The Lords of Salem
American singer, songwriter and filmmaker Rob Zombie first became famous as the founder and lead singer of the heavy metal band White Zombie, with whom he played with from 1985 to 1998. With the group, Rob released four studio albums, including the Grammy nominated “Astro Creep: 2000 - Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head” (1995). White Zombie ranked No. 56 on the VH1 list of “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” in 2000. Rob disbanded White Zombie to pursue his solo career. Making his promising solo debut with the song “Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn)” (1996), a collaboration with Alice Copper that netted a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance, the accomplished musician enjoyed huge financial triumph with his debut solo album “Hellbilly Delux” (1998) when it peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and earned triple platinum certification in the U.S. He has since released the studio albums “The Sinister Urge” (2001), “Educated Horses” (2006) and “Hellbilly Deluxe 2” (2010), not to mention one live album, one remix album and two compilation albums. He received a 2008 Grammy nomination for the song “The Lords of Salem” from “Zombie Live” (2007).
As a filmmaker, Rob is perhaps best known for writing and directing the highly successful remake “Halloween” (2007) and its installment “Halloween II” (2009). He also directed “House of 1000 Corpses” (2003), “The Devil's Rejects” (2005) and the animated film “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” (2009).
Rob has been married to Sheri Moon Zombie since 2002. She has frequently starred in his movies. Rob is close friends with Alice Cooper.
Childhood and Family:
Robert Bartleh Cummings, who would later be popular as Rob Zombie, was born on January 12, 1965, in Haverhill, Massachusetts, to former carnival workers. After his family settled in Haverhill, his father became a furniture marker and his mother worked as a saleswoman. He has a younger brother named Michael Cummings (born on August 25, 1968), who would later become the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Powerman 5000. As a youngster, Rob found TV, comics and movies as a means to deal with boredom and quickly became a huge fan of horror and zombie movies. It was the 1932 classic “White Zombie,” starring Bela Lugosi that would make an enduring impression on him.
An artistic student, Rob did not gain much support from his high school guidance counselor for his artistic interests and became disappointed. After graduating from high school, he made his way to New York City to pursue fine arts illustration at the Parsons School of Design. He, however, soon grew bored with the strict curriculum and pulled low grades. He was eventually expelled from the school.
On October 31, 2002, Rob married his long term girlfriend Sheri Moon Zombie (born Sheri Lyn Skurkis on September 26, 1970).
Rob Zombie left Massachusetts for New York Cite at age 18 to attend the Parsons School of Design. Within a couple of years, however, he was kicked out of the school because of poor grades. He then worked various jobs to support himself, including working as a bike courier and porn magazine designer before landing a spot as a production assistant on the CBS children's show “Pee Wee's Playhouse” (1986).
Along with his then-girlfriend Shauna Reynolds, whom he met at Parsons, Rob formed the band White Zombie, in which he sang vocals and Reynolds played the bass. He subsequently took the moniker Rob Straker and Reynolds altered her name to Sean Yseult for the group. Their first EP, “Gods on Voodoo Moon,” was released on November 1985 with additional players ENA Kostabi and Peter Landau who played guitar and drums, respectively. Rob wrote all 6 tracks included in the EP.
With new guitarist Tim Jeffs and drummer Ivan de Prume, White Zombie made their live performance debut in April 1986 at a Manhattan music club and released their next EP, “Pig Heaven,” in May that year. The third EP, “Psycho-Head Blowout,” followed in May 1987 with Tom Guay replacing Tim Jeffs on guitar. With the same lineup, the rock group launched their full length debut album, “Soul-Crusher,” in November 1987 under the group's label Silent Explosion. The album gained moderately positive reviews from critics upon its release. It was during this same period that Rob began to use the stage name Rob Zombie. After the group signed to Caroline Records, the album was re-edited and re-released in 1988 and caught the attention of popular musicians Iggy Pop, Kurt Cobain and Thurston Moore.
Named after the 1981 movie “Cannibal Ferox,” the studio album “Make Them Die Slowly” was released on March 22, 1989, on Caroline Records. Produced by Bill Laswell, the album did not perform well with the critics. The album was recorded with new guitarist John Ricci after Tom Guay left the group shortly after the release of their debut. However, due to health reasons, Ricci left the group after the record was completed. He was replaced by Jay Yuenger. Later that same year, White Zombie released an EP titled “God of Thunder.” The EP attracted the attention of Geffen Records and the band was soon signed to the label. By 1991, the group had moved their base from New York to Los Angeles.
White Zombie's third studio album and their major label debut, “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1,” was released on March 17, 1992, and was a commercial and critical success. Produced by Andy Wallace, the album rose to No. 26 on the Billboard 200 and was eventually certified double platinum by RIAA thanks to the popular singles “Thunder Kiss '65” and “Black Sunshine,” which peaked at No. 14 and No. 39 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, respectively. “Thunder Kiss '65” was nominated for a 1993 Grammy for Best Metal Performance. Other songs included in the album were “Welcome to Planet Motherfu*ker,” “Soul-Crusher” and “I'm Legend.” On October 6, 1992, the group released a remix EP called “Nightcrawlers: The KMFDM Remixes.”
Next, Rob and his band members recorded the song “I Am Hell” for “The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience,” a compilation album released in 1993 by Geffen Records. It was the first time the group recorded with drummer Phil Buerstatte. They then covered “Children of the Grave” for Black Sabbath's tribute album “Nativity in Black” (1994) and performed “Feed the Gods” for the soundtrack of the motion picture “Airheads” (1994), which was directed by Michael Lehmann.
