Ray Gillen

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Ray Gillen
Background information
Birth nameRaymond Anthony Gillen
Born(1959-05-12)May 12, 1959
New York City, United States
Origin Cliffside Park, New Jersey, United States
DiedDecember 1, 1993(1993-12-01) (aged 34)
New York City, New York, United States
Genres Hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, harmonica, Blues Harp
Years active1978–1993
Associated acts Black Sabbath, Phenomena, Blue Murder, Badlands, Sun Red Sun, Rondinelli

Raymond Arthur Gillen (May 12, 1959 – December 1, 1993) was an American rock singer-songwriter. He is best known for his work with Badlands, in addition to his stint with Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s and recording most of the vocals on Phenomena's Dream Runner album.

Badlands was a band founded by former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee and former Black Sabbath members Ray Gillen and Eric Singer. Badlands also featured bassist Greg Chaisson. After the first Badlands album, Eric Singer was replaced by Jeff Martin. The group lasted from 1988 to 1993 and released two albums, Badlands (1989) and Voodoo Highway (1991) before Gillen left and was replaced by singer John West from New York. Gillen's death in 1993 effectively ended any hopes of re-uniting the project. The album Dusk was posthumously released in 1998.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Phenomena is a rock music concept formed by record producer Tom Galley and his brother, Whitesnake guitarist Mel Galley. During the recording of Phenomena I, they were joined by Metalhammer founder Wilfried Rimensberger. Contributors were leading rock musicians such as Glenn Hughes, Brian May, and John Wetton, amongst others.


Early life

Gillen was born on May 12, 1959, in New York, but was raised in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. [1] He was an only child and started singing while in high school. He played the New Jersey club circuit with various bands, including club bands Quest (1978–80), the punk rock influenced F-66 (1980–81), Savatage, and, most notably, Vendetta and Harlette. In 1985, he joined Bobby Rondinelli's band, Rondinelli.

Cliffside Park, New Jersey Borough in New Jersey

Cliffside Park is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 23,594, reflecting an increase of 587 (+2.6%) from the 23,007 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,614 (+12.8%) from the 20,393 counted in the 1990 Census.

Savatage American heavy metal band

Savatage is an American heavy metal band founded by brothers Jon and Criss Oliva in 1979 at Astro Skate in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The band was first called Avatar, but, shortly before the release of their debut album Sirens (1983), they changed their name to Savatage as Avatar was already taken by another band.

Robert Rondinelli is a rock drummer best known for his work with the hard rock/heavy metal bands like Blue Öyster Cult, Rainbow, Quiet Riot, Black Sabbath, The Lizards, and Rondinelli. In July 2013, Rondinelli was announced as the new drummer for the Axel Rudi Pell band, replacing previous drummer Mike Terrana. Rondinelli has played on subsequent albums and tours, and remains with the band at time of writing.


In 1986, Black Sabbath started touring for the Seventh Star album when after only a few shows, singer Glenn Hughes got into a fist-fight and lost his voice due to the related sinus and throat injuries. Gillen was offered the job to replace Hughes, which meant leaving Rondinelli to accept the offer. After finishing the Seventh Star tour, Black Sabbath recorded their next album The Eternal Idol with Gillen. However, due to mix of financial burden, writing difficulty (Bob Daisley was recruited for writing as Gillen turned out to be not much of a composer), mismanagement and miscommunication that plagued the band, Gillen and Black Sabbath drummer Eric Singer quit before the album was ever released. Gillen was eventually replaced by Tony Martin, and the vocal track of The Eternal Idol was hurriedly rerecorded note-for-note with Martin before the album was finally released in 1987. However, demo versions of The Eternal Idol featuring Gillen do exist on the bootleg circuit. Also, in an interview Martin revealed that the sinister laugh heard on the track Nightmare is in fact Gillen's voice. The album was re-released on November 1, 2010, in Europe in a 2-disc expanded set including a bonus disc with Gillen's recording.

Glenn Hughes British singer-songwriter

Glenn Hughes is an English rock bassist and vocalist, best known for playing bass and performing vocals for funk rock pioneers Trapeze, the Mk. III and IV line-ups of Deep Purple, as well as briefly fronting Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s.

<i>The Eternal Idol</i> 1987 studio album by Black Sabbath

The Eternal Idol is the 13th studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on November 23, 1987. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin. It spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at 168. It was also the last full album of new material by Black Sabbath to be released by Warner Bros. Records, and the final album through their original label Vertigo Records until the release of 13 in 2013.

Robert John Daisley is an Australian musician, songwriter and author. Daisley is also known for contributing bass and lyrics for Ozzy Osbourne throughout the 1980s and 1990s he has also associated with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Gary Moore and Uriah Heep.

During the time of the Seventh Star tour, Gillen was asked by project director and co-producer Wilfried F. Rimensberger to join Mel Galley's Phenomena for the recording of the album Dream Runner, which features vocals from Glenn Hughes, John Wetton and Max Bacon. He recorded 4 tracks. Gillen is also featured in Phenomena's 'Did it all for Love' music video although he was not involved in the actual recording of that song.

After the Phenomena recordings, Gillen joined John Sykes (previously with Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and a different band called Badlands) with the intention to form a new band Blue Murder. Gillen sang demos but parted company when Sykes decided to handle vocals himself.

John Sykes musician, songwriter

John James Sykes is an English rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter who has played with Streetfighter, Tygers of Pan Tang, John Sloman's Badlands, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, and Blue Murder. Sykes shared composing duties for all songs on Whitesnake's 1987 self-titled album with David Coverdale. Sykes is also a successful solo artist.

