Chapter 5 (1984-1985): WOW, Car to Plane Vid, Ablum of the Year, Grammy Nomination 'Best Female Rock Vocalist'

In the meantime KISS had asked for Wendy and the Plasmatics to appear as a Special Guest on their tour.  KISS wanted the controversial street edge that Wendy would bring as part of their tour and for the Plasmatics it was a chance to play in front of different audiences in different markets than they would ordinarily play so the answer was "Yes" with the result that a lot of people were exposed to something they'd never seen. By the end of the tour with KISS it was clear that, although the formal notice that Capitol would not pick up their option for a second album didn't come in for six months, the relationship with Capitol was done.  It had taken months and months for the deal to be done, months to record and release the album and now months to get out of the deal. Bills still loomed from legal battles and now after mammoth momentum, no label. In the meantime, Gene Simmons had approached Wendy and Rod about producing the next Wendy O. Williams album.  So as to avoid any wasted time in legal issues with Capitol it was decided not to use the Plasmatics name on the record at all; it made no difference to Gene, in fact, he felt it would give him the freedom he wanted to add new players to the album.

A common error one sometimes finds in poorly researched articles on the band is that the Plasmatics 'broke up' at this time in 1983. This of course is false; there never was any band per se to break up, the Plasmatics was a name created by Rod for the concept band of changing musicians built around Wendy. There were always 1-2 members changed with every recording and there was no difference here.  It was simply a choice by Wendy and Rod not to use the Plasmatics name on this album.  In fact Wes Beech (the only other permanent member besides Wendy) remained to play rhythm and lead (including the album's theme song "It's My Life") and T.C. Tolliver the drummer on Coup and the drummer who recorded more Wendy O. and the Plasmatics albums than any other drummer remained on drums.  Gene Simmons would play bass under the pseudonym of "Reginald Van Helsing" and the only other new player to play on the whole album who was brought in was wunderkind lead guitarist Michael Ray to solve the technical challenges that had been a problem for several albums and which had come to head with the more complex music of Coup D'Etat.  Gene also pulled in the Special Guest talents of Ace Frehely, who hadn't played with KISS since leaving the band years before, Paul Stanley and KISS drumer Eric Car who played on one song.  Shy of majors who wanted to own you and then do nothing, the record was released through Passport/JEM who had just had an injection of capitol under the WOW label.  Jem had agreed to put up funds for a video which several of the others who also made offers on it did not.

When the review copies were sent out to the various media outlets it was the KERRANG! magazine review that Wendy, Rod and everyone else who was into loud hard rock waited to see since during these years in the mid to late eighties KERRANG! was nothing less than the Bible of hard, heavy, or real rock and roll.  The reviewing task had been assigned to the well-known and often hard-nosed KERRANG! critic Malcolm Dome whom neither Wendy, nor Rod, or anyone knew personally at all at that time only by reputation.  The verdict came in the following week. Malcolm Dome had picked the WOW album as his album of the year.  Later Wendy got a Grammy nomination as 'Best Female Rock Vocalist of the Year'  for her  vocals on the album which was a completely remarkable achievement for someone who had completely thumbed her nose at the establishment, and whom radio, on a large scale, had refused to play.

With mohawks now starting to become common, Wendy decided to let her hair grow in, and the cover for what would be called the "album of the year" in the pages of KERRANG! was the very opposite of the earlier covers; total simplicity.  In contrast, however, the video was to be perhaps the most dangerous Wendy had ever done.  The first part of the video was shot in LA at the Olympic Arena with Wendy wrestling two female wrestlers, but it was the next part, which got the most attention and for which a crew was once again assembled in the Arizona desert.  Wendy would attempt a transfer from a moving car to an airplane with a rope ladder and no safety harness.  The heat in the desert that day made it that much more dangerous and difficult to get lift for the plane.  Multiple runs were done, ace pilot Chuck Wentworth, Rod and cameraman in radio communication.  Finally the ladder landed in just the right place for Wendy to grab it and be able to hold onto it.  Everyone held their breath they seem to remember for the next 8 minutes while she held onto the ladder dangling from the plane, the car, driverless, careened off a cliff and exploded and Wendy was able to climb up into the plane.