The sad news of William J Tsamis’ (Bill Tsamis) sudden passing, on May 13th 2021 (at the age of 60), made me sit down and write a few words about his band Warlord, as the last thing I could do in memoriam of this amazing guitarist and songwriter that marked a whole generation so majestically… especially the generation that was raised in the 80s and the 90s.
William J Tsamis formed Warlord in 1980 along with the renowned drummer Mark Zonder. I’m not gonna say about the band’s first era, how they finally got a deal with Metal Blade back in the day and managed to release their first EP and debut full-length. Yet, they are considered two of the top releases of all time when it comes to heavy metal. I only want to express all those unique feelings that Warlord’s music made us feel every time we listened to a song… and that thing hasn’t changed at all even today. I literately travel back in time every time I listen to any of their songs… that’s called pure music magic and you can find it only in a very few band of all eras and times.
Bill was ahead of his time when he started using those nicknames instead of every musician’s actual name… like Destroyer (Bill), Thunderchild (Zonder), Damien King I (Jack Rucker) & Damien King II (Rick Cunningham), Archangel (Dave Watry) and Sentinel (Diane Kornarens). As Mark Zonder notes: “People always questioned and made fun of the pseudonyms Bill used for the band members. This guy was so far ahead of the times that he actually had songs for each member that told a great story that combined together made a complete novel or movie. Bill’s ideas made Kiss and other bands look like grammar school kids trying to play with Maiden. Unbelievable ideas and story lines. So talented and creative. I honestly can’t remember him playing a bad note or writing an average song. Every composition was unique and special. I always marveled at how no two songs even sounded closely alike”.
The Hellenic fans have always been “obsessed” with Warlord. I can’t tell it for sure if that has to do with Tsamis Hellenic roots or Warlord’s music… but I do think that it is a combination of those two things. The 3 live shows that took place in Salonica (1 show) & Athens (2 shows) in 2013 can showcase how crazy the Hellenic fans were about this band. They even released a full DVD entitled “Live in Athens 2013” after those shows… and that was totally rational.
Warlord should have been huge worldwide. In a fair music world, Warlord should have been among the top Heavy Metal bands of all time, as they have influenced thousands of bands of the heavy metal, epic metal, Christian metal and power metal genres. I really do not know how the abovementioned genres would have turned out to be without Warlord’s music. Unfortunately for some reason that I cannot explain Warlord never credited what they had rightfully gained with their talent and music. Moreover William J Tsamis was not only an incredible guitarist, but also an exceptional songwriter. He should have gained more fame, cuz his offering to the Heavy Metal music is enormous. Bill never got the credits he deserved, but he never really cared for it. On the other hand, Mark Zonder was luckier and got all that recognition he deserves, but it was due to Fates Warning basically.
William J Tsamis has taken the road to Heaven… he’s playing and singing his Christian & mythology lyrics along with the Angels… but all I can say is that our Heavy Metal music is poorer after his passing… his music will live on forever and will continue to influence all the new musicians out there, touching all the metal fans worldwide. Warlord’s melodic and distinct heavy metal sound will live on forever…
Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for the music you’ve offered us all these years Bill… Rest In Peace… “Tears for all the joy we had… tears for all the pain”…
Allow me to close this editorial with Mark’s own words: “I think I can safely say that the musical dynamic between us really developed as it was just the two of us playing and trying to fill up the space. I remember that it was very easy to lock into his grooves and actually play with the lead lines as well. Something that would continue for the duration and actually kind of define the Warlord sound. Bill was all about the music. Not in a bad way, but did not care about much else. Not hung up on material things or chasing girls, it was Warlord first and foremost”.