Quieting the noize

It was the mid-’90s, and Kevin DuBrow was more than a dozen years removed from the height of his success when his band Quiet Riot dueled the likes of Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie for the country’s No. 1-selling album.

Quiet Riot had gone through several convulsions since that breakthrough album, “Metal Health.” Endless quarrels even led to DuBrow getting fired from his own band.

Still, things had calmed down, and the guys released an album in 1993. A greatest hits record would be released in 1996. So here was DuBrow, 40 years old, living with mom Laura and stepfather Hal Mandell in Newport Beach as he waited for his Las Vegas home to be finished.

Considering the band’s rowdy 1997 tour that involved several arrests, and his own demise from a cocaine overdose 10 years later, DuBrow’s return to family life wasn’t what you’d expect.

His lifestyle was far from his raucous, rebellious stage performances, Laura said. Kevin would spend his days idyllically cooking and shopping with her.

“He grew up in Los Angeles, so Newport Beach was like the country to him,” Laura said. “He played a few gigs, but he spent most of his time just hanging around. I would come home from work, and he would have dinner ready for me.”

A few months since DuBrow’s death, his mother and brother, Dr. Terry Dubrow — known as the plastic surgeon from the TV series “The Swan” — recalled the tall, curly-haired rocker who made his mark with a band that ushered in the glam era of heavy metal.

By many accounts Kevin had both the quintessential in-your-face personality of a hard rocker and also a very kind, gentle, unassuming nature.

“He lived like a true rock star,” Terry said. “He was huge, 6-foot-4 and frenetic, always moving, always in a good mood.”

Kevin grew up in Hollywood before moving to Van Nuys as a teenager. Laura and Terry moved to Newport Beach after Terry finished medical school.

Kevin’s last years were spent living in Vegas, but he ended up back in Corona del Mar, where he’s buried next to his stepfather at the Pacific Grove Cemetery.

Those who knew him say his charismatic presence and kind-hearted nature will be missed at his local haunts.

“Kevin wasn’t one of those flashy guys,” said Susan Emmett, general manager of the Villa Nova restaurant in Newport Beach. “Sometimes celebrities are so high-maintenance, but Kevin was so unpretentious, warm and friendly.”

Villa Nova was one of Kevin’s favorite restaurants, and his family had a small, private memorial service there after his graveside service.

Terry said it was in Newport Beach that Hal and Kevin really developed a close relationship after a contentious past.

“Hal was a tough step dad. He and Kevin didn’t get along when Kevin was young,” he said. “Hal would always ask him, ‘When are you going to get a real job?’”

Years later, after Kevin had achieved stardom and was making a living as a musician, Hal stopped questioning his career decision, and the two became good friends, according to Laura.

“I think it would have meant a lot to Hal to have Kevin buried beside him,” she said.

Kevin wasn’t your average creative genius. As a kid, his brother remembers him being neater, tidier and also being more gifted in engineering.

Terry went to medical school and became a renowned cosmetic surgeon while Kevin became a rock star. The irony of their divergent paths to success as entertainers is not lost on Terry.

“Kevin wasn’t into school. He wasn’t a scientist, but he was very technically gifted. We used to make model cars, and his were picture-perfect, and mine always had chunks of glue all over them,” Terry said. “He would always make fun of my cars. He would say, ‘What’s that? A glue-mobile?’”


 Quiet Riot got its name from Status Quo rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt, who said that if he had a band, he’d name it “Quite Right.” The band was originally called “Little Women,” for “about a week,” Kevin DuBrow said in a 1979 interview with KROQ-FM (106.7).

 Quiet Riot was co-founded by classically trained guitarist Randy Rhoads, who later joined Ozzy Osbourne for “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman.” He died in a 1982 plane crash.

 “Metal Health (Bang Your Head),” appears in the video game “Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.”

 “Cum on Feel the Noize” was first released in 1973 by English glam rockers Slade. Britpop giants Oasis covered the same song as a B-side for their “Don’t Look Back in Anger” EP.

 Indie-folk songwriter Sufjan Stevens referenced Quiet Riot with the 2005 album “Come on feel the Illinoise.”

ALAN BLANK may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at alan.blank@latimes.com.

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