NAME: Ray Gillen

BIRTH DATE/LOCATION:
May 12, 1961, Cliffside Park, New Jersey

DEATH DATE/LOCATION:
December 3, 1993, New Jersey


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  • IDENTIFICATION AND BIO:
    Rock Singer/Songwriter

    Studied voice with vocal coach Robert Fitzgerald

    Although Ray Gillen's career lasted barely a decade, he was widely acclaimed as a hard rock vocalist. He was lead singer with some of the best-known bands and artists in rock, including Black Sabbath, Rondinelli, Badlands and George Lynch.

    In the early 1980s Gillen performed with several bands including Harlett, known for their covers of Van Halen songs, before joining the New York-based group Rondinelli in 1985. He toured the East Coast and made a demo album with them, but left abruptly in 1986 to join the legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath, replacing vocalist Glenn Hughes. Gillen toured with Sabbath to promote the Seventh Star album, and began working on their next recording, The Eternal Idol, but decided to quit in 1987 when some other members left the band.

    He briefly joined John Sykes' band Blue Murder, then finally made his recording debut in Phenomena II: Dream Runner, produced by Tom Galley and featuring such vocal stars as John Wetton of King Crimson/Asia, Glenn Hughes, and Max Bacon of Bronz/GTR. In 1988 Gillen formed his own band, Badlands, with guitarist Jake E. Lee, drummer Eric Singer and bassist Greg Chaisson. Their first album, Badlands, was released on the Titanium label (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records) in 1989 to rave reviews. "Dreams In The Dark," their first single, received extensive exposure on MTV, and the band toured for much of 1990.

    Their second album, Voodoo Highway, came out in 1991 and again the band performed all over the United States and Britain. Before Badlands broke up in 1992, they made a third album, Tribal Moon, which was released only years later in Japan under the title Dusk.

    Gillen did some recording as a guest vocalist with Atsushi Yokezeki (Raid) and George Lynch (Sacred Groove), then formed a short-lived Los Angeles band, Tariff, with guitarist Joe Holmes.

    He returned to New York in 1993 and put together a new group called Sun Red Sun, with bassist Mike Starr, guitarist Al Romano and drummer Bobby Rondinelli. But before they had finished recording their debut album, Rondinelli left, just as Gillen had done years before, to join Black Sabbath! By this time Gillen had contracted AIDS and was unable to finish the album. Romano eventually managed to bring in other singers, leaving Gillen's vocals intact on four of the songs, and the album Sun Red Sun was released in 1995.

    Ray Gillen died of AIDS in New Jersey at the age of 32 on December 3, 1993.

    —adapted by Nurit Tilles from bio by Marc Fevre (1998)

    WORKS:

    SONGS

    Dreams In The Dark (Gillen/Williams)
    Hard Driver (Gillen/Williams)
    Highwire (Gillen/Williams)
    The Last Time (Gillen/Williams)
    Seasons (Gillen/Williams)
    Soul Stealer (Gillen/Williams)
    Voodoo Highway (Gillen/Williams)
    Whiskey Dust (Gillen/Williams)
    Winter's Call (Gillen/Williams)

    UNCOMPLETED WORKS:
    Unknown

    WRITINGS:
    Unknown

    DISCOGRAPHY:

    AS LEAD SINGER

    Rondinelli: War Dance (recorded 1985, released posthumously 1996)
    Black Sabbath: The Eternal Idol (recorded 1987, unreleased)
    Badlands: Badlands (1989)
    Badlands: Voodoo Highway (1991)
    Badlands: Tribal Moon (recorded 1992, first released in Japan in late 1990s under title Dusk)
    Sun Red Sun: Sun Red Sun (recorded 1993, released posthumously 1995)
    Sun Red Sun: Lost Tracks (Crook'd Records)

    WITH OTHER ARTISTS

    Various Artists: Phenomena II: Dream Runner (1987) (Gillen on 4 songs)
    George Lynch: Sacred Groove (1993) (Gillen on 1 song)
    Atushi Yokozeki: Raid (1993) (Gillen on 1 song)
    Savatage: Hall of the Mountain King (Gillen sings backup on "Strange Wings")

    VIDEOGRAPHY:

    Badlands: Dag The Giblets (Video) (1991) (includes live footage)

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:

    PERFORMING RIGHTS AFFILIATION:
    ASCAP

    RESOURCES:
    Unknown

    MUSICAL EXECUTOR:
    Unknown

    OTHER CONTACTS:
    Unknown

    ARCHIVES:
    Unknown

     


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