July 9, 2008
By David Huff
Tora Tora - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13
Blues-based, Zeppelin Inspired
Blues-based, Zeppelin inspired rock should have made Tora Tora (named after a Van Halen song on Women and Children First), a household name. Sadly it didn’t. One of the very best unknown bands of the ‘80s hard rock genre, political infighting at their label killed any chance of this band achieving massive success.
Formed in Memphis, Tennessee by Anthony Corder (vocals), Keith Douglas (guitar), Patrick Francis (bass) and John Patterson (drums), Tora Tora came to prominence when they beat out sixty other groups in a Battle of the Bands contest. The grand prize – money and free studio recording time – which they used to cut one track in Memphis; the rest going to record an entire independent EP called To Rock, To Roll. The songs “Phantom Rider” and “Love’s a Bitch” received extensive airplay on a local radio station where an A&M scout discovered the group and signed them.
In 1989, Tora Tora released Surprise Attack featuring the hit “Dancing with a Gypsy” (it also appeared on the soundtrack for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure). The album was a staple on the Billboard Top 100 chart, but with A&M being absorbed by PolyGram, inner label turmoil killed support for the record. Its follow-up in ’92, Wild America, was doomed even before its release. A third album, Revolution Day, never even saw the light of day. The band saw the handwriting on the wall, and folded.
Tora Tora’s appearance at Rocklahoma will be its first concert as a group in 14 years.