After the country band Ranger filed a trademark infringement suit against them, the band updated their name to Night Ranger in 1982. Their debut album, Dawn Patrol, was released on MCA Records in November 1982. It soon reached platinum status, as Night Ranger began to establish themselves in the national rock scene.
Their second record, Midnight Madness, soon followed in October 1983. It was another commercial success, and the group continued to tour in support of their releases. Their third effort, Seven Wishes, debuted in May 1985. By this time, Night Ranger had moved from opening act to headlining their own shows.
After recording a few songs for movie soundtracks, Night Ranger released their fourth studio album, Big Life, in February 1987. While it wasn’t as popular with their fans as their previous albums, it still did well enough for the group to continue touring across the US and the Caribbean.
The following year, Fitzgerald left Night Ranger while the group was working on their next album. He was replaced by Jesse Bradman. Man In Motion came out in September 1988. It was billed as a return to the group’s hard rock roots, but none of the heavier songs received radio airplay. It would also be the band’s last album for several years.
Jack Blades left the band in 1989 to form the supergroup Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw. Night Ranger disbanded soon afterwards. Founding members Gillis and Keagy recruited multi-instrumentalist David Zajicek and bassist/singer Gary Moon as they reformed the band in 1995. Night Ranger’s sixth studio album, Feeding Off The Mojo, debuted that October.
Blades returned to Night Ranger the next year, and the band soon regrouped with all of their original members. They signed a new record deal with CMC Records and released Neverland in July 1997 and Seven the following July. The albums did not do well at home, but were successful in Japan.
Fitzgerald was dismissed from the band in 2003 and the band brought in Michael Lardie on keyboard and rhythm guitar. Jeff Watson was terminated from Night Ranger in 2007 and temporarily replaced by guitarist Reb Beach. Beach and Lardie soon left the band, and Joel Hoekstra and William Christian Cullen took over their respective spots. The group’s next album, Hole In The Sun, was released overseas in April 2007 and debuted in the US in July 2008.
Night Ranger continued to tour in between side projects, and released another studio album, Somewhere In California, in June 2011. Eric Levy joined the group on keyboards and percussion later that year. Their next record, High Road, came out in June 2014, not long before Kerri Kelli took over on guitar for Hoekstra. The band’s most recent effort, Don’t Let Up, debuted in March 2017 on Frontier Records.
Here are ten of the best Night Ranger songs in their catalog:
# 10 – Restless Kind
This song “Restless Kind” off of the Man In Motion album describes a restless soul. The music video is somewhat reminiscent of the movie Easy Rider, and the lyrics make the listener think of the people they know who have laid “their broken dreams upon the road” more than once. A well-written tune that’s become a fan favorite through the years.
# 9 – I Did It For Love
Night Ranger was known during their heyday more for their ballads than their rock songs, and the somgs “I Did It For Love” is one of their better ballads. This Man In Motion song is something that most fans who have gone through breakups can relate to. It’s helped more than a few people understand the pain and that all the things they did for the other person while they were together were done for love.
# 8 – Rain Comes Crashing Down
Released on 1987’s Big Life, the Night Ranger song “Rain Comes Crashing Down” is another Night Ranger track that most people can relate to. It’s a breakup song that looks at the aftermath of what’s left behind. An introspective song with powerful symbolism that’s become a modern rock classic.
# 7 – The Secret Of My Success
Bassist Jack Blades wrote the song “The Secret Of My Success,” which was the title track for a 1987 movie starring Michael J. Fox. Night Ranger recorded several songs exclusively for movie soundtracks in the 1980’s, but this is the one that most fans remember the most. While some have criticized it for its poppier sound, it’s a fitting song for the movie’s workaholic main character.
# 6 – Four In The Morning (I Can’t Take Anymore)
One of the best known songs from the Seven Wishes record is another Jack Blades composition entitled “Four In The Morning (I Can’t Take Anymore).” He says that he wrote the song at four o’clock in the morning, as he had woken up with several lyrics stuck in his head. The song is about a painful kind of love, which is quite contrary to Blades’ very happily married life.
# 5 – When You Close Your Eyes
Blades and Kelly Keagy trade guitar riffs and share vocal duties on this Midnight Madness track entitled “When You Close Your Eyes.” It’s a song about remembering a lost love and the good times that were once spent together. Another Night Ranger tune that most rock fans can easily relate to as they’re rockin’ out to it!
# 4 – Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
Continuing our top 10 Night Ranger songs list we turn to the song “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.” The songs from Night Ranger’s debut album was one of their first top 40 hits. It reached #4 on the Billboard Mainstream rock chart and #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Younger generations may know this song after having played it on the video game Rock Band.
# 3 – Sentimental Street
The first single from Seven Wishes was another one of the most successful Night Ranger songs ever released. “Sentimental Street,” was a top 10 hit for Night Ranger. The music video concept centered around the band reportedly having gone missing after taking off in the classic B-26 bomber airplane shown on the album cover. The band winds up being stranded in the desert before making their way to their rehearsal space and live performance.
# 2 – (You Can Still) Rock In America
This single from Midnight Madness remains one of Night Ranger’s best hard rock songs. A great anthem that was written during one of the band’s first major tours opening for Sammy Hagar. Blades was in a hotel room one night while on tour reading magazine articles that declared rock was dead. He decided to pen this song to prove that rock was indeed very much alive and well.
# 1 – Sister Christian
The power ballad “Sister Christian” is one of the most recognizable tunes from the 80’s. VH1 ranked this Midnight Madness song the 32nd best song of that decade. Drummer Kelly Keagy wrote the song about his younger sister, as he reflected on how quickly she was growing up. The song was a number one hit in Canada and peaked at #24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 during its 24-week stay on the charts.
Night Ranger is still going strong, 40 years later. They have released a few live albums, new acoustic versions of some of their biggest hits and continue to tour as much as possible. They may seem like a nostalgic act to some, but they always put on a great show. They’ve survived the popularity of grunge, rap and auto-tuned music. They are proof that you can still rock in America!