Hailing from Norwalk, CT, Steelheart was one of the last hair metal bands to score a hit with a power ballad, just before Nirvana and their ilk exterminated the genre completely. Originally called Red Alert, the quartet (which included Croatian singer Michael Matijevic, guitarist Chris Risola, bassist James Ward, and drummer Frank Dicostanzo) spent most of the 1980s playing the tri-state area and honing an energetic act. After years of hard work, the bandmates headed west to Los Angeles, signed with MCA Records, and changed their name to Steelheart.
In 1991, Steelheart released their self-titled debut, most notable for its octave-spanning vocals and a pair of hit power ballads: "Never Let You Go," which reached number 14 on the Billboard singles chart; and "She's Gone," which fared well internationally. The band quickly began work on its sophomore effort, Tangled in Reins, which was released a year later. But tragedy was lurking just around the corner -- at a Halloween show opening for Slaughter at McNichol's Arena in Denver, CO, Matijevic was struck in the head by a lighting truss, knocking him to the ground face first and injuring his skull, jaw, nose, and spine. The country's musical climate changed dramatically during Matijevic's recovery, resulting in the band calling it a day shortly thereafter. But by 2000, the group had re-formed and issued a third album, titled Wait, with Matijevic serving as the only original member. ~ Greg Prato
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