JAM Magazine Main Features

Steelheart - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13

Extended Break Becomes Downfall

Just before Nirvana and their kind exterminated the glam metal era, any of the ’80s bands unfortunate enough to release a record during the last few months of their dying movement were pretty much doomed. So much for the timing of Steelheart founder Michael Matijevic.

Hailing from Norwalk, Connectict, Steelheart was one of the very last hair metal bands to score a major hit with their ballad “I’ll Never Let You Go.” Originally called Red Alert, the quartet (which included singer Matijevic, guitarist Chris Risola, bassist James Ward, and drummer Frank Dicostanzo) spent most of the ‘80s playing the Tri-State region around New York honing their act. After years of hard work, the band finally secured a record deal with MCA, and changed their name to Steelheart.

The 1991 release of their self-titled debut, which spawned their hit power ballad, reached No. 14 on the Billboard singles chart. To take advantage of the momentum the group was building, they quickly began work on their sophomore effort, Tangled in Reins. Unfortunately, tragedy was lurking just around the corner. At a Halloween show opening for Slaughter at McNichol’s Arena in Denver, Matijevic was struck in the head by a lighting truss, knocking him to the ground face first. The singer sustained serious head injuries that took him months to recuperate from.

The extended break proved to be the band’s downfall. People quickly forgot about Steelheart. Though the band eventually finished Tangled in Reins, and released it in 1992, the recording was literally delivered to stores dead on arrival. Matijevic disbanded Steelheart after a brief tour of the States. By 2000, the group had reunited and issued a third album, titled Wait. Last year the band released an EP, Just a Taste, containing four songs that will be debuting on their 2007 offering, Samurai.