Raven are an English heavy metal band associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. They had a hit with the single "On and On", and refer to their music as "athletic rock".
Raven was formed in 1974 in Newcastle, England, by brothers John Gallagher and Mark Gallagher, and Paul Bowden.
Raven began creating a sound which was rooted in British hard rock, with progressive rock tendencies, and a willingness to take musical chances. The band's highly energized live show and interaction between band members developed a unique image and style of play, described as "athletic". They began wearing guards, helmets, and plates from various sports (hockey, baseball, etc...), and incorporating them into the playing of their instruments (for instance, elbow pads and hockey masks were used to strike cymbals). Their music began to develop into a unique amalgam of speed and power - heavily influencing the genres of speed/thrash metal and power metal. The band have a reputation as an extremely energetic live band - and for regularly destroying their equipment.
They started by playing local pubs and working men's clubs in the North East of England - occasionally opening shows for punk bands such as The Stranglers and The Motors.
Eventually, the band signed with Neat Records, the legendary, low-budget metal label of the North. They released their 1st single "Don't Need Your Money" in 1980 and embarked on a number of UK shows opening for bands such as Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz, Motorhead, Whitesnake and Iron Maiden. Their first album "Rock Until You Drop" was released to wide acclaim in 1981, leading the band to tour Italy and the Netherlands. Their second album, "Wiped Out" was released in 1982 and was influential on creating the burgeoning thrash and speed metal genres, making an impressive showing on the UK charts at the time.
Sufficient noise was made for the American market to take notice and New Jersey's Megaforce Records signed them, issuing their next recording in the States as All for One in 1983. The band came stateside in 1983, and toured extensively on the "Kill 'em All For One" tour with young thrashers Metallica (on their first tour) as their opening act.
Manager/Megaforce founder Johnny Zazula believed that Raven was major-label material, and kept them touring constantly until the big labels noticed. The infamous Live at the Inferno recording, released in 1984, was a product of one of those tours. Atlantic Records signed Raven to a worldwide contract after a minor bidding war (major label contracts would follow for Metallica and Anthrax in the following year). The band moved its permanent base from Newcastle to New York.
Stay Hard was released in 1985, and proved a minor hit on the strength of single/video "On and On". The Atlantic years proved to be less than stellar for the band. A drastic shift in a more commercial direction came at the label's behest, with many die-hard fans being alienated by the slick, lightweight production of The Pack Is Back. However, the band redeemed themselves with a return to form on the "Mad" EP in 1986 and the "Lifes A Bitch" album in 1987 before arranging their departure from Atlantic.
After the tour for Life's a Bitch, Rob "Wacko" Hunter left the band in late 1987 to spend more time with his new wife and family. He would later pursue a career in audio production and engineering, eventually working with jazz musicians Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr..
Post Atlantic era:
Virginian Joe Hasselvander (ex-Pentagram) joined as drummer in late 1987, and the band dropped the outlandish image for a more conventional denim-and-leather look for their 1988 release Nothing Exceeds Like Excess which was self-produced and continued the bands return to form with fast, involved compositions. A Combat records concert at the Trocadero Philadelphia dubbed the "Ultimate Revenge 2" featured the band on 4 cuts, alongside a number of thrash bands such as Death, Forbidden and Dark Angel. Next was a US tour opening for Testament, and then a European tour with German band Kreator. The advent of grunge and the dissolution of their record label Combat Records led the band to concentrate on continental Europe and Japan, where they retained more of a following.
In 1990 the band recorded the album "Architect of Fear" in Germany again self-produced showcasing the bands heavier side..they toured Europe in 1991 as special guests of German band Running Wild. 1992 had the band releasing an EP called "Heads Up" featuring 4 new studio songs and 3 live tracks from the 1991 tour. They again toured Europe with German band Risk as openers.
The band spent the 1st half of 1993 writing and demoing new material, delays ensued due to John Gallagher having a house fire and thieves stealing guitars from the remains. In 1994 the band regrouped and inked a deal with Japanese label Zero - an album entitled Glow was recorded at Showplace Studios Dover NJ (notable for having a strip club connected to the tape closet! )The album was self-produced and varied in feel, even sporting a few ballads alongside heavier material such as "Altar" and "Enemy"..a cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Rocker" also made the album.
In 1994 the band attended and played live at the Foundations Forum metal convention in Burbank, California, and stole the show alongside acts as disparate as Korn, Yngwie Malmsteen and Machine Head.
The band toured Japan for the 1st time in May 1995, a live album called "Destroy All Monsters - live in Japan" was recorded featuring the "Glow" songs as well as older cuts such as "for the future".
1996 was spent writing and recording a new studio album "Everything Louder" - sessions took place in Manassas VA at future Brett Michaels guitarist Pete Evick's studio, the recording was a frantic affair done over 4 weekends with almost no reheasal - the better to get a "live" feel onto tape. The album came out in 1997 in Japan, Europe and the US, and the band went on the road in Europe with support acts Tank and Hammerfall.
1999 promised a Raven box set with the NY label Spitfire..however after a "lack of communication" John took the extra live/studio/bootleg tracks and working with engineer S.A. Adams compiled a collection entitled "Raw Tracks" featuring unreleased material from 1984 to the present. The band also reunited with producer Mike Wagener and worked on an album titled One for All recorded at Wagener's Wireworld Studio in Nashville TN. Following its release the band toured opening for old friend Udo Dirkschneider's band U.D.O. in Europe...and also with them in the US in 2000.
The band recorded and toured until 2001, when a wall collapsed on guitarist Mark Gallagher, crushing his legs. Raven went on hiatus for nearly 4 years, from 2001 to 2004, while the guitarist rehabilitated. A number of shows were played in 2004 with Mark in the North East of the US with him in a wheelchair. Following a number of US shows and European festival appearances (Bloodstock UK 2005, Keep it True Germany 2005, Bang Your Head Germany 2006) the band started work on a new album "Walk Through Fire" initially released in Japan on King Records in 2009, then securing releases in 2010 for Europe on SPV and in North America on Metal Blade. The album was well received both critically and by the fans, and the band have been steadily playing live, playing the European festival circuit, making a triumphant return to Japan, and playing their first shows in South America, returning there in 2012.
2013 brought a retrospective DVD entitled "Rock Until You Drop - a long day's journey" edited by Mark Gallagher featuring a voluminous amount of never before seen footage of the band from 1982 onwards, and interviews with Lars Ulrich, Dee Snider, Jon Z, Dave Ellefson, Chuck Billy, Jon Zazula, Chris Jericho etc. The band played the first full scale tour of the US since 1989 headlining on the East Coast and joining forces for a double headlining jaunt through the West Coast with fellow UK NWOBHM stalwarts Diamond Head. November/December had the band playing Europe with old mates Girlschool as support garnering favorable reviews for the energetic performances.
In January 2014 the band were featured on the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise from Miami to Mexico and played South America in March.
John Gallagher - bass, lead vocals (1974-present),
Mark Gallagher - guitar, backing vocals (1974-present),
Joe Hasselvander - drums, backing vocals (1987-present),
Paul Bowden - guitar, backing vocals (1974-1979),
Paul Sherrif - drums (1975-1976),
Mike "Mick" Kenworthy - drums (1976-1977),
Sean Taylor - drums (1977-1979),
Pete Shore - guitar, backing vocals (1979-1980),
Rob "Wacko" Hunter - drums (1979-1987),
Manos Kehagias - drums (2013; performed in Greece on 9 March),
Spiros Antonatos - drums (2013; performed in Greece on 9 March),
Nick Papadopoulos - drums (2013; performed in Greece on 9 March),
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license