Although they’ve had seven singers pass through their ranks since forming back in 1981, most fans of the band consider Joey Belladonna the voice of Anthrax. Hiring Belladonna in late 1984 to replace Neil Turbin, the new singer's melodic and soulful approach helped set the New York City-based outfit apart from the rest of the bands in their scene.

After releasing four successful studio albums with the group, Belladonna and Anthrax went their separate ways in 1992. The band then hired John Bush (Armored Saint) and recorded four fine albums with him, but many felt that the Belladonna era of the group was their best. Belladonna rejoined Anthrax for some touring in 2005 and quite again in 2007. But the vocalist came back to the band for good in 2011 that year’s ‘Worship Music’ proved Belladonna is still on top of his game. Here, we take a look at 10 intriguing facts about the singer:

  • 1

    Who is Joseph Belladarni?

    Born in the upstate town of Oswego, N.Y., Belladonna is Native American on his mother’s side and part Italian American. His real name is Joseph Bellardini.

    Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images
    Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images
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  • 2

    Joey's former bandmate was murdered.

    Before joining Anthrax in late 1984, Belladonna was a member of Bible Black, a hard rock band formed by two ex-Elf/Rainbow musicians: drummer Gary Driscoll and bassist Craig Gruber. In 1987 – years after Bible Black had broken up – Driscoll was discovered murdered in the home of a friend in Ithaca, N.Y. The crime remains unsolved.

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    MySpace
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  • 3

    Joey didn't have to audition for his Anthrax gig.

    Belladonna got on Anthrax’s radar through former Rods drummer Carl Canedy, who was producing the NYC thrashers. In a 2005 interview, Belladonna told RockEyez that Anthrax was so impressed with what Canedy played for them from his work with Bible Black, offered him the job without even having him audition.

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    ShowBizIreland, Getty Images
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  • 4

    Joey was 'Armed and Dangerous' from the start.

    1985’s ‘Armed and Dangerous’ EP was the first Anthrax release to feature Belladonna on vocals. The title track – which the vocalist got a co-writing credit on – is the first song fans heard Belladonna sing on. 1991’s ‘Attack of the Killer B’s’ compilation album marked the frontman’s last appearance with the band before he returned for the Anthrax’s 2005 “classic lineup” reunion tour.

    Jo Hale, Getty Images
    Jo Hale, Getty Images
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  • 5

    Joey and Anthrax = Big Sales

    Anthrax enjoyed the most commercial success during Belladonna’s original run with the band (1984-1982), with ‘Among the Living’ (1987), ‘State of Euphoria’ (1988) and ‘Persistence of Time (1990) all going Gold in the U.S.

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    Scott Gries, Getty Images
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  • 6

    After splitting with Anthrax, Joey still kept busy.

    After being fired from Anthrax in 1992, the singer formed a new band called Belladonna. The band has released three studio albums – ‘Belladonna’ (1995), ‘Spells of Fear’ (1999) and ‘03’ (2003) – and have done some touring throughout the years.

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    Ethan Miller, Getty Images
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  • 7

    'Worship Music' was initially finished before Joey joined Anthrax again.

    2011’s ‘Worship Music’ album originally featured Dan Nelson’s vocals on all of the tracks. When Belladonna rejoined the band again that same year, he was asked to recut all of the vocals. Eight out of the 13 tracks on ‘Worship Music’ were co-written by Nelson, including the singles ‘The Devil You Know’ and ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Till You Can’t.’

    Theo Wargo, Getty Images
    Theo Wargo, Getty Images
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  • 8

    Joey still plays the bar band circuit.

    When he’s not on tour with Anthrax, Belladonna plays drums and sings in the classic rock cover band Chief Big Way. AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company are among the acts the group covers at their gigs.

  • 9

    Joey is no "Stranger" to Ol' Blue Eyes.

    In 2011, Belladonna appeared on ‘SIN-Atra,’ a Frank Sinatra tribute album. The Anthrax frontman took on ‘Strangers in the Night,’ a song first made famous by Sinatra in 1966. The heavy metal friendly tribute album also featured Dee Snider, Geoff Tate and many others.

    Keystone, Hulton Archive
    Keystone, Hulton Archive
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  • 10

    Joey has done voiceover work.

    In 2013, Belladonna did some voiceover work for the word game Letter Avalanche. Billed as a “fast paced twist on traditional spelling games that challenges your inner wordsmith and your ability to keep track of tumbling letters,” the game is available on Google Play, Android and Apple iOS.

    Facebook.com/letteravalanche
    Facebook.com/letteravalanche
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