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Night Ranger is an Americanmarker rock band from San Franciscomarker that gained significant popularity during the 1980s with a series of successful albums and singles. The band's first five albums sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and gave the band international recognition. The quintet is perhaps best known for the power ballad "Sister Christian", which peaked at #5 in June 1984.

After their success waned in the late 1980s, the band split up in 1989 and its members pursued other musical endeavours including both group and solo efforts. Several members released an album without original singer Jack Blades in 1995, but the band soon re-united to release two new albums in the latter half of the decade. Despite the departure of original keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald and guitarist Jeff Watson, the band has continued to tour into 2008 and remains very popular in Asian countries including Japanmarker.

History

Beginnings

The group's origin can be traced back to Rubicon, a pop/funk group led by Jerry Martini, who gained fame as a member of Sly and the Family Stone. After Rubicon's demise in 1979, bassist Jack Blades formed a hard rock trio with two other Rubicon members, drummer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis. Performing under the name Stereo, the threesome later added keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald, a former member of Montrose (and the offstage keyboard player for Van Halen since the 1990s). Fitzgerald soon recommended enlisting a second virtuoso guitarist, so Jeff Watson, who led his own band in Northern California, was added to the group. The seeds were sown for a new melodic hard rock band, initially called simply Ranger.

1980s

In 1982, the band changed its name to Night Ranger after a country band, The Rangers, claimed a trademark infringement. By this point, they had recorded Dawn Patrol for Boardwalk Records, opening for ZZ Top and Ozzy Osbourne; the latter performer employed Brad Gillis as an alternate guitarist for the recently deceased Randy Rhoads. When Boardwalk folded under, producer Bruce Bird secured Night Ranger a deal with MCA in 1983.

Their first three albums struck a balance between hard rockers laden with sexual innuendo and accessible pop ballads to guarantee airplay. Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, and Seven Wishes all reached RIAA platinum status and garnered the band international fame. 1987's Big Life fell short of Platinum status at around 800,000 copies. Thereafter, the group's fortunes began to decline.

Night Ranger's overall image tended to be somewhat cleaner than MTV contemporaries like Mötley Crüe or Ratt which helped the band flourish during a decade characterized by PMRC controversy. Moreover, their Top 20 anthem, "(You Can Still) Rock In America," appealed to a patriotic trend in 1980s rock, pushed forward by both Ted Nugent and Sammy Hagar (Jack Blades would later form a popular supergroup with Nugent, called Damn Yankees).

Negative criticism abounded during the band's heyday; Rolling Stone's review of Seven Wishes took a swipe at Night Ranger's "formula" of "sub-Broadway" ballads. Other critics were less flattering, with terms such as "poseurs" and "pomp-rockers" in various music guides. But favourable critics, such as Hit Parader, underscored Jack Blades' puppy-dog appeal, which won over female fans, while Gillis and Watson's duelling guitars pleased the same male audience that guitar-driven bands such as Van Halen had already begun to cultivate. Both guitarists also featured prominently in magazines like "Guitar for the Practicing Musician."

Dawn Patrol's first single, "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", received a boost through its MTV video airplay and peaked modestly at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Sing Me Away," a concert favourite sung by Keagy, failed to chart even though it also featured on MTV.

Night Ranger's hold solidified with their second album, Midnight Madness, which pushed the band from opening act to headliner status by the summer of 1984. Apart from "Rock in America," Night Ranger released two ballads: "When You Close Your Eyes" (#14) and "Sister Christian", (#5) written and sung by Kelly Keagy for his younger sister, Christine. "Sister Christian" proved to be the band's milestone—as well as a millstone—as future events turned out.

According to a later interview with Brad Gillis, "Sister Christian" had actually been completed in 1982. But Gillis said the band chose not to release it on "Dawn Patrol" because they were afraid of losing their hard rock credentials. "Sister Christian," soon became a prom favourite, as well as a cautionary anthem for teenage girls across conservative Middle America, warning them not to "give it up before their time is due", as the song's second verse urged.

