Night Ranger

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Night Ranger
Night Ranger live.jpg
Night Ranger live at Sausalito Art Festival, 2009
Background information
Also known asStereo (1979–1980)
Ranger (1980–1982)
Nightranger (1982)
Origin San Francisco, California, US
Years active1979–present
(hiatus: 1989–1991)
Labels MCA, Boardwalk, CMC International, Universal, Legacy, Frontiers
Associated acts Rubicon, Damn Yankees, Shaw/Blades, Great White, Ozzy Osbourne, Revolution Saints, Winger, Whitesnake, TMG
Members Jack Blades
Brad Gillis
Kelly Keagy
Eric Levy
Keri Kelli
Past members Alan Fitzgerald
Jeff Watson
Jesse Bradman
Gary Moon
David Zajicek (Zychek /Professional spelling)
Michael Lardie
Reb Beach
Christian Matthew Cullen
Joel Hoekstra
Deen Castronovo
Will Evankovich
Brandon Ethridge
Fred Coury

Night Ranger is an American hard rock band from San Francisco formed in 1979 that gained popularity during the 1980s with a series of albums and singles. [1] The band's first five albums sold more than 10 million copies worldwide [1] and have sold 17 million albums total. The quintet is best known for the power ballad "Sister Christian", which peaked at number five in June 1984. [2]


After their success waned in the late 1980s, the band split up in 1989, and its members pursued other musical endeavors, including group and solo efforts. [3] [4] [5] Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy teamed up with bassist Gary Moon, and released an album without the other original band members in 1995, but the band soon reunited to release two new albums in the latter half of the decade.



The group's origin can be traced 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 trio [5] with two other Rubicon members, drummer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis. Performing under the name Stereo, the threesome added keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald, a former member of Montrose, in 1980. Fitzgerald soon recommended enlisting a second virtuoso guitarist, so Jeff Watson, who led his own band in Northern California, was added to the group. As Stereo, the band played small clubs in San Francisco in 1980, such as the Palms in the Tenderloin. [6] By late that year, the band name was changed to "Ranger" and were opening for acts such as Sammy Hagar. [7]


In 1982 the band changed its name to Night Ranger after a country band, the Rangers, claimed a trademark infringement. [8] By this point, they had recorded Dawn Patrol for Boardwalk Records and done opening stints for ZZ Top and Ozzy Osbourne; the latter had employed Brad Gillis as a replacement guitarist for the recently deceased Randy Rhoads, in the spring and summer of 1982. After Boardwalk folded, producer Bruce Bird secured Night Ranger a deal with MCA on their Camel subsidiary in 1983. [9]

Rolling Stone's review of 7 Wishes took a swipe at Night Ranger's "formula" of "sub-Broadway" ballads. Other critics were even less flattering, with terms such as "poseurs" and "pomp-rockers" put forth in various music guides, but favorable critics, such as Hit Parader , underscored Jack Blades' puppy-dog appeal, which won over female fans, while Gillis and Watson's dueling 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 such as Guitar for the Practicing Musician .[ citation needed ]

Dawn Patrol's first single, "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", received a boost through its MTV video airplay, and peaked modestly at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Sing Me Away", a concert favorite sung by Keagy, fell short of the top 40 at a peak position of number 54, though it also was featured on MTV. Night Ranger's popularity 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", Midnight Madness spun off two hit ballads: "When You Close Your Eyes" (number 14) and "Sister Christian" (number five), 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. [4] According to a later interview with Gillis, "Sister Christian" was actually 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 credibility.[ citation needed ]

In 1985 Night Ranger continued headlining their own tours in support of 7 Wishes, which followed a very loose concept of the band flying across the ocean in a WWII B-25 Mitchell bomber. Blades later reported Gillis and he were fascinated by World War II planes. Night Ranger's "Sentimental Street" video even placed them in an Amelia Earhart scenario, with the entire band lost at sea. Like Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes garnered three hit singles: "Sentimental Street" (number eight; sung by Kelly Keagy); Blades' mid-tempo rocker "Four in the Morning (I Can't Take Anymore)" (number 19), the title describing the time of night Blades wrote the song; [10] and the pleasant, acoustic-flavored "Goodbye" (number 17), which had the band veering in an overtly folk-rock, even country, direction. According to a 2001 TNN interview, Blades wrote "Goodbye" in memory of his older brother, James, who had died from a heroin overdose several years before.[ citation needed ]

