ften credited as being the first Chinese heavy metal band (in Chinese, "heavy metal music" translates to - using the Latin/English alphabet: "Zhongjinshu" - note the word "music" in the translation which is used optionally in English), Tang Dynasty started in 1989 under the membership of Ding Wu (guitar/vocals), Zhang Ju (bass; R.I.P. 1995), and Chinese-American guitarist Kaiser Kuo. Kaiser Kuo left shortly after the formation to return to the US; Liu "Lao Wu" Yijun took his place. Also in time for the release of 1991s metal/rock version of The Internationale in the Chinese language. Andrew Szabo, original drummer would be replaced with Zhao Nian.
Tang Dynasty came to fame on their eponymous debut album, released in December 1992; an album that officially sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million authentic units. We use the term 'authentic' to differentiate the sales from the multitudes of pirated copies that were floating around! Musically, their sound was part progressive rock and artistic metal mixed with traditional Chinese vocal techniques. The lyrical poetry and musical arrangements were designed to tell the tales of the ancient Chinese civilization, in particular, the era of the real Tang dynasty.
Zhang Ju died on May 11, 1995 when his motorcycle collided with a truck on the Zizhuqiao freeway in Beijing; Gu Zhong would replace him. Soon later, Liu would leave, while co-founder Kaiser Kuo would return in August 1996.
After the release of Epic (1998), Kaiser Kuo left again to later form metal/rock band, Spring and Autumn. He would be replaced by former Iron Kite front-man Yu Yang, and later by Chen Lei in late 2000; Liu would return in 2002.
Romantic Knight (2008) would follow. Ding Wu would take over from Liu when he left for the second time, this time stating personal reasons.
Thorn followed in 2013. 2019 saw another membership change in the form of Liu Jingwei and Fu Dalong forming a duo lead guitar.
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Tang Dynasty, play at a mini-festival on May Day in Xi'an (2004).
Photo by: Paul Louis
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