In addition to fronting one of the mid-'80s most successful mainstream/arena rock bands, Night Ranger, bassist/singer Jack Blades has either recorded with, penned songs for, or produced albums for some of rock's biggest names. Originally hailing from Palm Springs, CA, Blades joined countless local bands in the Southern California area during the early '70s, during which time he attended San Diego State University (as a pre-med student). By the latter part of the decade, Blades had relocated to San Francisco, where he joined the dance-rock group Rubicon. The band issued a pair of obscure releases, 1978's self-titled debut and 1980's American Dreams, before splitting up. Blades and Rubicon guitarist Brad Gillis decided to form a new band together, one that would be more aligned to hard rock than their previous outfit. The early '80s saw the formation of Night Ranger, along with members Alan Fitzgerald (keyboards), Jeff Watson (guitar), and Kelly Keagy (drums, vocals), who fit in perfectly with such then-thriving melodic rockers as Journey, Loverboy, and Van Halen.
On the strength of such releases as 1982's Dawn Patrol, 1983's Midnight Madness, and 1985's 7 Wishes, the group scored several substantial U.S. hits. But soon the hits dried up for the group, and after one more release (1987's Big Life), the quintet split up. It didn't take long for Blades to reappear in another similarly styled band however, the all-star Damn Yankees, which consisted of Tommy Shaw, Ted Nugent, and Michael Cartellone. The band enjoyed a hit with their 1990 self-titled release, but by the time of 1992's Don't Tread, interest in the group dipped considerably, which led to their split soon after. Blades and Shaw opted to remain together, issuing a lone album under the name of Shaw Blades, Hallucination, in 1995. Subsequently, Blades has penned songs for other artists (Aerosmith, Cher, Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Journey, Vince Neil, Ozzy Osbourne, Styx, etc.), and has produced others, as well (Great White, Samantha 7). The late '90s saw Blades reunite briefly with his old pals in Night Ranger for a few albums (1997's Neverland and 1998's Seven), and also play with others, including Ringo Starr (the ex-Beatles' 1998 release, VH1 Storytellers). Five years later, with countless songwriting and production credits to his name, Blades returned to his work as a musician. He signed with Sanctuary before the year's end and prepared for his first solo album of his career. The self-titled release, which appeared in spring 2004, was classic Blades with its guitar-driven backdrop and anthemic songwriting. ~ Greg Prato