The origins of RAIL go back to the post-Woodstock year of 1970, a year that saw the debuts of both Black Sabbath AND The Partridge Family. Starting out in Leo Dodd's music class at Highland Junior High School in Bellevue, Washington is drummer Kelly Nobles, who puts a small ad in the school newspaper asking "anyone who wishes to start a band to meet in Conference Room B."
Showing up is guitarist/singer Terry James Young, a transplanted San Franciscan who had already played in his first band in the sixth grade. A friend of Terry's -- Andy Baldwin -- comes to practice with him one day. Kelly has an extra guitar and offers it to Andy. They formed the original nucleus of what became Rail & Company. Within two years Terry had switched to bass and a guy from Andy's stage band class named Rick Knotts has stepped in to do a contracted New Year's Eve show. The final piece had come together.
Graduation from Interlake High School (in Bellevue, Washington) brings the band to a crossroad. Was it off to college or follow their dreams of rock stardom? They decide to play that summer to see what comes of it. Booking their own shows, Kelly receives a call from the owner of the local Flying 'J' Ranch who needs a band for a party he's throwing. In appreciation he let RAIL promote and play "concerts" at the ranch. One such party attracted over 700 revelers, which also attracted the police. The crowd was so big that the cops got back in their cars and left, as RAIL would document in their first single "Rockin' You": "There was fifteen kegs and the night was young, hundreds of people rockin' and havin' fun". The word was out: Rail & Company rocks!
College is then permanently averted when Craig Cooke of UNICAM Booking Agency signed the band. The next few years Rail & Company would learn their craft playing every junior high and high school in Washington State, spreading word of their awesome show. For a while they even added a front man to the lineup, friend Chris Kinkade who brought a glittery, theatrical element to their hard rock sound before leaving to become an actor. Keyboardist Randy Miller, who would light his hands on fire while playing, was another member for a few years before going to Chiropractic College.
After releasing their first single, which led to them being chosen as the lead-off track on Seattle radio station KYYX's compilation "Seattle Grown" LP, Rail & Company sell out two nights in a row at Seattle's 3,000-seat Paramount Theatre -- a feat never accomplished before by an unsigned band. Guitarist Rick Knotts has said that these shows were the most thrilling he's ever played. That year RAIL & COMPANY would be voted by the listeners of Seattle rock radio station KZOK as "Seattle's Best Local Band" for their first of three times. They are soon being tapped as an opening act for major acts coming through town like Blue Oyster Cult, Nazareth, and Heart.
Riding a sweeping wave of popularity, the band dropped the "& Company" from their name (since most people call them RAIL anyway), and signed with local sound system manufacturer Charlie Kester for what is referred to as the "suit" era. During the time of The Cars and other radio-friendly rock, Kester's leadership had RAIL cutting their hair short, dressing up in three-piece velvet suits, and writing poppier songs. This new direction did not "wear" well with the band or their fans and was soon shelved. Their natural rebellion over being led in a direction contrary to their harder rock impulses became the incentive for the song "Make Me", one of the heaviest songs ever written by RAIL.
A positive development of their "suit" period came when Kester introduced the band to Michael Fisher, known for his work producing Heart, of which his brother Roger was the lead guitarist. Michael took the band under his wing and for two years helped RAIL arrange and produce their songs in his home studio in nearby pre-Microsoft Redmond, Washington. Fisher even brought in then-girlfriend Ann Wilson to sing backup on a session.
In 1980, three-quarters into completing the recording, RAIL was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open for Van Halen's Women and Children First tour. Once on the road, Van Halen became huge fans of RAIL and extended their stay through the entire U.S. for a total of 47 shows. (At one sound check, Van Halen saw Rail watching and started playing Rail's song "Bandit". An exciting validation of their tour mates from the mighty Van Halen.)
Rail was asked to continue onto Van Halen's European tour, but instead came home and committed themselves to finishing their album.
ARRIVAL was released at the end of 1980 on Dynasty Records, their own label. Having already proven themselves on a national tour without a record, RAIL hit the road again and subsequently sold over 200,000 copies of ARRIVAL, watching as their song "Hello" was added to radio playlists all over the Pacific Northwest.
The high water mark for RAIL came in 1983 when their personal manager Maria Cooper submitted a video of "Hello" (against the band's wishes) for an MTV contest called the "Basement Tapes". Unsigned rock groups would compete with their videos with viewers calling in to vote on their favorite. RAIL's reservations about being thrust into the cattle call quickly evaporated when out of 40,000 videos submitted worldwide, "Hello" wins the preliminary rounds and eventually the Grand Prize of a recording contract with EMI Records.
That recording contract yielded the 4-song EP, eponomously titled "RAIL" produced by Night Ranger producer Pat Glasser. Included on the EP were two songs made into videos -- "1-2-3-4" and "Fantasy". This was followed up a year later by the self-produced "RAIL THREE". These two releases have been combined into one big Special Edition CD named "Adio", a salutation to the fans given nightly by Terry at the conclusion of their show.
Now, twenty years later, RAIL has re-released Special Editions of these landmark albums, packed with bonus tracks and special enhance CD content with videos, interviews and much more. These compilations have been released as a tribute to all their great fans, friends and family who supported the band for those exciting early years. --- Written by Brett Miller with assistance from Jeff Gilbert