Guitarist and songwriter Danny (Stag) Steigerwald rocked the airways and stages of the world as a member of the platinum selling band Kingdom Come. Stag’s guitar was heard on the smash hit songs “Get It On” and "What Love Can Be", on Kingdom Come’s chart topping “Kingdom Come" album and their follow up album “In Your Face”. With Kingdom Come Danny toured the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan playing to millions at sold out stadiums and arenas. Steigerwald also recorded with the Industrials on CBS in 1980 and Royal Jelly on Island Records (1994). As a songwriter he has written tunes for Kingdom Come, Royal Jelly, the Industrials, and Warrant. Dan co-wrote and arranged Warrant’s number 10 hit single “Cherry Pie”. Before moving to the big time in L.A. Steigerwald along with sax player Kenny Blake was a member of the great Pittsburgh based jazz fusion band “King Solomon”.
"His riffs are heavy, his blues playing delicate and his solos somewhere between Page, Blackmore and Hendrix. Briefly he's a guitar giant." - Mark Madden Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Star of the Our Lady of Grace Lunch Room
Danny Stag was born as Daniel Steigerwald in Pittsburgh, Pa. into a family of future sportscasters and new writers. His older brother John was a popular sportscaster on KDKA and WTAE TV. Brother Paul became the color analyst for the Pittsburgh Penguins and brother Bill was a writer and copy editor for the Los Angeles Times. Sister Mary is a newspaper and magazine writer in New Mexico. Dan grew up with his three brothers and sister Mary in Scott Township. The Steigerwald family's passion for music came from their father William who loved jazz. He collected the records of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Lester Young, Ben Webster and Stan Getz. Besides jazz Dan was influenced by the blues rock music of his guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck.
Dan was self taught first learning to play on a plastic ukulele at age eight. He made his first live performance at age 10 playing in a band with his brother Paul on drums at Scott Township's Our Lady of Grace school lunchroom. He stood on the side playing bass parts on Beatles tunes. Dan purchased his first electric guitar for $44 at Woolworth's, plugged it into his father’s living room hi-fi, and drove his neighbors crazy practicing. Later that year he had a return engagement at the Our Lady of Grace lunchroom for his first paying gig. Chagring 50 cent admission he split the $60 proceeds with another guitar player. Out growing his Woolworth special Dan upgraded to a 1962 Fender Stratocaster that he bought for $195 in 1973.
Jazz Fusion with J.B. Frank
In 1975 Dan left home at 19 and hitch hiked to Cuyahoga Falls Ohio, to play in the jazz fusion group called Imajaz. There he met his friend and band mate Johnny B Frank. Frank was the band leader of Imajaz and played fender piano, mini moog, and clavinet.
Dan returned to Pittsburgh and joined the jazz fusion band King Solomon. He became one of Pittsburgh's premiere guitarists playing with King Solomon from 1976 through 1977. In the glory days of Weather Report, Return to Forever, and Herbie Handcock Pittsburgh jazz fusion fans flocked to hear King Solomon at the Decade in Oakland, the Boardwalk in the South Hills, Morry’s in the Beaver Valley, the Encore, and other area clubs. King Solomon was comprised of a group of very talented musicians. Keyboard player Jerry Melega was a veteran of the bands of Mel Torme, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Eddie Fisher. Drummer H.B. Bennett went on to record with Bobby McFerrin. Bassist Skinny Bishop later toured with Bobby Vinton and Gino Vanelli. Sax player Kenny Blake became a member of the MCA pop-jazz band Cabo Frio in the 1980s and released two top 20 solo jazz records in the 1990s. The band backed jazzy vocalist Debby Asbury. Playing with great precision and feel King Solomon performed the music of Weather Report, Chic Corea, Steely Dan, Herbie Hancock and other fusion artists. Dan honed his chops learning from Melega, Blake and the others.
Escape to L.A.
