“Vinnie Cavarra and I both worked at Guitar Trader,” remembers Thom Beebe, “and we were talking to [KGB DJ] Jim McInnes about forming a band. We were going to do a spoof on [’80s-era club bands] Blitz Brothers and Bratz. He suggested we call ourselves the Brat Brothers. That idea,” he remembers, “lasted about a week.”
But Beebe, already a veteran of ’70s rock outfits Circus and Child, felt there was potential in the Brat Bros. lineup — he and Cavarra on guitars, Leroy Vega on drums, bassist Neil Foote, and Pete Papps handling vocals.
“This,” he says, “was the start of Assassin.” The year was 1983.
Assassin rose to the top of the San Diego heavy-metal/big-hair scene during the ’80s. It was a fertile music period that would produce such local notables as Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini (Ratt) and Jake E. Lee (Ozzy Osbourne). As for Assassin, Neil Foote would be the first to leave. “We replaced Neil with John Osmon,” says Beebe.
“It felt good,” remembers Osmon, “because we were in Spandex at the time.” He laughs. “We wore mostly women’s clothes and used inhuman amounts of Aqua Net hairspray.” These days, Osmon plays bass in a Sammy Hagar tribute band.
“Rock and roll was a lot of fun back then,” says Osmon. “The venues were different. There were more of them. And the crowds were just full of loyal fans. It was a ball.”
“I really think we had a shot at it,” says Beebe. “We were like that group in Almost Famous.”
So, what happened?
“Charlie Bryant was shot outside of a club we had been in together,” says Beebe. He explains that Bryant was a mentor and a guiding light and, along with then-Padres pitcher Eric Show, an investor in Assassin. “It was a random accident,” says Beebe. “But when Charlie died, that really killed our thunder. With him not being there, we lost direction.” Then Pete Papps left Assassin to front another band, and his replacement, an L.A.-area singer named Marc Anthony, didn’t work out.
“Assassin just kind of went away,” he says.
These days, Thom Beebe owns a music store in El Cajon called Guitar and Bass Land and Skin City Drums. Last year, Deep Shag Records released an album of Assassin songs. If the reunion gig kills it, might Assassin reunite?
“That’s a question everybody’s been asking,” says Beebe. “Vinnie lives in Oregon. Pete lives in Texas. But if it turns out well, we’ll have to do it again sometime.”
Assassin headlines the lineup at a gig being billed as the San Diego Rock Reunion, Saturday, April 17, at 4th&B. Local headbangers from back in the day Jonas Grumby, Street Liegel, and the Dirty Birdz (formerly Vamp) also perform.
- Saturday, April 17, 2010, 7 p.m.
- 4th&B, 345 B Street, San Diego