"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Black Death

Formed: 1977
From: Cleveland, OH, United States
Last Known Status: Active

Latest Black Death News

Below is our complete Black Death news coverage, including columns and articles pertaining to the band. Some articles listed may be indirectly related, such as side projects of the band members, etc.


Sunday Old School: Black Death

It's funny how bands can create a legacy for themselves, especially if they've only released one album. The Sex Pistols are probably the most famous example of a band which only released one (proper) album but their influence is still heard in music today. There were renowned groups associated with the grunge scene who went on to be regarded highly after one studio effort too such as Mother Love Bone and Temple Of The Dog, while side projects such as Nailbomb from Sepultura's, Cavalera brothers and Fudge Tunnel singer Alex Newport, as well as Control Denied from Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner also have become cult favourites. Today's article will look at another band who only managed one album before breaking up, though in their time, they were able to gain mainstream attention and even be credited with opening doors for black musicians in rock. That band was named, Black Death.

Black Death began in Cleveland, Ohio in 1977, starting out as a trio comprising of guitarist Greg Hicks, bass player Clayborn Pinkins and drummer Phil Bullard, before recruiting vocalist/guitarist Siki Spacek (real name: Reginald Gamble.) In 1979, before the musicians had even recorded a demo together, Pinkins was murdered by gunfire and the group began recruiting a series of bass players, eventually settling on Darrell Harris. They made their first recording together in 1981, which included the song, "Outcast," a track which was to earn heavy airplay on a local college radio show hosted by Brian Sergents. More...

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Black Death's Debut Album To See Re-Issue

Hells Headbangers is proud to present a special, LONG-overdue reissue of Black Death's self-titled, debut album.

Highly sought after by collectors, not only is Black Death a crucial piece in the rich history of Cleveland heavy metal, its original 1984 release marks the first full-length release by an all African American heavy metal band. More than that, with the band's origins dating back to 1977, Black Death is largely known to be the first African American metal band.

But most of all, Black Death's lone album is a classic of raw 'n' wild heavy fucking metal with a thirst for the epic and dramatic. Black Death's original lineup consisted of Siki Spacek on lead vocals and lead guitar, Phillip Bullard on drums and percussion, bassist Daryl Harris, and guitarist Gregg Hicks.

"This was the original, classic lineup of the band," says Spacek. "I met these guys waaaaaay back in 1977 while I was in the 11th grade, on the exact same day that I was expelled from school. At this point in time, I had already decided that music was the direction that I wanted to take my life in, and heavy metal was the perfect way to accomplish this goal." More...

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Axemaster Music To Be Used For Horror Flick

Ohio power metal band Axemaster announced that music from the band's 1987 classic "Blessing in the Skies," as well as video footage for the song "Slave to the Blade" from said album, is scheduled to be featured in the upcoming horror movie entitled "Metal Maniac."

Producer Susan Kapostasy commented on addition of Axemaster, "Metal Maniac is my tribute to all things horror and heavy metal, which is why I'm so excited to include Axemaster in the soundtrack."

"Metal Maniac" is currently in the filming stage with no official release date.

Other bands to be featured on the soundtrack include Manilla Road, Nasty Savage, Deceased, Oz, Hobbs' Angel of Death, Black Death, Borrowed Time, and more. More...

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Unearthing The "Black Metal" Underground

Besides being black history month, February also happens to be black metal history month at Metalundergound, and we’ve already taken looks at bands like Emperor and Immortal. Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we look at several quality acts that haven’t managed to make it big yet. To get the month back to its originally intended purpose, we’ll know delve into a series of underground metal bands composed primarily or even entirely of black members.

Heavy metal, of any sub-genre or style, is a worldwide musical phenomenon that easily crosses racial and ethnic boundaries. While it would seem that many metal bands are composed entirely of lanky white dudes with long hair, that’s by no means the only type of group to be found among the metal hordes. Sepultura, Killswitch Engage, God Forbid, and Suffocation are some of the most well known acts to feature black musicians.

Rather than rehash bands you already know and love, instead we’ll unearth several acts that haven’t had a chance to be exposed to the wider metal world.


To start off our look at metal bands composed of black members, we’ll head over to Botswana, Africa to be pummeled to pieces by the death metal act Crackdust. Hailing from a country that hasn’t exactly made it on the musical radar yet, Crackdust still has a well developed and crushing sound that deserves a mosh pit full of metal heads. Details on the band can be found here, or you can check out the songs “Fate,” “Ruptured,” and “Deranged Psychopath” in the clips below.


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Black Death Drummer Phil Bullard Passes Away

BLACK DEATH drummer PHIL BULLARD passed away of colon cancer on February 6, 2008 at age 59. Bullard is survived by two daughters (Philicia and Earlicia), four grandchildren (Warren, Curstie, Curtis and Julian) and two sisters (Nicola Ammons and Roberta).

Black Death was a four piece heavy metal band from Cleveland, Ohio founded in 1977. The band consisted of lead vocalist/guitarist Siki Spacek, guitarist Greg Hicks, bassist Darrell Harris and Bullard on drums. They are considered to be the first all-black heavy metal band from the U.S. "A great guy who kept us all in line," comments guitarist Greg Hicks.

"There never would have been a Black Death without Phil. He had the fire. There was chemistry from the first time we played." Adds former Black Death manager Bob Surgent, "I am privileged to have known Phil as a friend and worked with him in Black Death. I know he's playing drums with HENDRIX. Tears run red."

Black Death had two songs featured on the 1983 Cleveland Metal compilation album and released one self-titled full length album and 7" on Auburn Records in 1984 before fading into obscurity in the late '80s. A double-CD reissue of their original album, with bonus tracks, is near completion and set to be released by Auburn Records this summer. "Phil and I worked very closely together back in the Black Death years," says Auburn Records president Bill Peters. "He was always a first class professional, a great drummer, hard worker and loyal friend. Phil was the person behind the scenes who kept the band together during both the good and bad times . He always looked at the bright side of things regardless of the challenges and circumstances we all faced. He never changed and had the same positive energy today with his new project. His smile and laugh will be missed."

Up until his illness forced him to stop playing late last year, Bullard was drumming for Cleveland metal band MANDRAKE, which features guitarist Mike Greene, former Black Death guitarist Greg Hicks on bass and guitarist/vocalist Tim Greene (ex-DESTINATION/NIGHTCRAWLER). The band plans on finding a new drummer and continuing in Bullard's honor. "I feel blessed to have played 3 years with such a great guy," says Mike Greene. "When Phil joined the band, it was all about the music. No drama. Just best friends and band mates."

Greene won a contest for a vacation to Montana last year and invited Bullard. "That trip really meant a lot to Phil," says Greene. "I am so glad I was able to do that for him before he left us. He told me he had not had a vacation away from home since his two war tours of 'Nam and that really did not count."

Greg Hicks adds, "Phil brought me on board in Mandrake to play bass with him towards the end. I had not played bass since the early 80s and was unsure at first but Phil felt strongly we would work good together. A straight shooter who did not want anyone to feel bad for him. Looking back I now know why he wanted me to play with him for the last time. I did not realize at the time. He covered up his illness from his closest friends and fought his battle courageously. He will definitely be missed". More...

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