In 1977 older brother Bill Steigerwald convinced Dan to move to the heart of the music industry in L.A.. Dan left King Solomon to take a four day Greyhound bus trip to Hollywood. He moved into his brother's Franklin Avenue apartment and tried to make it in La La Land. He lived next door to actress Lisa Blount, one of the stars of the hit Movie "Officer and a Gentleman." Lisa come over to his apartment on August 17, 1977 to tell him that the king of Rock N Roll, Elvis, had died.Dan returned to Pittsburgh for a few weeks in 1978 to make his first recording. Drummer Lenny Ferraro called saying he wanted Dan to record with the group the Dogs. Dormont bassist Gary Link, who played with David Werner, Rita Coolidge, and with John Kay in Steppenwolf, was one of the Dogs. Dan flew back to Pittsburgh and spent two weeks recording in a farm house in Latrobe.
Dan's stay in L.A. was again interrupted in 1978 when J.B. Frank called from Florida promising a good paying gig in Top 40 band. Dan moved to Florida to be the lead singer and guitarist in J.B's band. He learned 35 billboard hits in one week and went to work. Playing with a top 40 band was an educational for Dan as he learned the anatomy of hits songs from song structure, arrangements, lyrics, and vocal harmonies. The band made good money playing the music of Earth wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, P Funk, Rufus, Orleans and others. Dan saved his cash for a return trip to L.A. He knew he had to be there to really make it.
When the Florida band broke up in late 1978, Dan convinced JB to come to Hollywood with him. They both moved into his brother Bill's Franklin Avenue apartment, There they began writing new wave songs together.
One day in 1979, Dan was practicing in his brother's apartment when he was interrupted by a knock on the door of opportunity. Sherry Klein, his neighbor from down the hall and a recording engineer, liked what she heard and asked Dan for a tape of his original music. Unbeknownst to Dan she took the tape to producer Kim Fowley, manager and producer of the legendary all girl band the Runaways.
Kim Fowley landed Dan and J.B a record deal with CBS Records and produced the recording sessions of their new wave band the Industrials. Dan wrote the songs, played guitar and keyboards, and sang lead vocals. J.B. Frank played keyboards, drums, guitar, and sang vocals. They were joined on bass by Calvin Teardrop and on drums by Cyclops. CBS released the album “The Industrials” in 1980. The album had a spooky synth pop sound highlighted by the cut "Every Night is Halloween", The record sold well in Europe and South America. But in the U.S. it only received airplay from Rodney Bingenheimer on KROQ in L.A.. With the major downsizing of the record industry in 1981 "The Industrials" were dropped from CBS.
Post Industrial Era in L.A.After the Industrials fell Dan's brother Bill bought him a $300 junker car. He used to get to his $100 a week job at a Hollywood liquor store. Dan auditioned for several bands including the Motels and made the rounds playing open stages at clubs like the Central on the L.A. club circuit. He struggled for several years trying to land another record deal and considered returning to Pittsburgh to join a good paying lounge band.
In the mid 1980's L.A. became the world capital of the spandex hair bands. Brett Michaels and Reb Beach moved from Pennsylvania to L.A. to make it big with Poison and Winger. Dan and J.B. played the L.A club scene from 1985 to 86 in the popular band Population Five. In the band was drummer Matt Sorum who went on toe play with the Cult, Guns and Roses, and Velvet Revolver fame on drums. On bass was former Knack member Prescott Niles. JB played keyboards and Dan played lead guitar.
Dan and J.B. Frank joined with of vocalist Mandy Lion to form the heavy metal band War World III in 1986. J.B. switched to bass during his War World III enlistment.
The Kingdom CameDan' and J.B. Frank's big break into the Kingdom of Rock N Roll came in May of 1987. J.B learned through a musicians referral service that a German singer from the band Stone Fury had a just signed a deal with Polygram Records and needed new band. He especially wanted a strong guitarist. The band was being formed by the West German singer and songwriter Lenny Wolf who earned critical praise with band Stone Fury. A&R Representative Derek Shulman, who landed the Granati Brothers a deal with A&M records, signed Wolf to Polygram and commission him to form the new group.
