BIG 80’s SECRET DISCOVERED – who is the guitarist in the famous photo with Tawny Kitaen?


No matter what it was called – 80s rock, 80s metal, glam metal, hair metal – one thing is for sure: it was not just a musical genre and direction, but also a movement, a way of life, a style, and a hallmark of a significant time from the past. The 90’s pushed it into illegality, but it continued to live on. Lying low it patiently waited for its resurrection in the early 2000s, which brought it back into the game and breathed new life into it that still exists today.

In today’s world, armies of old and new fans retell well-known stories that come from the time when bands of this genre roamed the scene. Besides those “well-known,” there are also the others, somewhat less mainstream. There are also mysteries as well as questions that have never been answered before, such as the one we are discussing here today: who is the guitarist in the famous photograph with model and actress Tawny Kitaen? This question that has puzzled fans for all these years has finally been resolved, but let’s take it step by step.

First of all we need to give credit where credit is due. Jason Green from the podcast Waste Some Time With Jason Green took care of solving this mystery, together photographer Mark Weiss. Mark Weiss, the author of the book The Decade That Rocks, is a well-known photographer who worked with all the leading bands of the 80’s, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi (and practically all other more or less famous bands of this genre), and he is also the man who made that mysterious set of photographs, which beside the guitarist whose name he couldn’t remember (but recalled it after extensive research into his identity), featured the famous 80’s actress, model, and girlfriend of many rockers, Tawny Kitaen.

Our audience knows Tawny Kitaen best from Whitesnake’s music videos from the albums 1987 and Slip Of The Tongue and as the girlfriend/wife of Coverdale himself. However, it should be noted that she also collaborated with the group Ratt as a model on the EP covers from 1983 and the first album Out Of The Cellar from 1984, and she was also in the video for Back For More. At that time, she was the girlfriend of the guitarist of the group Ratt, Robin Crosby.

But let’s get back to the aforementioned photo and the story behind it. How did it end up here? According to Weiss, these photos are from the set of Twisted Sister’s album Love Is For Suckers from 1987. Although it coincided in time, these photos were actually taken independently of the album itself because, well, there were some elements of infidelity (sorry, Coverdale) between Tawny and the guitarist on the set. But we won’t talk about that here. Tawny Kitaen, like many other girls of that time, was an essential part of this music scene and thus gained a status of a kind of legend among fans. Unfortunately, Tawny passed away in 2021 at the age of 60.

So, the mystery that has been puzzling fans for all these years has resulted in the creation of many fictions and speculations about who it could be in the photo. Fans have been guessing for years that the person in the photo may not be Warren De Martini (Ratt), Tom Keifer (Cinderella), Brian Forsynthe (Kix), Mick Mars (Motley Crue), Izzy Stradlin (GnR), Mick Cripps (LA Guns), Brent Muscat (Faster Pussycat) and many others. Some even thought it could be Joan Jett…

However, since the mystery has finally been solved, it would be silly to spill it all in two sentences here. Credit should be given to those who uncovered it. So if you want to find out who it is, watch the podcast episode itself and find out. Here, we’ll just give you a little hint. From the 32nd minute of the episode, Jason and Mark are joined by Smashed Gladys guitarist Bart Lewis and The Throbs vocalist Ronnie Sweetheart, who helped uncover the identity of the dark-haired guitarist. Both of these bands come from the New York 80s rock scene…

Take a look, the story is really interesting and you’ll also be able to see a lot of photos from Weiss’s collection related to the whole thing.

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