1991 Recipient – Best Work on a Complete Demo – 1st Annual LA Music Awards (Local Music Awards) Darrell Roberts
1992 award winner for Demo Search 92′ – 2nd Annual LA Music Award – “Sugar Daddy” No Show
Phoenix, Arizona band, Tuff was formed in 1985 by guitarist Jorge DeSaint and bassist Todd ‘Chase’ Chaisson. The first line-up consisted of vocalist Terry Foxx, DeSaint, Chaisson, and a local drummer who was soon replaced by Michael ‘Lean’ Raimondo. In 1986 the band recorded a three track demo that consisted of “Party Tonight”, “Feel My Heartbreak” and “Glamour Girls”.
Foxx left the band to pursue a professional ice skating career and was succeeded by ex-Slut vocalist Jim Gillette (Then known as Jim L’Amour). Tuff played some local gigs and opened for the L.A. based glam band Poison, who came to Phoenix trying to gain a following outside of California. Poison told Tuff to head to Hollywood if they wanted to make it big and in the fall of 1986 they did. Gillette too would record a demo with Tuff titled ‘Knock yourself Out’, which featured the tracks; “Bang Bang”, “Forever Yours”, “Glamour Girls”, “Candy Coated” and “Dressed for Dancin”. Shortly after the bands move to L.A. Gillette departed to try a solo career. He released one solo record, ‘Proud To Be Loud’, before the band evolved into Nitro. Gillette would also go on to marry ex-Runaways/solo artist Lita Ford.
In May of 1987, a moderate amount of flyers were handed out by the band on the Sunset Strip advertising for a new vocalist. One of those flyers made it back to little old Oshkosh, Wisconsin and after reading “singer wanted, David Lee Roth, Vince Neil, Bret Michaels type” local guy Steve Lauxes (sexual backwards) decided to give it a try. After a few years locally in Wisconsin the former frontman of X-iter and Talon (who later became Tomi Gunn) realized it was time to make a move. He bought a one-way plane ticket to L.A. on June 26, 1987 confident he would get the job. After a few minutes in the same room with the band everyone knew it was a right fit. Tuff played their first show with Lauxes, now known as Stevie Rachelle (b. Steven Howard Hanseter), at the Roxy with Warrant in late August. Then in early November the band did a headlining gig at the Whiskey and Tuff started to gain a good following.
After a few years on the west coast it was time for Tuff to head across the U.S. and show everybody what was coming out of Hollywood in the 90’s. Rachelle was now a veteran in the band and knew the Midwest was ready to see the group. Gathering up all of Stevie’s old contacts Tuff headed to Wisconsin to play a few gigs and then hit a few other cities. A summer tour in 1989, a follow up tour in January of 1990 and a short east coast tour with Britny Fox in the spring of 1990 helped solidify Tuff as a premier talent.
After hooking up with Britny Fox manager Brian Kusner’s power star stable Tuff would eventually get signed in 1990 by Hit Parader magazine editor Andy Secher’s Atlantic Records affiliate Titanium. The resulting ‘What Comes Around Goes Around’ album was produced by Howard Benson and included the Bret Michaels penned “Wake Me Up”. Upon the albums release Tuff visited the UK for a one-off show at the Astoria in London as part of the American Dream series of concerts.
In September of 1991 the band debuted on dial MTV peaking at # 3 with their power ballad “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye”. Tuff sales were also fueled by the onslaught of press that featured band pin-ups, magazine covers and a die hard fan club. Tuff spent the better part of 1991 touring the U.S. doing shows with Lita Ford, Dokken, Badlands, Southgang, Saigon Kick, Aldo Nova, Blackfoot and even the Romantics.
Tuff eventually lost their record deal after Titanium Records folded. Chase and Lean then decided to leave the band, First Chase left the band in December of 1991 mainly because He and Rachelle could no longer get along. Lean left in the summer of 1993 to spend more time with his son and concentrate on coffee/bagel shop and tanning bed business.
Chase was replaced by ex-Paradise bassist Danny Wilder in the spring of 1992. Wilder then left in late 1993 to join ex-Motley Crue back-up vocalist Emi Canyn’s group Alice In Thunderland. Chase was then contacted to see if he was interested in returning but he declined so ex-Syanide Kick bassist Jamie Fonte got the gig. When Lean left, the band recruited Jimi Lord as his replacement.
A second album, ‘Fist First’, was recorded and paid for by Atlantic Records but the label dropped Tuff and let them walk with the recording. The band then signed to IRS/Grand Slam in 1993 and sold the album over in the process. Then Grand Slam filed bankruptcy, went under and after six months breeched the contract. Tuff again walked with the recordings and Rachelle formed his own RLS label (Record Labels Suck) in 1994 and released the record on his own.
Tuff was then contacted by TNT, CMC International, Moonstone and Mausoleum Records. They chose to sign with Mausoleum and got paid yet again for the original nine song recordings. In addition to the deal the band retained the rights of ‘Fist First’ on Rachelle’s RLS label. The band then got 3,000 copies of the new & improved record, which was now titled ‘Religious Fix’, to sell on RLS too.
The bands third offering was being recorded for release through Mausoleum but unfortunately the label folded before the band had a chance to finish it. Jimi Lord left the band and moved back to Detroit. He later played in a Canadian band called Blasternaut. Adam Hamilton played drums for Tuff on the final leg of their 1995 tour.
