Manowar's Unofficial Founding Member

Throughout the 1960s, thousands of people clamored for the status of "the unofficial founding member" of the Beatles. There is only one band, however, who embodies that rank with the Kings of Metal, Manowar. John "Dawk" Stillwell, not only played an integral role in bringing the band together, he is also responsible for helping the legendary act achieve distinction as the loudest musicians ever. In recent years, he has worked almost exclusively with Manowar, repairing and improving their equipment as they prepare for each metallic onslaught.

-- V.C.

Joey DeMaio's Bass
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"Little did I know that I would be instrumental in creating music history when I asked then future Manowar bassist and founding member Joey DeMaio to work with me on Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell tour," recalls Dawk. "It was 1980 and Ronnie James Dio, who had recently left Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, had accepted the daunting challenge of replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath.

"Opening shows for the metal pioneers was Shakin' Street, a French band that featured New York City punk icon Ross the Boss on lead guitar. It was during an early date on the tour that Dio introduced Joey and Ross. The duo bonded after discovering that they shared a dream: to play the loudest, heaviest, and craziest music ever created. And backstage at Newcastle City Hall in England, while Black Sabbath were on stage, Joey and Ross jammed and realized that their immense talents complimented each other's style. Their fate was sealed. Manowar was born.

Joey DeMaio's Bass
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"When the tour concluded, Joey and Ross set out to piece together a formidable line-up while collaborating on material. Not only would I begin an incredible friendship with Manowar, but I would also begin an amazing journey, building equipment that I had once only dreamed about. For the first time in my career, I was given free reign to design any and everything from the ground up. The years worth of ideas that I had jotted down and stored away were now coming to fruition. One of these realized ideas, the All-Tube MK3 Pre-Amp, remains the only such piece of equipment capable of capturing Joey's trademark sound.

Joey DeMaio's Bass
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"Although Manowar is the loudest band in the world and Joey DeMaio is the loudest musician ever [a feat that was documented during a 1994 Hanover, Germany performance] its sound remains clear and audible. From the beginning, it was important for the band to have the best amplifiers available. So I was given the freedom to make any modifications to any piece of the band's equipment.

Manowar's Rig
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"The reason why Manowar has always played with such clarity despite being so loud is that its amplifiers have an incredible amount of both headroom and frequency response. Listening to Manowar is like listening to a symphony orchestra. What is frustrating about the band, however, is that until recently, it was often difficult to capture the band's bold and majestic sound on record. It simply overloaded analog tape. It was not until digital recording became available that band's true sound was captured [hence the reason for remixing and remastering early recordings].

"Because a picture tells a thousand words I invite you to look at a picture of Joey DeMaio's awesome recording rig to see what I have been able to accomplish since forging a friendship with the reigning Kings of Metal."


Manowar in 2010
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