Yes, he sure did and if you don’t want to just take my word for it

I had the utmost privilege of speaking with former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and Night Ranger mainstay Brad Gillis today. Seeing that Brad and the boys are touring and playing two sold-out shows at the Island Resort and Casino, (near Escanaba Mi) I had to get the word out.

As all die-hard Ozzy or Randy Rhoads fans know, Brad was the man tapped on the shoulder to fill the void after the legendary Randy Rhoads died in a small engine airplane crash in Florida during the 1982 Diary of a Madman tour.

Brad finished the tour as a professional but went back to Ranger after the tour ended. He told me that at the time, the band we all know as NR, was actually called Ranger and just before they were about to release their debut album Dawn Patrol, “I happened to open up a Billboard magazine and there was this two page spread……twenty years of classic country music, the Rangers !!…well you know, we ended up putting a Night in front of it and there you go.”

Now, speaking about the above mentioned sold out shows…….the first one is SOLD OUT, and the second one (the one I am going to haha ), had about 35 tickets left about a week ago ; I am just assuming it is sold out by now, but it doesn’t hurt to call as the industry is slick and they may have a couple more to release. Having said that, the show will sell out. The shows, by the way, are Friday and Saturday, April 5/6th in Harris Michigan

Night Ranger is an 80’s Rock band and when you can still tour year round and sell out two back to back shows at the same venue, you must be doing something right. On the same page, I remember a guy named Sammy Hagar (google him if you live in a cave), who did the same thing in our sister city at Kewadin a few moons ago. The first show sold out so quickly, it was a no brainer to add the other show, which also sold out. We’ll get back to the Red Rocker tie in, in just a moment.

As you may or may not know, I play the guitar (poorly lol) and grew up loving 80’s metal where the creme de la creme of the song was the guitar solos. I had to ask Brad what is one of his favourite solos of all time to play and why….something that he is really proud of.

“Well, personally my Sister Christian solo…I love playing that one live, of course, being the biggest Night Ranger hit that we’ve put out, and seeing the fans sing along, so it’s a lot of fun playing that one…..and then you’ve got Don’t Tell Me You Love Me and Rock In America….those solos are fun, …….but just playing live and getting out and watching the audience’s reaction…..you know throwing it down…..it’s a blast and after 36 years (laughter) playing  in the same band (it’s great).”

I then caught him off guard (I think) when I asked him about his favourite solos to play or listen to by other guitarists.

When you catch your interviewee off guard, it’s a feather in your cap…trust me. “ooh wow..well ya know, when I was with Ozzy it was a blast playing Over the Mountain, I love that solo, and the whole Crazy Train was great”

As far as Brads’ influences go, he made it clear that Jeff Beck was one of the biggest. Hendrix and Page were definitely on the same ………..err Page, but Jeff Beck really had/has something unique.

As is customary in this column when interviewing a guitar player I asked him if he had a favourite Canadian band and/or guitarist.

“Oh, Canada, yeah I mean Triumph was a great band, Rush was a great band……these are guys I grew up listening to and we always have a great time up there (Canada).”

Brad did also confirm that Rik Emmett was a big influence for him growing up and as we touched on that and his fondness of the great staple Canadian bands (Triumph/Rush), he reiterated his fondness for Jeff Beck and “his style and his feel”

Brad grew up with an older brother and would “wear out his records” by replaying and replaying them in order to learn the solos. He told me he realized his calling to play guitar for a living came during a 6th-grade talent show when he sang and played GLORIA. I didn’t want to interrupt him so I let it go and was thinking….??? Laura Branigan…reallly ??? It was only post chat, that I researched and although I couldn’t come up with a confirmed quote to be exact, I think he was referencing the Van Morrison song of the same name.

Referring to the talent show he said, “when I got done that song, everyone clapped and cheered and girls were screaming in the audience and it freaked me out Ernest…I’m like what, oh my God, what’s happening here (laughter), and after that, I knew that was my calling.”

After that Brad graduated high school he and went on to play clubs five nights a week playing five sets a night, ……….and fast forwarding, he told me he got into a band with Jack Blades called Rubicon and got a record deal and played the biggest night of his musical career  (March 18, 1978) at the Cal-Jam II in front of 250,000 people with the likes of Aerosmith, Santana, Foreigner etc.

So to sum it up, Brad says he’s never been married but raised his 27-year-old daughter by himself and is very proud of her as an actress in LA with a few HBO things coming up.

Brad is a coffee drinker and prefers French Roast and grinds the beans for the freshest possible brew.

He drives a Range Rover Sport.

On tour, you probably won’t catch him at the bar post-show too late, as he is the early bird in the band and likes his exercise and exploring venue towns/cities looking for vintage guitars and checking out the local scenery.

Seether is the band of choice for this guitarist these days and told me to check out his favourite….the  Seether Disclaimer II album.

Brad has a busy schedule this year with Night Ranger and 80 shows; booked mostly on weekends where he leaves Thursday and is back home Sunday where he can work on other projects such as his solo album.

Upcoming, I am just waiting on details for a big interview with Sammy Hagar. It hasn’t been confirmed but these things take time. The tie in I was talking about earlier is that Night Ranger and the Red Rocker will be coming our way in June when they destroy (in a good way of course) the DTE in Clarkston Michigan. If you don’t get a chance to see Brad and the boys at the Island Resort and Casino, get your tickets for this show, as it will sell out.

With 18 Million records sold worldwide Night Ranger will be hitting the stage in support of their newest album Don’t Let Up.

For all you die-hards, don’t worry, I’ve reviewed recent setlists and there is only a tiny sprinkle of the new magic at the show as old NR favs are on the menu with an Ozzy and Alice Cooper tune thrown in at times for good measure.

**Interview with the Flying Dutchman Adrian Vandenberg has been done and should be up next week**

Night Ranger

https://www.islandresortandcasino.com/entertainment/island-showroom

April 6/9pm/All Ages

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Ernest Skinner

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Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has travelled throughout Mexico and many South American countries. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie and around the globe. Ernest has interviewed many rock and roll musicians including, Garry Peterson (The Guess Who), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, John Corabi (Motley Crue/Dead Daisies), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest) etc. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humour that was moulded from shows like Seinfeld & The Simpsons. Ernest is a SaultOnline.com freelance reporter/columnist.

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