Badlands (American band)

This article is about the American band. For the UK band of the same name, see Badlands (UK band).
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Glam metal[1][2]
Years active 1988–1993
Labels Atlantic
Past members Jake E. Lee
Greg Chaisson
Ray Gillen
Eric Singer
Jeff Martin
Debby Holiday
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. 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. Ray'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 while working on one of his muscle cars back in Los Angeles. Lee was completely caught off guard at the time of his firing as he was under the impression he had a solid working gig with the Osbourne camp. Wishing to distance himself as much as possible from his former boss, he set about looking for a charismatic front man with which to launch a new band. He found just that when he met Ray Gillen, a struggling vocalist who had just been separated from Black Sabbath after a short time. Within weeks, the duo had enlisted bassist Greg Chaisson, whom Lee had met during an Ozzy audition, and Gillen’s former Black Sabbath bandmate Eric Singer on drums. With melodic sensibilities and solid chops, each member of the band proved a cornerstone creatively, while presenting energetic live shows with flawless musicality.


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

Voodoo Highway

Eric Singer soon quit Badlands and later joined Paul Stanley's solo club band which later earned him a new job with KISS following the death of drummer Eric Carr. Badlands picked up Jeff Martin, former vocalist for Racer X and band mate of Greg Chaisson's in Phoenix-based bands Surgical Steel and St. Michael, to take over on drums, and the band released Voodoo Highway in 1991. However, Badlands was slowly breaking apart at the seams. During the recording process, Lee accused Gillen of conspiring with their label to push the band in a more commercial direction. This subsequently led to Gillen being fired. However, since a tour of the UK had already been booked, the vocalist was temporarily re-admitted for its completion. Unfortunately, this wasn't well-publicised in the UK press and the tour attendance was possibly affected.

Decline and breakup

While Voodoo Highway was being recorded and produced, band tensions began to rise. Among other things, the band refused to cooperate with Atlantic Records, who demanded a songwriter (Desmond Child) be hired to help write songs with the band, with Lee stating that the band would "rather make money touring than releasing an album [they] did not believe in." Meanwhile, Gillen had been writing his own material that the band could supposedly use and had called Atlantic to tell them he had completed three or four songs that all had potential to be hits. However, after he presented these songs to the band, Gillen found his bandmates unwilling to record them. Gillen then called Atlantic again, attempting to convince the label to pressure the band into recording his songs. The band continued to refuse, claiming the songs were of an average standard.

Due to this band drama, as well as changes in the musical climate at that time (the fizzling out of heavy metal, and subsequent rise of alternative rock), Atlantic subsequently dropped them shortly after their second album was released. In addition, the dispute over the recorded Gillen material led him to quit the band with claims that Lee was a lazy musician, unlike his former band mate Tony Iommi. Lee hired Debby Holiday from the band Stiletto to replace Gillen on their UK tour; however, Badlands drafted Gillen back in to complete the tour before he officially exited the band.[3]

Kerrang! articles

After Gillen left the band and announced his replacement, Lee was contacted by Kerrang! magazine to talk about the new vocalist. The majority of fans and listeners were still shocked at the news that a female soul singer had been chosen to replace Gillen. The interview with Lee was published in issue No. 399 and readers were shocked at the speed at which Lee and Gillen's friendship had fallen apart. Lee talked only briefly about Gillen's replacement and much of the article was based on 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. He spoke of the reason he had returned to the band and proceeded to call Lee "a lazy musician" and claimed Lee "couldn't wear Van Halen's socks, because if he could, we'd be writing good songs". He also talked briefly of his future endeavours.[3]

On-stage confrontation

On Thursday 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." Questions were being raised about whether the band would continue or whether Gillen and Lee would fight it out on stage there and then. However, the band did continue and 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.[3]

Gillen's death

Main article: Ray Gillen

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, Atlantic Records had enough and dropped 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. Ironically, 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" - -

See also


  1. 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.
  2. McPadden, Mike (September 23, 2015). "The Hair Metal 100: Ranking the '80s Greatest Glam Bands, Part 3". VH1. Viacom. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 ": : : . . . w i m p w i r e . . . : : :". Retrieved 2012-05-02.
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