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A History of Four Original Rock of Ages Hitmakers

Updated on October 15, 2019
Rock of Ages logo
Rock of Ages logo | Source

“Rock of Ages”,the new musical film starring Tom Cruise, celebrates the music of the 1980’s pop/rock and hair metal bands. Set in 1987 Los Angeles, Cruise and co-stars Julianne Hough ("Dancing With the Stars" and the 2012 remake of “Footloose"), Malin Akerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Diego Boneta get to belt out on the silver screen their versions of songs usually found on the "Power Ballads" and "Monsters of Rock” type music compilations. These tunes might not have pleased 1980s music critics, but may get a new lease on life with the help of this movie.

But, what became of the artists who recorded the original versions of these songs? Here’s a rundown on four of them, with their songs performed in the movie listed.

Quarterflash-“Harden My Heart”: Quarterflash were a Portland based group, led by the husband and wife team of Marv and Rindy Ross. They originally started out as a 1970’s hippie band named Seafood Mama, later adding members of another Oregon group, Pilot (not the Scottish band who recorded the 1974 hit, "Magic").”Harden My Heart”, featuring Rindy Ross on saxophone, reached number three on the U.S. singles chart in 1982, while the follow-up, “Find Another Fool” also made the U.S. Top 20 (number 16). Having a woman playing the saxophone on a hit record was a novelty back in 1982, a year which featured sax solos in such songs as “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Maneater”, “Rio”, and “House of Fun”. Quarterflash had another top 20 American single the next year with “Take Me to Heart”. But, the group would split up in 1985.

Six years later, Marv and Rindy formed Ross Productions, and began an Americana music group, The Trail Band. The group has recorded 11 albums since. Marv Ross has also written two plays, the second being”The Ghosts of Celilo”,which combined Native American music and traditional musical theatre. In 2008, Marv and Rindy Ross released the album, “Goodbye Uncle Buzz” using the Quarterflash band name again.

Quarterflash on ABC's Fridays-1/22/82

Foreigner- “Waiting For a Girl Like You”, “I Want to Know What Love Is”,” and "Juke Box Hero”: Foreigner has the most songs covered on the”Rock of Ages” film soundtrack with three. The band was one of the top arena rock groups of the 1970’s and 1980’s, along with Journey and REO Speedwagon, who both have songs performed on the "Rock of Ages" soundtrack, too. Foreigner was made up of three Brits (guitarist Mick Jones, Sax player Ian McDonald, and drummer Dennis Elliott) and three Americans (singer Lou Gramm,bassist Ed Gagliardi, and Al Greenwood on keyboards)..Their songs, such as " Double Vision", "Feels Like the First Time", "Cold as Ice", and "Urgent" ,with its great Junior Walker sax solo and keyboards by Thomas Dolby, were staples of 70’s and 80’s American rock radio. In 1985, the group recorded their first U.S. number one hit, "I Want to Know What Love Is”, with guest vocalists The New Jersey Mass Choir, original "Dreamgirls" stage star Jennifer Holliday, and The Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey.

Ex-Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, 1979
Ex-Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, 1979 | Source

Foreigner still records and tours, with founder Mick Jones the only original member in the band. Lead singer Gramm left the group in 1989 for a solo career. Johnny Edwards took over as Foreigner’s main vocalist for just one album, 1991’s “Unusual Heat”. Jones and Gramm reunited in 1992 to record three new tracks for the Foreigner hits album, “The Very Best…And Beyond”. Gramm and Jones were joined by new band members Bruce Turgo on bass and Jeff Jacobs on keyboards for the 1995 Foreigner album, “Mr. Moonlight". Two years later, Gramm was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, the tumor was non-cancerous and was successfully removed.

In 1999, Gramm and Jones hit the road again with the then latest edition of Foreigner, touring the U.S. with Journey. Gramm would leave the group once more in 2003, with his last show as Foreigner’s lead singer coming in November 2002 at the Netherlands Night of the Proms festival. Ex-Hurricane singer Kelly Hansen joined the group in 2005, and has been the band’s lead vocalist ever since. Jones was married to British socialite Ann Dexter for 25 years, and was the stepfather of her children music producer Mark Ronson, DJ Samantha Ronson (formerly Lindsey Lohan’s girlfriend), and New York fashion designer Charlotte Ronson.

