Richard Christy is the drummer of Charred Walls of the Damned, and has played with Death and Iced Earth, among others. He’s also a producer on the Howard Stern Show. After one of his best friends and former bandmate Steve “Tregenda” Childers died earlier this month, Christy reached out to Metal Insider to write about his friendship with Childers.
Steve Childers was one of the most metal people I’ve ever known. If you’re reading this then you’re most likely a metal head and you know how metal music can bring people together for lifelong friendships. On August 17, 1992 metal brought myself and Steve Childers together. Sadly, on February 2, 2016 a car accident took Steve away. I just wanted to write this article to share what a kind, funny, genuine and all around METAL person Steve Childers was and always will be.
How can you put into mere words a 24 year friendship with someone who you’ve had some of the greatest times of your life with? You can’t, although I’m going to do my best here. It would take at least fifty novels for me to write all of the great things about Steve and to tell all of the great stories that myself and others have experienced with him. Here are just a few recollections of my dear friend Steve Childers. Please crank up Steve’s music while you read thisand let’s celebrate a true metal head and musical genius.
Burning Inside “The Fog”
I heard Steve’s band Public Assassin via a demo cassette tape when I was 18 years old living in Kansas. I was totally blown away, especially by the song Blood on the Cloth. I was immediately drawn to Steve’s simple, brutal, and melodic guitar work featured in the song. When I heard that Public Assassin were looking for a drummer I arranged an audition near my home in Kansas when the band was going to be traveling through my area on the way to the Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, and Agnostic Front show on August 17, 1992. Steve was very intimidating as he walked out of the band’s van, tall and covered in tattoos, though I immediately realized I had no reason to be intimidated because Steve was down to earth, friendly and very funny. The audition went great and I agreed to join the band on their trip to see the “Complete Control Tour” that night. Normally it would be a little scary riding with total strangers to my first death metal show at the Outhouse in Lawrence Kansas but Steve and the rest of the guys made me feel right at home. I decided that in two days I would be moving to Springfield, Missouri to join Public Assassin, the same week I was supposed to start college in Kansas.
Public Assassin “Blood on the Cloth”
Moving to Springfield and joining Steve’s band was a dream come true. Traveling with Steve, Greg Ponder, Joe Morton, and Donnie Routt from Public Assassin was always a blast and we immediately starting touring the midwest and recorded a demo titled “Raw As Fuck” in September of 1992. Steve was a crushing guitar player, he came up with the most inventive riffs I had ever heard and his leads were frenetic and brutal. Steve was also a huge horror fan like I was and we spent many nights at his parents house watching horror films, drinking Natural Light, and laughing at Steve’s stories, like when Steve and his buddies somehow got ahold of The Great Kat’s phone number and repeatedly pranked her. There were many pranks on the road as well, including the time Steve dared me to defecatein a Folgers can and cook it in an oven backstage in a community center kitchen at a gig in Joplin, MO. I happily accepted his dare and after setting the oven at 400 degrees and going on stage to play our gig, the venue began filling with very stinky smoke. Steve and our singer Greg started making jokes on stage like “This gig is the shit” while the rest of the band tried to play brutal death metal without laughing our asses off.
Public Assassin “Blood” Live
There are so many memories of the great times I’ve had with Steve in the past 24 years, but one that really sticks out was getting whiskey drunk with a few of our friends and going to see the 1960’s crooner and That’s Incredible star John Davidson live in Branson, Missouri. Thanks to our buddy “Froggy” getting free tickets, we all randomly took a weekday off from work and decided to go watch John Davidson’s live show while shitfaced. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. We were surrounded by people four times our age and Mr. Davidson even pointed us out in the crowd saying he was glad to see young people in the audience. Steve and I were crying tears of laughter. We were even able to meet John Davidson backstage and even convinced him to do an intro for a low budget horror film called Evil Ned 3 that Steve and I were making! How many people can say they’ve gotten whiskey drunk at a John Davidson show in Branson? Steve and I can.
