Steve Thomas - Drums
Janet Jameson - Violin, Vocals
Ron Verlin - Bass
Van McLain - Guitar, Vocals
Dennis Laffoon - Keyboards, Vocals
Ronnie Platt - Lead Vocals
Just ask Jeb Wright, the founder of Classic Rock Revisited, about Shooting Star. “Everyone has a story about the best band that never made it as big as they should have. For me, that band is Shooting Star. They have the songs, the musical talent, the vocals and the live energy. Now, in 2009, the group is back on the road proving their wares. No one who checks them out will be disappointed.” With a back catalog that includes “Last Chance,” “Tonight,” “Hang On For Your Life,” “Flesh and Blood,” “Touch Me Tonight” and “Hollywood,” it’s criminal that Shooting Star never made it big. This is your chance to see just how good the band was-and still is.
The Shooting Star story began one winter day in 1960 when 5-year-old Ron Verlin moved into 5-year-old Van McLain's neighborhood in suburban Kansas City. They lived one block apart from each other and became good friends.
In February 1964 when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show they, like so many other kids around the country, were hooked, and they drove their parents crazy begging to take guitar lessons. They put a band together with their brothers Craig McLain and John Verlin and played along to Beatles records in Ron's dad's garage. They named the band The Shooting Stars, a name inspired by Bill Haley &
the Comets. Two years later Van and his brother Craig moved away to a different school district, and their garage band split up.
Upon entering Shawnee Mission South High School, Van and Ron met up again. With the 50's nostalgia craze of 1971 brewing they jumped at the opportunity to put together a band that played classic 50's hits.
After seeing Sha Na Na in the movie Woodstock they added three dancers to the act and called the band The Shooting Stars featuring The Galaxy's.
The band played their first gig at a local school. Sock Hops were so popular they began receiving offers during the next three years to play frat parties, country clubs and schools throughout the Midwest.
By 1974 Van had begun serious song writing, and the band decided to stop playing cover songs and perform their own music. Later that year they recorded a four-song demo tape and planned a trip to London, England to shop their songs for a record deal. On January 6, 1975 they embarked on a journey to London in search of fame and fortune.
After three weeks of shopping their music to different record labels they were thrilled to be offered a recording contract with Arista Records.
Upon signing, The Shooting Stars were then offered the opportunity to play a showcase performance at the legendary Marquee Club in London. The club was the birthplace of such bands as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Led Zepplin, Elton John and many others. The band then made their way to Morgan Studios to record their first single, 'Take the Money & Run.' Shortly after this record was cut, Steve Miller released his title of 'Take the Money& Run,' which became a huge hit. Arista Records released The Shooting Stars from their contract and they returned to Kansas City after living in London for several months. Finding themselves without a drummer, they added Steve Thomas in January of 1976. Steve had spent the previous three years doing extensive touring of the US and Canada with a band out of St. Petersburg Florida. The boys then persuaded fellow musician Gary West to join the group as a singer and song-writing partner for Van. Gary had been a member of the premier Kansas City rock band of the 60's, The Chessmann.
He had left the quartet and moved with Jim McAllister to New York City in 1974. There he formed the group The Beckies with songwriter Michael Brown, formerly of the group The Left Bank. They released one album on Sire Records. Upon Gary's return to Kansas City he and Van began songwriting in earnest. With Ron on bass and Steve on drums, they added Bill Guffey on keyboards and Charles Waltz on violin and vocals. In 1977 they shortened their name to Shooting Star and started recording demo's in Gary's garage, all the while playing gigs around the Midwest. After saving up enough money and putting a press kit together, they decided to roll the dice one more time and try to secure another record deal in New York City. Through connections that Gary had made while a member of The Beckies, the band booked a showcase at the now infamous punk rock club CBGB's. A New York management firm was among the crowd who saw the band that night, and they offered them a contract. Shooting Star returned to Kansas City with management deal in hand to continue to write new material.
Six months later, in 1978, the band's management arranged for them to play another showcase at the famous New York club, Tracks. After that successful show, three different record companies - Atlantic Records, Virgin Records and A&M Records, began a bidding war over Shooting Star. They all made offers to sign the band, but Virgin Records prevailed. Virgin, then a small British record label, was looking for a rock group to break into the US market. For that purpose, Shooting Star was their first American signing.
In May of 1979 they returned to London to record their self-titled debut album with producer Gus Dudgeon of Elton John fame.
