Damn Yankees: The Rise and Fall of The Supergroup - Tommy Show, Jack Blades, Ted Nugent

Damn Yankees: Whatever Happened to the Supergroup to Feature Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent?

0:00 - Intro/Formation
3:41 - First Album/Record Deal
6:00 - Band Falls Apart

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The late 80’s were a difficult time for some high profile rock musicians who enjoyed success a decade or several years prior. Rock N’ Roll bad boy Ted Nugent’s career seemed pretty quiet during this time and some people even counted him out. But he wasn’t the only one struggling at the timer as former Styx frontman Tommy Shaw was charting embarking on a solo career having released 3 albums, While Night Ranger’s bassist Jack Blades was reeling with the breakup of his band. It would seem strange that three musicians having lulls in their careers would become an attractive prospect to one of the biggest A&R men in the music industry, but it happened Damn Yankees would be born. Today, let’s explore the history of Damn Yankees.

Geffen Records A&R man John Kalodner seemed like an expert in reviving struggling musicians careers/. He helped Aerosmith and Whitesnake reinvent themselves and he had the same plan for Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades and Ted Nugent.. He would tell Ultimate Classic Rock "I just had this idea – I think I had dinner with Jack Blades or maybe Tommy Shaw and for some reason, I got in this mindset,""I knew Ted Nugent well and he wasn’t really doing anything. Night Ranger wasn’t really doing anything, and Tommy Shaw was kind of in and out with Styx. So I came up with this crazy idea to have the three of them have a supergroup."

Ted Nugent would establish himself in the 1970’s as one of the bad boys of rock n’ roll, but like many musicians who were popular in the 70’s, a decade later musical tastes had changed and newer sounds and bands had taken over.. Tommy Shaw meanwhile would front the pop-rock/ adult oriented group Styx where he would clash with Dennis DeYoung over the band’s sound. Jack Blades meanwhile cut his teeth singing, playing bass and writing songs for Night Ranger, but the record label according to him destroyed the band telling the LA Times in 1991 “Sister Christian,” Night Ranger’s big 1984 hit, was a ballad, and from that point on, Blades recalled, “Our record company only allowed us to release more ballads, and that really destroyed a good rock ‘n’ roll band.”
The origins of Damn yankees dated back to 1988 when to Shaw and Nugent were sitting together at a music show show business dinner in florida. Following the meal Shaw told Nugent according to the Chicago Tribune “When it was over we were saying why don’t we get together after we finish promoting our records.” It would be Shaw and his manager who called up Kalodner’s office asking for Nugent’s number. Kalodner would claim that Nugent thought the idea was initially stupid, but after much convincinghe gave it a try.

The early days of 1988 initially saw Shaw and Nugent jamming together on acoustic guitars and coming up with the song “Come Again” which ended up on the group’s debut album.At the time the band had a stand in player on bass and while Nugent and Shaw felt chemistry, Kalodner felt like the band was missing something. That’s when he enlisted Jack Blades of Night Ranger fame. Blades would tell the LA Times in the same 1991 interview “After we finished doing our last album, we basically broke up because they picked up their option to do another album and we refused, because they would have stuffed us into the garbage can again,” “Three days later, a friend of mine told me Ted and Tommy were rehearsing over in New York City and he said, ‘Hey, why don’t you go and see what it’s like?’

“So I flew to New York three days after Night Ranger broke up, and the next thing I knew, the Damn Yankees were happening.”