It had to be sometime in the 1980s because we were still in school. Joss Innombre and I were barreling down I-75 in his 1979 Camaro Berlinetta (305-cid V8, baby!) with Piece of Mind in the cassette deck, hitting rewind every time “The Trooper” crashed to a close. Rocking out to Iron Maiden, bad to the bone in our Ratt concert tees from the weekend before, and on our way to the Doppelgänger show at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. You remember Doppelgänger, right?
Well, if you wanted to be a hard-ass, you could try to dig up background on these Doppelgänger guys by flipping through old Circus and Hit Parader archives for any mention of them in between the full-color glossies of Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee entertaining van-loads of coeds and so on. You’d probably come to the conclusion that this whole 1980s-era Doppelgänger heavy metal phenomenon never happened, but that’s only if you took the time to fact check.
So maybe Lee Lewis and Jason Cooper just cooked up the band and its whole history for a bit of comedy improv at Theatre 99. Either way, the Lowcountry is being rocked by their heavy metal thunder.
Here’s the premise: headbangers Clive Nielsen and Johnny Dregg meet back in ’75, form the band Doppelgänger, and proceed to hammer it into the shape of a heavy metal legend: stadiums packed with howling fans and album covers loaded with hellfire and brimstone, axe-wielding medieval warriors, and dragon-ravaged castles in a storm-savaged land. It’s a four-man act until two of the rockers (Elliot Stevens and Chyrs Collins) get religion and run off.
Break-up of the band. Bummer. A sad, all-too-common story. The low-rolling thunderheads receded and the lightning strikes slowed. The dragons flapped their tattered wings and soared off toward distant shores. The land was still.
Until 2006, when Clive and Johnny returned to the stage ready to tell the tale of bigger hair, better days, and even better nights. Rock on!
The Doppelgänger show plays like a Behind the Music–style mockumentary, complete with riffs and retrospective. One caution: comedy veterans Lee Lewis and Jason Cooper are so good at what they do that the lines between fact and fiction may blur a bit during the show.
Either that or the blurry feeling was another one of those dang flashbacks. — Jason A. Zwiker