Grave Digger Bio:
The beginnings of Grave Digger date back to 1980. After various appearances at small festivals, the band, comprising Chris Boltendahl, Peter Masson, Willi Lackmann and Albert Eckardt, recorded a song for the compilation album “Rock from Hell” in 1983. A year later, Grave Digger released their debut album “Heavy Metal Breakdown”.
They released their second album “Witch Hunter” in 1985. After this album was completed, Eckardt left the band; he was replaced by C.F. Brank. Further festival appearances, a tour as the supporting act for Helloween, and a triple headlining tour with Celtic Frost and Helloween, followed before the release of the third album “War Games” in January 1986. Thereafter, Peter Masson gave way to Uwe Lulis; in 1987 the band's name was changed to Digger, the name under which they released the album “Stronger than Ever”.
This album hardly had anything in common with the earlier music of Grave Digger. It was more an attempt to reach the masses with mainstream rock like that of Bon Jovi or Van Halen. The album flopped, as it was not readily accepted by neither fans nor the masses. As a result, Chris Boltendahl declared the break up of the band at the end of 1987.
However, the band partially reformed in 1991. Chris Boltendahl and Uwe Lulis, along with two newcomers, Tomi Göttlich and Jörg Michael, who had been the drummers for Rage and Running Wild, released a comeback record, “The Reaper”. The title song returned to the true roots of Grave Digger. In the same year, the album “Best of the Eighties” was released and comprised a quasi Best-of-Album of their earlier songs.
The album “Symphony of Death” followed in 1994. In the meantime, Grave Digger, now with a new drummer, Frank Ullrich, toured Germany, playing as the supporting act for Manowar. In 1995, the album “Heart of Darkness” was released—a very dark album influenced by the early works of Annihilator.
In 1996, Stefan Arnold became the band's new drummer. This year also marked the release of the concept album “Tunes of War”, which dealt with the early history of Scotland. The album was part one of the Middle Ages Trilogy. The second album, “Knights of the Cross”, with Jens Becker on bass, was completed in 1997 and was about the rise and fall of the Knights Templar. The third and final part of the trilogy, “Excalibur”, completed in 1999, explored the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Shortly after the release of “Excalibur”, the band embarked on a world tour and was joined by keyboardist Hans-Peter Katzenburg, who later became a permanent bandmember.
In 2000, Grave Digger celebrated their 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they performed a sold-out concert at the Zeche in Bochum. This concert marked a defining chapter in the band's history, as Uwe Lulis left the band shortly before the show due to both personal and business-related differences.
A replacement was found in ex-Rage guitarist Manni Schmidt, who first appears on the 2001 Nuclear Blast release “The Grave Digger”. The works of Edgar Allan Poe served as an inspiration for the lyrics of the album. Their first live album, “Tunes of Wacken”, was released in 2002. It was coupled with the release of their first DVD, “Wacken Open Air”. About a year later, the next concept album followed. “Rheingold” centered around the opera “Der Ring der Nibelungen” by Richard Wagner.
After the successful Rheingold-Tour with Symphorce and Wizard as supporting acts, the band recorded a new album, “The Last Supper”. Several journalists hailed it as the best since “Tunes of War” or “Heavy Metal Breakdown”. For the cover artwork, the band turned to artist Gyula Havanscak. The album was released in January 2005. Less than a month later, the band embarked on a tour with Stormhammer and Astral Doors.
October 2005 saw the release of a live DVD recording of the Last Supper Tour and the Sao Paulo concert. The title, “25 to Live”, commemorates the band's 25th anniversary.
In early 2006, Grave Digger signed a deal with the Spanish label Locomotive Records. The single “Yesterday” was released on 29 September including a re-recorded version of the title track. As a special bonus, a live DVD was also included.
January 12, 2007 saw the release of “Liberty or Death” and later that year, Grave Digger performed at the legendary Wacken Open Air. In October, a new member joined the Grave Digger family. Thilo Hermann (ex-Running Wild) became the second guitarist.
After finishing the songwriting process for the band's latest album, Grave Digger entered Principal Studio in Munster to record the new songs under the guidance of the Resetti brothers, who have provided them with a sound so forceful and fresh like never before. Furthermore, Grave Digger split with Locomotive making way for a worldwide record deal with Napalm Records.
With the release of the MCD “Pray”, the legendary power metal institution delivers a taste of what is to come on their forthcoming album "Ballads of a Hangman" to be released on 09 Jan 2009. To make the wait bearable, the men around screamer Chris Boltendahl have assembled a genuine metallic package. Hellbent metalheads will be pleased to not only find three non-album tracks, but also the title track "Pray" as an exclusive extended version of the original to be featured on the upcoming longplayer. The direction the band takes is clear: Back to the roots including a killer version of Motörhead's all time classic "Overkill".