“MEAN MAN: THE STORY OF CHRIS HOLMES”— The Last True Rock ‘n Roller!


The Last True Rock ‘n Roller!

Amos Lassen

From iconic guitar player to construction worker, Chris Holmes has been an iconic guitar player and a construction worker— he is a man whose life is filled with  highs and lows. After he lost the publishing rights of his own songs dealt with addictions, he had to start over as he lived with his mother in law’s basement in Cannes, France. Now he feels that he is ready to go to Europe with his new band. In this films we are with him as he  meets many fans and shows once again that he is still a showman just as he was once a young rockstar. This musical journey is his story that uses the parallel stories of the rise, fall and rebirth. 

“Mean Man is a new documentary about the  former W.A.S.P. guitarist. W.A.S.P. was a savage band that was mistakenly categorized as a glam band, something it never was. At most, it reflected a glam band with big hair and animal print leggings but there was nothing glamorous about that. Band members were were tall beasts who, by the end of their shows were usually covered in sweat and fake blood. They looked and sounded like a nightmare.

At the center of the band were, Chris Holmes and Blackie Lawless, the creative genius who was mysterious and private.  He focused on the band’s ‘brand’ and direction. When he was not onstage, he was soft-spoken and intelligent. He wrote most of the lyrics and made himself the face of W.A.S.P. during the Eighties. Holmes was seen  as the mascot and sidekick to Lawless. He brought the wildness.  Lawless was the brains of the band and Holmes was the heart.

There was always more to W.A.S.P. than met the eye. Holmes’s guitar playing was world-class. His guitar tone was all his own – raw and nasty and he was years ahead of what many black/extreme metal artists would do years later. Seeing  him play on stage was an experience. But Holmes had demons. He was an alcoholic who had no self-esteem. But this is a story of redemption and we see that Holmes is now in his 60s, sober and happily married, living in France and he has found his place, touring in Europe with a new band.

We see Holmes as someone who’s become comfortable with himself and his fame. He admits that he had no desire to be a rock star and he has  hung up his guitar several times and taken menial jobs in construction, etc. He’s happy to play guitar but does not know how good he is.

There are a couple of tragic anecdotes about friends he’s lost to alcoholism and he talks about how rejection of his Mormon upbringing led him to use drugs as a teenager. We never learn why he went into hiding for so long but then we do not really need to know that.  He seems to have found the best way to express rage is through his performance and still thrashes around onstage.

This is a story unlike the usual rock survivor stories. Holmes never bemoans that he could have been great. He shrugs it all off, straps on his guitar and plays brilliantly. He has had a rough life but he is still here.