Holton & Steel - The birth of "Rig Rock"
Heavy Metal Kids disbanded shortly after "Kitsch" was released but Gary was keen to keep on making music. After the chance to front AC/DC when their front man Bon Scot sadly passed away went begging, Gary's chance to continue to make music was with his friend Stein Groven. Gary had met Stein, better known as Casino Steel, in 1974 when they both played at London’s famous Speakeasy club – Gary with Heavy Metal Kids and Casino with The Hollywood Brats. They walked in the same musical circles and also shared Laurie O'Leary as their manager. They instantly bonded and began drinking together on a regular basis but it wasn’t until 1980 that the idea of "Holton and Steel" was born.
Originally calling themselves "Lip Service", Gary and Cas began on the live London club circuit, regularly playing the famous "Dingwalls" club. Cas suggested to Gary that to concentrate on their music career it would be better for them to leave the bright lights of London altogether and to record material in Stein's native Norway.
“We basically just wanted to get away from the circus,” remembers Cas, “people were dying left, right and centre and we were both struggling with alcohol addictions and he was into some drugs. I was a wreck, and so was Gary, so we agreed to escape together. I said that I knew some people in Norway so let’s go there and get away from all the craziness.”
As 28 year old rockers, Gary and Cas thought they were already too old, but Cas’ plan worked and "Holton and Steel" drew massive crowds to their live gigs and their breakthrough came with their punk-country version of "Ruby (Don't take your love to town)" and several singles including "Listen", "No Reply" and "Runaway" were also released. "Holton/Steel part 1" took two years to release as record companies turned a blind eye to their project. Eventually, the debut album "Holton/Steel part 1" was released and sold a creditable 127,000 copies in Norway alone. The duo also released the albums: "Holton/Steel part 2", "Third Edition", "Number 4" and "We Did It Our Way".
Cas remembers “We had a huge success with our first album in Norway and it led to things getting more crazy than ever. So escaping didn’t work. We basically just moved the craziness over to Trondheim. Gary liked Norway very much! He made good money and could take his pick of the ladies! Parents dreaded us, all popular music was so kind and nice at the time, so it was not so easy to be outrageous. And then we came…two, more or less, drunks! We claimed we worked on oil platforms and invented the "Rig Rock" as we conned the press into believing that we had met on an oil rig where we were both working as roughnecks. They bought it, and so they christened our music “Rig Rock”. We had no real ambitions, we went to Norway to escape the circus and then it became a party like no other. Maybe we were so popular because we were unpopular. It was totally absurd - they had to use barricades to keep fans away from us. Had we been teen idols, but we were far from it! We had just one day off, it was a party and drugs for four years, every day. It was stress and clutter, an organized chaos…we had the freedom to do exactly what we wanted."
Gary Holton & Casino Steel 1981
Track list: I'll Find It Where I Can - Gary's Song - Runaway - Thinkin' Of You - Ruby - Goodnight Irene - Almost Persuaded - B. 17 - Good Ol' Gary - Jimmy Brown
Gary Holton & Casino Steel No.2
Track list: No Reply - Daddy Don't Cry - She's No Angel - The Next best Thing To You - Ghostriders - That's How It Goes - Ruby's Arms - Alone In San Antonio - United We Fall - Mary Ellen Jones
Gary Holton & Casino Steel No.3
Track list: Blackberry Way - Lover's Lane - She's Got Balls - Honky Tonk Angels - Gary's Back In Town - Surrender - St.Peter - Silver Rose - Who's Sorry Now - Stay With Me
Gary Holton & Casino Steel No.4
Track list: Baby I Love You - Blue Eyed Blonde - Along Came Jones - I Wish I Was An Angel - Billy The Kid - Pink Shoes - Auf Wiedersehen Pet - Cass Won't Play - Summer's Over - We Gotta Go
A CD compilation album of the most popular songs was released by Cas in 1995, ten years after Gary’s death, under the name "Ruby" as a tribute to him. Fifteen years later, the official anthology was released in 2010. “I wanted to create a proper memorial that included everything and do it properly. There has been a lot of hassle to publish this again. For me this is a worthy end for myself and Gary.”