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BATON ROUGE

Biography

Louisiana melodic Rock outfit, BATON ROUGE gained a sizable fan base with their Blues edged material. The band, comprising singer Lance Bulen, guitarist / keyboard player Kelly Keeling, bass player Keith Harrison and Harold Knappenburger on drums, was originally known as VOICES then MERIDIAN, but would be forced to change yet again to BATON ROUGE to avoid confusion with the CBS signed MELIDIAN. Kelly Keeling had previously fronted Jazz Fusion act TRINITY.

BATON ROUGE relocated to Los Angeles during 1987, undergoing a membership shake up in the process. Keeling adopted the role of frontman whilst Bulen prioritised guitar and a fresh rhythm section, bassist Scott Bender and Corky McClellan on drums, was installed. Famously, Atlantic Records snapped the band up after just six shows. Under the tutelage of renowned songwriting duo SURGIN's Jack Ponti and Vic Pepe, BATON ROUGE set to work on tracks for their first commercial offering.

The debut album, 1990's 'Shake Your Soul', features guest roles for seasoned studio veteran drummers Frankie LaRocka, of COMPANY OF WOLVES and the JOHN WAITE band and Joe Franco, of GOOD RATS, THE LADDER and TWISTED SISTER with additional keyboards from Bobby Gordon. Amongst the many songwriting credits for Jack Ponti and Vic Pepe lies a JAIME KYLE penned track, 'There Was A Time (The Storm)'. Although latest recruit, keyboard player David Cremin, had his photograph on the cover, he did not in fact contribute to the album. 'Shake Your Soul' peaked at no. 160 on the US album charts.

BATON ROUGE underwent a line-up change for the second album, 1991's 'Lights Out In The Playground', adding new recruit ex-KEEL guitarist Tony Palmucci and dispensing with Cremin. The record included a version of the Ponti penned 'Desperate' previously recorded by Hard Rockers BABYLON A.D.

Keeling was offered the position of vocalist in BLUE MURDER, this action prompting the split of BATON ROUGE. However, although Keeling cut vocals for the BLUE MURDER debut, his lead vocal tracks would later be overlaid by JOHN SYKES.

In 1993 Bulen was working with PAUL SABU and erstwhile BLACK SABBATH bassist Dave Spitz in a quartet called INSOMNIA, but Sabu had left by the following year and the group persevered as a trio for a while.

By 1996 Bulen had teamed up with former XYZ member Patt Fontaine in the Los Angeles based PUZZLEGUT, whilst Kelly Keeling joined ex EUROPE guitarist JOHN NORUM on the Swede's latest solo excursion in 1997.

The same year, in September, the German label MTM Music issued an eponymously titled BATON ROUGE album masterminded by Jack Ponti and featuring only Kelly Keeling from the original line-up. Ponti supplied guitars and keyboards with contributions from bassist Pat Schick, keyboard player Guy Daniel and drummer Camus Celli. Two of the featured tracks were co-written by Ponti with STAN BUSH, whilst 'Love's A Loaded Gun' is the track Ponti co-wrote with Vic Pepe and Alice Cooper.

Keeling since fronted MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP and forged a union with veteran VANILLA FUDGE drummer CARMINE APPICE fronting his 'Guitar Zeus' series of albums. The singer also has another project titled THE WELL with ex-MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP guitarist MITCH PERRY, FIFTH ANGEL and ALICE COOPER drummer Ken Mary and ex-QUIET RIOT bassist Chuck Wright.

Ponti founded ANGRY TEARS for an eponymous 2000 album. Keeling, alongside Ponti, would both feature as songwriters on ANGRY TEARS vocalist Joey Sinopoli's solo SINOPOLI project album of 2001.

Keyboard player David Cremin would found ROULETTE in alliance with ex-JESSE'S POWERTRIP bassist Phil Bright for a 2001 album 'Life Line'. Following a guest appearance on the 'Music Machine' album Keeling formed up part of Norwegian AOR maestro ERIK NORLANDER's touring band in 2003. March of 2004 found Keeling fronting GEORGE LYNCH's solo band for US dates. Keeling then guested on Italian guitarist Matteo Filippini's MOONSTONE project debut, appearing on the track 'Slave Of Time'. The singer joined major league AOR act FOREIGNER in mid 2004.

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