5 Fast Facts About…Vlad Ash, Vampire Country Singer!

Flying V Fights

The critically acclaimed biopic “What’s At Stake?” has sparked a revival of interest in the life of singer Vlad Ash. With the sixtieth anniversary of his death approaching next month, let’s take a moment to explore the shadowy world of blood whiskey shots, vampire boogie woogie, and the tragic death of the Count Prince Of Bat Country!

1. He came from “Creature Music” royalty!

Did you know “Vlad Ash” was a stage name? Laurențiu Vasile Roșu began using it in the early 1950s, and it would come to define the vampire outlaw swagger of an entire generation of musicians!

Laurențiu was born on April 1st, 1930 in Chicago’s Tick Town district, a melting vial of monsters, ethereals, and other clandestine creatures of that dark time period. His parents were Gheorghe and Maria Roșu, Romanian immigrants and esteemed musicians in their own right! They were regulars with the Tick Town Terrors — an all-vampire house band at Chicago’s infamous freakeasy Daemonologie.

Laurențiu would have spent his nights witnessing a rogues’ gallery of influential — yet sadly, now lost to the ravages of time — underground creature musicians. His mother Maria even played drums on a number of seminal “creature albums,” including Jazz Snake’s Hissing Jazz and Lady Familiar’s Married To The Mob!

2. He struggled with substance abuse…but not the kind you think.

Laurențiu Roșu had a blood problem: He hated it!

As a child, he was frail and weak, going days without partaking in the red ambrosia. With the wealth of safe, synthetic blood substitutes on the market these days, it’s easy to forget that — not so long ago — vampires and other succubi had to rely on extremes to obtain their necessary vitamins, and blood alternatives were likely to be home-brewed or black market swill, made with now-illegal materials in unsanitary cellars.

When he changed his name, Ash embraced a fang-bearin’, blood-swillin’ persona in public… but notoriously avoided a single drop backstage and at home! Then, in early 1954, a musician friend introduced him to Plasmaleux (a hyperblood synthetic created by scientists at The Moreau Institute and banned in 1961’s Synthetics Act) and Ash quickly became addicted to its soothing — and occasionally hallucinogenic — properties.

(Editor’s note: In a sad twist of fate, he wouldn’t live long enough to develop any of the drug’s long-term side effects, which include plasmatooth, crippling obsessiveness, and Vengrat’s fangrot.)

3. He was a pioneer in his genre… but never lived to see its success.

Bat Country. Vampin’ Boogie Woogie. Cthulh’billy Swing. Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without the many subgenres of Creature Country, which rakes in millions of dollars a year in revenues and influences everywhere from Hollywood to Wall Street!

However, during Vlad’s time, creatures were still seen as taboo, and — outside of some fringe circles — creature musicians largely played to their own kind. Occasionally, a “de-fanged” cover of a creature tune would surface on the mainstream charts, recorded by savvy — and admittedly, problematic — artists like Clifton Beaugeard and Lilith Cheverly II. Until “Under Your Skin,” though, monster records had seen little success in the public ear.

The chart-topping record created a massive public interest in this thriving, “new” culture, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single musician growing up in the ’60s who didn’t keep a well-worn copy of “Under Your Skin” close at hand!

4. His death was one of many in Tick Town’s worst decade on record.

On June 20th, 1957,  a 27-year-old Vlad Ash was riding high on the success of “Under Your Skin.” Released in May, the record was already gaining a stellar critical reception, and projected sales of the album were shaking the industry at the very core! Monster music was in the spotlight, and everything was going to change. But poor Vlad would never see it.

On this fateful day, Ash took a late lunch with some friends, and then headed to Jade Wasp Studios in the heart of Tick Town to begin recording the follow-up record, “What’s At Stake?”

Little did he know that as he was working, Tick Town was crumbling around him.

[Editor’s note: The final toll of the Sucker-Howler gang war of the 1950s is a staggering statistic… and no one death should stand out more than the next. For ten tragic years, the underbelly of creature society tore at its scabs with a desperate, blinding cruelty. The vampire and werewolf populations saw losses in the thousands, and so many lost were innocent bystanders, each with their own story.
Here, sadly, our Five Fast Facts About…page joins with that horrid menagerie of stake wounds and claw marks.]

As Ash was leaving the studio, a brawl broke out between two stray Howlers and a group of Suckers on the street. Caught in the fray, Ash attempted to calm tensions, but to no avail. As the fighting escalated and more Suckers and Howlers joined the battle, Ash barricaded himself inside the studio’s lobby. Windows shattered. Cars set aflame. The air reeked with blood, fur, and smoke. It was one of the most devastating days in the war’s bloodiest year.

5. But, it wouldn’t be a Howler or a Sucker that cut Vlad Ash’s life short…

At 5:31 PM, on a hot Tuesday afternoon as Tick Town burned, the CPD Paranormal Affairs Division deployed their Creature Response Force, newly equipped with Martian-grade weaponry and military tactics, to deal with the matter. They descended upon Tick Town with merciless force, subduing the riots with an inhumanity that would be hotly debated for decades as a cruel and irresponsible response to the situation.

As Vlad attempted to leave the studio, CRF arrived on the scene with tanks, silver stake rifles, and a license to kill. Vlad, caught in the crossfire, was hit by a stray stake fired by Officer Rick Poddelon, a recent graduate of the Paranormal Enforcement Academy. The stake pierced his aorta, killing him instantly. His body lay in the street (amongst the others) for hours as the city went into a state of martial law.

It would be two days before the fighting ceased.

Vlad Ash left no living relatives, and less than a suitcase’s worth of possessions. Over ten thousand people showed up to his funeral — a citywide holiday, and the symbolic anniversary of the Vampire Werewolf Peace Accords of 1960.

We can only imagine the shape of country music’s development had Vlad Ash lived to see the fruits of his work. Would we have finally gotten that fabled record, “What’s At Stake?” Collaborations with the next generation of Creature musicians? What else could this ephemeral artist have given to the cultural landscape?

Unfortunately we’ll never know.

Thanks for reading, and tune in next week when we explore the life of influential gonzo journalist Kermit D. Frog!

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