Ron Keel: Steeler Album Turns 36 + “COME HELL OR HOLLYWOOD: 1981-82”
Ron Keel: Happy 36th anniversary to my debut album, STEELER, released on this date in 1983. I appreciate the fans who embraced this moment in time and I’m looking forward to 2020’s FNA Records release “COME HELL OR HOLLYWOOD: 1981-82” featuring the original lineup.
full in bloom: What are your 3 most fond memories of being in Steeler?
Ron Keel: I guess I keep the memories, Steeler and otherwise, in two piles, good and bad. If I had to pick 3 out of the good pile, the first would be the week our guitarist, Michael Dunigan, and I went out to Los Angeles to scout gigs and get the ‘lay of the land’, so to speak. It was an unbelievable time for hard rock in LA, and as soon as we got to the Sunset Strip we knew we were home. The second fond memory would be the entire time from the drive to LA, when the whole band and crew was moving out there together, up until the time the original lineup started to splinter. That was a very magical experience, being young and full of dreams and living in a place where they could all come true. And the third memory would have to be the first time we heard ourselves on the radio, on KLOS in Los Angeles. You know, if you watch any biographical music movie, where they are dramatizing the life of a famous musician or singer, there’s always the scene where they get played on the radio for the first time, and everybody’s jumping up and down and screaming. It’s really like that.
full in bloom: How did the original Steeler lineup change into the one we all know? Was it your choice or did the original line-up quit?
Ron Keel: Unfortunately, it was my choice, and not a very good one. The level of musicianship on the LA heavy metal scene was very competitive – there were some amazing guitarists, drummers, and bassists and I thought that’s what I wanted. I found out the hard way that the best musicians don’t always make the best bandmates, and there’s no substitute for chemistry and camaraderie. I was lucky enough to find that again with KEEL, but it’s very rare and underrated. I still believe that if I had been mature enough and strong enough to hold the original band together and work hard, we would have been one of the premier bands of the time.
full in bloom: How does Yngwie Malmsteen end up joining the band?
Ron Keel: Mike Varney played me his demo tape, and like I said, I wanted the best and I got the best. I invited him to come to America and join Steeler.
full in bloom: While Yngwie was in the band, were you two friends, or did he mostly keep to himself?
Ron Keel: He was very focused on his guitar, it never left his hands. I always try to be friends with the people in my bands – if you’re in my band, I’ll take a bullet for you. Some of those friendships outlast the bands, and some don’t.
full in bloom: Is there anything you wish you would have done differently in the Steeler days?
Ron Keel: Life’s too short for regrets, who knows how things might have turned out. But I really should have kept the original lineup together.