Raised in New Jersey, Ray Gillen started singing at High School before moving on to the local club scene. It was here that he honed his hard rock vocals during the early 80s playing for various groups such as Harlett. In 1985 he joined Rondinelli both touring and recording a demo album with them before being plucked from ‘nowhere’ and moved up to rock’s premier league.
It was 1986 and Black Sabbath were touring ‘Seventh Star’, with vocalist Glenn Hughes, when Glenn got into a fight. The resultant damage to his throat meant he couldn’t sing and Gillen was catapulted into place as Black Sabbath’s new vocalist. He proved more than capable and not only completed the tour but was in place for the recording of their next album ‘The Eternal Idol’. But with the group embroiled in both financial and management problems the recording was not a success and Gillen left before its completion (having his vocals re-recorded by Tony Martin).
Gillen subsequently worked with John Sykes and in 1988 he formed Badlands with guitarist Jake E. Lee (ex-Ozzy Osbourne) and drummer Eric Singer (from Black Sabbath).
Releasing their first Badlands album and first single ‘Dreams in the Dark’ in 1989 the group received rave reviews and toured extensively during 1990. This pattern was repeated with their next release ‘Voodoo Highway’ in 1991 but the relationship between Gillen and Lee was souring and in 1992 Badlands split.
Ray Gillen continued to record as a guest vocalist and teamed once more with Rondinelli. Due to ill health however his brief period at the top was coming to an end and he died in 1993.