1986 - 1995
With VR Mark recorded 6 albums (4 studio and 2 live) and toured in over 20 countries. His performances, songwriting and harmony vocals were signature elements in the classic Vicious Rumors sound! His influence and contributions are revered around the world and held in high esteem in the metal community! The VR legacy with he and Carl Albert in the band is beloved by fans and referred to as the band's golden era! Together, McGee and founding member Geoff Thorpe forged an impactful songwriting chemistry that solidified the bands signature style! Combined with the iconic vocals of the irreplaceable 'Carl Albert' (RIP), an unforgettable story was told!
It all started in mid 1986. Shortly after departing from Starcastle with plans to form a new project with drummer Scott McKenzie. Mark bumped into old friend and Vicious Rumors Bassist Dave Starr. He mentioned they were looking to make a change and that Terry Montana (ex-Tyrant) who had been playing with the band for nearly a year and a half, was not working out. Vinnie Moore who had appeared on the debut album, never actually came on board into the band, following the album's release so Terry stepped in. Anyhow after a long chat with Starr, they decided to get together for a writing session along with drummer Scott McKenzie providing the grooves, to see what would transpire. The result was the title track of what would be their first album together, 'Digital Dictator'. Soon after Mark was asked to come and audition for the band. Montana was also a friend of Mark's from the Alameda music scene, so the idea of joining wasn't the most comfortable situation to consider and also it really wasn't the direction Mark was intending to go. In the end he decided to check it out and left the audition a new member of the band.
Rehearsals soon began with Dave, Mark, Geoff Thorpe, Larry Howe and Gary St Pierre. Shortly after, vocal legend Carl Albert joined the band replacing St Pierre. From 1986 to 1993 this was the band and they become an unstoppable force in the Bay Area music scene! With one album left to record for their label Shrapnel Records, the band hit the studio and recorded their second album 'Digital Dictator'. It received rave reviews internationally and to this day remains historic, groundbreaking and influential in the metal music scene! With tour dates to follow including their first oversees trip the band now was without a record label. Performing relentlessly they did many showcases. Their strong performances and the relationship with their new found Manager Bob Zemsky helped the band secured a 7 record contract with Atlantic Records.
Their Atlantic debut was released in 1990 and the first video single 'Don't Wait for Me' got solid traction on MTV's 'Headbanger's Ball' and on the initial launch date was introduced to the world by guitar wiz and guest host, Steve Vai.
The explosive song resonated with the Metal scene with its serious edge, unlike much of the glam metal that seemed to be saturating the airwaves. The band enjoyed video rotation worldwide and soon they were off to tour in the USA as well as a package tour across Europe with fellow Bay Area bands Death Angel and Forbidden gracing stages such as the epic Hammersmith Odeon in London, England!
While writing on the road along with writing sessions in Los Angeles, VR quickly headed back into the studio again with producer Michael Rosen to record the follow up album 'Welcome to the Ball'. This release took no prisoners and was nominated by the Bay Area Music Awards in 1992 for the 'Outstanding Metal Album' category alongside Metallica and Tesla. It also spawned the music video for the classic song 'Children' which was directed by a young up and coming 'Gore Verbinski' (Pirates of the Caribbean fame) . The video garnered much support again from MTV worldwide as the band hit the road for their longest tour ever. Criss crossing across the US, a six week European tour with Florida's 'Savatage' and finishing off with a headlining, sold out tour of Japan.
However their relationship with Atlantic would shift and after only 2 studios and a live in Japan release, the Grunge era would take hold and VR became one of many casualties losing their contract as the industry changed gears to follow the new trend.
Once again they played constantly and dove into the writing process to prepare music for a new album. However tensions were brewing within the band with certain members and other members were not always present. Thorpe became stricken with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists was suddenly out of action and couldn't play. This left McGee, Starr and Howe to keep the productivity going but it became clear to McGee that aside from directing the music, he had his hands full with keeping Starr and Howe from butting heads. As time progressed the band was forced to make a tuff decision and in Dec 1993 parted ways with longtime bassist Dave Starr just before heading into the studio. Albert would soon recommend his former Villian bandmate Tommy Sisco and after auditioning he was happily welcomed into the fold. The 'Word of Mouth' album would have McGee covering Bass on 6 of the albums tracks with Sisco handling the rest. With 'Word of Mouth' came 2 music videos 'The Voice' directed by Leslie Spring and 'Against the Grain' by John Lucasey. The Voice features a special duet style vocal arrangement with Carl and Mark trading off on the leads and the song title has become the nickname for the stratospheric vocalist Carl Albert. The band would then and unknowingly go out on their final tour together with McGee and Albert in the band. The European 'Ultimate Power Force' tour in 1994. The line-up was originally to be 'Metal Church', 'Riot', 'VR' & Iron Maiden's Paul Dianno with his band 'Killers'. Unfortunately at the last minute Riot couldn't do it so 'Zodiac Mindwarp' from England filled in. VR & Killers flip flopped from night to night going on 2nd or 3rd while Metal Church was the headliner.
After returning home in Spring of 1995, Mark would depart from the band to explore more diverse musical ventures. The band was very sad to see Mark leave and it was a tuff period between them and it was clear that only time could be the healer. And then tragically just 3 weeks later, the band's amazing lead vocalist 'Carl 'Ace' Albert' was killed in a fatal car crash! The metal world was devastated! Fortunately Mark and Carl had spent an evening in each others company just a few nights before and they worked through their new situation and all was great between them! Mark recalls his last conversation with Carl which was less than an hour before the crash. As far as anyone knows Mark would be the last one to speak with Carl before his passing. Oddly the band members were now all brought back together in the hospital room at Carl's side. Carl was a truly genuine person. He was so funny, so kind and so wonderful to be around! Everyone who met him, loved him instantly.
Together with VR, Mark performed in more than 20 countries around the world at festivals, theaters and clubs to crowds as big as 40,000 people. In their time together they shared the stage with artists like Paul Stanley (Kiss), Blue Oyster Cult, Megadeth, Zakk Wylde and many others! VR's story together from 1986 to 1995 was an epic tale of passion, hard work, success, joy and tragedy. Many great times were had and classic albums were left behind for the world to hear and enjoy and history was made!
CARL ALBERT - Lead Vocals
MARK MCGEE - Guitars/Vocals
GEOFF THORPE - Guitars/Vocals
DAVE STARR - Bass
TOMMY SISCO - Bass
LARRY HOWE - Drums