Some of the greatest bands in the music industry are ones that most people have never heard of. It’s an unfortunate bi-product of the industry. Only so many bands can get the proper level of promotion. Only certain bands have the magical stroke of luck that pushes them out of obscurity and into notoriety. For every Cinderella, Poison, and Motley Crue, there are the Nitro’s, Slyder’s, and Blackeyed Susan’s of the industry. Sadly, some of the most talented musicians in the world wither away in the realms of “never heard of them.” Tuff Luck is one of those bands and theirs may be the saddest story of an unknown band that shouldn’t be.
Growing up as a youth in the 80s, Tuff Luck would have fit right into my wheelhouse had I ever had the chance to hear their music. Their posters would have graced my bedroom walls right next to KISS, Van Halen, and Poison. Tuff Luck was a hard rocking, hair metal band from South Florida tearing up the scene in the mid-to-late 80s. They had the look. They had the talent. They had the local following. What they lacked was the one lucky break that would have turned their entire career around. Seeing such talent not make it is a true shame.
A lot of bands proclaim the talent that their members possess, but from the clips and audio tracks portrayed in this documentary, it’s clearly obvious that Tuff Luck possessed the talent. They had one of the most amazing guitarists in Dave Scott. I would put him up there with Nuno Bettencourt and Slash. He was light years ahead of CC Deville. Todd Kelly was one of the best drummers of his day, and he would have drummed rings around Fred Coury or Carmine Appice. And he would have smoked Tommy Lee. Then there was the very young, insanely talented, James Marino on bass. He played music with the bass guitar that just wasn’t possible. He would have made Kip Winger look like a fool and he definitely would have given Billy Sheehan a run for his money. Rounding out the band was lead vocalist Kenny Monroe, who had the frontman presence of Bruce Dickinson merged with Brian Johnson. He commanded the audience as soon as he set foot onto the stage.
And yet with all of this talent, with all of the buzz and sold out shows in the South Florida area, Tuff Luck is a story about the band that didn’t make it. Hard times, terrible breaks, and poor decisions just haunted them from the beginning. “Tuff Luck” chronicles the story of the band from their humble beginnings, through their rise to local fame, to their almost superstardom blast off, and then finally through their demise. There’s even a glimpse of their lives now. I must admit that by the end of this documentary I was saddened. Tuff Luck is a band that should be headlining the M3 Festival next year, and instead, they are a band that most people are just hearing now, 20 years after their ending. This is a documentary of what could have happened as well as what didn’t happen, and it sheds light on how much luck needs to accompany talent in order to make it big.
At the end of it all, the band members are grateful for the time and fans they had. They have put that part of their lives behind them and moved on to other careers. They were just one of the unfortunate casualties of the late 80s hard rock scene. Tuff Luck should have been a household name, instead they disintegrated in the wasteland of obscurity.
Without a doubt, “Tuff Luck” is the best rock documentary I have ever seen. It details the incredible journey of an exquisite underdog band that almost made it, and highlights their share of tragedy. There is not a finer rock documentary out there and I implore everyone to see this film. You will not only be thoroughly entertained, but you will also be scrambling to EBay, looking to buy that rare copy of a Tuff Luck bootleg. Yeah, the band is that good.
“Tuff Luck” is available on Amazon and ITunes now. Get some!
You can also watch it on Amazon Instant Video: