VALENTINE / CRUELLA D'VILLE
- Rick Bales (lead vocals / guitar)
- Jon Bales (guitar / bass)
- Frankie Baker (bass)
- Marc Togie (keyboards)
- Rick Howard (drums)
- Ray Caron (bass)
- Bruce Hunt (guitar)
Valentine was formed in 1986 in Tampa Florida with Rick Bales on Vocals and Guitar , Jon Bales on Guitar , Rick Howard on Drums and Marc Togie on Keyboards. Frankie Baker joined soon after on Bass. Rick Bales, Jon Bales and Marc Togie had previously been members of Next Exit and Rick Howard last band was called Cruella D'ville. Frank Baker relocated to Florida in 1986 and joined the band at that point.
Valentine played their first big show at the Florida Fairgrounds in 1986, to a few thousand people, after an appearance on V32 television, Tampa Bays local version of MTV, The band played the local rock clubs from 1986 to 1988... The Volley Club, Mr T's Club 19, The Stadium Lounge, Squires, The Sunset, The Yankee Rose, the London Victory Club and many other local venues.
In 1986 Valentine recorded a song called 'Heavy Gloves' for Southern Championship Wrestling. The song was used as the opening theme song, and snippets were used for commercial breaks. The song was featured on the show until it went off the air a few years later.
In 1987 Valentine met up with Keith Kollins, the bass player from Savatage. Kollins produced a 4-song EP at American Music Works Studios in St Petersburg Florida. The EP featured "Room without a View", "Lace and Leather", "Lover's Hell", and "Your Eyes" At the time of the recording, a signed band called Valentine was recording and touring. Due to this, Valentine changed their name to Rick Howard’s former band name, Cruella D'ville, to avoid confusion with the other Valentine. The EP was completed in 1988.
The EP got some airplay on 98ROCK, and the band continued to play the local clubs, doing covers and original concerts. Soon after the completion of the EP, Togie parted ways with the band, and Cruella D'ville continued on as a 4-piece instead.
Things were going well in Tampa, so the band decided to move to LA to be a part of the huge metal scene that was exploding there in the late 80s. Rick and Jon Bales moved to LA in August of 1989 and attended the Guitar Institue of Technology (GIT). Howard moved out shortly afterward, and Baker left the band.
Juan Croucier, the bass player from Ratt, heard the Cruella EP and expressed interest in producing a new project for the band. Finding the right bass player was not easy and before the replacement for Baker was found, Croucier moved on to produce another project.
Ray Caron joined the band in 1990 after many bass player auditions. Cruella started gigging in LA at the Troubadour, the Whisky, Gazzarri's, FM Station and many other venues. The band got a weekly gig at the Troubadour playing every Wednessday night for over a year in 1990 at the Jon E Jam. The band was featured in all the local magazines, such as Rock City News and Screamer.
In 1990, Cruella added a couple of female backup singers who stayed with them for about a year. However, that same year in 1990 also saw the departure of Jon Bales. Over 100 guitarist auditioned for the chance to replace Bales, but in the end it was Bruce Hunt from St. Louis who got the spot.
Cruella D'ville became a big draw on the 'Strip' packing the Whisky and Gazarris. A distribution deal was signed with Big Time Records to distribute the EP through magazine orders, while the band sold tapes at the shows, and local record stores. The band was approached by a record company and signed a deal to record an album. They continued to gig and write songs for the album, and collaborated with songwriter Steven Rosen. When all the pre-production was complete they recorded 11 songs for the album. Unfortunately there was a falling out with the record company and the album never got released.
Caron left the band in 1993 and was replaced on bass by Jon Bales who returned to the band. The band gigged for a few more months after that and then disbanded.
Cruella D'ville (EP)
Face The Future
Showdown In Tinsel Town