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Articles Home » Interviews » Blind Date - 2007 Interview with Brad Wilson (aka Brad Billion)
 
Blind Date - 2007 Interview with Brad Wilson (aka Brad Billion)
Interview with: BRAD WILSON - BLIND DATE
Written By: Kelv Hellrazer
Date: 18 Sept 2007

Just recently, there's been a bit of heightened interest in a yesteryear Californian band that was notable for its previous absence on the Internet. Yes, until recently that is. That band was known as BLIND DATE. The history of the band is shrouded in mystery to most of those in the public domain, but for those of you who prowled the clubs of Los Angeles and San Francisco back in the 70's, you might be 'one up' on everybody else. Of notoriety are the band members names.. Get this.. Dane Bramage, Arnie Badde, Brad Billion, Pinky Chablis. Guaranteed to make you chuckle at least! Along with a recent album review here on GLORY-DAZE by Eric Abrahamsen, and a few cameos on Blogspot sites Alocacoc and Blunt(est), Blind Date have finally had the goggles removed for all to see. To help us along with the unveiling, is former member and lead guitarist Brad Wilson, a.k.a Brad Billion. He talks to Kelv Hellrazer about Blind Date, a few other bands from around that era, plus his own solo career. Take it away The Hellrazer...

KH: How did get the deal with Windsong Records come about?
BW: The band moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco and after playing local shows, a hot demo tape caught the attention of industry heavyweights like Gene Simmons, Kim Fowley and Al Teller. A Bay Area manager named Greg Nelson put the deal together with Windsong Records president Al Teller.

KH: Did you do dates before CD, and where did the name come from?
BW: In San Francisco we were called The Ratz and had a good following playing lots of local shows, opening for the Ramones, Blondie, Dead Boys and AC/DC. When we signed with RCA/Windsong, we needed a name they could market. There was a New York band called the Good Rats. We were not a punk group, so we settled on a power pop name, 'Blind Date'. We were listening to the first Cheap Trick album at the time, and thought their songwriting was where it was at.


KH: You performed at the Starwood in 1980 opening for the band London, who at the time had Nikki Sixx as a member. What memories did you have of that?
BW: Well, there was a change on the streets in 1980 - Van Halen, Quiet Riot and later Motley Cure were leading the way. The Starwood was run by a notorious gangster-type who was into a little bit of everything. I think they made a movie about him and his house in Laurel Canyon. Anyway the groups got a good sound inside the Starwood, played Thurs, Fri, and Sat for good pay and had a stage that they could put on a big show from. It was a large room so you could get loud and enter the stage directly from the dressing room, looking like a rock 'n roll band. Nikki and the bands just started to take it to the next Hollywood level, put on a show, get into the look of the band. The guitar players were all playing very hot lead work, Eddie, Randy Rhoads and others.

KH: You demo'd songs after the LP, in particular a song called 'Blind Date Stud Service'... very funny. As was 'Standing on the Corner'?
BW: I have not heard of a song called 'Blind Date Stud Service' maybe one of the other members recorded that one. Regarding 'Standing On The Corner' that was written by Arnie Riddio, the other guitarist in Blind Date. I was in contact with him and was recording a solo demo for shopping to labels. It's a great song that I played live. I worked a lot of dates around this time under my own name Brad Wilson.

KH: Was a second Blind Date LP ever recorded?
BW: Well, sort of. RCA/Windsong put up the money, we recorded the tunes, some of our best writing. It was called 'Fast, Fun, and Easy' but it was not released. I was talking to Arnie on the phone the other night and he played some of the stuff for me. I loved it and would really like to get it out there. Ten songs of pure power pop.

KH: What happened to the remaining members?
BW: Pinky Chablis on drums is Mark McNulty. He lives here in Los Angeles and went on to be very successful in business. Dane Bramage on bass and lead vocals left the music business after the record deal ended. Dane met a young lady from Hong Kong during Blind Date, they got married and became successful in the Arabian horse business. Arnie Badde on guitar and vocals is Arnie Riddio. He worked as a professional musician after he left Hollywood and still plays professionally in a nightclub band. I, Brad Billion guitar/vocals, (Brad Wilson) stayed in Hollywood and became part of the 80's Sunset Strip scene, subsequently working with Shame, Mystery City and Dirty World, all bands that lived and breathed the Rainbow, Roxy, Whiskey and Troubadour for the last part of the eighties. I have to say it was a lot of fun, filled with nights of rippin' rock 'n roll. Each band had a brush with fame, record companies and recorded some cool tunes.

