- Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitar
- Oz Fox – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Robert Sweet – ‘Visual Time Keeper’, Percussion
- Tim Gaines – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- The Yellow and Black Attack – EP (1984)
- Soldiers Under Command (1985)
- The Yellow and Black Attack [Re-release] – (1986)
- To Hell With The Devil (1986)
- In God We Trust (1988)
- Against The Law (1990)
- Can’t Stop The Rock (1991)
- 7: The Best of Stryper (2003)
- Reborn (2005)
- The Roxx Regime Demos (2007)
- Murder By Pride (2009)
- 7 Weeks: Live In America, 2003 (2004)
- Extended Versions (2006)
Stryper is a Christian hair metal band from California. The band is known for making Christian music popular in the mainstream. They are known for their hit power ballad ‘Honestly’ and other songs such as ‘To Hell With The Devil’, ‘Calling On You’, and ‘Free’.
Stryper’s history starts in 1975, when the Sweet brothers, Michael and Robert, became Christians from a televangelist named Jimmy Swaggart. But Michael and Robert began to walk away from their newfound faith. During this time, Robert was playing in different bands and from the suggestion of their parents, Robert and Michael started a band together.
Mike and Robert started looking for members for their new band. They went through many lead guitarists and bass guitarists until they found themselves a solid line-up. After a while they had asked a friend from school, Oz Fox, to join the band. During this time the band had many name changes from, Aftermath, Firestorm, Roxx, and then to Roxx Regime.
During Roxx Regime practices, a friend of the band named Kenny Metcalf, kept witnessing to the band about Christ. Finally the band rededicated their lives to Jesus and started looking for a new bass player who was a Christian.
The band had found out that local bass hero, Tim Gaines, had just became a Christian and quit the popular L.A. band he was in called Stormer, due to his newfound faith. They tried asking him to join the band and he said no, then when they said that they were a Christian band, Tim accepted and joined the band.
With a full line-up now, the band recorded two-sets of demos. They recorded a Christian demo and a secular demo. They started shopping around for a record deal and they got signed by Enigma Records. When they were signed, they were asked to change their name to something more catchy. So the band decided on the name Stryper, from the passage of the Bible in Isaiah 53:5 that says ‘by his stripes, we are healed.’ It was during this time that Robert Sweet also got asked to be the drummer for the band Ratt, but declined due to his Christian faith.
Once Stryper was signed, they began recording their debut album, The Yellow and Black Attack – EP. It was also during the recording of the album that Enigma Records read the lyrics for the album and found out that Stryper was a Christian band. Once the label found this out, they only released 20,000 copies of the debut because they weren’t sure how well ‘Christian metal’ would sell in the mainstream.
There were no singles off of the EP and it did not chart. But it was during this time that the band started gaining a following while opening for bands such as Ratt and Bon Jovi. But this was also not without controversey, the band was criticized by critics and fellow Christians saying that the band was ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’.
On May 15, 1985 the band released their second album and their first full-length album called, Soldiers Under Command. The album had 3 singles released from it. The singles were Soldiers Under Command, Together As One, and Reach Out. Stryper was gaining more commercial success with this album as it was the first Christian metal album to achieve the Gold record status. It also peaked at number 84 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album has sold over half-a-million copies.
While on tour in support of the album, the band released a concert video called ‘Live In Japan’, it was released in 1986. Today this is a rare Stryper collectible.
Surprised at the success of their second album, Enigma quickly re-released The Yellow and Black Attack on August 10, 1986. The re-release was re-recorded with two new songs and new artwork. The re-released peaked at number 103 on the Billboard 200 charts.
Stryper had the most success with their 1986 release, To Hell With The Devil. The album went Platinum and spent 74 weeks on the Billboard charts peaking at number 32. The band released the singles Honestly, which peaked at number 23 on the Hot 100 charts. Other singles included Calling On You and Free. On MTV, the videos for Honestly and Free ranked number 1 in most requested. Calling On You peaked at number 5 for most requested. Stryper is the only band of all time to ever have 3 songs in the top 10 most requested on MTV, all at one time. To Hell With The Devil is the highest selling Christian metal album of all time, still to this day. Stryper is also the first Christian band to ever be played on MTV.
The bands next album, In God We Trust, was released in 1988. Stryper tried to emulate the success of To Hell With The Devil by recording an album that leaned more to the pop-rock and radio-friendly genres. This caused many of the fans and critics to think that the album was overpolished and too commercial. The album still did well, achieving the Gold status. The album was on the Billboard 200 chart for 23 weeks and peaked at number 32. Two successful singles came from the album, Always There For You which spent 8 weeks on the Hot 100 chart and peaked at number 71 and I Believe In You, which spent 5 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 88. The third single, Keep The Fire Burning, didn’t even chart at all.
During the recording of the next album, there were major changes within the band. Their next album, Against The Law, was released in August of 1990. The yellow and black stripes were gone from the band and the bold Christian lyrics were gone as well. The band replaced them with a typical rock and roll image of leather outfits and lyrics pertaining to rock n’ roll and relationships. Arguably, the lyrics can be taken from a Christians point of view. The critics thought this was Stryper’s best work to date, but the Christian fans felt that they had been betrayed. Due to these major changes in the band, the album sold poorly compared to previous Stryper releases.
While on tour in support of the album, Stryper’s label, Enigma Records went bankrupt. Wes Hein, formerly of Enigma Records, had just gotten a job at a new label called Hollywood Records and he got Stryper signed to Hollywood Records.
Instead of an album of new material as planned, the band and Hollywood Records resolved on a compilation album with two new songs. The two new songs were ‘Believe’, which was inspired by the Persian Gulf War and ‘Can’t Stop The Rock’ which was a song written by Michael and Robert Sweet about the changes in the band.
After the tour in support of Can’t Stop The Rock, Michael Sweet left the band to pursue a solo career. Without Michael, the band continued as a three-piece for a little tour of Europe with lead guitarist Oz Fox doing lead vocals as well as lead guitar. When the band returned to the United States, they decided to go their separate ways.
In the mid-1990’s Oz Fox and Tim Gaines formed a new band called Sin Dizzy. The band released one album, He’s Not Dead in 1998 and the album was re-released in 2009. Much of what was on the album was what was going to be on the next Stryper album that was never recorded.
Through out the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Michael Sweet released solo albums that were successful in the Christian music industry.
Stryper’s drummer, Robert Sweet, played in many bands including, Blissed, King James, Dbeality, Final Axe, and The Seventh Power to name a few.
The roots of the Stryper reunion were in 1999 when Michael Sweet and Sin Dizzy were invited to play a rock festival in Puerto Rico. For an encore, Michael Sweet joined Oz Fox and Tim Gaines onstage and played many Stryper songs.
The next year in 2000, the first of 2 Stryper Expo’s was held in New Jersey. For the first time in almost 10 years, the full line-up of Stryper took the stage and performed. The second Stryper Expo took place in Los Angeles in 2001.
With the success of the Stryper Expos, Hollywood Records asked the four original members of Stryper to record two new tracks for another compilation album. The album was called 7: The Best of Stryper. The two new songs were ‘Something’ and ‘For You’. A tour followed, and on that tour a live album was recorded over many dates. The live album was called 7 Weeks: Live In America, 2003. The live album spent 1 week on the Independent Releases Chart and peaked at number 39.
On the last show of the tour in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the band recorded a live DVD called, Stryper: Live In Puerto Rico.
The last show with Tim Gaines in Stryper would be the show in Puerto Rico. After that he decided to part ways with the band. Tim’s replacement would be Tracy Ferrie, formerly of Michael Sweet’s solo band.
The gig with Tracy Ferrie in the band was such a huge success that Stryper went back into the studio to record a new album.
Stryper released Reborn in August of 2005. This album was originally another solo Michael Sweet album, but the band decided to just re-record their parts and release it as Stryper. The album was heavier than most other Stryper albums, but was also more contemporary. The album had many grunge and alternative influences in it. The album spent 1 week in the Billboard 200 Chart and peaked at number 111 and it spent 6 weeks in the Christian Albums Charts and peaked at number 4. The album features a redone version of In God We Trust. The new version is heavier and has one line in which the lyrics are reversed, since technically the band doesn’t own rights to release the original song.
In October of 2006, the band released another live CD called, Extended Versions. The CD has the same recordings as the previous live album, except it has the only released live version of You Won’t Be Lonely.
In 2007, Stryper released the demos that got them signed to Enigma Records on an album called The Roxx Regime Demos.
In February of 2007, Michael Sweet postponed the recording of Stryper’s next release because his wife, Kyle, had been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. During this time the new album was put on hold so that Michael could care for his family. His wife went into surgery and that resulted in her complete healing. But in April of 2008, Kyle announced that the cancer had returned. On March 5th of 2009, Michael Sweet’s wife, Kyle, died of cancer.
As of January of 2008, Michael announced that the album was in the mixing stage, but the album was put on hold once again as Michael Sweet toured with the legendary classic rock band, Boston, and permanently becoming a lead singer for the band, along side Tommy DeCarlo.
After many postponements, Stryper’s latest album, Murder By Pride, was released on July 21, 2009. The release date was 25 years to the day that Stryper’s first album, The Yellow and Black Attack – EP was released. The album debuted at number 73 on the Billboard 200, number 32 on the Rock Albums charts, number 2 on Christian albums chats, number 13 on Independent albums charts and number 11 on Hard Rock albums charts. The album is proving to be successful for the band.
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