January 25, 2012 – Mark Reale, heavy metal guitarist best known for being the only constant original member in the band Riot, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1955. He grew up listening to The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore and lists George Harrison as one of his greatest influences. After attending concerts by Ronnie Montrose, Rick Derringer and Edgar Winter he decided to become a rock guitarist, forming the band Riot in 1975 who are still active today.
Mark Reale was the principal songwriter and main creative force behind Riot starting with the band’s 1977 debut album Rock City. The group’s most acclaimed album was 1981’s seminal Fire Down Under, the last of three studio albums to feature original vocalist Guy Speranza. Other notable records include Restless Breed (1982), the band’s comeback album, Thundersteel (1988), and its follow-up, The Privilege of Power (1990). Riot’s most recent album was Immortal Soul in 2011. Riot has toured all around the world and been a support act for major acts such as Kiss, AC/DC, Sammy Hagar, Molly Hatchet, and Rush while maintaining a particularly strong fanbase in Japan and Continental Europe.
In the early to mid 70’s his influences included the likes of Edgar Winter, Ronnie Montrose and Rick Derringer. He also loved a range of bands and artists from Al Di Meola to Deep Purple. In 1975 Mark formed his band RIOT, then at a block party Mark’s father found vocalist Guy Speranza. Mark’s guitar style and his passion for writing songs that told stories that were so deep and moving had made a real connection with those who would become lifelong fans. The fans felt so connected to Mark because the lyrics in RIOT’s songs were extremely close to the stories of their own lives. His song writing style could weave tales of anything from old lore to battle fields and warriors, personal loss and triumph. And heavy metal anthems that will be with us for decades to come.
After Riot’s temporary breakup following the Born In America (1983) release, Reale formed a short-lived outfit named Narita with former members of S.A. Slayer, including future Riot bassist Don Van Stavern. The band recorded a sole demo in 1984 before calling it quits. Reale decided to re-activate Riot which led to a new record deal with CBS Records and the Thundersteel album in 1988. In 1998, Reale co-founded the group Westworld with vocalist Tony Harnell of TNT fame. Westworld released three studio albums and one live disc between 1999 and 2002.
The brethren of brothers that Mark spent his life long career in music with and whom he leaves behind or joins in heaven are, Guy Speranza, L.A Kouvaris, Kip Leming, Peter Bitelli, Rhett Forrester, Rick Ventura, Jimmy Iommi, Sandy Slavin, Tony Moore, Don Van Stavern, Mike Flyntz, Pete Perez, Bobby Jarzombek, Mike Dimeo, John Macaluso, Bobby Rondinelli, Mike Tirelli, Frank Gilchriest and Damon Di Bari who was always like the “6th” member of the band being Riot’s lighting director / production manager / tour manager and Mark’s personal assistant from 1988 through 2008. Mark’s final days were spent with Damon at his hospital bedside, sharing the fans’ thoughts, well wishes and prayers. Even though Mark began his career in New York, San Antonio was a special place he loved and not only lived here for a while but had planned on moving back here to make San Antonio his permanent home.
On January 25, 2012, Reale died of complications related to Crohn’s disease. Reale, who had Crohn’s disease most of his life, had been in a coma since January 11 due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage.