Night Ranger's 'Sister Christian': Watch Hair Metal Masterpiece Video - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Night Ranger’s Hair Metal Masterpiece ‘Sister Christian’

Revisiting the 1984 power ballad that became the “Stairway to Heaven” of hair metal

Rock of Ages has extended its off-Broadway run 14 weeks (through January 14, 2020), meaning hair metal fans can now sit back and take tequila shots in their Harley Davidson T-shirts in New York City for a little longer. Held at the Theater District’s New World Stages, the production is celebrating 10 years since the musical first debuted on Broadway in April 2009. It would run for six years, making it one of the top 30 longest-running shows of all time.

Set in a bar on Los Angeles’ seedy Sunset Strip in 1987, a busboy who dreams of being a rock star falls in love with an aspiring actress from the Midwest. The show features hits from the cheesy era — including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” — all while breaking the fourth wall and interacting with the audience.

One song prominently featured is Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” a power ballad that cemented itself in the hair metal cannon since its release in 1984. Drummer and vocalist Kelly Keagy wrote the song after visiting his teenage sister Christy in Eugene, Oregon, and was amazed at how fast she had grown up. His bandmates heard Keagy sing “Sister Christian” instead of “Christy,” and the title stuck. While the anthem-like chorus “You’re Motorin’” was the subject of debate, the band insisted it meant cruising in a car.

The beloved video for “Sister Christian,” aired on MTV constantly in the summer of 1984. Directed by Mary Guido and filmed at San Rafael High School in California, the clip features a woman on the cusp of her high school graduation, donning a cap and gown before she eventually runs down the school’s stairs and jumps into a car with her friends.

Macha Bennet-Shephard, the actress in the video, gave a rare interview in 2014 in which she discussed playing the role. “I don’t know if you remember, but at the height of its popularity, that video was shown every single hour,” she said. “I’d turn on MTV and see myself on TV at pretty much any given time. That’s a very strange thing. Feeling blue? Turn on the TV and see yourself! Instant mood-lifter!”

The song was introduced to a younger audience when it was featured in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film Boogie Nights. The band revisited San Rafael High School in 2005. “We were just a bunch of kids ourselves,” said bassist Jack Blades. “MTV was brand new. It was exciting. But we weren’t actors, we were musicians. They just told us, you stand here, you stand there, in this scene you dance. We just wanted to play music. We were sort of old-school that way.”

‘Rock of Ages’ runs through January 12, 2020.


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