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Gypsy Rose was a short-lived metal band from Seattle that was known for excesses of all sorts – women, musicianship, and wild fans.
In the fall of 1987, a “super-group” of local musicians was put together with the help of three veterans of the Seattle scene (Headhunter Management) who happened to be married or linked to legendary Seattle bands TKO and Q5. With their guidance in marketing and as image consultants, The first (and most-known) lineup was as follows:
Vocals: Tim Branom
, 22 years old
Guitar: Brock Graue
, 21 years old
Bass: Mike Starr
, 21 years old
Drums: Mike Gersema
, 23 years old
Mike Gersema Mike Starr Tim Branom Brock Graue
Tim Branom, October 1987, rehearsing in Mike Gersema’s basement (Des Moines, WA).
In happier times. (l to r) Tim Branom, Mike Gersema, Mike Starr
The first Gypsy Rose show was on September 4, 1987.
For this performance, they borrowed keyboardist Brian Hermann (of the band Sexx) who had a roommate named Jerry Cantrell. Cantrell’s band Diamond Lie had broken up and he was looking for a band.
Only months later, guitarist Brock Graue would leave Gypsy Rose (no one can remember why). In their quest for a a guitarist, Jerry Cantrell would play with Gypsy Rose for a few weeks, but both parties agreed it was a difference in styles. But a disagreement occurred over a girl, and bassist Mike Starr also left Gypsy Rose, and soon after, joined Cantrell’s new band Diamond Lie.
Gypsy Rose found a new bassist and guitarist, and began playing shows, riding the momentum that was captured with the first lineup. Crowds were often 500 people in attendance. Pandemonium followed the band everywhere. But with a new lineup, Headhunter Management had washed their hands of Gypsy Rose and moved on.
Diamond Lie also secured a strong fan base, but without all the drama and fighting. They played a different part of town until one day both bands were put on the same bill, to open for Helix on July 14, 1988.
In anticipation of the show, some band members thought a band feud could spark controversy and therefore bring even more people to the show by generating more publicity. Unfortunately, the issues were too close at hand, and the feud was a bit too real. The show was a tremendous success but both bands watched closely to see how the ex-band members and replacements were doing. Gypsy Rose created more outrageous stage antics and thought they had left their mark on Seattle. But Diamond Lie had record label representatives wanting to sign them and it escalated their career. Diamond Lie would now be called Alice In Chains for their next show, 11 days later.
The bitterness of record labels passing on Gypsy Rose would only add fuel to the fire of Alice In Chain’s sudden success. The attitude was “How could two guys that used to be in our band do better than us?”
By August of 1988, this second version of Gypsy Rose ended with vocalist/guitarist Branom using the name Gypsy Rose for studio recordings and drummer Mike Gersema performing with new members. The original partnership can be seen below:
Branom spent the next two years working three jobs to earn money to record unfinished Gypsy Rose songs while Gersema and his band went through some more member replacements before finally laying the name Gypsy Rose to rest.
In May of 1989, Branom was approached by Director Thad Byrd to replace some songs in movie called Father Rock that were used by an early band of Alice In Chains vocalist Layne Staley’s called Sleze.
Sleze in a clip from Father Rock. (l to r) Morgen Gallagher, James Bergstrom, Layne Staley, Nick Pollock
Branom supplied Byrd with songs he was finishing that had been performed by Gypsy Rose and recorded with two original members (Branom & Gersema). For lack of a band name, the four songs in the movie are credited to “Gypsy Rose featuring Timothy Branom.” While these songs were being finished at London Bridge Studios over a two year period, Branom would run into Alice In Chains recording “Facelift” and Soundgarden working on their album “Badmotorfinger.” We all knew this was a healthy time and we could feel a change coming on, but we had no idea that someone would coin the word “Grunge” to classify this way of life and music. See and hear a clip from Father Rock here.
Another clip from Father Rock. (l to r) Janet Peterson, Tim Branom, Tanya Braun
Where are the original members now?
Tim Branom moved to Los Angeles in 1990. He has worked on many albums, is a solo artist and is currently working on music and videos of his own music. Email Tim Branom.
Brock Graue had been actively been performing and recording in the Seattle area when he unexpectedly died of a heart attack on February 14, 2017. Plans had been in the works to finish two Gypsy Rose songs with vocalist Tim Branom. Graue was a forerunner of the Seattle music scene. His
presence and influence are felt to this day.
Mike Starr left Alice In Chains in 1993. He appeared in the real-life rehab VH1 TV shows Celeb Rehab With Dr. Drew and Sober House. Sadly, he succumbed to a prescription-drug overdose on March 8, 2011. He is missed dearly.
Mike “Bones” Gersema played drums with L.A. Guns and MSG in the early 90’s. He still plays music but has resumed an anonymous life.