J.B Frank and Dan both auditioned for the band in June.Stag improvise a solo Wolfe's song "What Love Can Be" After a few agonizing days of waiting to find out and helping audition drummers both Danny Stag and J.B. Frank were hired. Stag beat out 30 other guitarists for the spot. With a $250 weekly salary drawn against the album advance, he quit his liquor store job to be a full time rock n roller.
The new band, christened Kingdom Come, was comprised of lead singer Lenny Wolf, guitarists Danny Stag and Rick Steier, bassist Johnny B. Frank and drummer James Kottak. They headed up to Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver to record with producer Bob Rock.
John Kalodner, the A&R man who signed Foreigner and AC/DC, on a visit to Little Mountain Studios heard a mix of the song "Get It On" He liked the song and asked for a copy, Kalonder, with Polygram's knowledge, slipped a copy of "Get It On" to a DJ WRIF in Detroit. WRIF aired the song saying it was from a mystery band. Listeners assumed the mystery band was Led Zepplelin and swamped the station with request calls. The scene was repeated a several other stations. "Get It On" became the No. 1 requested song on album rock stations for six weeks. Polygram pushed up the released date to run ship 600,000 copies of the album on March 1, 1988.Kingdom come embarked on a 50 city European concert tour as their album was rushed to release. The band became an overnight sensation The album debuted at an No. 51 Billboard on March 19. It moved up to No. 12 in on the seventh week. With sales of 1 million copies in four months it received a Platinum award. Cashbox Magazine named Kingdom Come the top new group in its July 30th 1988 issue. The band scored several hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts with "Get It On" #4, "Do You Like It" #21, What Love Can Be #26, and "Who Do You Love" #37.
Dan who has struggled for eight years to survive in L.A. was suddenly being seen in the Rolling Stone, on the cover of metal rock magazines, and heard in newspaper and radio interviews.
Kingdom Clone Accusations
The listening public loved the music of Kingdom Come making their album a 1.3 million best seller, but music critics in the Rolling Stone, USA Today and L.A. Times attacked the band calling it "Kingdom Clone". They accused the band of sounding too much like their sacred gods Led Zeppelin. They whined: How dare they sound like the greatest band of all time. They moaned that Lenny Wolf sounded too much like Robert Plant.
Critic Harry Sumral of the San Jose Mercury News wrote "Kingdom Come isn't a heavy metal group that wants to sound like Led Zeppelin; Kingdom Come wants to be Led Zeppelin. And to that end, this group is willing to do anything, to the point of committing grand larceny...Stag's searing guitar solo on "Get It On" is the best Page solo in recent years. And it is almost like hearing a new record by the Zep; it's that close."
The USA today parroted the other reviews "Stag is no Jimmy Page, his riffs are cut from the master's cloth."
Stag response in interviews was: "I sound like Danny Stag , always did. You can ask anyone who's ever heard me before. Anyway, Jimmy Page didn't invent the blues.'
On uninformed critic wrote: "Members of Kingdom Come have spent day after day listening to the entire Led Zeppelin catalog - and learning it note for note....: Kingdom Come is not simply a band that's been influenced by Led Zeppelin, it's a band that knows no other influence."
The fact that both J.B. Frank and Danny Stag were veteran players of much more technical complex jazz fusion music was ignored by these uniformed critics. The fact that they released a new wave record on CBS was ignored. Pittsburgh fans who heard Dan play tight fusion jazz in King Solomon knew the real story, As Lenny Wolf's voice sounded like Jimmy Page on a couple of songs, the critics falsely accused the band of being totally influenced by Led Zeppelin.
Stag pointed out that he had been played jazz and blues based rock long before he joined Kingdom Come. His major influence was Jimi Hendrix. If one listens closely to the solo on "What is Love" you can hear influence of the far superior innovator Jimi Hendrix, not that of blues imitator Jimmy Page. Led Zeppelins' songs and chord changes were borrowed from American blues masters.