White Zombie resurfaced with the studio album “Astro Creep: 2000 - Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head” on April 11, 1995. Produced by Terry Date, the album proved to be a bigger commercial victory than its predecessor when it rose to No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 2,600,000 copies in America. It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Engineered Album. The album also made the Top 40 in several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Sweden. “Astro Creep: 2000” yielded three charted singles, plus an additional promo single. The lead single “Electric Head, Pt. 2 (The Ecstasy)” rose to No. 27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 37 on the U.K. Singles chart. The follow up, “More Human than Human,” peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and brought the group a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance (1996).
In 1996, White Zombie covered KC and the Sunshine Band's popular song “I'm Your Boogie Man” for the “The Crow: City of Angels” movie soundtrack. The song was nominated for a 1997 Grammy for Best Metal Performance. The same year, the group released the remix album “Supersexy Swingin' Sounds,” which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200. It was the final release of the group before they disbanded in 1998. Subsequently, Rob focused on his solo career.
While still a member of White Zombie, Rob joined forces with Alice Copper on the song “Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn)” for the “Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by The X-Files” compilation album. The song earned a 1996 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. He went on to write and perform the song “The Great American Nightmare” for the Howard Stern movie “Private Parts” (1998). After the breakup of White Zombie, Rob established his own solo band, whose early members included John Tempesta (drums), Mike Riggs (guitar) and Blasko (bass). His solo debut album, “Hellbilly Delux,” was released on August 25, 1998, under Geffen Records. A significant success, the album rose to No. 5 in the Billboard 200 and went triple platinum in the U.S. It also peaked at No. 2 on the Top Canadian Albums chart and was certified double platinum in Canada. The album produced the singles “Dragula” (#6 Mainstream Rock Tracks, # 27 Modern Rock Tracks), “Living Dead Girl” (#7 Mainstream Rock Tracks, #22 Modern Rock Tracks) and “Superbeast” (#26 Mainstream Rock Tracks).
After a 1999 remix album titled “American Made Music to Strip By,” which rose to No. 38 on the Billboard 200 and went gold in Canada, Rob released his second solo effort, “The Sinister Urge,” on November 13, 2001. It rose to #8 on the Billboard 200 and earned the heavy metal singer platinum status in the U.S. The promotional single “Dead Girl Superstar,” featuring an additional guitar solo played by Kerry King of the metal band Slayer, went to No. 25 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks in 2000. Two more promotional singles, “Feel So Numb” and “Never Gonna Stop,” peaked at No. 10 and No. 11 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, respectively. The first and only official single released from the album, “Demon Speeding” rose to No 13 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks.
On September 23, 2003, Rob released a compilation album called “Past, Present & Future,” which contained selections of his work with White Zombie and his solo career, plus two previously unreleased tracks. The album peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by RIAA. It went gold in Canada. It was also in 2003 that Rob made his feature film directing debut with the horror movie “House of 1000 Corpses,” which he also wrote and composed the music for. Originally completed in 2000, the film faced difficulty finding a distributor but was eventually purchased by Lion's Gate Films in 2003. The movie received negative reviews, but fared better with audiences. Rob earned a 2004 International Fantasy Film nomination for Best Film for his work on the film.
Two years later, he wrote and directed “The Devil's Rejects” (2005), a sequel to “House of 1000 Corpses.” The film grossed $17 million in North America and $2.3 million internationally. Like its predecessor, the film has garnered a cult following despite receiving mixed reviews from critics. The movie brought Rob the Chainsaw Award for Killer Movie (Scariest Film) at the 2006 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards
Back to the music world, Rob launched the album “Educated Horses” on March 28. 2006. Recorded with guitarist John 5 and drummer Tommy Clufetos, who joined the group in 2005 after the departure of Mike Riggs and John Tempesta in 2003, the album debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, becoming his third solo album to achieve the Top 10 spot on the chart. It also opened at the top spot on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. The album contained 11 tracks, including “Foxy Foxy,” “American Witch” and “Let It All Bleed Out.” Later that same year, on October 10, the greatest hits album “The Best of Rob Zombie” was launched by Geffen. The album peaked at No 166 on the Billboard 200. It was followed by a live album titled “Zombie Live” on October 23, 2007, which rose to No. 57 on the Billboard 200. The song “The Lords of Salem” was nominated for a 2008 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Rob resumed his filmmaking career in 2007 when he contributed to “Grindhouse,” a double feature consisting of the feature length segments “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof,” which was by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, respectively, by directing the trailer “Werewolf Women of the S.S.,” which starred his wife Sheri Moon Zombie. He followed it up by writing and directing “Halloween” (2007), a remake of the 1978 horror film of the same name. Starring Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, William Forsythe and his wife Sheri Moon Zombie, the film debuted at No. 1 at the box office with a weekend gross of $26 million and continued to earn a total of over $80 million worldwide. He picked up a Best Film nomination at the 2007 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival for the film.
In 2009, Rob wrote, directed and produced “Halloween II,” a sequel to his successful 2007 remake “Halloween.” Costing $15 million in production, the film earned over $37 million at the box office worldwide. The same year, he also directed, executive produced and contributed to the story of the animated film “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.”
Rob plans to make his TV directing debut with an episode of “CSI: Miami” called “L.A.,” which is scheduled to air on March 10, 2010. His upcoming films include “Tyrannosaurus Rex” (2013). On the music front, Rob released the album “Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool” on February 2, 2010, with Roadrunner Records. Produced by Rob, the album received mixed reviews from critics and rose to No. 8 on the Billboard 200. It also charted in the U.K. at No. 65. The album was recorded with new bassist Piggy D., who joined Rob's band in 2006. The singles “What” and “Sick Bubble-Gum” went to the top 40 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks in 2009.
Chainsaw: Killer Movie (Scariest Film), “The Devil's Rejects,” 2006
Eyegore Award: 1999