Between 1984 and 1987, Night Ranger branched out into soundtracks, recording or contributing songs to several teen-oriented films. In 1984, the band released "Interstate Love Affair" (later appearing on 7 Wishes) for Teachers , starring Nick Nolte. In 1985, they also contributed another 7 Wishes track, "This Boy Needs to Rock", to the soundtrack of Explorers . The band also received exposure on two Anthony Michael Hall vehicles, Sixteen Candles (1984) and Out of Bounds (1986). "Rumours in the Air" from Midnight Madness appeared on the former, while the latter featured "Wild and Innocent Youth", a rollicking Blades-Keagy composition that has still never been released on a Night Ranger album or compilation.[ citation needed ]

In 1987 Blades co-wrote the title theme to the Michael J. Fox film The Secret of My Success , which served as the lead-off single on the band's next album, Big Life. Unlike the previous three Night Ranger albums produced by Pat Glasser, this one was produced by David Foster, and featured more up-tempo songs than power ballads. [11]

Big Life featured some fairly mature Blades-Keagy songwriting, including the nuanced fan favorite "Rain Comes Crashing Down", inspired by a stormy California afternoon. Sung by Keagy, "Carry On" was most reminiscent of classic Night Ranger, and featured as the flip side of "Secret of My Success". None of the chosen Big Life singles hit the top 40. "Secret of My Success" stalled just short of hit-single status at number 64 on Billboard's Hot 100 despite heavy MTV rotation in the spring of 1987. Night Ranger also openly quarreled with MCA over choosing "Hearts Away" in lieu of one of their heavier songs. Their label expected another top-10 ballad, like "Sister Christian" or "Sentimental Street", but despite Keagy's passionate vocals, "Hearts Away" failed to catch on during Night Ranger's 1987 tour (peaking at number 90 on Billboard's Hot 100)—a vigorous series of dates across North America and the Caribbean, featuring The Outfield as the opening act. A third single/video was released for "Color Of Your Smile", but it failed to reach the charts due to limited airplay.[ citation needed ]

In early 1988, Fitzgerald left during the recording of Night Ranger's fifth album, citing his own diminished role in the guitar-driven band, though Fitzgerald had originally suggested the addition of Jeff Watson to augment the band's sound in the first place. With "Fitz" gone, Night Ranger acquired a touring keyboardist, Jesse Bradman, to complete the next album, Man in Motion , which promised a return to earlier form with more hard rock to anchor the group's sagging fortunes. None of the singles from it were distinguished enough to gain radio airplay, though, as MCA once again chose ballads over rockers. "I Did It for Love" (written by Russ Ballard) fared poorly, even with a cameo appearance by popular actress Morgan Fairchild in the video. The band still views "Restless Kind" as a favorite, but it failed to chart. "Don't Start Thinking (I'm Alone Tonight)" and "Reason to Be" were similarly unsuccessful in early 1989. Man in Motion thus became the first Night Ranger album not to achieve gold or platinum status.[ citation needed ]

Early 1990s: "Moon Ranger" era

After a tour in 1988–89 supporting Man in Motion (including an opening slot for Kansas), Blades left Night Ranger to form the popular super-group Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw of Styx. [5]

In 1991 Keagy and Gillis enlisted Gary Moon (ex-Three Dog Night) to replace Blades as vocalist/bassist and decided to reform as a trio after Jeff Watson decided to pursue a solo career.[ citation needed ]

In 1993 David Zajicek / Zychek (from the group Airborne, who had also brought forth musician/producer/engineer Beau Hill [Alice Cooper, Ratt, Warrant, Winger, Europe, Dirty White Boy etc. ] ) was added as a full member on guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals to the new unit of the group and to back the coming album and bolster the group's stage sound.[ citation needed ]

The reformed nucleus of the group (Gillis, Keagy, Moon, and Zajicek / Zychek ) then recorded Feeding off the Mojo in 1995, with producer David Prater, who also worked with Dream Theater and Firehouse, and had previously introduced Zajicek / Zychek to Night Ranger.[ citation needed ]

