Doro Pesch (born Dorothee Pesch, on June 3, 1964, in Dusseldorf, Germany) is a female vocalist, formerly of the German heavy metal band, Warlock, and one of the few female singers of the 1980’s heavy metal scene, which was primarily a male-dominated genre of music.
After Warlock underwent many personnel changes, Pesch was the only remaining original member of the band. After changing her record label, she released the fifth album as Doro, as the former label owned the trademark on the Warlock name.
Fluent in English, Doro has done most of her singing in English, something she has in common with the Scorpions, Accept, and other German headbangers.
Pesch was only in her late teens when she started singing lead for an obscure Dusseldorf-based metal band called Snakebite. In 1983, she left Snakebite to become the lead singer for Warlock, a fantasy metal outfit along the lines of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Ronnie James Dio. At the time, heavy metal and hard rock were very male-dominated, but thanks to Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Heart, Girlschool, Lita Ford, and The Runaways and other “ladies of loudness”, headbangers had grown more comfortable with the idea of women singing to “rock your socks”. While Jett, Benatar and Heart’s Ann Wilson sang about sex, love and romance, Pesch belted out Warlock’s gothic fantasies of witches, sorcerers, demons and ghosts with the dramatic flair of Ozzy and powerful, spine-tingling vocals of Ronnie James Dio – and therefore, stood out.
After acquiring a small local following from playing the Dusseldorf club scene for several months, Warlock recorded a demo and was signed by the independent Mausoleum label; after that, the band ended up recording for Mercury/Polygram (where Pesch remained for eleven years). Warlock’s debut album, Burning the Witches, was released in 1984, followed by Hellbound in 1985, True As Steel in 1986, and Triumph & Agony in 1987. While Warlock toured Europe as an opening act for Dio, the band didn’t tour the United States until 1988, when they opened for Megadeth on an extensive North American tour).
Warlock had a rather small, but enthusiastic following. However, it wasn’t the huge following the headbangers were hoping for. So in 1989, the name Warlock was put to rest and Pesch started billing herself as a solo artist. As a solo act, she didn’t inundate listeners with the sort of gothic fantasy themes that Warlock was known for. Released in 1989, Pesch’s debut solo album, Force Majeure, is more the pop-metal/hard rock of the Crimes of Passion-era Pat Benatar than the gothic fantasy metal of King Diamond or Queensryche.
The singer’s 1990 album, Doro (which contains her cover of The Electric Prunes’ psychedelic hit, “I Had Too Much to Dream”) was followed by her third solo album, True at Heart (Europe) in 1991. By the mid-nineties, Pesch and similar artists suffered a major setback. When the second wave of grunge bands - Nirvana and Pearl Jam - exploded commercially in 1992 and 1993, alternative rock became rock’s primary direction and all of a sudden, the styles of metal and hard rock that had been huge in the ‘80s were not in vogue.
Alternative metal bands were getting signed to major labels - not pop-metal hair bands or gothic fantasy metallers in the tradition of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. The women who defined heavy rock were no longer Benatar, Wilson, Ford and Pesch, but were folks like Babes in Toyland, L7, 7 Year Bitch, and the controversial Courtney Love of Hole. Nonetheless, Pesch continued to command a small but loyal following, especially in Europe, and kept touring and recording as a solo artist.
In 1993, two Pesch albums were released in Europe - Angels Never Die (her fourth solo album) and Doro Live (her first live album). In 1995, Machine II Machine was released in Europe. The headbanger’s next album, Love Me in Black, came out in Europe in 1998. In 1999, Pesch recorded Calling the Wild, which was released in both Europe and the U.S. in 2000. It was her first North American release since 1990’s Doro; True at Heart, Angels Never Die, Doro Live, Machine II Machine, and Love Me in Black had only been released in Europe, although the CDs were sold in U.S. stores as imports.