MARCH 1984: KEEL is formed at the height of the L.A. Hard Rock/Metal explosion. Original lineup was Ron Keel, Marc Ferrari, guitarist Dave Henzerling (aka David Michael-Philips), drummer Bobby Marks and bassist Kenny Chaisson.
APRIL 1984: KEEL records their first two-song demo (“Lay Down The Law” and “Speed Demon,”) and performs their debut gig to a sellout crowd of 1500 at legendary Perkin's Palace (aka The Raymond Theater) in Pasadena CA. Rock stars in attendance backstage included Tony & Geezer from Sabbath (Ron Keel was in discussions with them at the time regarding their lead vocalist position), Lita Ford and Carmine Appice; Carmine recruited KEEL guitarist Dave Henzerling for his new band King Kobra, so this was the only show he did with KEEL. David was promptly replaced by Bryan Jay, whose first gig was KEEL's Hollywood debut at the sold-out Roxy Theater.
JUNE - JULY 1984: KEEL plays to packed houses throughout Southern California and begins work on their debut album, "Lay Down The Law," for Shrapnel Records. Recording takes place at Prairie Sun Studios with Ron producing. In his words: “On the first day of the session, we had gotten tones on the drums, bass, and guitars, and I needed the guys to play something together to balance out the levels. I was in the control room, and they were isolated in various other rooms – I think one guy was in the bathroom, one guy was in the barn…and I asked them to just jam a little so I could blend the instruments. Marc Ferrari launched into this monster power-riff that we had never heard - it ended up being the music for "The Right To Rock" - the guys joined in - my jaw dropped, and I turned to the engineer, Mikey Davis and yelled ‘Roll Tape NOW!’ and we recorded that jam on the spot.”
AUGUST 1984: Before the "Lay Down The Law" album was even mixed, management called the band back to L.A. to showcase for some major labels that were interested in the act. When the smoke cleared, KEEL was signed to Gold Mountain/A&M Records, who provided a list of potential producers for the bands major label debut. That list included a rock icon by the name of Gene Simmons. Again, in Ron’s words:
“So they set up a meeting with the God Of Thunder himself. I went to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel; we talked and went up to his room. I inserted a tape of the jam we had recorded that first day of the "LDTL" session - there were no vocals on the tape - and I stood right there and sang "The Right To Rock" along with the tape, in his face...as soon as the first chorus was over he hit the STOP button, looked at me, and said, ‘I'm going to produce this album, and we're going to start Tuesday.’”
In the studio with Gene Simmons
recording "The Right To Rock"
Bobby Marks was replaced by several drummers in rapid succession - first, Fred Coury (who went on to play with Cinderella), then Barry Brandt from Angel and then Stephen Riley. Tracking for "The Right To Rock" album began at the Record Plant in LA; just a couple of weeks had elapsed since the "Lay Down The Law" sessions, and with only three new tunes in their arsenal they re-recorded three from "LDTL" and recorded three Gene Simmons compositions. During the sessions, Steve Riley quit to join W.A.S.P. and was replaced by Dangerous Dwain Miller.
SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 1984: Recording continued in New York City, with the band working around KISS' touring schedule and Gene's availability.
The first A&M KEEL promo shot
NOVEMBER 1984: Although overshadowed by the band’s move to major label status “Lay Down The Law,” the band’s debut album on Shrapnel Records, was released to rave reviews and acclaimed by fans. Somewhat lost in the hype surrounding “The Right To Rock” this album would finally be released on CD by Shrapnel in March 2008.
JANUARY 1985:Just ten months after KEEL was formed their second album, "The Right To Rock," was released and became the fastest-selling debut album in A&M Records' history; cracking BillBoard's Hot 100 Chart. The title track was an instant anthem on MTV and radio.
FEBRUARY - SEPTEMBER 1985: KEEL tours non-stop, headlining clubs and opening in theaters and arenas for Triumph, Dokken, Y&T, Loudness, Queensryche, Accept, Helix and Joan Jett. The act wins "Best New Band" honors from Metal Edge Magazine, Circus Magazine, Rock Scene Magazine and Hit Parader Magazine. A&M Records, content with sales which far exceeded the label’s expectations, did not support the follow-up single - “Easier Said Than Done” - and the band is quickly snatched up by MCA Records.
