Richard Pryor's Black Death Metal And The Johnny Fever Connection

December 16, 2013

In 1977 there were 3 major networks, PBS, and a couple of UHF stations to keep television viewers entertained. ABC's 'Happy Days' and it's spin off 'Laverne And Shirley' ruled the Tuesday night Family Hour.  Somehow, Comedian Richard Pryor convinced NBC to let him do his own variety show which they scheduled opposite the Cunninghams and the Fonz.  It was America's nostalgic "remember when things were sweet" show against Pryor's cutting edge, controversial, drug fueled comedy skits.  The show lasted four episodes before Pryor told the network to screw.  But the 'Richard Pryor Show' blazed the path for the equally controversial(yet more successful) 'Chapelle Show' on Comedy Central.(They also shared a writer in Paul Mooney).

But enough of the history lesson.  Thanks to Decibel, I found this clip of Pryor and his mock Hard Rock band Black Death.  Check this out, it's hilarious:

Not only was Pryor literally "Black Death" but he was also aping bands like Kiss and Black Sabbath who were huge at that time:

But could Richard Pryor have inspired pioneering Metal artists like King Diamond and Mercyful Fate?

Maybe while Ghost B.C. were figuring out their act back in Sweden they stumbled upon an old VHS tape of the Pryor Show?

One thing I know for sure; Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati was a huge fan of Black Death.  He wore their t-shirt everyday:

Then there was a band called Death out of Detroit who may have influenced Black Death:

But Black Death may have influenced Britain's legendary Spinal Tap:

Who appeared in 'This Is Spinal Tap' with Howard Hesseman:

Who played Dr. Johnny Fever in WKRP in Cincinnati..who wore the Black Death shirt:

Wait..what was I talking about?


Ghost B.C. Photo by Scott Penner

Richard Pryor Photo by Alan Light