HARLOT started out under the name V.A.M.P. in 1986 where they went through a few lineup changes and wrote an album’s worth of songs. In 1988, the band gained interest from Atlantic Records, but Atlantic Records already had a melodic hard rock band called VAMP and told the band if they wanted to have a better chance of signing a deal, they should change their name. The band complied and changed their name to HARLOT. Even though this move never secured the deal with Atlantic, it did show the band’s dedication to wanting to make it at the next level. The band gained a large following in their hometown, Salt Lake City, Utah, and also in surrounding states. HARLOT recorded several songs written in the V.A.M.P. days and released them as a three-track cassette under the name HARLOT. The band was on a great course, but some creative differences began to present themselves, causing a divide among the members of the band. In the early part of 1992, guitarist Kurt Johnson (DOGS DAY, PEDESTRIANS, PHRANQ, ASPHALT JUNGLE, DOWNFALL, AERIAL, CHRISTMAS JAM) and his wife, keyboardist Joanna Johnson (CHRISTMAS JAM) departed from the band.
Bassist Mark Morrison (THE JACK, VICE) wanted to take the band in a slightly different direction by eliminating keyboards to focus exclusively on guitar-driven melodic hard rock with a sleazy blues vibe. Mark wanted to bring in two guitarists and vocalist Larry Dee (FAST FORWARD, ROCK ‘N’ STEELE, BONE, NETWORK) and drummer Dan Medley (HOMESTEAD, THE TAKE) were both in agreement. The band held auditions at local club Rafters where HARLOT was the house band alongside HARD KNOX. Guitarist Jimmy Goble tried out and got the job.
The band played for a few months as a four-piece but wanted to add another guitarist. In the summer of 1992, the band brought in Baldy “Gypsy” Mendez (KICKARR, THE PEDESTRIANS, TYPHOID MARY, SHADOW, CABRIDE). Baldy had just left the band THE PEDESTRIANS (soon changed to DOGS DAY) who recruited previous HARLOT guitarist Kurt Johnson after the departure of Baldy. With Baldy now in the HARLOT lineup, he gave the band a new edge as well as great backing vocals as he had spent time as a lead vocalist in one of his previous bands, TYPHOID MARY, where he shared guitar duties with Chris Clary (STRYDER, ESSEXX, MEGATTACK, BAD BOYS, FATLIP, CHERRY BOMB). Right after adding Baldy to the ranks, the band received short notice that they were going to be opening for REO SPEEDWAGON at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Salt Lake City. This gave Baldy only ten days to get up to speed on the HARLOT songs for the show. Despite only four rehearsals under their belt as a five-piece, the show was a major success and the band knew they picked the right guitarist to help take the band to the next level.
The band entered Audio Vision Studio to record a three-track cassette consisting of two newly written songs, “Let ‘Em Ride” and “Handful of Hell,” along with a song that Baldy had written in his previous band, TYPHOID MARY, called “Kiss Kiss.” This cassette would not be commercially released as HARLOT continued to focus on live shows. The band would write new music and work the material into their live sets.
HARLOT was awarded “Best Metal Artist” of 1991–1992 by Private Eye (a bi-weekly newspaper), the second year in a row that the band won the award which gave them the chance to play the Zephyr Club, a conservative venue that typically only brought in national acts. The band was known for having a high energy and sometimes over the top stage show. Larry would always play to the crowd and have them eating out of the palm of his hand. Mark would break beer bottles over his head on stage, but never missed a note; this got the crowed amped up. Baldy captivated the crowd with his blistering guitar licks and intense gaze that had the crowed wanting more and more. Dan was intense on the drums and could cause a thunderous beat that would get the crowed moving, so much that his blasting beats caused some PTSD with an army vet who went into combat mode due to flashbacks caused by the pounding drums. The club actually had to be cleared for the safety of everyone. Help was called in and once the situation was under control, the music continued.
It was around this time that Jimmy departed from the band due to conflicting obligations at home that needed his attention. The band would continue as a four-piece. Several more songs were coming together including the song “All the Angels Cry” which was written by the band to remember their loved ones that had passed away. The band would enter Audio Vision Studio once again, this time to record eight songs. The album was originally funded by a third party and though the band now had eleven songs for the upcoming album, only nine of them were chosen for the cassette release. The original artwork for the album was done by none other than Mark’s old bandmate from VICE, guitarist Jay Gough (OBSESSION, DARK HAVEN, MEGATTACK, RAG DOLLS, ESP). The cassette was released on June 1, 1993, at the band’s release party held at Rafters. The album was very well received by the fans, but at this point the music industry was changing and melodic hard rock bands were no longer being signed to major labels with the grunge wave taking over the radio stations. It was around this time that country artist Chris LeDoux reached out to the band and inquired on buying the rights to their song “Legends.” The band decided to keep the publishing rights, but Chris would still play the song live.
HARLOT continued to draw great crowds and create a fun and entertaining atmosphere. The band, however, eventually found themselves in trouble with the law as they were summoned to court to answer charges related to a fan’s drunk driving incident that tragically took the life of a member of the other vehicle. Nobody from the band was involved in the accident but the drunk driver placed blame on the band for encouraging people to drink. The band did what was referred to as “Sociables” (raising glasses for the crowd to take a drink as the band would all take a drink on stage). Larry represented the band in court and the charges were ultimately dismissed.
In 1995, Dan Medley left the band to pursue other endeavors including a great career in photography. Dan was replaced by Anthony Payzant, but this new rendition of the band did not last long. The band ended up calling it quits before the end of 1995. Though the music scene changed and each member moved on to other interests and career paths, there was still a bond created in HARLOT that continued, because legends never die.
The band was asked to do a reunion show in the year 2000 called “Gratuitous Sex, Violence… and Guitar Solos”, where they would be sharing the stage that night with the all-female band PHANTOM BLUE. The band got back together and rehearsed for the show. All the preparations were being put into place for a killer gig. Larry just had to get his bar-card renewed in order to play the show. Unfortunately, he was about fifteen minutes too late and was unable to get the renewal. The band went on anyway and kicked off the show. The band sounded as good as ever as the crowd was getting pumped. Shortly after HARLOT got into their third song, the concert was stopped by the police due to frontman Larry Dee not having a current bar-card. What a way to go out. No one was sure what they were going to see or experience at a HARLOT show, but they were guaranteed to hear great music and make fun memories at their over-the-top shows.