JACK BLADES FRO NIGHT RANGER
When you watched the film Boogie Nights and it came to that famous scene with a semi-naked drug dealer singing and air-drumming to Sister
Christian, did you laugh? Oh, I thought it was wonderful. I went to see the movie with my wife, Molly, and when that particularly scene came around sweat broke out on our foreheads. Like, whooh, this is pretty close to real! We looked at each other and I said: “Man, I think I’ve been in that guy’s house back in the early eighties!’ Staying up all night at the drug dealer’s house… Oh boy, we lived that! Our lives are different now. The song was originally called Sister Christy. Why did you change it? Kelly [Keagy] wrote the song about his sister, whose name is Christy, but when he sang it we all thought he was saying Sister Christian. Then one day he wrote down the lyrics, and that’s when we realised. I said: “Dude, you should change it. ‘Sister Christian’ is much cooler.” He said: “You really think so? My sister’s gonna kill me!” But I told him: “You gotta do it. It’s poetic licence!” And that was that. And the song’s hook line, ‘You’re motorin’, also came from Christy. She grew up in a small town in Oregon, and every weekend they used to go cruising at night up and down the main street. They called it ‘motoring’. How did it feel when Sister Christian hit the Top Five in America? It was incredible. When we started touring with the Midnight Madness record we were playing three thousand-seat theatres. But when Sister Christian hit we were selling out arenas, it was ten thousand people a night. We really felt that we had arrived at that point. It was a defining moment for us. The video for Sister Christian featured nuns in an overly literal interpretation of the song’s title. Did that confuse people? We were playing in Rochester, Minnesota, and this lady said to us: “Hey, that song Sister Christian, is it about a nun that sells dope to school kids?” What do you say to that? I just said: “Yes, ma’am, it is!” Hey, never destroy the dream. The cover of Midnight Madness was also a bit weird – why was the band’s keyboard player, Alan ‘Fitz’ Gerald, dressed as a doctor? The set was a back lot at Universal Studios in Hollywood. We went to the wardrobe department and it was like: “You wear this, you wear that!” So Fitz put the scrubs on. In America now, all these big TV shows are ER and Grey’s Anatomy, so maybe Fitz was just way ahead of the curve. You wrote (You Can Still) Rock In America, the big anthem on the Midnight Madness album. Was that title tongue-in-cheek? Quite the opposite! I wrote it from the heart. All these magazines were saying that rock is dead, but everywhere we played, people just wanted to rock. I didn’t know what these magazines were talking about, so I said it out loud: you can still rock in America! You were right. But it was a ballad that became Night Ranger’s biggest and most remembered song. Well, in that era everybody came out with a power ballad. And luckily for us we had Sister Christian. It was never a Number-One record, but it’s a song that defines that whole era.
Jack Blades (far left) with Night Ranger in 1983.