Foreigner-I Want to Know What Love Is music video

Pat Benatar- “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Shadows of the Night": Benatar, the former bank teller and classically trained singer, was one of the most popular female musical artists of the first half of the 1980’s. Her debut album, “In The Heat of the Night”, was released in September 1979, and featured the hits “Heartbreaker” and her cover of the John Mellencamp song, “I Need a Lover”. Her version of The Young Rascals single “You Better Run” has the distinction of being the second video ever played on MTV, following The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”. She won the Grammy in the Best Female Rock Performance category every year from 1980 through 1983. Like Foreigner, her songs “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” , “Fire and Ice”, “Treat Me Right”,“Promises in the Dark”and many others were staples of FM Album-Oriented (AOR) Rock radio in America during the 1980’s.

She also was a fashion icon, with her short hair and stage outfits made up of a headband, waist cinching belts, and spandex dance wear. Her band was led by guitarist, music producer, and her future husband, Neil "Spyder" Giraldo.

By the end of the 1980s, the hits had slowed for Benatar. In 1991, she released an album of blues and R&B tracks, “True Love”. She returned to an Arena Rock musical style two years later and again in 1997, with the album’s “Gravity’s Rainbow” and “Innamorata”. Neither made a dent on the U.S. Billboard album chart. Her last studio album, five years in the making, was 2003’s “Go”, but Benatar and Giraldo have toured together every year since 1995. In 2006, she appeared in print and TV ads for Candie’s footwear and accessories. In 2010, she penned her life story, in “Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir". Also, in the 2000’s Benatar’s music was found in a different medium, video games, including "Rock Band 3".

Pat Benatar-Hit Me With Your Best Shot-Live

Journey-“Any Way You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believin'”: The most visible of the artists mentioned here have been the San Francisco Bay Area based rockers, Journey. Formed in 1973, the group included two former members of Santana, singer and keyboardist Gregg Rollie and guitarist Neal Schon, But, the band’s familiar sound came when vocalist Steve Perry joined the group in 1977. Two years later, the band would have its first U.S. single with “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’" from their “Evolution” album. 1980 saw the group release its first U.S. Top Ten album, “Departure”, including “Any Way You Want It” amongst its tracks.

Ex-Journey lead singer Steve Perry, 1986
Ex-Journey lead singer Steve Perry, 1986 | Source

The group had its greatest success in 1981, with the “Escape” album. At that time, new keyboardist Jonathan Cain from The Babys joined the group following Rollie’s departure. “Escape” included such hits as “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Open Arms”, and “Who’s Crying Now”. A year later, an Atari 2600 video game titled "Journey Escape" was manufactured. Perry next released a solo album in 1984, "Street Talk", which included the U.S. top five hit, “Oh Sherrie”.

Following a 1987 tour in support of the “Raised on Radio” album, Journey disbanded. Schon and Cain joined with Cain’s ex-Babys bandmates John Waite (of “Missing You” single fame) and Ricky Phillips to form the group, Bad English. Nearly a decade later, the “Escape” era Journey lineup reunited for the 1996 album, “Trial By Fire”. But soon after, Perry quit the group following a hip injury he suffered while hiking in Hawaii. Drummer Steve Smith also left the band. The group had two different lead singers, Steve Augeri and Jeff Scott Soto, during the next nine years.

A resurgence in Journey’s popularity came in the 2000’s. In 2007, “Don’t Stop Believin'’” was used in the last scene of the final episode of “The Sopranos” TV series. Then, in 2009, the cast of TV’s “Glee” recorded a cover version of the song, which wound up being the first single from the show’s soundtrack album, “Glee: The Music, Volume1”. The "Glee" version became a hit in the U.S., Canada, Australia, England and Ireland.

In December 2007, the band hired another new lead vocalist, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda. Schon first noticed Pineda, who vocally sounds uncannily like Perry, after seeing him perform Journey songs on YouTube. A documentary film was made about Pineda’s hiring and return to Manila as a member of Journey. “Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey” made its debut in 2012 at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. Schon also made gossip news in 2011 when he began dating “Real Housewives of Washington D.C.” reality TV personality and White House gatecrasher, Michaele Salahi. The couple married in 2013, with the wedding ceremony broadcast live on pay-per-view.

Journey-Don't Stop Believin' live in Houston, 1981


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