My dude & I recently took a trip to Brunswick Heads to check out a record fair being run by The Vinyl Junkie. As regular crate diggers for well over a decade (…maybe even 2!!) we were stoked to find 3 albums by New York rockers RIOT! As we flicked through crate after crate of quality albums we were greeted on 3 occasions by the familiar face of this furry fellow and were powerless in taking him home!
While we knew who he was his identity is still pretty underground so I did some research…
In the 1970s New York’s music scene was saturated with Punk & New Wave bands. Around this time, miles away, a new form of heavy rock was invading Britain – soon, the world!
It was the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Along with this new form of music came a new image for bands & album artwork alike.
In a world of kick ass bands with spooky & psychotic mascots, one American band of the same style chose to front their band with an unlikely character – Tior the Mighty! Tior (aka Johnny) is the axe wielding seal-man the world was waiting for, and he came straight outta the rubble of New York’s concrete jungle!
Tior first appeared on Riot’s 1977 debut album “Rock City” as a half man/half seal creature wielding a battle axe, walking away from a slain yellow alien woman & a burning city. Surprisingly the band had no creative input for the artwork of their debut album, it was completely up to the artist hired by the record company & is believed to be a political protest regarding the fur trade at the time. Needless to say the band would have been shocked when this creature was presented & quickly distributed worldwide!
Despite Tior’s strange & arguably weak appearance, Riot adopted him as their own & he has since appeared on 11 of their 16 albums including Riot V’s most recent 2014 release “Unleash The Fire”.
Tior is so loved by the band that when their only constant member, guitarist Mark Reale, passed away in 2012 he was etched into the back of his gravestone to forever “shine on”.
Now, as someone who doesn’t tend to have a lot of time off, this Christmas break has felt particularly lengthy! This is what happens when i go a little stir crazy & have photoshop at my fingertips…enjoy!
There was also that one time Johnny was in Led Zeppelin – Word is …he taught them everything they know! This is a pic Led Zeppelin never used due to a fight over who was standing where for the photo….
It’s a little known fact that Johnny also starred on the original cover of this BUDGIE Album! The two other models argued that he looked freakish and he was later replaced by the triplet of the original models used.
Johnny (aka John Osmond) is pictured on the back of The Osmond’s ‘Crazy Horses’ album helping harvest the fruits of their labour in preparation for their pending trip to planet Kolob!
Fun Fact: Johnny also choreographed the famous dance moves performed in this video!
Johnny’s cousin is actually Eddie the Head – Eddie was sick on the day of this photoshoot so he did Iron Maiden a favour & stood in!