Stranger things: The rock ‘n’ roll saga of Greg Billings – St Pete Catalyst

Stranger Things
For a moment in time – one brief, shining, freeze-frame of a moment – it looked like Stranger was going to be the next Florida rock band to break big. It was 1982, and Epic Records, riding high on platinum success with Jacksonville’s Molly Hatchet, was throwing its considerable muscle behind Stranger’s first album. It was produced in Los Angeles by the same guy who’d crafted million-sellers for Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon  – and Molly Hatchet. The world was Stranger’s oyster. Greg Billings, the lead singer and tireless, charismatic frontman for Stranger, thinks about that moment a lot these days. Billings is 62, slim, trim and in good health, and still singing with as much power as he did in his 20s (the long curly hair, however, is gone forever). The Stranger saga is fraught with “what might have beens” like the Epic Records launch. The record (Stranger) came out and … nothing. Didn’t sell, didn’t produce a hit single, didn’t get Billings and his bandmates on MTV. The world yawned and looked away. In retrospect, Billings believes famed producer Tom Werman rushed them – a bunch of Florida rubes who knew zilch about making records – in ....

studio. At that point, they would have agreed to anything, just to get noticed. “This thing was fast, it was thin, it was just f—king awful, ” Billings says. “I thought ‘I don’t think we sound like that, ’ but we were proud of what we did. We went out on tour, and we were great live, but the feedback was that the record was not a very good representation of the band.” Epic dropped them; it took a while for the band to untangle itself from the red tape of bad management. But they survived, and they flourished. Based out of Tampa Bay, Stranger had a good 15-year run as one of the top club acts in Florida and Georgia before calling it quits in 1996. They self-produced a couple of albums, selling them on vinyl and cassette out of their tour bus after shows. .

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