Ironically Led Zeppelin is one of the biggest rip off bands in the history rock. The introduction to their endlessly played anthem "Stairway to Heaven" was stolen note for note from Spirit's song "Taurus". Led Zepplelin has also been accused of recording unaccredited covers of songs by Albert King, Howlin' Wolf, Blind Willie Johnson, Willie Dixon, Jake Holmes, Bukka White's and Anne Bredon. Led Zepplin, worshiped by critics as one of the most innovate rock bands, made millions ripping off the music and influence of African American blues masters.
Mark Madden in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette praised the efforts of Kingdom Come. "Hey, Led Zeppelin didn't invent the type of music Kingdom Come plays - thank Robert Johnson and Willie Dixon for that - but Zep refined it and made it larger than life, which is all Kingdom Come is trying to do. Thank heaven someone still is."
Monsters of Rock Tour
Despite the accusations of the music critics Kingdom Come was a major draw on the concert circuit. They were invited to appear on the 28 U.S. city 1988 Monsters of Rock mega outdoor stadium tour along with Metallica, Dokken, the Scorpions, and headliners Van Halen. Dan returned to Pittsburgh with Kingdom Come to play in front of 30,000 at Three Rivers Stadium on June 15. The height of the tour was two sold out shows at the 100,000 seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kingdom Come continued on the tour working with Bon Joni and Ratt in Japan and Magnum in the U.K.
In Your Face Lenny
Kingdom Come returned to the studio in 1989 to record with producer Keith Olsen. Their second album "In Your Face" released on Polygram in 1988 reached number 40 on the Billboard 200. It featured the songs "Do You Like It" ,"Who Do You Love", and the blues rocker "Highway 6".
The band went on tour with Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick, Whitesnake, and Warrant, They appeared at the Syria Mosque on August 16, 1989. During the tour the band the band members decided to call it quits. Their last show was on August 19, 1989 in Louisville, Kentucky Wolf carried on the band name with new members to release several albums in Europe.
In 1990 Danny Stag and J.B. Frank became involved in the production of Warrant's Cherry Pie release. Dan co-wrote and arranged the song "Sure Feels Good To Me". The album reached no 7 on the Billboard Top 200.
Royal JellyIn 1992 Dan reappeared as guitarist Daniel Steigerwald in the band Royal Jelly. The alt-funk band was formed by singer Johnny Edwards, who had replaced Lou Graham as the lead singer of Foreigner and before that was a member Carmine Appice's glam-metal band King Kobra. After recording an eight track demo the signed with Island Records. Critics described the band as a mix of Alice In Chains folk-grunge, Hendrix metal-funk and John Lennon psychedelia. Lead singer John Edwards added spice to the band playing sitar and slide guitar. The rhythm section was Klaven on harmonica, drums and percussion, bassist Dave Seaton, and Susanna Hoffs on tambourine.
Legendary A&R man Denny Cordell signed them to Island Records. Working with producer Matt Wallace they recorded at the Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, California. Dan wrote nine of the tracks. The album titled "Royal Jelly" was released on Island Records. The song "Sky" was used in the opening credits of the Charlie Sheen film "Term,inal Velocity". The single "Ceiling", co-written by Klaven, Steaton, and Steigerwald reached number 29 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart. It went to number 22 with a bullet on the Records and Radio Chart. That led to an appearance on Jon Stewart's MTV show. The band broke up after in 1995 the album fell from the charts.
Wil E. Tri
In the late 1990s Steigerwald returned to the Pittsburgh area and played the blues with singer Wil E. Tri and the Bluescasters. In support of Wil E Tri's. 1998 album Snake Eggs Steigerwald and Hermie Granati joined the Bluescasters to appear at blues clubs throughout the Northeast.
After his stint back in Pittsburgh with Wil E Tri Steigerwald returned to L.A. where he did production, writing, and studio work through 2005. He's currently living in Pittsburgh.