With no deal forthcoming the group disbanded and Stevie relocated back to Wisconsin and had a surprise hit with a rap tribute to the Green Bat Packers NFL team. In partnership with fellow Tuff bandmate Jamie Fonte and Milwaukee based Mark Stadler, Rachelle started writing parodies of songs with lyrics inspired by the Green Bay Packers. The trio took on the identities of St. Evie, Super J and Foolio and adopted the group name C.W.A. (Cheeseheads With Attitude) and recorded a six song ep entitled ‘Straight Outta Wisconsin’. The cd quickly sold out its initial pressing of 2,000 cd’s within 10 days of release so Stevie, who had self-financed the record, had 5,000 more pressed to satisfy demand.
C.W.A.’s follow up disc, ‘Cheeseheads For Life’, was released in late 1997 along with a video for the “Straight Outta Titletown” track. A third cd, ‘Say Cheese’, hit the streets in August of 1998. C.W.A. was a household name among Packer fans. 2003 would see the release of a C.W.A. greatest hits record entitled ‘Greatest Slices Of… C.W.A.
A Tuff bootleg album, the eighteen track ‘Regurgitation’, appeared in late 1997. The record was originally a Portuguese release but was later repackaged and released on Rachelle’s RLS label in 2000.
It was also around this time that Rachelle was pulled in by ex-Tuff and C.W.A. bandmate Jamie Fonte to produce the ‘Angry Youth’ album for the punk rock outfit The Mistakes. The band featured ex-Babydolls, Krayola Kids and The Zeros member Todd ‘Staci’ Wiltse (aka Toi Staci, aka Staci T. Odd) (vocals/guitar), along with Craig Wilson (bass/vocals) and Jamie Fonte (drums/bass/vocals). Rachelle also provided backing vocals on the record.
Then in April of 1998 Rachelle released his first solo record ‘Who The Hell Am I’. The album included the reworked Tuff track “So Many Seasons”. 2000 would see the release of his second solo record ‘Since Sixty-Six’.
Todd ‘Chase’ Chaisson turned up in 1999 as part of Substance D on their ‘Addictions’ record. Todd would also eventually join Total Chaos.
Rachelle tried out for the vocal position in Ratt but this union wasn’t to be. He appeared on the 1999 Shameless record ‘Backstreet Anthems’ and toured Europe in 2000 fronting the band. He also made an appearance on Shameless 2000’s ‘Queen 4 A Day’ cd and yet again singing two tracks on the 2002 record ‘Splashed’.
For the millennium Tuff became known as Tuff 2000. Other than Rachelle the band featured a whole new cast. Guitarist Darrell Roberts had previously been in Truth Or Dare. He was also a member of the Metallica tribute band Alcoholica, as well biding time in the blues band Snaggletooth. Bass was now in the hands of ex-Push/Brass Kitten/Give’s Brian Saunders, who had been the frontman for Push when they opened for Tuff in Wisconsin in the late 80’s. Drums were courtesy of one of Rachelle’s Talon bandmate Tony Eckholm, who had also gone on to play in Brass Kitten and Give.
Quite remarkably the summer of 2001 would see Tuff with a bona fide American radio hit with “American Hairband”. The accompanying album ‘History Of Tuff’ was launched with a debut party gig at Paladino’s in Tarzana, California. However, it was not all good in the Tuff camp as guitarist Roberts was announced as the replacement to Chris Holmes in W.A.S.P. His tenure was brief as he was back in Tuff within a few days. The saga did not end there though as a Tuff gig was pulled at the last minute when Roberts apparently was recalled to W.A.S.P. Another scheduled Tuff gig would be fulfilled with the welcome surprise of ex-Scream/Motley Crue/Union man John Corabi filling in on guitar. Also Eckholm left the band and was replaced by ex-Rocknee/Substance D drummer Tod ‘T’ Burr. By August Tuff had replaced Roberts with ex-Engines Of Aggression guitarist Michael Thomas. The band then toured with Jackyl, Bulletboys and Gilby Clarke.
In the summer of 2002 Tuff announced they would do their first UK tour in over a decade with special guest Shameless. Out of these shows the band put together the 2003 release ‘Live In The UK’. The record features a cover of Michael Monroe’s “Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘N Roll.
After the tour ex-bassist Jamie Fonte would replace Saunders who had left to join Hair Of The Dog as rhythm guitarist. Thomas too would leave to make Beautiful Creatures his fulltime band. The return of original guitarist DeSaint seemed eminent as he and Rachelle started playing together again but DeSaint again packed his bags and headed off to Florida.
Rachelle lent his pipes to the Guns & Roses tribute record released by Cleopatra/Deadline Records singing on the track “You’re Crazy”. He has also appeared on tributes to Journey “Lights”, Bon Jovi “In And Out Of Love”, Styx “Babe”, Poison “Look What The Cat Dragged In”, Scorpions “Blackout”, Def Leppard “Too Late”, Motley Crue “Red Hot” and Ted Nugent “Wango Tango”.
Tuff would have a new recording of, “Jingle Bell Rock”, included on the seasonal Harry Christmas compilation. Tuff members would also hit the club scene as an 80’s Metal Tribute band dubbed Motley Priest.
In 2004 Rachelle released four Tuff dvd’s, ‘What Comes Around Goes Around – The Video’s’. ‘Religious Fix – The Making Of Religious Fix’, ‘Decade Of Distant Memories 85-89′ and ‘Rock N’ Rarities’.
2005 would be a mournful time in the Tuff camp as former bassist Danny Wilder sadly passed away.
Tuff would tour in 2009 with the lineup of vocalist Stevie Rachelle, bassist Todd Chaisson, drummer Tod Burr and guitarist Jack Aurora.
2012 would see Tuff releasing What Comes Around Goes Around… Again! The disc features re-recorded tracks from their debut. The band now consisting of Rachelle, Chaisson, Burr and Swedish guitarist Staffan Osterlind, who had toured with Paul Di’Anno and Black Robot. The record also has six remastered demos from the pre-debut days.