Saturday, May 12, 2012

Unsung Heroes of Rock: Russ Ballard

 I would bet you've heard many of the hits Englishman Russ Ballard has written and may even have a couple on your IPod. 
His specialty was writing in a genre that became known as "melodic rock" or "AOR" (album oriented rock). Some also call it "Arena Rock". Very catchy melodies often blending keyboards with hard rock guitar. Oddly enough, it was a genre dominated by Americans
When I was young, I just liked these songs, I didn't realize he wrote them. I thought he had a real gift for writing in this genre.


Russ Ballard first came to prominence as the singer in the group Argent. 
                           "Hold Your Head Up"

                                          "God Gave Rock n Roll To You"

He later went solo, but had his main success as a songwriter.

 Three Dog Night had a hit with his "Liar"


When KISS put out there infamous solo albums, Ace Frehley covered Ballard's 
                    "New York Groove"

Rainbow had a huge FM radio hit covering 
"Since You been Gone",
 sung by the great Graham Bonnet

Roger Daltrey often turned to Ballard's catalog for material. "Free Me" was an FM hit for the WHO frontman


Santana had a Top 40 hit with his "Winning"

Since it worked so well with "Winning" 
Santana covered another good Ballard tune
                          "Nowhere to Run"

In 1982 Phil Collins produced an album for Frida from the group ABBA. 
Ballard's "I Know There's Something Going On' became a surprise Mtv hit.

The group America was a big act in the 70's. In 1982 they had a comeback hit with Ballard's 
                 "You Can Do Magic"

Rainbow with their new singer Joe Lynn Turner,  had some minor FM success with another Ballard song
                          "I Surrender"

In 1984 EMI Records in the US gave Ballard another shot to release a solo album. His self-titled didn't make much of a dent on the charts but the song "Voices" was an FM hit and was later used on the TV show "Miami Vice"


  EMI gave Ballard one more shot at success with the 1985 solo release 
                     "The Fire Still Burns"

Music started to change. Hair Metal took over from AOR. Ballard's songwriting fell out of demand. He had continued to occasionally record new music and even play live once in a while in Europe. He certainly made his mark.

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