Corrosion of Conformity Return With Pepper Keenan – Ghosts of the Road

I saw CoC for the first time live on April 11th, 1997 in Charlotte, NC. They were playing support for Metallica on the Load/Reload tour cycle. I had been spinning Wiseblood over and over at the time and could not wait to see them play Man or Ash, with Pepper singing a metal duet together with the un-credited James Hetfield. The events surrounding that concert were quite fun. I went with some high school buddies, one of which was celebrating his birthday. We lived west of Columbia, SC; about a two and a half hour drive from Charlotte. But for my friends birthday, his parents rented him a limo to take us up to the concert. Get out of town! No joke. We took a limo to see Metallica and CoC.

We were not technically of the lawful drinking age in the United States at that time, but our limo driver was. And he was cool dude. So after we scored some beers, another buddy broke out the pot brownies. We cranked up the ‘tallica and Corrosion and set sail. This was destined to become the best night ever.

We made it in one piece to the concert, with plenty of wind in our sails. CoC ripped up that big ass arena stage and finally the moment of elation came. They started into Man or Ash… I waited in anticipation of the chorus. No James. The chorus comes and Pepper keeps singing. No James. For reals, I want my money back. And James did not come out to sing with my boys from North Carolina (forgot to mention this was more or less a hometown gig for CoC). Well, CoC rocked and Metallica destroyed. No, literally, they destroyed. Like the whole stage. There was a fire and a soundguy caught fire and ran across. The lights started to fall and some dude up in the rock ‘n’ roll truss fell down onto the drumkit. Then, the Mighty Met came out and started to play on some tiny combo amps like nothing happened. Of course, this was part of the show. And I had never seen anything like it. And still haven’t.

Nevertheless, I still was a bit disappointed that James did not join Pepper on Man or Ash.

Fast forward nearly 20 years (18 I think). I’m hanging out with Pepper Keenan and Woody Weatherman at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany. Drinking some beers and noshing on some Wurst. Marcel (remember the executive producer of the show and vice-editor of Guitar Magazine who presents Ghosts of the Road) is sitting there interviewing the boys on the history of the Deliverance album for a special article in the magazine. They are talking about guitar recording techniques, Leslie cabinets, and how the whole major label deal went down. Meanwhile, I can only think about one thing. Finally, there is a break in their conversation and I take my chance.

Randy: Why didn’t James come out and sing Man or Ash with you back in Charlotte in 1997??

Pepper: Um…well he did sing it with us from time to time. Just not that night I guess…

(Randy raises two fists towards the sky!)

If you want to hear more about what went on during the shoot of the Ghosts of the Road episode with CoC, then check out this special episode of Randy & Kai’s Excellent Commentary featuring special guest Marcel Thenée from Guitar Magazine.

FreqsFact: I shot this episode on a Tuesday and we released it two days later on Thursday. Im not actually sure how I managed to do that, but it still stands as the fastest shoot-edit-release cycle of any FreqsTV documentary. I can recall that I was so excited about the vibe of the shoot that I wanted to maintain that feeling in the edit and not let it sit too long.

Randy M. Salo

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