Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Anthrax Guitarist becomes frum?

You all seemed interested in reading about the Lubavitcher Rebbe's past. On a similar, but completely different theme, I wanted to look today at someone else's present (i.e. future from back when).

Last month my good friend Rabbi Burton spent a week trying to figure out whether Kevin DuBrow was Jewish or not.

Someone had mentioned to me that one of the guitarists from Anthrax had become frum. I decided it was time to investigate.

Meet Anthrax and their two most famous guitarists: Scott Ian and Dan Spitz (both born Jewish - Ian's real surname is Rosenfeld)

Scott Ian is still just plain old Scott Ian. I had high hopes for Dan Spitz though. He gave up playing guitar and went to Switzerland to become a watch maker. Perhaps he became Ba'al Teshuva at the same time? Imagine the payos he would have!

But alas, I haven't seen him (or his tatoos) at my local mikva, for a very simple reason. He did get a haircut and become religious, just not our religion. He became a 'Messianic Jew' (i.e. Christian). Whoops! Not going to be seeing him in yeshiva in the near future then.

However, there is someone who used to play with Scott Ian and some of the other members of Anthrax before they became famous (and before they were Anthrax). His name is Yitzchak HaLevi, and you can read about him on his website.

He writes that:

In Bayside, music played a major role in a little school called Bayside High School. My music class was filled with many great musician, including the founding fathers of heavy thrash metal, Scott Ian, Danny Lilka, & Greg Wall of Anthrax. Together we made a lot of noise and gave our music teacher our own version of "School of Rock".

Not exactly the 'guitarist from Anthrax' then. Oh well.

In case you are interested, here is some info on Dan Spitz and his 'heavy metal watches' (which someone suggested is about as sensible as 'heavy metal traffic lights' but still...)

This is an article from BeliefNet

Daniel Spitz turned his back on music after more than a decade of success with one of the world's fiercest rock bands. But now the former lead guitarist with Anthrax, one of the pioneers of "thrash metal," is back witha new song-as a Messianic Jew.

After a hiatus of more than four years, he is recording an album that marries his familiar sound with a new-found faith. He plans to go back on the road to reach young people who connect with the raw power of his style of music but find little to appeal to them in the typical church.

"The new stuff is a testimony to coming from where I was to where I am now,"says the 36-year-old musician who helped Anthrax sell more than 12 million albums as they hit the charts and toured the world.

Founded in 1982, the group led the new "thrash metal" scene-which mixes heavy metal and punk in fast, high-energy music-along with the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. Anthrax's recordings included "Spreading the Disease" and "Sound of White Noise," with songs like "Deathrider," "Belly of the Beast," "Discharge" and "Parasite." One leading music magazine acclaimed their "remorseless metallic drive without peer."

"We were known for the energy, how fast and furious it was," Spitz says."When we saw what was coming out of the kids who would be slam dancing at a show we would say, 'Thank God. If we didn't give them this outlet I would hate to see what this planet would be like, because they are [so] pent-up.'"

But success went stale, and he left the band in 1995. "Something wasn't right in my spirit," he recalls. "I just lost the love of playing that typeof music. I can't even explain it. I didn't even want to touch my guitar-when I did it was like a burning sensation. Wacky stuff. I didn'tplay for almost four years."

Spitz turned to the quieter world of watchmaking, studying in Switzerland and opening stores in New York and Florida. Having continued to observe his Jewish faith while in the band, he began to discuss Christianity with someof his Christian relatives and friends. He attended a Bible study and eventually came to accept Jesus as the Messiah. "From then on the Holy Spirit began to work on me, and it has just been more and more," he says.

There is actually very little information about Dan Spitz on the internet (compared to Scott Ian, for example, his co-guitarist in Anthrax).

This is all that Wikipedia has to say on him:

Dan Spitz (born January 28, 1963) was the lead guitarist of the thrash metal band Anthrax from 1983-1995 and 2005 to 2007. He is the brother of former Black Sabbath bassist Dave Spitz.

In 1995, Spitz was fired from Anthrax, due to a severe disinterest in playing guitar. In the meantime he opened his own watch repair shop and converted to Messianic Judaism[1] (which is seen as a form of Christianity to both Jewish and Christian groups). He and his wife Candi have four children, two daughters (Adrianna and Julia, born circa early 1990's) and two newly born twin boys named Brendan Alan Spitz and Jaden Michael Spitz.

On April 1, 2005, Anthrax announced an Among the Living reunion, and Spitz was reunited with the band. They embarked on a world tour and released a DVD with footage from those performances. Following the end of the reunion tour, Spitz left Anthrax once again. He has since been replaced by Rob Caggiano, who was Anthrax's lead guitarist immediately prior to the 2005 reunion.

Spitz was originally known for his use of Jackson Guitars (he was famous for his custom Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles painted on them). But most recently during the Anthrax Reunion tour he has been an endorser of Paul Reed Smith Guitars. Paul Reed Smith has created a special "Spitz" head stock (a first for PRS) and a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rendering was painted on this new guitar by tattoo artist and painter Linton Ginther (aka JR) of SlushBox

Before playing in Anthrax, Spitz was a lead guitarist for another local thrash metal band Overkill and also Thrasher, at which time he shared the stage with bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan.

Spitz stands at a very short 5 feet 1 inch. He does not appear to be offended by "short jokes", as his bandmates joke about his small size commonly (his nickname within the band is "Mini-Tower").

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