Badlands (American band)

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Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Hard rock, Blues rock
Labels Atlantic
Past members Jake E. Lee
Greg Chaisson
Ray Gillen
Eric Singer
Jeff Martin
John West

Badlands was a band founded by former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee and former Black Sabbath members Ray Gillen and Eric Singer.[1] 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 (a demo recorded in 1992 - 1993) was posthumously released in 1998.



After touring with Ozzy Osbourne in support of the Ultimate Sin album, Lee was fired in a telegram from Sharon Osbourne that he received while working on one of his muscle cars back in Los Angeles. Lee set about looking for a charismatic front man with which to launch a new band. He met Ray Gillen, a vocalist who had recently worked with Black Sabbath for a short time. Within weeks, the duo had enlisted bassist Greg Chaisson, whom Lee had met during an Ozzy audition. Gillen got his former Black Sabbath bandmate Eric Singer to be the band's drummer. With melodic sensibilities and solid instrumental skill, the new band worked together to present energetic live shows.


The band released Badlands in June 1989 to good reviews.[2] The band released videos for the songs "Dreams in the Dark" and the Zeppelin-like "Winter’s Call," and both received airplay on MTV. This boosted the album to its peak on Billboard’s album charts at no. 57.[3]

Voodoo Highway[edit]

Eric Singer soon quit Badlands; he later joined Paul Stanley's solo club band and played with KISS following the death of drummer Eric Carr. Badlands picked up Jeff Martin, former vocalist for Racer X and Chaisson's band mate in Phoenix-based bands Surgical Steel and St. Michael, to take over on drums. Disagreements arose between the band and Atlantic Records about musical direction, and also between Gillen and his bandmates about the inclusion on the planned album of songs he had written. After the band released Voodoo Highway in 1991, Gillen left the band, after friction grew during the UK tour in 1992. Lee at the time announced he had hired Los Angeles native Debby Holiday from the band Stiletto, to replace Gillen on their UK tour; however before this, the band quickly drafted Gillen back in, to complete the tour before he officially exited the band.[4]

Kerrang! articles[edit]

After Gillen left the band and announced Holiday as his replacement, Lee was interviewed about her by Kerrang! magazine. A black woman, Holiday was the daughter of songwriter Jimmy Holiday (best known for penning the Dolly Parton hit "Put A Little Love In Your Heart"). She was raised in Beverley Hills, and had performed in many of the Sunset Strip's major clubs. Few of Badlands' (mostly white) fans were familiar with her prior musical activities. The interview with Lee was published in issue No. 399; he talked only briefly about Gillen's replacement and went on about Gillen's erratic behaviour. In issue 401, Gillen responded by addressing many of the points that Lee had made, claiming them to be falsified or exaggerated, and made disparaging remarks about Lee. He also talked briefly of his future endeavours.[4]

On-stage confrontation[edit]

On July 2, the band played at the London Astoria. Just a few songs in, Gillen pulled out a copy of the Kerrang! magazine that had been released with Lee's story in it and shouted to the crowd "there's two sides to every story" while Lee stood there and mouthed "It's all true." Still, the band played the rest of its set. In Kerrang! issue No. 400, Neil Jeffries reviewed the gig and claimed that he had never seen a band with so much tension play so superbly. He praised Lee's guitar work and claimed the band were absolutely superb despite their obvious feuds.[4][5]

Loss of recording contract and Gillen's death[edit]

After the UK tour was complete, Gillen was officially fired from the band. Lee insisted to the press that the band would continue with singer John West. The band wrote and recorded some new songs, however, the combination of band discord and a decline in the popularity of heavy metal music led Atlantic Records to drop the band from their label entirely. Gillen then appeared with George Lynch’s solo band on the album Sacred Groove. Following that, he formed Sun Red Sun with guitarist Al Romano, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr, and drummer Bobby Rondinelli. But, just as the new group was off and running, Gillen was diagnosed with HIV. On December 1, 1993, he died at his New Jersey home due to AIDS-related complications, caused by previous drug use. John West, Ray's onetime Badlands replacement, was brought in to finish the Sun Red Sun recordings, and in 1998 toured with George Lynch.

Five years later, the unreleased Badlands album Dusk was released in Japan.


Date of Release Title Label US Billboard Peak UK Chart Peak US sales
June 1989 Badlands Atlantic Records 57 39 400,000
June 1991 Voodoo Highway 140 74 100,000
December 1998 Dusk Pony Canyon Did not chart


Year Single Chart Positions
US Hot 100 US Main Rock
1989 "Dreams in the Dark" - 38
"Winter's Call" - -
1991 "The Last Time" - -
"Whiskey Dust" - -
"Soul Stealer" - -
"Time Goes By" - -

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eddie Trunk (24 September 2013). Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Abrams. pp. 608–. ISBN 978-1-61312-553-3.
  2. ^ "Badlands - Badlands". AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
  3. ^ "Badlands - Badlands Chart History". Billboard, August 19, 1989
  4. ^ a b c ": : : . . . w i m p w i r e . . . : : :". Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  5. ^ "Ray Gillen and Badlands: When Rock Bands Split Up In Front Of An Audience". Every Record Tells A Story. 1 December 2013.