums
Side projects: Warhead (Ger)
Jorg Michael. Period: 1993 - 1994. Role: Drums
Side projects: Saxon, ex-Stratovarius, ex-Unleashed Power, ex-Rage, ex-Running Wild, ex-Mekong Delta, ex-Headhunter, ex-Avenger (Ger), ex-Axel Rudi Pell
Frank Ulrich. Period: 1994 - 1995. Role: Drums
Side projects: Living Death, X Wild, Mendacious Messiah

Discography

Demo: Demo (1982) Tracklist.
Lineup: vocal, bass guitar: Chris Boltendahl, guitar: Peter Masson, drums: Philipp Seibel
Demo: Born Again (1983) Tracklist.
Lineup: vocals: Chris Boltendahl, guitars: Peter Masson, bass: Willi Lackmann, Drums: Albert Eckardt
Single: Shoot Her Down (1984) Studio: Noise Records. Tracklist.
CD: Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984) Studio: Noise Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl: Vocals, Peter Masson: Guitars, Willi Lackman: Bass, Albert Eckardt: Drums
CD: Witch Hunter (1985) Studio: Noise Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl: Vocals, Simon Adam: Drums, Peter Masson: Guitars, Willi Lackmann: Bass
CD: War Games (1986) Studio: Noise Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl: Vocals, Albert Eckhardt: Drums, Peter Masson: Guitar, C.F. Frank: Bass
EP: For promotion only (1992) Tracklist.
Lineup: Vocals : Chris Boltendahl, Guitars : Uwe Lulis, Bass : Thomas Göttlich, Drums : Peter Breitenbach
CD: The Reaper (1993) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Tommi Göttlich - bass, Jörg Michael - drums
Compilation: The Best Of The Eighties (1993) Studio: Noise Records. Tracklist.
EP: Symphony of Death (1994) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - Vocals, Uwe Lulis - Guitar, Thomas Guttlich - Bass, Jurg Michael - Drums & Percussion
CD: Heart Of Darkness (1995) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Tomi Göttlich - bass, Frank Ulrich - drums
Single: Rebellion (1996) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
CD: Tunes Of War (1996) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Tomi Gottlich - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
EP: The Dark Of The Sun (1997) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Tomi Gotlich - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
Single: The Battle Of Bannockburn (1998) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Jens Becker - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
CD: Knights Of The Cross (1998) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Jens Becker - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
Single: The Round Table (Forever) (1999) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Jens Becker - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
CD: Excalibur (1999) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Uwe Lulis - guitar, Jens Becker - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
Comment: A concept album based on the story of Excalibur.
CD: The Grave Digger (2001) Studio: Nuclear Blast. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Manni Schmidt - guitar, Jens Becker - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
Comment: Also released as a limited edition picture vinyl album as well as a digipack edition.
Live DVD: Tunes Of Wacken LIVE (2002) Studio: GUN. Tracklist.
Comment: Taken from their WACKEN 2001 appearance
Compilation: History (2002) Studio: Gun. Tracklist.
Compilation: Masterpieces (2002) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
CD: Rheingold (2003) Studio: Nuclear Blast. Tracklist.
Lineup: Chris Boltendahl - vocals, Manni Schmidt - guitar, Jens Becker - bass, Stefan Arnold - drums, Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards
Compilation: Lost Tunes From The Vault (2003) Studio: G.U.N. Records. Tracklist.
Comment: The label released this compilation independent from the band.
CD: The Last Supper (2005) Studio: Nuclear Blast. Tracklist.



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