Salt Lake City had its own rock scene that could rival the scene in more populated and well-known cities. Two of the more prominent bands in the Salt Lake scene were THE TOOLS and STRYDER. These bands battled for years to be the premier rock band in Utah. STRYDER featured some great musicians including guitarist Chris Clary (JERICHO, PARADOX, GOOD COMPANY, STRYDER, ESSEXX, MEGATTACK, TYPHOID MARY, FAT LIP, CHERRY BOMB) and guitarist Gilbert Rodriguez (HARPO SKANK, ISAIAH, ROADWORK, PARADOX, GOOD COMPANY, STRYDER, ESSEXX, CHINA DOLL, SHADOW, ANGEL REIGN) who gave this melodic rock band a duel-guitar flavor that musician and fans could enjoy. THE TOOLS played a straightforward style of hard rock and always put on a great live show, in part due to the stage presence and great vocals of Mike Rafone (NASTY MACK, STONE CREEK, THE TOOLS). These two bands would both draw great crowds and battle each other in the Wasatch Rocks Battle of the Bands. STRYDER eventually changed out bandmembers and morphed into the band ESSEXX. They continued to playout and create buzz in the local scene. Eventually ESSEXX recruited Tracy Neilson (HIGH VOLTAGE, FUS, PALACE, SOLDIER, ESSEXX, CHINA DOLL, JONNI LIGHTFOOT, FAT LIP, LIXX, ALL SOULS AVENUE, WOLFGANG, SHADOW) on drums, but as fate would have it, ESSEXX broke up in 1987. Chris, Gilbert, and Tracy were destined to create a band that would not only gain local favor but be able to take things to California and the famous Sunset Strip.
The band was now in search of a vocalist and either a bass player or guitarist (Gilbert would fill whichever position that was left vacant). The band quickly came into contact with PAINT YOUR DOG guitarist Paul Runfola (PAINT YOUR DOG, CHINA DOLL, KIDD BLAST, PENNYWISKEY) so Gilbert jumped on bass. Now the band needed a vocalist to complete their lineup. The band looked into local talent Michael Hernandez (STEEL TEAR, AERIAL, LOST CITY, DOG MAFIA), but his vocals didn’t quite hit the exact style they were looking for. The band reached out to a former rival in Mike Rafone who had just exited the band THE TOOLS. Mike was eager to join forces with guys that shared his same vision. Mike and Gilbert were toying around with band names while hanging out watching a Detroit Pistons basketball game, a team nicknamed “The Bad Boys.” The nickname struck a chord with the guys and they adopted the name.
BAD BOYS quickly began to write some great, catchy songs that would appeal to a live audience. BAD BOYS entered Audio Vision Studios in January of 1988 and cut their first EP, “In Yer Face,” which comprised the band’s first five songs. With the cassette now available, the BAD BOYS were ready to rock Salt Lake. They opened for such acts as DIRTY LOOKS, HEIR APPARENT, KING KOBRA and BEAU NASTY. The BAD BOYS became heavy favorites at many of the local clubs such as Speedway Café, The Palladium, Barb Wire, Hoggie Barmichael’s, Starcastle, Coronas, Rafters, and Reggie’s R&R. The BAD BOYS eventually decided to take their talents to Los Angeles where they played some of the historic clubs such as the Troubadour and Gazzari’s. The band was well-liked and was featured in RIP Magazine and on the station Z ROCK. While in Los Angeles, the band was also able to rub elbows with more established bands. One of those bands was the Lenny Wolf fronted band “KINGDOM COME,” who they had dinner with at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. The guys from BAD BOYS gave KINGDOM COME the “In Yer Face” demo-tape, thinking that, in the right hands, the band might be able to land a record deal. Several months later, KINGDOM COME released their next album appropriately titled “In Your Face.” Not a coincidence, but the BAD BOYS took it as a compliment.
The band was gaining momentum, but Mike Rafone had some medical issues and had to depart from the band. BAD BOYS didn’t want this departure to derail them, so they picked up local Utah talent Shawn Glenn (FATAL ATTRACTION, IGNORANT BALLET) to take the reigns as the band’s frontman. Inner conflicts in the band started to take hold and the band self-destructed and parted ways. This hiatus did not last long as Mike Rafone got the medical attention that he needed and was ready to give BAD BOYS another go. Mike, Chris and Gilbert were now on a search for a drummer and an additional guitarist since Tracy and Paul had already joined other projects. A replacement drummer was soon added. Gilbert also ran into CRIMSON WEB guitarist Clint Larsen (LYV WYRE, FREEDOM ROAD, CRIMSON WEB, GRAVEL, 5th MOON RISING) and asked him to come tryout for BAD BOYS. Clint was quickly asked to join, but Clint was insistent that in order for him to join the band, they would also have to bring on drummer Bobby Zidunich (FIRST STRIKE, SHADOW, IGNORANT BALLET, MIDLIFE CRISIS, RELOADED) who had just parted ways with FIRST STRIKE. Gilbert and Chris went and checked out Bobby and the band eagerly decided to have both Bobby and Clint join the band. This version of the band didn’t last long, as Chris received an opportunity to try out for the vacant guitar spot in Gregg Giuffria’s HOUSE OF LORDS. Though Chris wasn’t selected, he moved on to other impressive projects. The band was on the lookout once again to keep BAD BOYS going. They added guitarist Jeff Paris (THE HOODS, CRAIGZLIST KILLERZ) and were now set to write some new songs and play some killer live shows. The band put together some new songs and entered Audio Vision Studios in 1989 to lay out the new tracks for the album “Bake Yer Brain.” The new songs were mixed at L.A. East studios. With the songs done it was now time to shop for labels. The band continued with the great live shows, opening up for acts such as SAVATAGE, THE SWEET, EVERY MOTHERS NIGHTMARE, SWEET F.A., FIREHOUSE, KILLER DWARFS among many others.
The band began to get attention from several labels, but creative differences with the addition of drugs and alcohol began to weigh heavily on the band. The band decided to part ways, before any record deal could be struck. The last show that the band played before its implosion was New Year’s Eve 1992. Gilbert and Bobby continued, but with Gilbert being the only original member left, they decided to form as a new band, and they called themselves SHADOW. BAD BOYS was no more. When asked about their greatest success as a band, each member’s first response was “the fans.” BAD BOYS loved their fans and doing live shows. The fans always packed the house when the BAD BOYS came to town. BAD BOYS was glad that they were able to record both mini albums and are now able to team up with Metallic Blue Records to finally release their songs for the world to hear.