Rose Ybarra, The Monitor
Cinderella, Quiet Riot, Ratt and Firehouse headline VH1 tour
MERCEDES — Alex Rios is a huge fan of Quiet Riot and it started with an album cover. "I didn’t know too much about them back then," the McAllen resident said. "I saw this album cover with this guy wearing metal mask with one eye looking out."
Rios flipped the record over to the back cover and was sold on it.
"They had the Spandex and big hair and they rock," he said. "I thought, ‘this looks cool,’ so I bought the album. That was back when records still existed."
Though it was the album cover that reeled Rios in, it was Quiet Riot’s music that hooked him. He has been a loyal fan of the group for more than 20 years. He even has a rare poster of lead vocalist Kevin DuBrow and Randy Rhoads posing together from Guitar World magazine, before Rhoads left the group to work with Ozzy Osbourne. Rhoads died in a plane crash on March 19, 1982 at the age of 26 but is still regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time.
When Quiet Riot takes the stage at the RGV Showgrounds in Mercedes on Monday as part of the Rock Never Stops tour, Rios, 35, "will definitely be there in the front row."
It won’t be the first time he attends one of their concerts.
"I saw them in Corpus Christi back in 1983 when they were on their Metal Health tour," he said.
Quiet Riot is currently touring with Cinderella, Firehouse and Ratt. Rock Never Stops 2005, which is sponsored by VH1 Classic, started on June 14 and ends on August 27 and includes 47 dates in large cities and mid-markets alike.
James Echavarria, a radio personality known as Rock N’ Roll James with KKPS-FM 99.5, opened for Quiet Riot during a show at La Villa Real Special Events Center in McAllen in 1993. Echavarria was part of a local rock group called Blind Justice.
"We had a packed house, about 2,500 people," he said. "The turn out was awesome. We rocked the house."
Echavarria remembers the Rock Never Stops bands were extremely popular in the 1980s.
"Quiet Riot, Cinderella, Ratt, they epitomized the ’80s hair bands," he said. "They were part of the L.A. rock scene in the mid-1980s. Those bands were always in MTV’s Top 5 Video Countdown."
Cesar Ramirez, 27, an accountant from Mercedes remembers these bands as the first groups that strayed away from dark lyrics and references to Satanism.
"They had some hard songs but they are mostly remembered for their power ballads," he said.
Headliners Cinderella is on its first tour in three years. The Philadelphia-based group gained fame with multi-platinum albums Night Songs and Long, Cold Winter in the 1980s.
Cinderella’s biggest hits include, "Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)," "Shake Me," "Somebody Save Me," "Nobody’s Fool," and "Coming Home."
Of all the Rock Never Stops bands, Cinderella is the only group whose original lineup remains intact: vocalist Tom Keifer, bassist Eric Brittingham, guitarist Jeff LaBar and drummer Fred Coury.
Cinderella released a collection of greatest hits in January titled, Rocked, Wired & Bluesed: The Greatest Hits.
Quiet Riot’s debut album, Metal Health, went multi-platinum in 1983. To this day, "Cum on Feel the Noize," remains the group’s biggest hit. Quiet Riot has made several personnel changes over the years, however, the current lineup includes founding members DuBrow, Frankie Banali (drums) along with newer members Chuck Wright (bass) and Alex Grossi (guitar).
Quiet Riot’s original lineup also included Rhoads, drummer Drew Forsyth and bassist Kelli Garni. The group started out in Los Angeles, working the club circuit in 1975.
Quiet Riot called it quits for a few years, finding it difficult to continue without Rhoads who was an integral part of the group’s unique sound. DuBrow started a band of his own along with Banali and eventually re-adopted the Quiet Riot moniker.
Rios said Quiet Riot opened doors for many other groups but never receives the recognition it deserves.
"They paved the way for Ratt and Motley Crue and other L.A. bands, similar to the way Nirvana paved the way for the grunge bands in Seattle," he said. "I don’t think they’ve been given enough credit for doing that."
The band’s latest album of original material, Guilty Pleasures was released in 2001.
Ratt’s 1984 debut album, Out of the Cellar, yielded the mega-hit, "Round and Round," as well as "Lay it Down."
Ratt broke up in the early 1990s after a series of successful albums. The band’s current lineup includes original members Warren DeMartini (guitar) and Bobby Blotzer (drums) with new additions Jizzy Pearl (vocals), and Robbie Crane (bass).
Guitarist John Corabi, who had a stint with Motley Crue after Vince Neil’s temporary departure, took over for Robbin Crosby, who died of AIDS in June 2002 at the age of 42.
Ratt’s "Round and Round," especially brings out good memories for Echavarria. It was the background music to his first date with his wife.
"A friend of mine and I went to pick up my wife and one of her friends," he said. "We were in this old 1974 Ford truck that didn’t have an ignition or a radio. We had to start the car with a fork. Since we didn’t have radio, I brought a portable with me so we could listen to music. I played, ‘Round and Round,’ all night."
Firehouse, which hit its peak in 1990, was best known for its power ballads such as, "Love of a Lifetime," "Don’t Treat Me Bad," and "All She Wrote."
The group won the American Music Award for Favorite New Artist Heavy Metal/Hard Rock in 1991.
Echavarria noted that rock seems to be on an upswing.
"For the last few weeks, the No. 1 albums on the charts have been rock albums," he said. "System of a Down, Audioslave, they’re great bands. Rock is taking down some of the hip-hop albums."
"It’s been a long time coming," Rios said. "Heavy metal is on its way back. I think people are really tired of the crap that is out there right now, no feeling, no meaning, one hit wonders."
Alan Sells, a radio personality known as Big Al on KFRQ-FM 94.5, said Quiet Riot, Cinderella and Ratt are played on his classic rock morning show.
"Firehouse was more of a pop band," he said.
Sells said the response to the Rock Never Stops show is strong.
"It’s a brought a lot of interest," he said. "I have a feeling it’s going to do pretty well, especially because it’s on a holiday. I think it will help reinvigorate the rock audience in the (Rio Grande) Valley. It often takes one good show to encourage others to come down here."
Sells said it’s often hard to gauge how large the 1980s rock audience is in the Valley because there was no rock station in the area for several years.
"I know there’s people that used to put up antennas to listen to (the Corpus Christi-based F.M. station) C-101 back then," he said.
Ramirez expects there will be a large crowd at the show.
"There’s a lot of working professionals in the Valley that grew up in the ’80s," Ramirez said. "They’ve grown up but they still have the rocker in them."