Badlands (American band)

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OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
Years active1988–1993
Past membersJake E. Lee
Greg Chaisson
Ray Gillen
Eric Singer
Jeff Martin

Badlands was an American heavy metal band founded by former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee, former Black Sabbath members Ray Gillen (vocals), Eric Singer (drums), as well as former Surgical Steel bass player Greg Chaisson.[6] After the first Badlands album, Eric Singer was replaced by Jeff Martin. The group lasted from 1988 to 1993 and released three albums. Badlands (1989) and Voodoo Highway (1991) were released before Gillen left and was replaced by singer John West from New York. Gillen's death in 1993 effectively ended any hopes of reuniting the project. The album Dusk (a demo recorded in 1992–93) was released in 1998 with the then deceased Gillen on vocals.



After touring with Ozzy Osbourne in support of the Ultimate Sin album, Jake E. Lee was fired by Sharon Osbourne. Lee first learned of his dismissal from the band through his roommate and guitar tech. Ultimately, Lee's firing was confirmed when he called Sharon Osbourne and asked her about it directly.[7] Lee set about looking for a charismatic front man with whom to launch a new band. He met Ray Gillen, a vocalist who had recently worked briefly with Black Sabbath. Within weeks, the duo had enlisted bassist Greg Chaisson, whom Lee had met during an Ozzy audition. Gillen recruited 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.[8] The band released videos for the songs "Dreams in the Dark" and the Zeppelin-like "Winter’s Call," both of which received airplay on MTV. This boosted the album to its peak of no. 57 on Billboard's album charts.[9] The band opened a 3-month tour opening for Great White & Tesla, while finishing the year in clubs with D.A.D. opening

Voodoo Highway[edit]

Eric Singer was soon fired from 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 bandmate 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. Lee has recalled that, shortly after the first album's tour in 1990, Gillen was first diagnosed with AIDS, and was starting to get "really thin and didn't look quite as healthy."[10] After the band released Voodoo Highway in 1991, Gillen left the band as friction increased during the UK tour in 1992. Lee at the time announced he had hired Los Angeles native Debby Holiday, from the band Stilletto, to replace Gillen on their UK tour; however, before this occurred, the band quickly drafted Gillen back to complete the tour before he officially left the band.[11]

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 Beverly Hills, and had performed in many of the Sunset Strip's major clubs. Few of Badlands' 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 described his erratic behavior.

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 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 was absolutely superb despite their obvious feuds.[11][12]

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 the general decline in the popularity of heavy metal music ultimately led Atlantic Records to drop the band from its label. 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. On December 1, 1993, about three years after his initial diagnosis, he died at his New Jersey home as a result of AIDS-related complications, caused by previous drug use.[10] John West, Gillen'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 (1998) 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. ^ a b "Badlands | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  2. ^ Matt, Metal (2011-10-14). "CAN U BELIEVE THIS BADLANDS JAM?". MetalSucks. Retrieved 2021-08-15.
  3. ^ "Ray Gillen | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-08-15.
  4. ^ Popoff, Martin (2014). The Big Book of Hair Metal: The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade. Voyageur Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-76034-546-7.
  5. ^ McPadden, Mike (September 23, 2015). "The Hair Metal 100: Ranking the '80s Greatest Glam Bands, Part 3". VH1. Viacom. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  6. ^ Eddie Trunk (24 September 2013). Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Abrams. pp. 608–. ISBN 978-1-61312-553-3.
  7. ^ "JAKE E. LEE Says He Found Out He Was Fired From OZZY OSBOURNE's Band From His Guitar Tech". 26 October 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Badlands - Badlands". AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
  9. ^ "Badlands - Badlands Chart History". Billboard," August 19, 1989
  10. ^ a b "JAKE E. LEE: RAY GILLEN 'Never Told Me' He Had AIDS". January 23, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  11. ^ a b ". . . w i m p w i r e . . ". Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  12. ^ "Ray Gillen and Badlands: When Rock Bands Split Up In Front Of An Audience". Every Record Tells A Story. 1 December 2013.