Credit: Shelby Carol
Amid the constant demands of the road, five incredible LA-based rock musicians have banded together to record the magnificent new album, HEAVEN & EARTH’s HARD TO KILL.
HEAVEN & EARTH members include Joe Retta (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Stuart Smith (guitars), Lynn Sorensen (bass), Mike Mangan (Hammond organ and keyboard) and Steve Wilson (drums, percussion). On HARD TO KILL, HEAVEN & EARTH includes musicians, drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars) and keyboardist Ty Baillie (Katy Perry, Robbie Robertson).
Joe Retta says: “Rock and the blues have had a huge influence on our music. With sexy grooves and powerful attitudes, these tunes reflect the time with soulful power and lyrical punch.”
Stuart Smith adds “I feel this is the most powerful and exciting HEAVEN & EARTH album to date and we’re looking forward to bringing the music to the fans.”
Taking HARD TO KILL as a whole, the 11 original songs ring true and the melodies unfold like you’ve known them your whole life. The title track is a testament to perseverance, while “L.A. Blues” exposes the pitfalls of living in the City of Angels. And while “The Game Has Changed” dramatically contrasts the past with the present, the riveting “Monster” shows that the spirit of hard rock is indeed hard to kill. Meanwhile, “Til It’s Over” will earn the admiration of longtime rock listeners, just as the attitude in “Bleed Me Dry” and “Walk Away” will speak to any modern music fan.
HEAVEN & EARTH founder Stuart Smith was born in Great Britain, the son of an RAF jet fighter pilot, and he was originally classically trained on the guitar from the age of 8. After seeing a Deep Purple concert in the early ‘70s he got turned on to rock & roll. When he was 19 years old he met their guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and the two became fast friends and Ritchie took Stuart under his wing and mentored him.
With guidance from Ritchie, Smith’s own performing career took him across Europe with various bands, through New York City, and ultimately to Los Angeles where he first formed HEAVEN & EARTH. The band released two previous albums before he met Retta about a decade ago, when both men were touring with the band The Sweet, known for classic hits like “Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on the Run.” After developing a strong writing partnership, Retta and Smith joined forces to continue the HEAVEN & EARTH legacy.
A native of Rochester, NY, Retta established himself as one of the most versatile singers in Los Angeles. During the mid ‘90s, he worked in rock, R&B, and metal. Retta has performed with The Sweet, Gregg Rolie, Dio Disciples and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO). With Retta out in front, his powerful vocals and world-class musicianship are integral to the band’s epic sound.
Bassist Lynn Sorensen, a Seattle native, has performed all across the globe with Bad Company and in Paul Rodgers’ band. As a teen, Sorensen studied classical violin and viola; to this day, he maintains a passion for classical music.
Essential to the album with his songwriting and drumming, the seasoned Kenny Aronoff has been a sideman to countless bands both live and in studio. With a repertoire that conveys his talent and experience, Aronoff has played alongside acts such as Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and the Rolling Stones. His distinctive style and energy is one to behold on Hard to Kill. While Aronoff enjoys playing with HEAVEN & EARTH, prior commitments prevent him from touring with the band.
After building a dedicated fan base, HEAVEN & EARTH will introduce the rousing anthems of Hard to Kill to fans across America this fall. The current lineup boasts Steve Wilson on drums and Mike Mangan on keyboards and B3 organ.
Wilson grew up in a small town in Missouri and taught himself to play drums at the age of 4. A versatile percussionist, he has recorded and toured with D.H. Peligro and East Bay Ray (side projects from members of the Dead Kennedys).
Bringing the power of rock & roll to the Hammond B3 organ, Mangan is a founder of Mike Mangan’s Big Organ Trio and Rebel House Radio. He has performed with Keith Emerson and Robby Kreiger, among many others.
Retta expresses “It’s great to have players who love to perform and deliver with such rock & roll passion. We’re bringing you an exciting show experience.” Smith adds, “Our live show is dynamic and proof that rock is alive and well.”
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