Formed in 1977 by Ottawa-born Ron Chenier, the singer/guitarist recruited his younger brother John on drums, Ed Eagan on keyboards and Jeff Nystrom on bass and began honing their chops doing small clubs in and around the Toronto area. The band quickly graduated to the 'B circuit', touring the eastern-Canadian/US areas for the next year and a half.
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The group took their heavy approach to music into the studios and cut the independently released ROUND ONE in the spring of '79. Raucous and raunchy, the band's sound was dominated by raw guitars with little in-studio tampering. Produced by the Cheniers' brother Normand and done on the proverbial shoestring budget, the record failed to gain the attention of radio execs. Held together by a tight drums/bass marriage, Eagan's keyboards rounded out what had become known live as one of Canada's most promising talents just the same. But with only a total of seven tracks, nothing from ROUND ONE was short enough to even be considered suitable for radio-play. Still, numbers like the lead-off "Too Late", The erie "Madness" and "Who Did You Love" showed the band's penchant for writing hard-driving, simple, yet complex songs. Still, the album went unnoticed by the critics.
Despite the lack of support by radio or the critics, Fist returned to the road and toured practically every corner of the eastern half of the continent for the next year. The band was signed to a deal with A & M in the summer of 1980 and quickly returned to the studio. They emerged from Toronto's Amber Studios that fall and released HOT SPIKES. The band hired George Semkiw to produce the album, and a refined, yet still heavy sound that grabbed you by the balls was the result. The only difference between HOT SPIKES and its predecessor was the new album caressed them gently as well. Backed by songs like the anthemic "Rock n Roll Suicide" and lead-off track "Money", a song about the hustle and bustle of society's drive for materialism, HOT SPIKES showed a maturity, harnessed by Semkiw's experience working with such acts as Streetheart and Harlequin. Other notable cuts included "Lord I Miss You" and "Teenage Love Affair", intended to garner the band some radio play.
The tours continued, with FIST seeing practically every province and state over the next year. However personnel problems caused the departure of Eagan shortly after tour's end, while the younger Chenier called it quits to pursue other interests. The band regrouped, and with new keyboardist Ivan Tessier and drummer Bob Patterson, released FLEET STREET in '81. Again Semkiw was at the helm and the group hit paydirt with not one, but two FM staples that summer. "Double Or Nothing" again showcased Chenier's talent for writing slick, driving guitar riffs, while "Thunder In Rock" was easily the year's best tune on the 'waves. With the clever addition of a sax solo, "Thunder" is probably most synonymous with Fist's music, if any song is at all. However, other killer cuts included "Open The Gates", the title track and "Evil Cold". Backed by the album's success, the group took the show on the road again, this time playing outdoor festivals with the likes of Heart, Girlschool, Krokus and the Scorpions. Despite the record's success though, critics of the day were still finding it hard to accept heavy metal as a legitimate music form, so again Fist's talent went largely unnoticed.
The band took some time off following the tour's end in 1982 and didn't re-emerge until IN THE RED in '83. Though still a fine album, something was missing and despite a subsequent tour, dismal sales forced A&M to cut the band from their roster the same year.
The group's future seemed in question by mid-year when their tour was cancelled midway through. Chenier landed a deal with Cobra Records however in 1984 and went back to the studios for the making of DANGER ZONE, released the next year. An independent label which specialized in the metal genre, their signing of Fist seemed a marriage made in heaven. But despite the harnessed intensity of numbers like the title track, the album failed to garner enough interest in the group to keep them together, and they called it quits in '86.
The band got back together in '91 for a series of dates on the Ontario circuit, which led to a full reunion and a new album in 1993 called REIGN OF TERROR. Released on MaGaDa Records, Fist again had landed a deal with an independent metal label. A criss-cross tour of the continent ensued but unfortunately, fleeting interest at best died off altogether and the band once again called it quits a couple of years later.
Though Fist was by no means a household name, they were known in the circles of headbangers as deliverers of straight forward, but well-crafted metal and the occasional melodic number toned down to show their versatility. But even their ballads didn't bring tears to your eyes. Heavy metal has always been an acquired taste. And though non-listeners would have trouble understanding this, it's generally harder to make a good metal song than it is to program some software and come up with one of today's 'hits'. It should also be noted that heavy metal enjoyed a short stay atop the 'flavour of the day' ladder, and Canadian acts in particular found it tough gaining the respect some of them truly deserved. But aside from a few others, such as Coney Hatch and Anvil, there weren't many others teaching Headbanging 101. And in a school so socially isolated, Fist truly was in a class all their own.
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