Skid Row was formed in Toms River, New Jersey, in late 1986 by bassist Rachel Bolan and guitarist Dave "The Snake" Sabo. The pair added guitarist Steve Brotherton, who was replaced with Kurtis Jackson and later by Scotti Hill, drummer Rob Affuso, and lead vocalist Sebastian Bach, who replaced original lead vocalist Matt Fallon, to the line-up by early 1987. The band began playing shows in clubs throughout the eastern United States.
Jon Bon Jovi had been put in a position to seek out new and upcoming talent. He had set up a publishing company called the Underground Music Company. Bon Jovi and Dave Sabo had been friends for a very long time. They agreed that if one of them made it in the music business, he would help the other out. Bon Jovi manager Doc McGhee sought out Skid Row, and signed them. They secured a record deal with Atlantic Records in 1988, and entered the studio with Michael Wagener (of Ozzy Osbourne, White Lion and Extreme fame) to record their first album. The album was recorded in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin at the Royal Records studio. Skid Row would later open for Bon Jovi, who were touring behind their New Jersey album.
Skid Row also signed a publishing deal with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, which proved to be a mistake.[says who?] Skid Row signed over a lot of ownership of the band, including the publishing rights to Bon Jovi, which became a big issue as the band became more successful. But when the publishing deal went sour, frontman Sebastian Bach let the press know about the bad deal that was made. Under pressure, Sambora agreed to give the band back a percentage of their publishing.
Skid Row also took part in the Moscow Peace Festival Concert, which was set up to keep manager Doc McGhee out of jail. McGhee was facing drug trafficking charges, and therefore set up an anti-drug/peace concert in Russia, featuring a few of the artists that he and his brother managed. Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe later dropped Doc as their manager.
Skid Row (1989-1990)
Skid Row, released in January 1989, was an instant success. The record went 5x platinum and produced the hit singles "18 and Life", "I Remember You"and "Youth Gone Wild".
In what is referred to as "The Bottle Incident" by fans of the band, Bach was hit with a bottle thrown onstage from the crowd at a concert in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Skid Row was opening for Aerosmith on December 27, 1989. Bach threw the bottle back, hitting a girl (not the thrower), so he jumped on the crowd to beat the person who can be seen on a tour video released by Skid Row called Oh Say Can You Scream in 1990.
Shortly thereafter, Bach put on, during a concert, a t-shirt proclaiming the anti-gay slogan "AIDS Kills Fags Dead". The shirt was thrown onstage by a fan, and Bach, without looking at it, put it on. After the concert Bach apologized, stating "My grandmother had recently died of cancer, I guess I would be pissed too if I saw someone wearing a 'Cancer Kills Grandmothers Dead' shirt". In later years Bach repeated his apology for wearing the shirt, and made a substantial donation to an AIDS charity and gay rights organizations.
Slave to the Grind (1991-1992) Skid Row returned to the studio with Wagener in 1990, to record their second studio album. Slave to the Grind, released in June 1991, it debuted at Number 1 in the American charts, the first metal album to do so. Slave to the Grind became a major success, and Skid Row once again went out on a worldwide tour which lasted over a year, including a leg supporting Guns N' Roses in 1991 and an appearance at the Castle Donington festival in 1992. Slave to the Grind was a departure for the band; where Skid Row was an album that followed the typical 80's band formula, Slave to the Grind had a heavier sound, even verging on thrash & hardcore punk with the title track.
B-Side Ourselves, Subhuman Race, departure of Sebastian Bach and Hiatus (1992-1998)
Before a third album could be recorded, Skid Row took an extended hiatus in 1993, following the Slave to the Grind tour and the release of the EP, B-Side Ourselves, in September 1992. For some time, Skid Row parted ways with Wagener, possibly due to their music taking a different direction for the follow-up to Slave to the Grind.
In 1994, the band returned to the studio with Bob Rock (of Metallica, Mötley Crüe and The Offspring fame), to record their third studio album. Subhuman Race, released in March 1995, charted in the top 40. Although it did not achieve the success of Skid Row and Slave to the Grind, it generated a few hits, but at that point, their videos were rarely played on MTV, partly because of the rise in popularity of grunge and subsequent decline of many heavy metal styles and 1980s hard rock. Skid Row would open for Van Halen on the North American leg of the tour.
Eventually, Sebastian Bach was fired by the band in late 1996, following an argument with Rachel Bolan over a chance to open up for KISS. Skid Row were called to open for KISS on New Year's Eve '96 and Bach was all for it as he has always been a huge fan of KISS. According to Bach, Rachel Bolan was more concerned with his punk band side project and did not want to play the show. Although the group never officially disbanded, the remaining members went on to play briefly in a band called Ozone Monday in mid 1998, which featured lead vocalist Sean McCabe. Shortly after, drummer Rob Affuso left the band and still remains friends with the band to this day.
The New Skid Row and Thickskin (1999-2004)
Skid Row re-formed in 1999 with new lead vocalist Johnny Solinger, formerly of Solinger, and drummer Charlie Mills. Mills soon left the band and was replaced with drummer Phil Varone, formerly of Saigon Kick. After re-forming, they opened for KISS on their farewell tour, and have also played with other 1980s metal bands such as Poison. They have been on tour every summer. In 2002 they were part of the Rock Never Stops Tour. The new lineup has shared the stage with such acts as Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Def Leppard, Sammy Hagar, as well as many others from their genre.
Skid Row released their fourth full-length studio album, Thickskin, in 2003, which was their first album to feature Solinger and Varone and their first studio album in 8 years. In early 2004, Timothy DiDuro replaced Varone, who had abruptly left the band, citing personal reasons. DiDuro also appeared in the Skid Row video "Ghost." Varone returned, but after wide reports of drug abuse, he again left the band and was replaced by Dave Gara.
Revolutions per Minute and recent activities (2005-present)
The fifth (and most recent) Skid Row album, Revolutions per Minute, was released on October 24, 2006 through SPV Records. Michael Wagener reunited with Skid Row and became their producer for this album.
In 2007, the band recorded Jingle Bells for a Monster Ballads Christmas album. At the end of January 2008 they played at MOTLEY CRUISE, a 4-day cruise in the Caribbean (Miami, Key West and Cozumel, MX) with Vince Neil, Ratt, Slaughter, Endeverafter, Lynam.
On February 20, 2008, the band played a private, invitation-only party for the Nordic Games Program group at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Keri Kelli filled in for an ailing Dave Sabo. Skid Row joined a variety of other hard rock acts on the November 2009 cruise entitled "ShipRocked". In early 2010 Dave Gara left Skid Row and was replaced with Rob Hammersmith.
Rachel Bolan and Sebastian Bach have each stated that a reunion seems unlikely. Bach continues to tour as a solo artist and has often opened for Guns N' Roses. His latest release was Angel Down in November 2007.