Whitesnake British hard rock band

Whitesnake are a hard rock band formed in England in 1978 by David Coverdale, after his departure from his previous band Deep Purple. Their early material has been compared by critics to the blues rock of Deep Purple, but they slowly began moving toward a more commercially accessible rock style. By the turn of the decade, the band's commercial fortunes changed and they released a string of UK top 10 albums, Ready an' Willing (1980), Come an' Get It (1981), Saints & Sinners (1982) and Slide It In (1984), the last of which was their first to chart in the US and is certified 2x platinum.

Thin Lizzy Irish rock band

Thin Lizzy are a hard rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist and lead vocalist Phil Lynott, met while still in school. Lynott led the group throughout their recording career of twelve studio albums, writing most of the material. The singles "Whiskey in the Jar", "Jailbreak", and "The Boys Are Back in Town" were major international hits. After Lynott's death in 1986, various incarnations of the band emerged over the years based initially around guitarists Scott Gorham and John Sykes, though Sykes left the band in 2009. Gorham later continued with a new line-up including Downey.

Gillen then contacted Jake E. Lee (former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist) to form a band. In 1988 Gillen started to form Badlands with Jake E. Lee and recruited his friend Eric Singer with whom he had played in Black Sabbath. Gillen recorded three albums ( Badlands , Voodoo Highway , and Dusk ) with Badlands and toured from 1989 until 1992.

Jake E. Lee American musician

Jake E Lee is an American guitarist signed to Frontiers Records. He is best known for playing with Ozzy Osbourne between 1982-1987 and later in Badlands with Ray Gillen. He formed the band Red Dragon Cartel in 2013. Their eponymous first album was released in January 2014 and entered at No. 69 on Billboard's Album Charts. He has also recorded solo works under his own name, examples being the instrumental album A Fine Pink Mist (1996) and cover album Retraced (2005).

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and recorded the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city Birmingham, England in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

Eric Singer hard rock and heavy metal drummer

Eric Singer is an American hard rock and heavy metal drummer, best known as a member of Kiss, portraying The Catman originally played by Peter Criss. He has also performed with artists such as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Badlands, and Gary Moore as well as his own band ESP. In his career, Singer has appeared on over 75 albums and 11 EPs.

Following his split from Badlands, Gillen stayed in L.A. and was involved with two projects. He joined forces with drummer Randy Castillo and Iggy Pop band members Whitey Kirst and Craig Pike under the name Cockfight. [2] He also joined the band Terriff, led by guitarist Joe Holmes, fresh off his stint with David Lee Roth on the A Little Ain't Enough tour. Gillen rehearsed with the group for several months before moving back to his native New York. He also went to form the band Sun Red Sun with old friends.

Illness and death

In 1993, Wilfried F. Rimensberger was planning a remake of his first Metal Hammer Loreley Festival but this time specifically to stage Phenomena's first ever live performance, with Gillen on vocals. It was going to be the launch event for a series of concerts across Europe in 1994. Gillen called from New York and told Rimensberger in Munich that he had to bow out as he was too ill to perform.

Gillen died from an AIDS related disease in a New York Hospital on December 1, 1993. He first contracted the disease around 1990, and according to his Badlands bandmate Jake E. Lee, "in between the first and the second record, he started getting really thin and didn't look quite as healthy." Lee also claimed that he had not been aware of Gillen's diagnosis with AIDS until a meeting with then-Badlands manager Paul O'Neill, who was going to tell Atlantic Records about his illness if they fired him, and Gillen reportedly said to Lee, "Well, it's not true, so fuck him. Fire him." Lee concluded, "So we did fire him. And he did tell Atlantic Records that. And we got kind of screwed on the second record because of it. They wouldn't even give us tour-support money at all…but, yeah, Paul O'Neill fucked us on that." [3]

Gillen was survived by a daughter, Ashley (born July 1984). He is buried at Fairview Cemetery in Fairview, New Jersey.

He was ranked at 100 on Hit Parader's Top 100 Metal Vocalists.[ citation needed ]


1980F-66Give It A Try" b/w "It Doesn't Matter"7’ single
1986 Black Sabbath Live at The Hammersmith Odeon, 2nd June 1986 Seventh Star 2010 Deluxe Edition Disc 2
1987 Black Sabbath The Eternal Idol Sinister laugh on "Nightmare", Lead vocals on 2010 Deluxe Edition Disc 2
1987 Phenomena Dream RunnerVocals on "Stop", "No Retreat - No Surrender", ”Move - You Lose” & "Emotion Mama"
1987 Savatage Hall of the Mountain King Backing vocals on "Strange Wings"
1988 Blue Murder It's Too Late (demo)
1989 Raging Slab Raging Slab Backing vocals on "Shiny Mama"
1989 Badlands Badlands
1991Badlands Voodoo Highway
1993 George Lynch Sacred Groove Vocal on "Flesh and Blood"
1993Atsushi Yokozeki ProjectRaidVocal on "Heartbreak"
1995 Sun Red Sun Sun Red Sun
1996 Rondinelli Wardance Recorded circa 1985
1998Badlands Dusk Recorded in 1992-1993
1998Ray Gillen5th Anniversary Memorial TributeStudio outakes from the 1993 Sun Red Sun sessions

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  1. Jaeger, Barbara. "Solos at Home Lead to a Career in Rock", The Record , August 14, 1991. Accessed March 2, 2011. "Ray Gillen remembers those late-Seventies afternoons as if they were yesterday. 'I'd get home from school, turn on the stereo or radio, and sing along', says the former Cliffside Park resident."
  2. "Ray Gillen, Whitey Kirst, Randy Castillo, Kreg Pike - cockfight - cant get enough.avi". YouTube. August 29, 1990. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  3. "JAKE E. LEE: RAY GILLEN 'Never Told Me' He Had AIDS". Blabbermouth.net. January 23, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.