1982 - 1989
Guitarist Al Bivainis, keyboardist Andy Lileika and drummer Mark Vytas Adomaitis joined forces with the Kezys brothers: guitarist Rimas, bass player Vytis and vocalist Ed, to form a classic rock cover band called Steel Wolf playing the occasional school function or party in late 1982. Less than a year later, the Kezys brothers split and with yet another sibling, drummer/vocalist Al, began playing cover tunes and polkas at Lithuanian weddings, camps and the like, as BKO (Brothers Kezys Orchestra). The remaining trio still continued as Steel Wolf but began writing original material until Lileika quit to form another cover act, Klaida (Lithuanian for "mistake"), with a high-spirited lot that included, among others, guitarist Paul Naronis. Months later, Ed Kezys rejoined Bivainis and Adomaitis, splitting his time between BKO and Steel Wolf, though saving all but one of his original compositions ("New York Girls") for the latter. All lyrics for Steel Wolf were penned and now voiced by Adomaitis, the undisputed leader of the band.
On February 16th (Lithuanian Independence Day) 1984, recording began on Steel Wolf's debut, Eternal Damnation. The album was released four months later on the band's label, Lounge Music, and featured lyrics that were either doom-laden
("Rapid Descent into Oblivion") or jocose ("Alice's Bearded Clam") and belted out atop heavy guitar riffs. The album cover was photographed by Steve Guglielmo who would go on to do a majority of the band's visual artwork - much seen on this site. The songs became set lists and were performed with frenetic energy at CBGB, among other New York-area clubs, and captured on Loungin’ Live! the group's next release. A highlight of this album was a lively acoustic jam recorded in Forest Park, Queens.
Later that year, a third album, Backyards of Bushwick, consisting of short humorous numbers and cover tunes (including the Lithuanian national anthem), was released. One inclusion, a thrashy operetta entitled "The Perfect Solution" showcased Adomaitis' fancy for writing lyrics of a ribald ("Aural Sects at Gunpoint") and lascivious ("Take it Up the...") nature. Surprisingly, Bivainis contributed no writing to this album, appears on only six of the ten tracks and exclusively plays bass. He left the band during this project due to lack of interest. In the album's liner notes hints are dropped that Naronis (of Klaida) would be involved in Steel Wolf's future.
Any thoughts of playing live to promote this latest recording were put aside when a motorcycle accident left Adomaitis hospitalized and laid up for months. Ironically, he had been riding as a passenger with Bivainis to
discuss plans for working together again. They never did. However, some of Bivainis' leftover guitar work from earlier recording sessions was incorporated into the band's fourth album, Rock and Roll Rehab, as was new guitar tracks from Paul Naronis and future member Mike Jaillon. These new persona sanctioned musical expansion giving way to lengthy instrumentals that intertwine acoustic with electric guitar ("Lead Poison", "Emanon") done astride bluesy numbers with horn solos ("Rhythm and Booze"). Lyrics were sanitized on this album, hence the title.
Their slightly more commercial approach got them a headlining gig with Klaida, during which they played the classic rock cover tunes from their earlier days in between their own new ones. Original bass player Vytis Kezys made a surprise comeback but walked off before the end of the show when the audience demanded the band's traditional raunchy fare. Mike Jaillon was handed the bass and thus became an enduring fixture of the group.
This line-up then performed yet another acoustic show in Forest Park later that summer. Over this same period, Andy Lileika recorded two new wave solo albums and released them on his own label. Continuing to stretch their horizons, Steel Wolf invited him to play on a new version of "Rapid Descent into Oblivion" that appeared on a widely distributed greatest hits package and very limited edition anthology.
While recording new material for their next album, the group ran a design-the-album-cover contest in a Lithuanian newsletter. No one entered and the group, disenchanted, abandoned the whole project.