OCTOBER 1985: Intense songwriting sessions and grueling rehearsals as the band reached its creative peak.
Metal Edge Magazine 'Best New Band' Award 1986
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 1985: KEEL commences recording "The Final Frontier" in Los Angeles, with Gene Simmons again at the helm, and continues the sessions in New York at Electric Lady Studios. This time they brought in some friends to make guest appearances on the album including Joan Jett, Gregg Guiffria, Jaime St. James, Mitch Perry and Michael Des Barres.
JANUARY 1986: Ron embarks on his first trip to Europe for a promotional tour, doing interviews, TV and radio appearances and promoting KEEL’s upcoming album and European tour. The space shuttle “Challenger” explodes shortly after take-off, and KEEL changes the wording on the forthcoming release to dedicate the album to the astronauts who gave their lives in the tragedy.
MARCH - APRIL 1986: "The Final Frontier" is released to critical acclaim and impressive sales as "Because The Night" becomes a hit video and single. KEEL embarks on a six-week sold out tour of Europe opening for Dio in 14 countries.
MAY - JULY 1986: Keel opens shows for Triumph, Y&T and tours with Quiet Riot.
The first MCA KEEL promo shot
JULY 1986: KEEL opens for Van Halen at the 1986 Texxas Jam in front of 86,000 people at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
AUGUST 1986: KEEL opens for Aerosmith for their triumphant reunion/homecoming at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts
JULY - SEPTEMBER 1986: KEEL tours North America as opening act for Queensryche “Rage For Order” tour. "Tears Of Fire" is released as the second single from "The Final Frontier" and rockets into the Top 5 on many major US radio stations. A 5-song collection of singles, also entitled "Tears Of Fire," is released in Japan.
"Because The Night" single, KEEL songbook, KEEL Komic Book
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 1986: KEEL embarks on a sold-out headline tour of Japan, performing in Osaka, Nagoya and two nights in Tokyo.
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 1986: Immediately upon returning from Japan, the band begins pre-production on the next album with Producer Michael Wagener. Recording begins on their 3rd major label release.
MAY 1987: The Wagener-produced self-titled "KEEL" album is released, with "Somebody's Waiting" released as the single.
JUNE 1987: KEEL is invited to open the first shows on Motley Crue's "Girls Girls Girls" tour.
JULY - AUGUST 1987: KEEL headlines clubs across the US, and opens for Bon Jovi on the final leg of their marathon “Slippery When Wet" tour. This tour is highlighted by 3 sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden, and culminates with 2 nights at the Meadowlands in Bon Jovi's home state of New Jersey.
NOVEMBER 1987: The "DUDES" Movie Soundtrack is released, with KEEL's "Rock N Roll Outlaw" as the featured track.
1988: The band's progress is blocked by contract disputes as well as personal and musical differences. Marc Ferrari departs to form his own band, which becomes Cold Sweat and signs with MCA. For more on Cold Sweat visit http://www.cold-sweat.net.
KEEL forges on as recording commences for "Larger Than Live:" Two sold-out shows at the Roxy in Hollywood provided live tracks, and six studio songs were cut to complete this half live/half studio album.
SEPTEMBER 1989: "Larger Than Live" is released by Gold Castle/Gold Mountain Records. At the final video shoot for "Dreams Are Not Enough," Ron makes the painful decision to move on and the first KEEL era comes to an end.
JULY 1998: The band comes together in Phoenix to put together a collection of rare and unreleased tracks, including “Reason To Rock,” a song from 1987 that was never finished. This CD entitled “KEEL VI: Back In Action” is released by DeRock Records.
NOVEMBER 2008: Ron, Marc, Bryan and Dwain reunite and are joined by bassist Geno Arce – the first KEEL photo session in over 20 years takes place in Los Angeles, the band signs with Bigg Time Entertainment for booking representation, and begins to gear up to hit the stage in 2009…
KEEL Reunites – November 1 2008
...and the rest is History.