Damn Yankees was an American hard rock supergroup.
The band was formed in 1989, consisting of Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Ted Nugent of Amboy Dukes and his own solo career, and Michael Cartellone. Presumably inspired by the musical of the same name, Nugent once also explained that he coined the name because whenever someone asked him how he and Tommy Shaw would sound playing together, he would always reply by saying they would sound like ?a bunch of damn Yankees.?
Produced by rock producer Ron Nevison, the new band?s self-titled debut album went double-platinum in 1990. Ted Nugent's well-tooled heavy blues guitar became a cornerstone, but Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw rose to the forefront as a potent vocal duo. Jack Blades?s leading single "Coming of Age," hit #60 on the U.S. Hot 100, and #1 on the AOR charts, while Tommy Shaw?s "Come Again" received extensive AOR airplay.
1990's rock ballad "High Enough" featured a passionate duet between Shaw and Blades, backed by a string section in the studio. Backed by a popular video, it rose to #3 on U.S. Hot 100, and #2 on AOR charts. Ironically, "High Enough" happened to be the first top ten pop single in Ted Nugent?s career, despite the fact his career had been built on his "Motor City Madman" image. In fact, Damn Yankees seemed to be following a similar course pursued by Jack Blades?s prior band, Night Ranger, developing an overall hard rock sound in the studio, but relying heavily on power ballads to sell their albums. Furthermore, their songs appeared on several Hollywood film soundtracks, such as Gremlins 2: The New Batch, John Candy?s comedic vehicle, Nothing But Trouble and the 1991 action movie The Taking of Beverly Hills.
After the release of their debut, the Damn Yankees went on a year-and-a-half world tour with the likes of a revamped Bad Company, Poison and Jackyl. Their U.S. tour coincided with the Persian Gulf War, in which the band unfurled American flags and made patriotic statements. Nugent?s onstage archery stunts lead to being arrested and fined after firing a burning arrow into an effigy of Saddam Hussein in Colorado.
In 1992, Damn Yankees once again went platinum with their follow-up album Don?t Tread. The title song (sung by Jack Blades) enjoyed extensive coverage at the Barcelona Olympic Games. Ted Nugent also appeared on Rock the Vote, voicing support for the GOP against Bill Clinton. Although the second release was not as successful as the first album, it contained a few minor hits, such as "Mister Please," "Where You Goin? Now," and "The Silence Is Broken," a power ballad featured on the 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme film Nowhere to Run.
As the band began working on a third album, Damon Johnson of Brother Cane was added as another guitarist. The move was necessary due to Shaw's participation in Styx. If Shaw was unavailable Johnson would fill in as second guitarist. There was also talk that all three guitarists would play together when Shaw was available.
In July 2008, reunion tour rumors came around-supposedly to start after Styx and Ted Nugent respectively finish their tours.
After 1993, Ted Nugent revived his solo career, leaving Tommy Shaw & Jack Blades to record their own album as the duo Shaw Blades. Released in 1995, Hallucination received very little support from its label as a personnel change brought industry executives more sympathetic to alternative and grunge bands. Ultimately, the Shaw Blades album came out to some critical praise, but it vanished without major single support or a national tour (which had been cancelled by Warner Bros.). "I?ll Always Be With You" did garner some AOR airplay, and the title track was heard in the hit movie Tommy Boy, but after a brief West Coast tour, both Shaw and Blades went back to their respective original bands, Styx & Night Ranger.
During a hiatus in both Night Ranger and Styx, Shaw and Blades met with Ted Nugent to record a new Damn Yankees album in 1998. However, the album, provisionally titled Bravo, failed to please either the band members or the prospective record labels. Some of this unused material may have surfaced on Shaw?s 7 Deadly Zens solo album, which featured sessions from both Jack Blades and Ted Nugent, as well as Michael Cartellone. Other songs originally prepared for a 3rd Damn Yankees album were included on Nugent?s 2002 release Craveman and Blades? 2004 self-titled solo effort.
In 2007, Shaw Blades released their new album Influence, which consisted solely of cover songs that influenced them, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. They also recorded a cover of the classic Christmas song "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" on the "A Classic Rock Christmas" album by various Classic Rock artists in 2002. Both members still principally record and perform with their respective original bands.
On June 22nd, 2008 in Houston, TX Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw performed "High Enough" on stage with Night Ranger during Arrowfest, a concert that featured both Styx and Night Ranger.
While on the VH1 Classic show about Power Ballads of 88, Jack Blades commented on many shows coming in 2009 for Night Ranger. He was also asked about recent rumors regarding Damn Yankees. Jack said he, Ted, and Tommy had been talking and hanging out. Jack then said there would be new music and a tour from Damn Yankees in the future.
Tommy Shaw ? rhythm & lead guitars, lead & backing vocals (1989?1996, 1998)
Jack Blades ? bass guitar, lead & backing vocals (1989?1996, 1998)
Ted Nugent ? lead & rhythm guitars, backing & lead vocals (1989?1996, 1998)
Michael Cartellone ? drums, percussion, backing vocals (1989?1996, 1998)
Robbie Buchanan ? keyboards on Don't Tread (1992 ? multiple tracks)