10 Questions For Jack Blades of Night Ranger/Damn Yankees
Get Ready To Rock UK 2007
Bassist, singer, songwriter and front man, Jack Blades is no doubt one of those rock and roll "Jack-of-all-trades", pardon the pun. After cutting his musical teeth interestingly enough, in the 70's California funk scene, Blades exploded onto the national scene in 1982 as the leader of Night Ranger.
Photos courtesy of Jack Blades
Over a six-year span, the arena?anthem rockers would sell over 11 million albums worldwide, on the strength of such radio hits as "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", "(You Can Still) Rock In America", "When You Close Your Eyes" and of course, "Sister Christian". In the 1990's Blades would hook up with Tommy Shaw of Styx and guitar legend Ted Nugent to form the super group Damn Yankees, which
would produce two albums and more radio hits including "Coming Of Age" and "Had Enough" and "Don't Tread".
Blades would again get together with Tommy in 1995, to release Shaw/Blades, then release his self?titled solo effort in 2004, before co-writing and recording the number?one, platinum?selling Japanese album in 2006 titled TMG, which features the country's favorite guitar son, Tak Matsumoto of the Japan mega?group B'z.
Along the way Blades has also produced albums for the likes of Ted Nugent and Great White, and has contributed to several movie soundtrack albums including , Out Of Bounds, Nowhere To Run and Ultraman.
Get Ready To Rock's Joe Milliken recently caught up with Blades as he releases a new CD with old friend Tommy Shaw, and hit the road for some club dates.
Joe Milliken: What was the name of your very first band (and what year)?
Jack Blades: The Nomads, and I think the year was 1966.
JM: After a year as a pre-med student at San Diego State University, you landed in San Francisco and joined funk?rockers Rubicon, How did that move come about and how did you land in this fun- band?
JB: In Palm Springs, CA where I grew up, I had met Pat Rizzo, one of the original saxophone players for Sly and The Family Stone. He owned a club called Jillys where Frank Sinatra used to hang out.
Pat introduced me to Jerry Martini, another original sax player from The Family Stone. Jerry brought me up north and introduced me to Sly, who then had me come to the Record Plant studios in Sausalito to record. Nothing ended up on Sly's record though. It was really kinda crazy there. Jerry wanted us to put a band together (Rubicon) but he needed more time, so I played briefly with a club band called Rampage to make some money until we formed Rubicon. I think it was about 5 or 6 months later.
JM: What would you consider to be your first big, break through moment as a musician?
JB: Auditioning at Sly's house and then recording with him.
GRTR: I believe you left Rubicon after two albums, forming Night Ranger with Rubicon guitarist Brad Gillis. What was the deciding factor in this change?
JB: Rubicon was a funk rock band and I wanted to be in a straight up rock band. Actually, Rubicon broke up in 1979 and at that time Kelly Keagy was our touring drummer. Kelly, Brad, Jerry Martini, Jim Pugh and I formed a band called Stereo that lasted for 6 months.
My roommate at the time was Alan Fitzgerald (bassist for Montrose, keyboardist for Sammy Hagar) and he suggested we form a rock band. He knew a kid named Jeff Watson from Sacramento and I should bring Brad and Kelly from Stereo with me. We formed Night Ranger (called Ranger at that time)in 1980.
GRTR: Night Ranger would then release three hugely successful albums throughout the 80's. What would you consider to be the band's pinnacle moment.
JB: "Sister Christian" and the release of Midnight Madness. Now that was
a great time!
GRTR: How did you first hook up with Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw and guitar legend Ted Nugent to form Damn Yankees?
JB: When Night Ranger broke up in 1989, I received a call from John Kalodner, then at Geffen Records. He said that he had Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent working on songs in New York, but something was missing. He thought I would be a good addition to the equation. He also waited 'till I called him and told him Night Ranger was over, as he would never pull a guy out of a band and ruin another group.
He's one of the rare guys with integrity in the music biz. I had met Tommy at the American Music Awards in '84 and I knew Ted from doing the Texas Jam and other shows with him. I went to NYC and that weekend the three of us wrote about half of the first Damn Yankees record.
GRTR: Having already worked with Nugent before Damn Yankees, tell us something you admire or enjoy about Ted's guitar power?
JB: Ted's the real deal. He is one of the most soulful players I've ever seen. I mean, he can get more out of one note than all those guitar players that play a million notes. A few times on stage with Ted, I can remember it being almost a
spiritual experience… a transcendental moment that all musicians live for. And then there's the Ted who shot an arrow in the chicken coop at my ranch. We love Theodore.
GRTR: At first glance, one might think it would be difficult for three, highly successful rock personalities to all co-exist in a band. What do you think was the most important element in allowing Damn Yankees to work?
JB: We all checked our egos at the door and we were always honest with each other. We just focused on the spirit of the music.
GRTR: You recently reunited with Tommy Shaw and have released a new Shaw/Blades CD. Can you tell us a little about the project?
JB: The new disc is called Influence, it's a covers record of our favorite songs from the 60's and 70's. It was released on VH-1 Classic Records on March 6, and we are currently touring throughout March and April.
GRTR: Thanks for your time Jack…in closing, name a musician whom you admire, and would like to collaborate with?
JB: Billy Joel.