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Night Ranger

From Academic Kids

sv:Night Ranger Night Ranger, a rock band formed in San Francisco, California in 1981. The quintet are most known for the power-ballad "Sister Christian," which hit the Top Five in early 1984. The group's nucleus formed in Rubicon, a pop group led by Jerry Martini of Sly and the Family Stone fame. After Rubicon's demise in 1979, bassist Jack Blades (b. 1954) formed a hard rock trio with drummer Kelly Keagy (b. 1952) and guitarist Brad Gillis (b. 1957). Performing under the name Stereo, the threesome later added keyboardist Alan "Fitz" Fitzgerald (b. 1949), a former member of Montrose and the Sammy Hagar group. Fitz soon recommended enlisting a second virtuoso guitarist, Jeff Watson (b. 1956), who led his own band in Northern California. The seeds were sown for a new melodic hard rock band, initially called simply 'Ranger.'

In 1982, the band subsequently changed its name to Night Ranger after a country band, The Rangers, claimed a copyright 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 a alternate guitarist for the recently deceased Randy Rhoads. When Boardwalk folded under, producer Bruce Bird secured Night Ranger a deal with MCA Camel in 1983.

The band's modest hit single, "Don't Tell Me You Love Me," received a boost through its MTV video airplay. Jack Blades' puppy-dog appeal seemed to win 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. Their first albums struck a balance between hard rockers ladened with sexual innuendo, and accessible pop ballads to guarantee airplay.

Night Ranger's hold solidified with their second album, "Midnight Madness," which featured the ballads "When You Close Your Eyes," and the aforementioned "Sister Christian," written and sung by Kelly Keagy for his own sister. It became a cautionary anthem for teenage girls across a conservative America, warning them not to "give it up before their time is due."

With (You Can Still) Rock In America, Night Ranger also appealed to the jingoistic formula pushed forward by both Ted Nugent and Sammy Hagar. It also paid off for the band, who netted two Top Twenty singles and a Top Five hit with "Sister Christian," the sone which would later prove the band's millstone.

In 1985, Night Ranger began headlining their own tours in support of "Seven Wishes," which followed a very loose concept of the band flying in a B-25 Mitchell bomber. Hits once again became evident, with another Top 10 single, "Sentimental Street," sung by Kelly Keagy. The mid-tempo "Four In The Morning (I Can't Take Anymore)" and the acoustic-flavored "Goodbye" also charted, as the band went in a more obviously commercial direction. In 1986, the band also branched out into soundtracks, recording or contributing songs to several teenage films, such as "Out of Bounds."

In 1987, they co-wrote the title theme to the Michael J. Fox film, The Secret of My Success, which served as the lead single from "The 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 pre-packaged "bad boy" groups, such as Guns n' Roses. Despite a collection of fairly mature songs, including the nuanced "Rain Comes Crashing Down," none of the chosen singles from "The Big Life" charted. Night Ranger openly quarrelled with their label over choosing "Hearts Away," in lieu of one of the heavier songs. The label expected another Top 10 ballad, but the song stiffed during Night Ranger's 1987 tour.

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 to be hired. Furthermore, none of the singles were distinguished enough to gain radio airplay, and MCA once more chose ballads over rockers. As a result, "Man in Motion" became the first Night Ranger album not to achieve gold or platinum status. After a mediocre tour, Jack Blades left Night Ranger to form the popular supergroup Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw of Styx.

Meanwhile, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis enlisted Gary Moon to replace Jack Blades as bassist, returning to trio format after Jeff Watson left to renew his solo career. The "unofficial" Night Ranger recorded one album, "Bringing on the Mojo," which did not improve the band's profile despite a rigorous tour schedule in the early 1990s. 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" have not recouped the band's heyday, they have demonstrated that Night Ranger still had some longevity and new ideas. The band tours sporadically in between solo albums and projects.


Discography

  • 1982 - Dawn Patrol
  • 1983 - Midnight Madness
  • 1985 - Seven Wishes
  • 1987 - Big Life
  • 1988 - Man In Motion
  • 1989 - Greatest Hits
  • 1990 - Live In Japan
  • 1996 - Feeding Off The Mojo
  • 1997 - Rock In Japan '97
  • 1997 - Neverland
  • 1997 - Rock Masterpiece Collection
  • 1998 - Seven
  • 2000 - The Millenium Collection

Other hits include:

"Don't Tell Me You Love Me" "Sing Me Away" "(You Can Still) Rock In America" "Rumors In The Air" "When You Close Your Eyes" "Sentimental Street" "Faces" "Four In The Morning (I Can't Take Anymore)" "Goodbye" "Secret of My Success" "Hearts Away" "Color of Your Smile" "Don't Start Thinking (I'm Alone Tonight)" "Restless Kind"

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