Godsmack Biography

This US heavy rock band revolves around the diminutive figure of Sully Erna (Salvatore Paul Erna, 7 February 1968, Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA), a self-confessed witch from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Erna had played drums with local Boston band Strip Mind, before taking a year long break from music. He formed Godsmack (named after an Alice In Chains song) in 1995 with Robbie Merrill (b. 13 June 1963, Norwood, Massachusetts, USA; bass), Tommy Stewart (drums) and Lee Richards (guitar). The latter pair only lasted a few months, and were replaced by Tony Rombola (b. 24 November 1964, Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA; guitar/vocals) and Joe D’Arco (drums). The new line-up, with Erna playing drums, recorded a self-titled album in 1996 on a budget of $2500 and sold it through local retail chain Newbury Comics. Local radio station WAAF picked up the track ‘Keep Away’ for heavy rotation, and the band also came to the attention of ex-Extreme drummer Paul Geary who signed them to his management company PGE. The album’s stand-out track, ‘Whatever’, became a big local hit, and, with their fortunes rising, original drummer Stewart rejoined the band in mid-1997.

The new line-up signed a recording contract with Republic Records in July 1998. The heavily remixed album (also released under the title All Wound Up) became a surprise hit, eventually achieving multi-platinum success in America, helped immeasurably by the band’s appearance at the US Ozzfest and their subsequent support slot on Black Sabbath’s reunion tour. Reaction to the album was mixed, with some critics accusing the band of straying too close to the sound of Alice In Chains and Metallica to be considered truly original. A wry sense of timing saw the band’s second album arrive on Halloween 2000. In hardly deviating from the sound of the debut, Awake did not exactly endear the band to their critics, although it was snapped up by their substantial fanbase.

Former Ugly Kid Joe drummer Shannon Larkin (b. 24 April 1967, USA) was subsequently drafted into the line-up. His long-playing debut Faceless was another major success for the band, debuting at number 1 on the US mainstream album chart in April 2003. The following year’s The Other Side EP featured three new songs and acoustic versions of some of the band’s best known tracks. Godsmack achieved even more commercial success in summer 2006 with the US chart-topping IV.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.