U.S. rock band, 1980s to present
The San Francisco dance band Rubicon waned in 1980-1981. After two albums and a modicum of success, the band members' differing musical interests was causing stagnation. Bassist/singer Jack Blades, drummer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis wanted to create a new group, something with a harder edge. The three started the band Stereo, and soon added keyboardist Alan "Fitz" Fitzgerald (late of Montrose and Gamma) and guitarist Jeff Watson. They then changed their name once again, this time to Night Ranger and set out to make popular music history.
After they had played just a few shows, promoter Bill Graham landed them supporting slots on concerts by the Doobie Brothers, Judas Priest and Santana. Night Ranger's first album was Dawn Patrol (1982), which reached number 38 on the charts in the United States and the 1983 album Midnight Madness brought them even greater successes.
Night Ranger had an uncluttered sound that a lot of fans found refreshing. Straight-ahead rhythms, memorable hooks and catchy melodies were their specialty, seemingly inspired by the hard-rock greats of the 70s, such as Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest, but always with a polished, approachable image. Their sound defied easy categories like 'Metal' or 'Pop' and this made it easy for their music to catch on with a wide audience.
By 1983 Night Ranger was a fixture on MTV. In an era when huge, overblown videos were becoming MTV's staple, their simple, straight-ahead videos (featuring the band and not too much "plot") were as refreshing as their sound. Songs and videos like Sister Christian, Don't Tell Me You Love Me, (You Can Still) Rock In America and Restless Kind were some of the reasons for Night Ranger’s arena-packing success. Midnight Madness reached number 15 on the charts and sold more than a million copies.
In 1985, Night Ranger released 7 Wishes and scored more gigantic successes in the United States and abroad. 7 Wishes reached number ten on the charts. 1987, however, saw the beginning of the end for Night Ranger. The band members were exhausted from the constant limelight, touring and the strain of recording. They released the album Big Life that year. While it was a solid effort, the album did not meet with the sort of success that their earlier efforts had.
Audiences started seeing Night Ranger as conventional, almost old-fashioned (remember, this was the time when WASP and Cinderella were racking up huge successes with gigantic hair and loads of makeup). MTV had all but ceased playing videos.
Man in Motion was released in 1988, and did not see any gold albums or singles in the Top 40 charts. 1989 saw the band members going their own ways. After all was said and done, Night Ranger had sold over ten million albums throughout the world, and had achieved a level of success that very few bands ever even dream of. Greatest Hits was released in 1989 and Live in Japan in 1990.
All of the band members kept busy. Fitzgerald found himself swept into the ever-changing lineup of Van Halen. After a couple of solo albums, Watson wound up in the star-studded band Mother's Army. Keagy did sessions with a number of big names while Gillis started a band named Gilrock Ranch. Blades went on to form Damn Yankees with Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent. They had two highly successful albums.
In 1996, much to fans' surprise and delight, Night Ranger reunited. Their initial Japanese tour was a huge success and they were booked to Ted Nugent's U.S. Tour. Night Ranger went on to make two albums: Neverland (1997) and Seven (1998). They have since toured several times and enjoyed successes in their native United States and abroad.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/music/artist/bio/0,,473505,00.html#bio)
Mars Talent agency online: http://www.marstalent.com/bio_night_ranger.htm
Jack Blades' site: www.jackblades.net
Wikipedia: Jack Blades, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Blades
Sony Music's Night Ranger site: http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/NightRanger/
Night Ranger net site: http://groups.msn.com/NightRanger/