In 1985, Night Ranger continued headlining their own tours in support of Seven Wishes, which followed a very loose concept of the band flying across the ocean in a WWII B-25 Mitchell bomber. Jack Blades later reported he and Brad Gillis were fascinated by World War II planes. Night Ranger's "Sentimental Street" video even placed them in an Amelia Earhart scenario, which reported the entire band lost at sea. Like Midnight Madness, Seven Wishes was also blessed with three hit singles: "Sentimental Street" (#8; sung by Kelly Keagy), Jack Blades' mid-tempo rocker "Four In The Morning" (#19), and the pleasant, acoustic-flavoured "Goodbye" (#17), which saw the band veering toward an overtly commercial direction.

Between 1984 and 1987, Night Ranger branched out into soundtracks, recording or contributing songs to several teenage films. In 1984, the band released "Interstate Love Affair" (later appearing on Seven Wishes) for Teachers, starring Nick Nolte. The band also received exposure on two Anthony Michael Hall vehicles, Sixteen Candles (1985) and Out of Bounds in (1986). "Rumours in the Air" from Midnight Madness appeared on the former, while the latter featured "Wild and Innocent Youth," a Blades-Keagy composition unreleased by the band.

In 1987, they co-wrote the title theme to the Michael J. Fox film The Secret of My Success (produced by David Foster), which served as the lead single from Big Life. Unfortunately, Night Ranger faced stiff competition from glam bands such as Bon Jovi and Poison, while overall tastes had begun to shift toward "bad boy" groups, such as Guns N' Roses. Moreover, some Night Ranger fans perceived the band's Hollywoodmarker flirtations as evidence of "selling out," reflected by a decline in album sales for Big Life.

Despite a collection of fairly mature songs, including the nuanced "Rain Comes Crashing Down," none of the chosen singles from Big Life hit the Top 40. "Secret of My Success" stalled just short of hit single status, despite heavy MTV rotation in 1987. Night Ranger also openly quarrelled with MCA over choosing "Hearts Away" in lieu of one of the heavier songs. Their label expected another Top 10 ballad, like "Sister Christian" or "Sentimental Street," but "Hearts Away" failed to catch on during Night Ranger's 1987 tour — a vigorous series of dates across North America and the Caribbean.

In 1988, Man in Motion promised a return to earlier form, with more hard rock to anchor the group's sagging fortunes. However, Alan Fitzgerald left during the recording, requiring a touring keyboardist (Jesse Bradman) to be hired for the road. Furthermore, none of the singles were distinguished enough to gain radio airplay, and MCA once more chose ballads over rockers. "I Did It for Love" (written by Russ Ballard) fared poorly, even with a cameo appearance by Morgan Fairchild in the video. Although the band still views "Restless Kind" as a favourite, it also failed to chart. Man in Motion thus became the first Night Ranger album not to achieve gold or platinum status.

1990s

After a tour in 1988–1989 supporting the album (including an opening slot for Kansas), Jack Blades left Night Ranger to form the popular supergroup Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw of Styx and the group broke up.

In 1991, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis enlisted Gary Moon (ex-Three Dog Night) to replace Jack Blades as bassist and decided to continue in a trio format after Jeff Watson decided to pursue a solo career. Night Ranger recorded one album, Feeding Off The Mojo in 1995, which did not improve the band's profile despite a rigorous tour schedule in the early 1990s. For the 1995 tour to promote Mojo, David Zaijcek (from the group Airborne) was added on keyboards and guitar to bolster the group's stage sound.

In 1996, Jack Blades returned to Night Ranger, which reformed with all five original members for two studio albums on CMC Records, who engineered a similar comeback for Styx. While Neverland and Seven did not become as successful as the band's early material in the United Statesmarker, they became quite popular in Japanmarker. The band tours sporadically in between solo albums and projects. Jack Blades also serves as chief counselor for the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp.

2000s

Kelly Keagy (2009)
Night Ranger continues to play the summer festival circuit. In 1999 they joined other 1980s bands in the second installment of the Rock Never Stops Tour, which also happened to feature Ted Nugent.

In 2003, Alan Fitzgerald was replaced by Great White rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Michael Lardie. Fitzgerald handled offstage keyboards once again for Van Halen in 2004.

In 2007, while working on Hole in the Sun, Jeff Watson was fired from the band. His replacement for the remainder of the tour was Winger/Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach. Lardie and Beach have currently left the band to focus on projects from Great White and Winger/Whitesnake. According to the band's MySpace site, Joel Hoekstra has replaced Beach and Christian Matthew Cullen has replaced Lardie.