1996–1999: "Reunion"

Night Ranger (2008) Night Ranger 080121-N-5416W-044.JPG
Night Ranger (2008)
Kelly Keagy (2009) Kelly Keagy.jpg
Kelly Keagy (2009)

In 1996 Blades returned to Night Ranger, which ultimately led to a reunion of all five original members for two studio albums on CMC Records, which engineered a similar comeback for Styx. While Neverland and Seven did not become as successful as the band's early material in the United States, these albums became quite popular in Japan, and the ballad "Forever All Over Again" (from Neverland) did become a minor Adult Contemporary hit in the States. The band continued to tour between solo albums and projects, mostly on the summer festival circuit. Blades also began a stint as chief counselor for the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp.[ citation needed ]

In 1999 they joined other 1980s bands in the second installment of the Rock Never Stops Tour, which also happened to feature Blades' former Damn Yankees bandmate Ted Nugent.[ citation needed ]


In 2003, Fitzgerald was replaced by Great White rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Michael Lardie. Fitzgerald began handling offstage keyboards once again for Van Halen in 2004.[ citation needed ]

In 2007 while working on their next release, Hole in the Sun , Watson was fired from the band. His replacement for the remainder of their 2007 tour was Winger/Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach. Lardie and Beach soon left the band to focus on Great White and Winger/Whitesnake, respectively. Christian Matthew Cullen replaced Lardie in 2007, while Joel Hoekstra took over for Beach by early 2008.[ citation needed ]

Hole in the Sun was released overseas in April 2007, but did not appear in the US until July 2008.[ citation needed ]

In January 2008 in a podcast interview with Stuck in the 80s, Blades said the band's latest album, Hole in the Sun, would be released in 2008 and supported by a national tour. In addition, he said the band was flying to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in late January to play a special show for Navy and Marines troops on the island. To date, Night Ranger has sold 16 million albums worldwide. [12]


When not with Night Ranger, Hoekstra played guitar for the hit Broadway show Rock of Ages and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Hoekstra also did double duty for a stretch of the band's 2011 tour, filling in for Mick Jones of Foreigner, which was also on the bill that summer along with Journey.[ citation needed ]

On March 8, 2011 Night Ranger announced new member Eric Levy (Garaj Mahal) and the departure of Christian Matthew Cullen. [13]

Night Ranger released its new album, Somewhere In California, on June 21, 2011. The video for the first single, "Growin' Up in California", can be seen on YouTube. [14]

On March 25, 2012 Night Ranger gave an a cappella performance of the Star-Spangled Banner prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.[ citation needed ]

In May 2012 Night Ranger celebrated the 30th anniversary of their debut albumDawn Patrol by recording "24 Strings and a Drummer" as both a live DVD and album in an intimate, all-acoustic setting in front of a select number of fans at TRI Studios in San Rafael, California. According to Brave Words, [15] the CD/DVD features some of their greatest hits, such as "(You Can Still) Rock in America" and "Sister Christian", in new acoustic arrangements. The live acoustic album consist of 12 songs plus a bonus track.[ citation needed ]

On June 4, 2012 Night Ranger returned to the Islington Academy in London for the second headlining show in 12 months at the 800-capacity venue.[ citation needed ]

On July 12, 2012 Night Ranger opened for the German band The Scorpions at its US farewell "Get Your Sting and Blackout" tour at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Alongside their major hits, the band also commemorated Gillis's brief stint with Ozzy Osbourne's band with a cover of "Crazy Train".[ citation needed ]

From July 13 to 15, 2012, Night Ranger performed in the small midwestern town of Woodhaven, Michigan, for the Uncle Sam Jam.[ citation needed ]

On September 1, 2012 Night Ranger performed as the headlining act for the "River Days" festival in Portsmouth, Ohio. Keyboardist Eric Levy was forced to miss this performance due to his wife giving birth. Brandon Ethridge (from the musicals Rock of Ages and We Will Rock You) handled the keyboards for this performance.[ citation needed ]

