Before Skid Row, Sabo was briefly in the band Bon Jovi. He was later replaced on guitar by Richie Sambora, but remained friends with Jon Bon Jovi. Eventually, Bon Jovi’s band manager Doc McGhee helped Skid Row get signed to a contract with Atlantic Records in 1988. However, the band had to take care of a legal matter afterwards. There was already an Irish rock band called Skid Row. Atlantic Records’ management team had to pay that group’s guitarist Gary Moore for the rights to the band name.
Skid Row’s self-titled debut album came out in January 1989, and was an instant success. The recording sold over five million albums worldwide. The group went on the road for the next couple of years as opening acts for Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Motley Crue.
The group released their second album, Slave To The Grind, in June 1991. It debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and went on to sell over two million copies, despite not having any radio hits. Skid Row began a worldwide tour in support of the album opening for Guns N’ Roses and Pantera, among other contemporary bands.
After that tour wound down, the band recorded an EP of cover songs entitled B-Side Ourselves in September 1992. They took a break for a few years to ride out the popularity of grunge rock. Their third album, Subhuman Race, came out in March 1995. It charted in the American top 40, but was the group’s least successful album to date. After opening for Van Halen, the group shifted to playing smaller stages and arenas.
In 1996, frontman Sebastian Bach left the band. His departure was due to an argument with bandmate Rachel Bolan over Bolan’s decision to decline an opening act spot on the KISS reunion tour. The group continued on without Bach, adding Shawn Macabe on vocals and performing under the moniker Ozone Monday for the next three years.
Skid Row regrouped in 1999 with Phil Varone on drums and Johnny Solinger on lead vocals. The group released their fourth studio album, Thickskin, in August 2003. This version of the band opened for KISS on their farewell stadium tour and also performed with Poison and Motley Crue singer Vince Neil. Dave Gara took over on drums in 2004.
The group’s fifth studio effort, Revolutions Per Minute, came out in October 2006. Skid Row continued to work on more new material from time to time. In 2010, Rob Hammersmith became the next drummer for the band. They signed a recording contract with Megaforce Records in 2013, and soon announced plans to release a trio of EPs over the two years.
United World Rebellion: Chapter One was the first EP, released in April 2014. The follow up recording, Rise of the Damnation Army, came out six months later. In 2015, singer Johnny Solinger was fired from Skid Row. He was temporarily replaced by Tony Harnell, until former Dragonforce vocalist ZP Theart was hired in 2016.
Here are ten of the best Skid Row songs:
# 10 – Monkey Business
This song was the first single from Slave To The Grind. It was many people’s first exposure to the band’s shift from glam rock to a more mature metal sound. While the song didn’t break the top 40 singles chart, it is still fondly remembered and in heavy rotation on classic rock stations today.
# 9 – In A Darkened Room
Slave to The Grind‘s second single was written by Sabo, Bolan and Bach. The song didn’t do as well as its predecessor commercially, but is a very underrated track. A great message about the importance of hope in the face of despair.
# 8 – Wasted Time
The third single off of Slave To The Grind has been considered to be Skid Row’s last real hit song. It reached the top 40 mainstream rock charts in the United Kingdom and United States. Former frontman Sebastian Bach has said that the song was written about one-time Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler and his battles with addictive issues.
# 7 – Piece of Me
This track from Skid Row’s debut album has gotten plenty of radio airplay through the years. An angry anthem that most fans still crank up loud every time they hear it! It remains one of their most current requested songs at shows.
# 6 – Little Wing
Released on the band’s first EP, B-Side Ourselves, this song takes a metal twist on the Jimi Hendrix classic. The group took their own spin on the song and it’s a nice homage to the guitar god. Of the five songs on the disc, this was the only one that had been previously unreleased.
# 5 – Slave To The Grind
The title track from Skid Row’s second studio album is one that most fans still fondly remember and smile as they think about all the times they headbanged along to it. The music video was in heavy rotation on MTV, but unfortunately it wasn’t as successful as other singles. It has since been covered by Halestorm in 2011 and by the German metal band Rage in 2016.
# 4 – Quicksand Jesus
One of the more unique Skid Row songs, and one that had a lot of personal meaning to bass guitarists Rachel Bolan. He has said during interviews that the song is about the battles with faith and religious issues that he and bandmate Dave Sabo have had in their lives. The Slave To The Grind track remains a popular song in their sets to this day.
# 3 – I Remember You
This was Skid Row’s first hit power ballad. Initially released on the band’s debut record, it’s a powerful track that really pulls at the listener’s heartstrings. It often brings back memories of people who have come and gone in people’s lives. A new version of the song was recorded by the band in 2003 on their Thickskin album with Johnny Solinger on lead vocals.
# 2 – 18 And Life
Most people in growing up in the 80’s and 90’s have heard this song at some point in their lives. Memorable lyrics like “your crime is time and it’s 18 and life to go” have been etched in their memories for decades. It was first heard on Skid Row’s self-titled debut record, and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. It’s been ranked as the 60th best hard rock song of all time by VH1. A new version of the song was recorded by the band in 2015, and released as a free download on the band’s website. It featured singer Tony Harnell on vocals and has been the only recording to date with him singing for the band.
# 1 – Youth Gone Wild
Skid Row’s first-ever radio single was the anthem of an agitated generation. It spoke for many teens and younger adults who got tired of following the rules and status quo. It hasn’t been a significant chart hit, but the song has charted a couple of times for the band: during its initial release in 1989 and again when it was re-released as a single in 1992. It’s also been covered by other modern rock artists including Asking Alexandria and HammerFall.
Skid Row has endured the rise in popularity of the grunge and nu-metal eras and several lineup changes. They tour every year, playing concert halls, festivals and cruise ships full of devoted followers. Even though they’re not as popular as they once were, they are definitely worth the time and money spent going to see them in concert when they’re in town. A great heavy band that keeps moving forward, making new music and playing their beloved hits from the past.