In January 2008, in a podcast interview with Stuck in the 80s, Jack Blades said the band's latest album -- Hole in the Sun -- would be released in April 2008 and will be supported by a national tour. In addition, Blades said the band was flying to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in late January to play a special show for the Navy and Marines troops on the island. To date Night Ranger have sold 16 million albums worldwide.

Hoekstra recently joined the band of the 80's rock musical Rock of Ages. Sister Christian is one of the songs in the show.

Band members

Current members

  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar (1979–1989, 1996–present)
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals (1979–1989, 1991–present)
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals (1979–1989, 1991–present)
  • Joel Hoekstra – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals (2008–present)
  • Christian Matthew Cullen – keyboards, backing vocals (2007–present)


Former members

  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals, (1980–1989, 1991, 1996–2007)
  • Alan Fitzgerald – keyboards, backing vocals (1980–1988, 1996–2003)
  • Gary Moon – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals (1991–1996)
  • Michael Lardie – keyboards, backing vocals (2003–2007)
  • David Zaijcek – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1995–1996)
  • Jesse Bradman – keyboards, backing vocals (1988–1989)
  • Reb Beach – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals (2007–2008)


Session members



Lineups

(1979–1980)

Stereo
(1980)

Stereo
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Alan Fitzgerald – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(1980)

Stereo
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Alan Fitzgerald – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(1980–1982)

Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Alan Fitzgerald – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(1982–1988)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Alan Fitzgerald – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(1988)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1988–1989)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jesse Bradman – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(1989)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1989)

Night Ranger
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1989–1991) (Night Ranger disbanded)
(1991)

Night Ranger
  • Gary Moon – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1991–1995)

Night Ranger
  • Gary Moon – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1995–1996)

Night Ranger
  • Gary Moon – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • David Zaijcek – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
(1996)

Night Ranger
  • Gary Moon – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1996)

Night Ranger
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1996)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1996)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(1996–2003)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Alan Fitzgerald – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(2003)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(2003–2007)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Jeff Watson – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Michael Lardie – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(2007)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Michael Lardie – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(2007)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Reb Beach – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Michael Lardie – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(2007)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Reb Beach – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
(2007–2008)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Reb Beach – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Christian Matthew Cullen – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(2008)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Christian Matthew Cullen – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
(2008–present)

Night Ranger
  • Jack Blades – bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
  • Kelly Keagy – drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
  • Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Joel Hoekstra – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
  • Christian Matthew Cullen – keyboards, piano, backing vocals


Discography

Albums

Studio Albums
Title Year Notes
Dawn Patrol 1982 #115 BB200
Midnight Madness 1983 #15 BB200; RIAA Platinum
Seven Wishes 1985 #10 BB200 RIAA Platinum
Big Life 1987 #28 BB200; RIAA Gold
Man in Motion 1988 #81 BB200
Feeding off the Mojo 1995  
Neverland 1997  
Seven 1998  
Hole in the Sun 2007-08 2007 Released internationally; 2008 Released in the U.S.
Live Albums
Title Year Notes
Live in Japan 1990  
Rock in Japan '97 1997 Japanese release
Rock Breakout Years: 1984 2005  
The Best of Night Ranger Live 2006  
Night Ranger Live 2007  
Extended Versions 2007  
Compilations
Title Year Notes
Greatest Hits 1989 RIAA Gold
Rock Masterpiece Collection 1998  
Keep Rockin': Best Selection '97–'98 1998  
The Millennium Collection 2000  
Hits, Acoustic & Rarities 2005 Re-recorded hits


Singles

Year Song US Hot 100 US Mainstream Rock Album
1983 "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" 40 4 Dawn Patrol
1983 "Sing Me Away" 54 39 Dawn Patrol
1983 " Rock in America" 51 15 Midnight Madness
1984 "Sister Christian" 5 2 Midnight Madness
1984 "When You Close Your Eyes" 14 14 Midnight Madness
1985 "Sentimental Street" 8 3 Seven Wishes
1985 "Four in the Morning (I Can't Take Anymore)" 19 13 Seven Wishes
1985 "Goodbye" 17 16 Seven Wishes
1987 "The Secret of My Success" 64 12 Big Life
1987 "Hearts Away" 90 Big Life
1988 "I Did It for Love" 75 16 Man in Motion
1988 "(Don't Start Thinking) I'm Alone Tonight" Man in Motion


External links



References




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