In late 2012, guitarist Keri Kelli (whose resume includes stints with Alice Cooper, Slash, Skid Row, Vince Neil Band, Ratt, Warrant, L.A. Guns, Tal Bachman, John Waite, and others) came aboard Night Ranger to substitute for Joel Hoekstra while he was off playing for Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He likewise returned in late 2013, once again to fill in for Hoekstra, when Trans-Siberian called him away again.[ citation needed ]

On June 10, 2014 Night Ranger released their 11th studio album, High Road , available in CD, vinyl, and digital formats. A deluxe edition includes a bonus track, and a DVD of music videos and behind-the-scenes extras; Best Buy offers an exclusive version of the deluxe edition with a second bonus track.[ citation needed ]

On August 21, 2014 Hoekstra was announced as leaving the band to join the guitarist he originally replaced, Reb Beach, in Whitesnake. Keri Kelli was then brought back in as the permanent replacement for Hoekstra. [16]

The band released a live DVD/2 CD recording on December 2, 2016, with Frontiers Records. Celebrating the band's 35th anniversary, "35 Years and a Night in Chicago" was recorded May 7, 2016, at the House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois. Included in the release is a new song, "Day and Night". A second encore that night featured another new song, "Running Out of Time". [17] These new songs were part of an album of new material. [18]

On January 13, 2017 the band released a new single, "Somehow Someway", from Don't Let Up . The album was released by Frontiers Music SRL on March 24, 2017. It features 11 songs, and was produced by the band. It is the first studio album by the group to include Keri Kelli on guitar. [19]

On June 25, 2019 The New York Times Magazine listed Night Ranger among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [20]

Musical style

Night Ranger's music is typically classified as hard rock, [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] glam metal, [26] [27] and arena rock. [28]

Band members

Current members


Studio albums

See also

Related Research Articles

Damn Yankees (band)

Damn Yankees was an American rock supergroup formed in 1989 consisting of Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Ted Nugent of The Amboy Dukes, and Michael Cartellone.

Tommy Shaw American musician

Tommy Roland Shaw is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and performer best known as the frontman and guitarist for the rock band Styx. In between his stints with Styx, he has played with other groups including Damn Yankees and Shaw Blades as well as releasing several solo albums.

Jack Blades American musician

Jack Martin Blades is an American musician. He has worked in the bands Rubicon, Night Ranger, and Damn Yankees. He has also recorded with Tommy Shaw under the name Shaw Blades, and has done work alongside the Tak Matsumoto Group. Blades' most recent efforts include a second solo CD. He is also a member of the band Revolution Saints.

<i>Midnight Madness</i> (album) 1983 studio album by Night Ranger

Midnight Madness is the second studio album by American rock band Night Ranger, released in October 26, 1983 on MCA Records. The album produced three charting singles and contains the band's best known hit, "Sister Christian." It remains their highest selling album at over a million copies sold in the US.

Rubicon (US band)

Rubicon was a California funk rock band, whose "I'm Gonna Take Care of Everything" spent 11 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, peaking at number 28.

<i>Dawn Patrol</i> (album) 1982 studio album by Night Ranger

Dawn Patrol is the debut studio album by Night Ranger; it was released on November 1, 1982, by MCA Records.

Brad Gillis

Bradley Frank Gillis is a guitarist most famous for playing with the band Night Ranger. He was in the band Rubicon during the 1970s before Night Ranger. Since forming in 1979, Gillis and drummer Kelly Keagy are the only members to have appeared in every incarnation of the band and all studio releases. However, since Keagy missed several shows for the first time in 2017, Gillis is the only Night Ranger member to have appeared at every live performance in the band's history. He has also played for Ozzy Osbourne and Fiona, and has released solo albums. Gillis’s musical side projects include placing over 300 songs for ESPN’s Sports Center, The X Games, Fox Sports, Tiger Woods Sony PlayStation Games, EA Sports, The Fuse Channel and many others. He has appeared in over a dozen music videos, with TV performances on American Bandstand, Solid Gold, Rock & Roll Tonight and thousands of live concerts. He also participated in the one-time collaboration, Hear 'n Aid, for the promotional single, "Stars," which helped raise $1 million for famine relief in Africa. He was one of several lead guitarists to contribute guitar solos for the cause, including Vivian Campbell, Buck Dharma, and Neal Schon. His first solo album Gilrock Ranch produced a top twenty single, “Honest to God,” which was co-written and sung by Gregg Allman.