KH: What did you do in Blind Date and Shame?
BW: In Blind Date I sang lead on some songs but most of the time I was the lead guitar providing solos. On the RCA/Windsong record I sang lead on 'Hollywood Girl' and 'All Of Me' I'm glad I started singing back then. It would really help my songwriting and performing years later.

Shame was a hard rock band playing gigs alongside of Guns 'n Roses. They were living in a rehearsal warehouse on one end of LA and we were on the other side of town. Our singer Wardi could sing with the best in Hollywood, as good as Axl. On bass we had an excellent showman named Mace. Tommy on drums, Mark on rhythm guitar and myself on lead solo guitar. We worked with Arnold Stieffel and Randy Phillips (Rod Stewart), Michele Anthony, Gene Simmons, Sir Author Payson (Alice Cooper), Bob Pfeiffer at Epic Records and others. We did many shows on the Sunset Strip, which was full of rockers every night, out on the street and in the clubs. You could not walk from the Rainbow to the Whiskey - the street was full of bands and rockers from all over the world.

KH: Shame was being pushed as the next super group, with ex London vocalist John Wardi and a deal with Simmons Records. What happened? What are the Shame members doing now?
BW: Well, the scene changed in 1990, the Strip kind of died and all the big-selling groups were coming out of the Northwest, places like Seattle. The bands had partied themselves into self destruction and the money from the labels dried up. Simmons Records did not have a hit with early signings and there was no support for Simmons Records product. Gene never released a record from Shame. Epic changed course when our A&R rep Bob Pfeiffer left the label. Wardi returned to the UK, Mace returned to New Jersey, Mark became a very successful TV production person and Tommy left the business, got married and I'm not sure what line of work he is in now. Wardi today sings for UK group Saxon (the Oliver/Dawson version of the band.. Ed) and Mace helped to build Linkin Park, but left for some reason before they hit big. I put together a blues/rock band called Stone had some success with the Robb Brothers and John Carpenter movies, toured the US a lot and became a solo artist in 2003.

KH: Mystery City your next band recorded an LP; tell us about that period and what happened to the members?
BW:
Well, we're going back a little to before Stone. I was in a meeting with Gene Simmons and Shame. I wrote all the material for Shame. Gene announces he will be taking 50% of my publishing and songwriting royalties. To make a long story short I was booted out of the band. So I built Mystery City around a lead singer named Paula Benedetti who was just off the road from touring as a star in the Broadway production of 'Cats'. With three other excellent musicians, we put out an indie record 'Mystery City' that I wrote and caught the last wave in Los Angeles.

KH: Finally up to date with your solo career and the transitional period in between, Brad fill us in.


BW: After Mystery City I put together a rockin' little Trio called Stone, very ZZ Top. We released three indie CDs that I wrote and sang on and we toured the US, opening for bands like Cheap Trick, Paula Cole, 38 Special, Tonic, Derek Trucks and others, lots of shows and weeks out on the road. I worked with Bruce Robb and John Carpenter, who received a Hollywood Saturn movie soundtrack award for 'John Carpenters Vampires', I had the first and main song in the movie soundtrack. The movie went to number one in the box office. I was able to place my songs in the hit NBC television show 'Passions' for the past six years and won a couple of songwriting and blues awards here in Los Angeles.

I wrote and recorded my best record to date in 2003-2004. It's my first self titled solo album, and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. I really got into the guitar work of blues greats like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Gary Moore. Lots of rippin' guitar songs that were perfect for working in clubs. I play 150 nights a year around California and released a live CD called 'Power Blues Guitar' in 2006. I'm building a solid foundation as a guitarist/songwriter/singer. The shows are great fun and I meet lots of people who like rockin' blues music. I would love to travel to Europe and play shows, as many of my favourite guitar players and bands are from Europe
.

KH: And lastly any plans of your previous projects to come out on CD?
BW: I released a series of CDs called 'Rockin' The Sunset Strip' Vol 1 thru 5. The CDs include the cool songs I wrote and recorded with my bands from Blind Date, Shame, Mystery City and Stone, a best of these bands. You can download songs from CDBaby and itunes.com. My web site is: www.bradwilsonlive.com for more information and store outlets. I'm in contact with most of the musicians from all the bands and we have a lot of fun remembering the stories of those days. Thankfully everyone is in good health and working. I hope that someday we get a chance to record or do a show together again. The wonderful thing about the chemistry of a good band is that it's always there when the players want to make music together again.


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Comments
#1 | jeffduran on September 24 2007 21:38:02
Great interview Kelv! Hit me up soon!
 
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