The veteran thrash band Detente was formed in 1984 by vocalist Dawn Crosby and drummer Dennis Butler. The two were initially joined by Jim Tutone (guitars) and Rob Farr on bass; after some shuffling of band members, a lineup of Crosby, Butler, guitarists Caleb Quinn and Ross Robinson, and bassist Steve Hochheiser was cemented, albeit temporarily. Robinson later became a successful producer, perhaps best known for his work with Korn. This early incarnation of Detente recorded demos and worked the L.A. clubs, eventually catching the attention of Metal Blade Records. After signing a record deal, the band recorded Recognize No Authority and Crosby married Butler. The group (and Crosby in particular) had developed a bad, even violent, reputation by this time, as the short career of the band was marked by the singer's temper and unwillingness to work well with others. The near constant turmoil between band members and producer, Dana Strum, endangered the project, but somehow the record was finished and released to generally positive reviews.
Hitting record stores in 1986, Recognize No Authority is fairly standard aggressive metal for its day. Several fast numbers hint at the tremendously popular thrash metal of the time, but the disc is largely unremarkable in style and substance. Sales weren't at all spectacular, and things quickly deteriorated for the band. Robinson, Quinn, and Hochheiser left shortly after the debut's release and were replaced by two guitarists, Greg Cekalovich and Mike Carlino, as well as bassist George Robb. Cekalovich and Robb quickly exited the group, however, and Blair Darby was subsequently recruited to play bass. The pairing of Crosby and Carlino eventually became the songwriting core of Fear of God, not to mention the romantic item that broke up Crosby's marriage with Butler. This, of course, led to more lineup changes.
Demos for a second record were prepared, but the band's label did not approve of the recordings. Eventually, Detente found themselves without a record contract. The revolving door kept spinning as more musicians came and went, and the band's own name was soon changed due to legal problems. Out of this quagmire Fear of God was formed, a band that managed to leave a much more lasting musical impression while elevating their personal dramas to the absolute extreme. Carlino and Crosby split in 1991 after issuing the first Fear of God release, Within the Veil (a virtually unknown metal classic), and a Crosby-led Fear of God released the very unremarkable Toxic Voodoo sans-Carlino in 1994. The pairing of Carlino and Crosby produced the only real musical magic to be found in either Detente or Fear of God's discographies, and once that bond was broken, Crosby fell into a downward spiral of depression and substance abuse. The singer died of acute liver failure in December of 1996, leaving behind one of metal's most turbulent and tragic legacies. ~ Vincent Jeffries