Kelly Keagy American drummer and vocalist

Kelly Dean Keagy is an American drummer and vocalist, best known for his work with Night Ranger. Keagy sang lead vocals on several of their hits, such as "Sister Christian", "Sing Me Away", and "Sentimental Street".

<i>7 Wishes</i> (Night Ranger album) 1985 studio album by Night Ranger

7 Wishes is the third studio album by the band Night Ranger, released in 1985 and produced by Pat Glasser. The album features three Billboard Hot 100 chart hits "Sentimental Street" (#8), "Four In The Morning" (#19) and "Goodbye" (#17).

Shaw Blades is an American musical duo/group formed by Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger, both of whom played in the supergroup Damn Yankees. It is an informal duo which has produced two albums between other projects, 1995s Hallucination and 2007s Influence. The first two songs on "Hallucination" -- "My Hallucination" and "I'll Always Be with You"—received modest airplay. "Influence" consisted solely of 1960s and 1970s cover songs that influenced them. Blades' son Colin, an experimental songwriter himself, contributed backing vocals and arrangements to the album. Shaw Blades also recorded a cover of the classic Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" on the A Classic Rock Christmas album by various classic rock artists in 2002. Shaw Blades did a short tour of America in Spring 2007 and another in Autumn 2007. Both members still principally record and perform with the acts which made them famous.

<i>Im Alive</i> (Kelly Keagy album) 2006 studio album by Kelly Keagy

I'm Alive is a solo album released by Night Ranger's drummer Kelly Keagy. Released in 2006 on Frontiers Records, it features Jim Peterik, Reb Beach, and Michael Lardie.

"(You Can Still) Rock in America" is a song written by Jack Blades and Brad Gillis, and the first single released from Night Ranger's 1983 album Midnight Madness. Former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath singer Glenn Hughes contribute backing vocals on the song.

"When You Close Your Eyes" is a song by American glam metal band Night Ranger from their 1983 album Midnight Madness.

The Secret of My Success is a song performed by Night Ranger from their album Big Life as well as on the soundtrack to the 1987 comedy film, The Secret of My Success.

<i>Greatest Hits</i> (Night Ranger album) 1989 greatest hits album by Night Ranger

Greatest Hits is a compilation album released by Night Ranger in 1989. It included tracks from each of the band's first five studio albums. In 1994, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA for shipments of half a million copies to U.S. retailers.

<i>Somewhere in California</i> (album) 2011 studio album by Night Ranger

Somewhere in California is the tenth studio album by American hard rock band Night Ranger, released on June 21, 2011. It is the first album since the departure of original guitarist Jeff Watson in 2007. The album introduces new guitarist Joel Hoekstra and keyboardist Eric Levy. Although the previous three releases are regarded as different and more experimental for Night Ranger, this album has been noted as somewhat of a return to the signature Night Ranger sound from the successful 1980s releases. The first single and video from the album is "Growin' Up in California".

Joel Hoekstra American guitarist (born 1970)

Joel Hoekstra is an American guitarist currently in the band Whitesnake and also tours with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Cher. The son of classical musicians, he started out playing cello and piano at a young age, but it was hearing Angus Young of AC/DC that inspired him to start playing the guitar. He was raised in the suburbs of Chicago, in Orland Park, but has lived in New York City since 2001.

<i>High Road</i> (Night Ranger album) 2014 studio album by Night Ranger

High Road is the eleventh studio album by American hard rock band Night Ranger, released on June 10, 2014. It peaked at No. 105 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, No. 31 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart, and No. 9 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart, all on June 28, 2014.

<i>Dont Let Up</i> 2017 studio album by Night Ranger

Don't Let Up is the twelfth studio album by American hard rock band Night Ranger, released on March 24, 2017. It peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart on June 15, 2017. It is the first Night Ranger studio album to feature Keri Kelli on guitar, who replaced Joel Hoekstra after he left to join Whitesnake.


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