Jon Mikl Thor is back with a vengeance – just like the “legendary rock warrior” he represents.
Now in his 60s, the former competitive bodybuilder from Vancouver, Canada is revitalizing a portion of his career as a rock and heavy metal artist that wasn’t as hard-hitting as he would have liked in recent years.
A former Mr. USA, Mr. Canada and Mr. Universe who competed against the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, Thor invented his strong-guy character and with his band got a record deal in Canada and released his 1977 debut record, “Keep the Dogs Away.”
He became known in the ‘70s and ‘80s for blending his rock music with feats of strength onstage, such as smashing bricks and bending a metal microphone stand in half to the delight of his fans. He also appeared in cult classic movies “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” and “Zombie Nightmare.”
New music, new attitude
In the years that followed, he said he can blame mismanagement, or his own unwillingness to push ahead with the music he loves the most, or both, but what’s important is – he’s back, with a new album, a new band and a new attitude that he’s not settling for second-best anymore.
Still wielding his hammer and wearing his suit of armor onstage, Thor says in a phone interview that his career “is like a fine wine. I’ve gotten better over time as an entertainer.”
A documentary video he made in 2015 titled “I am Thor” talked about his struggles and became the turning point for his redirection.
Eric Jackson Lurie, an attorney in O’Hara and Pittsburgh and part-time radio show host at WRCT 88.3 FM at Carnegie Mellon University – where classic rock is part of his play list – saw the video and was inspired by Thor’s determination to succeed.
“I am a longtime Thor fan,” Lurie says. “I’ve always wanted to see him live but he never comes to this area and spends a lot of time touring in Europe, headlining metal festivals in the muscle rock genre.”
He decided to contact Thor this spring, and the vocalist/musician agreed to do a five-minute interview for his radio show.
After the interview, they ended up talking for an hour “that was an absolute blast. We just connected and hit it off,” Lurie said. He was even more excited when Thor offered him a world premiere of a new single from his then-unreleased album to debut on his radio show.
“We have really hit it off over the last eight months and have been enjoying each other‘s friendship – but he has never played Pittsburgh in 45 years,” the attorney says.
‘Hammer of Justice’ coming to Pittsburgh
Lurie has arranged for Thor to come to the ‘Burgh and play a show at Hotel Evaline in Bloomfield on Sept. 21 as part of the rocker’s “Hammer of Justice” tour, which resumes this month.
“The venue is an Airbnb that for years has held one of the biggest Halloween parties on the East coast. The concert is going to be very intimate and Stoney’s beer has signed on to sponsor. It is going to be a tremendous event,” Lurie said.
Deadline Records released “Hammer of Justice” in a CD/DVD combo pack, featuring all-new music as well as “Return of the Thunderhawk,” a follow up to his “I Am Thor” documentary, on April 26.