In January 1980 the album Shooting Star was released, and they embarked on a national tour opening for Robin Trower. With their impressive debut the band gained popularity with songs Last Chance, Tonight, You've Got What I Need and Bring It On. With radio success, Shooting Star returned to the studio in 1981
to record Hang On For Your Life with producer Dennis McKay. The album generated hits with Flesh & Blood, Breakout, Hollywood and Hang On For Your Life. In support of this record the band toured extensively with ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Todd Rungren, Jefferson Starship and Journey. They did the radio shows Rock Line, King Biscuit Flower Hour, The Source and Westwood One. They also began headlining showcase clubs across the United States, setting attendance records as they went.
In 1982 the band began recording their third album, III Wishes, at the legendary studio Caribou Ranch outside Boulder, Colorado. At the helm of this record was Journey producer Kevin Elson. Without missing a beat, they returned to touring with such acts as REO Speedwagon, John Mellencamp, Jefferson Starship, Kansas and others.
1983 saw their continued collaboration with Kevin Elson on their fourth
album, Burning. This record produced radio hits Straight Ahead, Winner and Train Rolls On. While touring in support of this record, the band witnessed the departure of bassist Ron Verlin who had become disenchanted with the music industry.
In 1985 bassist Norm Dahlor was recruited to take over for Ron, and the band began to record their fifth record, Silent Scream, with producer Ron Nevison. This effort produced the radio hit, Summer Sun.
After completing Silent Scream the band was asked to record two songs for the movie soundtrack Up the Creek. The songs were Get Ready Boy and Take It. Van, Norm and Steve were also the backing band on Ian Hunter's single from the soundtrack, Great Expectations. The band then toured with Heart, Bryan Adams, ZZ Top and Joe Cocker.
In 1986, after eight years of touring and five albums, Shooting Star decided to call it quits. Over the next several years fans from around the world grew frustrated over not being able to find Shooting Star records. By now they were all out of print even though the band continued to receive radio airplay.
In July of 1989 V&R Records acquired the rights to The Best of Shooting Star. This release marked the first time that any Shooting Star record appeared on CD. The CD also included one new song written by Van called Touch Me Tonight. With the success of The Best Of, and fans' desire for new material, Shooting Star was offered a new recording contract with Enigma Records. Returning to the group were original members Ron Verlin and Van McLain. To fill out the band, they
recruited Dennis Laffoon on keyboards, Rod Lincoln on drums and vocalist Keith Mitchell. The band flew to Los Angeles to make a video for the new song, Touch Me Tonight, which received extensive airplay on MTV and rose to #51 on the Billboard Singles Chart. This was the highest charting single of the band's career. The song also appeared in the Dolf Lungren movie I Come In Peace.
In 1990 the band recorded their sixth album, it's Not Over. This album received critical acclaim throughout Europe and helped broaden the Shooting Star audience. The band toured with Bad English, Bryan Adams and 38 Special. After the release of this album, and with the general decline of classic rock music, the band went into semi retirement, resurfacing every few years to play occasional concerts.
In 1998, after recovering from a fight with cancer, Van was asked to perform at a cancer benefit concert in Chicago. On stage were members of Night Ranger, Cheap Trick, Survivor and 38 Special. Van received a heartfelt response from the fans and his friends on stage, sparking his interest in playing again. Upon retuning home from the show, Van began writing songs and contemplated recording.
In the summer of 1999, while vacationing in Nashville, Tennessee, Van was reunited with producer/engineer Kevin Beamish. Among many others, Kevin's list of credits include REO Speedwagon, Jefferson Starship, Elton John and Clint Black. Kevin and Van had met 20 years earlier while Shooting Star was recording their first
album. At the time Kevin was a young engineer for Gus Dudgeon. Out of this chance meeting grew the plans to record and release Shooting Star's eleventh album, Leap of Faith. The recording took place at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville, Tennessee from December 1999 through February 2000.
After the tragic events of September 11, Van wrote Let's Roll in honor of Todd Beamer. At the taping of the band DVD "Tonight" in June of 2002 the band performed the song and it brought the house down.
It was then that Van decided to re-release Leap Of Faith to contain the new single. The song was well received and the band played many benefits and performed the national anthem at numerous NFL games in 2002 after the 1 year aniversary of 9/11.
With a new found energy the band continued to tour. 2004 saw the return of original drummer Steve Thomas to the band as well as a licensing deal with Frontiers Records (Italy), to produce its eighth studio album,
thier first in almost six years. This begins a new era as Kevin Chalfant joins the band as the new front man. Shooting Star continues to rock into the next decade of the new millineum.
Shooting Star will be celebrating their 27th year as recording artists with the release this summer of their lastest studio album "Circles". Watch for a tour to follow this fall. The band continues to display its resilience and love of music, while never forgetting that this could be your Last Chance!