Evil Ned 3 (John Davidson is at the 1:44 mark):
After Public Assassin disbanded, Steve and I, along with our friends Mike Estes and Jamie Prim formed the band Burning Inside. We decided to move to Orlando, Florida in early 1996 to be closer to the Tampa death metal scene. One day Steve and I were walking through the Altamonte Springs mall when we walked into a bookstore only to see the other most metal person I’ve ever met – Chuck Schuldiner from Death. Steve had been a fan of Chuck’s since Scream Bloody Gore and even had a Scream Bloody Gore tour shirt which I think he was even wearing at the time. I had been a fan of Chuck’s since the Spiritual Healingalbum so we were of course both freaking out that one of our idols was right in front of us. Seeing Chuck and Steve talk metal together was like watching two metal professors giving a master class. It was so freaking cool. Steve knew EVERYTHING about Death and fortunately Steve, Chuck and I got to spend a lot of time together listening to vinyl and going to shows when we lived in Florida.
Burning Inside “Regenerate”
While in Florida, Steve formed a black metal band with his friends Impurath and Vaz named Black Witchery. I lived in the storage unit where Burning Inside and Black Witchery rehearsed and listening to them rehearse, I was always blown away by how brutal and creative Steve’s riffs in Black Witchery were. I was so proud of Steve when he got to play gigs with Black Witchery in Europe, I know that it was a dream of his to play in Europe and it was so cool when I would hear from Steve about all of the cool festivals that Black Witchery were getting to play overseas.
Black Witchery“Inferno of Sacred Destruction”
Steve’s sense of humor was legendary with the people whoknew him. He was so freakin’ funny that we decided to tap into Steve’s hilarious side by putting him in some of the low budget movies that I made with my buddies in Missouri and Florida. In 2001 I made a full length film titled Leaving Grunion County starring Steve as the boozing, cursing, fun lovin’ character named Tilt McGillis. Tilt was one of Steve’s characters that he would do to make us laugh and I just thought it was too funny not to put on film. We premiered the film at the Enzian theater in April of 2001 and after the screening Steve was beaming. I could tell that he was so proud of what we had done and I was so happy that people got to see this hilarious character that Steve had created.
Leaving Grunion County:
Another side of Steve’s sense of humor was well represented in the band that we played in with the eccentric and brilliant singer Skip Skiffington and our buddy Rick Granberg on keyboards. “Skip Skiffington and The Elite” was a band formed on December 26th, 1993 after Steve found a random cassette in the break room of his job at Diversified Plastics in Springfield Missouri in late 1993. After hearing Skip Skiffington’s singing on his demo cassette, a cross between Lou Reed and Wayne Newton, Steve and I new we had to form a band with him. I think the hardest I’ve ever seen Steve laugh was when we were recording with Skip Skiffington and The Elite. We also had a joke punk band called “Pisser” that we played in with our buddies Rick Granberg, Joe Bondo, Froggy, and Joe Morton where we all dressed up in ridiculous costumes and played GG Allin and Cocknoose covers. Steve recorded hundreds of songs with Skip Skiffington and The Elite and played numerous gigs with them and Pisser and had such a blast the whole time, I feel so lucky that I was there for all of it. I have laugh lines in my face that are all thanks to Steve introducing me to Skip Skiffington and Pisser.
Skip Skiffington and The Elite “Wiener Roast”
It’s hard to believe that the same guy who played Tilt McGillis and jammed with Skip Skiffington and The Elite was also in brutal metal bands like Burning Inside and Black Witchery, but that’s who Steve was. He was the most genuine person you would ever meet and he never worried about what other people might think. He was a man who loved his family, his friends, heavy metal, beer and horror movies. The night before Steve’s passing he was hanging out with our old friends from the 1990’s Kansas metal bandsDead Orchestra and Puke Weasel. Steve texted me to say how excited he was to be hanging out with all of them. That’s how Steve was, once a friend, always a friend. Please raise a drink to Steve, crank up some of his music, and toast to our dear friend and beloved metal head Steve Childers.