Jimi Jamison – (8/23/51 – 8/31/14)

While reflecting on the passing of another artist in the music industry, it brings sadness at the idea there will never be another live performance of Jimi Jamison best known for front leadman in Survivor.  Jimi had joined Survivor in the early 80’s when their popularity was growing stale and with hits from the Vital Signs album including “High on You,” “I Can’t Hold Back,” and the love ballad of “The Search is Over,” Jimi Jamsion catapulting Survivor back to stardom.

Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee off the rural road of Highway 78 down the road from where Elvis once took residence, Jimi’s inspiration of music came from having relocated living with multiple relatives all under one roof to a new home when his mother remarried.  With the lack of chaos and noise that once filled his home, he didn’t know what to make of this solace surrounding and turned to music.

Jimi never forgot where he came from.  His dedication to benefits like St. Jude Children`s Hospital, The Special Olympics and the ARF Foundation, with Tony LaRussa of the St. Louis Cardinals emphasizes his compassionate and giving nature.

After leaving Survivor in 1987, his track record includes appearances on a number of television programs and half a dozen music videos. In addition to his solo recordings and his work with the bands above, he also contributed backup vocals to such artists as the Jeff Healy Band, Krokus, and ZZ Top. He is a founding member of the organization Voices of Classic Rock.  In the last decade, Jimi reunited with his former band members for a reunion.  Shortly following was a tour that included Styx and REO Speedwagon.  He continued writing songs teaming up with former Survivor band member Jim Peterik and released a solo album titled “Crossroads Moment”.  In 2012, he released another solo album titled “Never Too Late.”  (see video clip)

His contributions to charity work, Jimi will be remembered as an inspiration.

Over 30yrs later and Night Ranger is still Rock’n America!

Flashback! Big hair, mullets, spandex, vibrant colors, and teens rock’n to Night Ranger! I was still very young and just getting into the cool rock bands – Styx, REO Speedwagon, AC/DC, Scorpions, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and of course Bon Jovi!  Dear friend of mine first introduced me to the group.  Taking his cassette tape, he pops it in and When You Close Your Eyes played, I was hooked.  I made him play it over at least three times.

The very next day I bought the Midnight Madness album.  I had a scarce collection of cassette tapes, so when I took a trip to Greece back in 1984, the only music I brought with me was Night Ranger.  The airflight was a 24hr excursion and I was there for an entire month.  By the time I returned, I was able to cite every word, knew the order the songs came on,   knew when the bridge was coming.

Making their peak of popularity in the mid 80’s , Night Ranger has hits that still rock generations: Sister Christian, patriotic tribute–(You Can Still) Rock in America, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, Sentimental Street, and the beautifully crafted tribute to lost loves–Goodbye. Night Ranger has made their way back to Portland again where these memories came flooding back.   When You Close Your Eyes has always remained one of my ultimate all time favorite songs fostering intense emotions.

Tracing their history, former band members of Rubicon Jack Blades (bassist) enlisted Kelly Keagy(drummer) and Brad Gillis (guitarist) to form a trio performing under the name Stereo.  Adding to the mix was Alan Fitzgerald (keyboardist) and rounding off the group was Jeff Watson (guitarist).  In 1982, the band was officially deemed Night Ranger.

Riding out the decade, Night Ranger faced their share of struggles with harsh critics comparing them to the likes of Motley Crue and Ratt.  Despite the negative feedback, the fans proved this band was not going away anytime soon.  Winning females over with the heartfelt lyrics, and the respect of performances of guitarists Gillis and Watson, Night Ranger pumped out continual hit songs making them one of the iconic bands of the 80’s.

Quote from Songfacts that explains the inspiration behind Jack Blades lyrics to When You Close Your Eyes:

I thought about my old girlfriend, where we split up, and I wonder if she ever thinks about the past, and all these things you went through when you were growing up, and all these things you did when you were together, and your first love, and the first woman that I made love to. And then everybody moves on in their lives, and you just go in separate ways. And I always wondered, ‘When you close your eyes, do you think about me?’ So I finished the lyrics, flew back on Monday, and sang all the words.”

Night Ranger carries nostalgic memories for me.  I want to send a personal acknowledgement to Jack and say thank you for creating a song that captures the reminiscing we all  experience from time to time.



Steelheart resurrects!

For those who may not have heard of this band, if you are a fan of the movie “Rock Star” starring Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg, you most likely recognize their hit song, “We All Die Young.”

Born in 1964 in Croatia, Miljenko Matijevic recognized his influence of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were not paralleling the likes of his father.  Constantly battling with the approval of their father, Mil and his brother formed a band called Teazer when producer Morgan Walker took note. In a glimpse, New York City they were bound but it all soon fell apart.

Using The Mission and Red Alert as stepping stones, Mil and half the band took off for LA. With a month behind them, a new agent, and a record deal, they recorded their debut album “Steelheart.”  With another album behind them, Tangled in Reins, and successful tours, Steelheart was invited to open for a band called Slaughter.  It was  Halloween night, the Denver based fans at The McNichols arena would never forget.

While performing the song “Dancing in the Fire” Mil climbed a lighting truss not knowing it was improperly secured. The falling rig struck Mil on the back of his head crushing him to the stage face first.  Mil suffered a  broken nose, cheekbone, jaw, twisted spine and needed 28 stitches in the back of his head.  What should have rightfully taken Mil’s life immediately, left him to stand to his feet and walk off the stage leaving 13,000 fans with memories of that performance that would never  be forgotten.  Steelheart died that night.

The next few chapters of Mil’s life was filled with bits of betrayal by his manager, loss of family members close to him, and attempts at picking up where he left off he finally completed the album Wait, appropriately titled because it took him so long to win his freedom from the record company as well as his manager.

In the recent past, Mil made attempts at forming new bands but nothing came close as the original albums that brought Steelheart its fame.  After losing his father in 2003, Mil worked on a new album Good 2B Alive, thoughtfully named for having to learn that everything that has happened in Mil’s life prepared him to what he feels is his best work yet.

Steelheart has been on tour in the last few years, although currently there is no schedule listed.

I leave you with this quote from Mil:

“From anger to peace, through pain to understanding, with patience to victory.”
Miljenko, Matijevic

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