As founder of the Melvins, Buzz Osborne was one of the most influential figures in alternative rock during the 1980s and '90s and continued to produce a fascinating body of work well into the new millennium, though his impact often came second-hand. Osborne's massive, often sludgy guitar tone and bulldozer melodic structures were a major influence on the rise of the grunge scene in the Pacific Northwest as well as later varieties of off-center heavy rock, and as a mentor to his friend Kurt Cobain, Osborne helped guide Nirvana's early sound, and his importance was often cited by Cobain after Nevermind made him a major star.
Buzz was born Roger Osborne in Montesano, Washington on March 25, 1964. Montesano was a small blue-collar town, and in his early teens, Osborne primarily listened to arena-ready meat-and-potatoes hard rock -- Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Kiss, Ted Nugent, and the Who. The first lineup of the Melvins, formed while Osborne was attending Montesano High School, included schoolmates Matt Lukin on bass and Mike Dillard on drums. Initially, the Melvins reflected Osborne's tastes in guitar-centric hard rock, but when a friend from out of state began sending Osborne tapes of hardcore punk singles from the likes of Black Flag, Flipper, and MDC, he became an instant convert, and the Melvins soon took a left turn into faster and noisier sounds. When Dillard left the band, Dale Crover (who had previously played drums in an Iron Maiden tribute act) came aboard, and the group started slowing down while maintaining its eccentric edge, and the classic approach of the Melvins began to emerge. In 1986, the Melvins cut an EP for C/Z Records, 6 Songs (which would later be reissued in expanded form as 8 Songs, 10 Songs, and finally 26 Songs), the first salvo in a long and prolific recording career that would span four decades, with no end in sight.
In 1992, Osborne made a sort of solo debut when, in honor (or parody) of Kiss, the three members of the Melvins simultaneously released solo EPs, each with similar artwork. Osborne's was released under the title King Buzzo, a stage name he often used during his career, moving back and forth frequently between that and Buzz Osborne. The world would have to wait until 2014 for King Buzzo to return with a full-length album; Osborne used the name again when he released This Machine Kills Artists, his first acoustic album as well as his first proper solo set. In addition to his busy recording and touring schedule with the Melvins (the band plays at least 100 dates each year), Osborne also plays guitar with the experimental metal group Fantômas, featuring Mike Patton of Faith No More (Patton's Ipecac Recordings label has also released much of the Melvins' catalog), as well as another side project, Venomous Concept (a collaboration with Shane Embury of Napalm Death and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth). Osborne has appeared as a guest on albums by Lustmord and Tool, as well as lending his production skills to projects by the Cows and Goatsnake. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi