These days, pop music hits almost never feature a guitar solo. Night Ranger, which hits Dr Pepper Park on Friday, harks back to the day when you could rip a six-string screamer and sell millions doing it.
Even in those shreddy days of the late 20th century, it was unusual for a drummer to be singing the band’s biggest hit. Peter Criss singing “Beth” was the outlier on that graph. Yet it was Night Ranger’s drummer, Kelly Keagy, who led the band on its power ballad smash, “Sister Christian.”
The Dr Pepper Park audience will surely be singing “motorin’ ” with Keagy and the band at the top of its collective lungs, but there will be plenty of ’80s-era hard rock guitar slinging Brad Gillis — who with Keagy and bassist/lead singer Jack Blades are the band’s remaining original members — will share lead duties with ace ringer Keri Kelli (Pretty Boy Floyd, Warrant, Alice Cooper).
Gillis, who played guitar for Ozzy Osborne after Randy Rhoads death in 1982, and Night Ranger co-founder Jeff Watson teamed for incendiary solo work on the band’s breakthrough song, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” which bassist Blades wrote and sang.
The band also scored with “(You Can Still) Rock in America,” “When You Close Your Eyes,” “Sentimental Street” and “The Secret of My Success,” which doubled as a soundtrack number on a Michael J. Fox movie.
The band took its share of lumps from rock critics during its ’80s heyday, but audiences were far kinder. The band sold 17 million albums worldwide, according to its online bio.
TV shows including “American Dad,” “Glee,” and “Grey’s Anatomy” have featured Night Ranger songs. “Rock Band,” “Guitar Hero” and “Grand Theft Auto” are among the video games that have used the band’s music. “Sister Christian” movie placements include a classically freaky use in “Boogie Nights.”
Opening act Red Reign, from Richmond, returns to Dr Pepper Park, having opened there for Tesla in June.