he Sweet brothers (Michael (vocals) and Robert (drums)) formed this Christian heavy metal (a.k.a. "white metal") outfit Stryper in 1981, with Timothy Gaines (bass) and Oz Fox (guitar). They started out under the moniker Roxx Regieme and played a standardized American metalized hard rock inspired by Van Halen (sonicly, not lyrically). The Sweet brothers had converted to Christianity after seeing the preaching of American evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
Roxx Regieme soon attracted a record contract by 'Enigma Records' and relocated to Los Angeles. The record label, however, wanted the act to change their name and image, so by devising a carefully constructed marketing image and strategy, they changed their name to Stryper and dressed in matching black and yellow outfits. The name Stryper derived from the King James version of the Bible (Isaiah 53:5, "By His stripes we are healed"). So, shortly later, the act announced their intentions to spread the word of God through their music, and be the antithesis to the growing "satanic" movement of Venom and the like. It was this last component of their concept, the religion, that attracted the media, believing it to be such a novelty to deserve headline status.
Their debut, Yellow and Black Attack (1984), sported high-pitched harmonies, pretty-boy looks, standard hard rock riffs and simple lyrics. Their truly unique on-stage gimmick of throwing bibles into the audience at live shows didn't hurt their image either.
They worked hard at spreading their gospel to the largely "heathen" ranks of heavy metal fans on the next effort, Soldiers Under Command (1985), an album that offered them their first gold.
Their appeal was fully realized on their third album, To Hell With The Devil (1986). To Hell With The Devil stayed on the Billboard charts for three months topping out at 32, and went platinum after. Popish and more mellow tracks offered the follow-up In God We Trust (1988) gold status despite being lambasted by fans who demanded the harder rock of their past. Although it also charted at 32, the increasing glam image of the band didn't help it sell either; it only remained on the Billboard charts for five weeks. Gaines did not participate in the recording (Brad Cobb once again played bass) but later rejoined the group for another world tour.
At this point the band then took some time off to re-think their strategy. Oz Fox, however, ventured into the studio and assisted in the debut album by fellow Christian rockers Guardian during Stryper's down time. It would be the 1990 when Against The Law emerged. This album returned to their harder sound, with "God" not mentioned once; they also sent the yellow and black "bee costumes", and matching cover art, packing to don black leather! It was too little and too late, for most of their fans, however, were gone, and the album reflected that in sales. When Michael Sweet quit in 1992, even the Lord All Mighty couldn't save their act for it was the last headline they received. Can't Stop The rock - The Stryper Collection was released in 1991 as an anthology of their career.
Sweet signed with 'Benson Records' in 1993 to release his first solo effort the following year back in the Christian style.
Fox and Gaines formed their own band, SinDizzy to release the album He's Not Dead in 1998. Drummer Robert Sweet played in several bands, among them Blissed, who released an album in 2002.
The former members of Stryper reunited later in 1999, when Sweet and SinDizzy were invited to play at a summer rock festival in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. As an encore, Sweet joined Fox and Gaines on stage and played several Stryper songs.
In 2000, the first "Stryper Expo" was held in New Jersey whereby the complete line-up of Stryper took the stage. That same year, another concert was held in Costa Rica where the four members played together. A second "Stryper Expo" took place in Los Angeles in 2001.
7: The Best of Stryper (2003) and 7 Weeks: Live in America, 2003 (2004) followed on 'Hollywood Records'. This would precede a full band reunion where Reborn (2005) would result, incorporating aspects of alternative rock and grunge, and featuring lyrics returning to the band's familiar themes of God and salvation.
On March 5, 2009, Michael Sweet's wife, Kyle, died from cancer.
Sweet performed with the band Boston in 2007 and was asked to join that band as co-lead vocalist and guitarist. He would tour with Boston in 2008 with Styx as the opening act.
The Covering (2011), a collection of 12 cover songs from bands that inspired Stryper. This 'second coming' of the act was a fairly productive time with the follow-up releases of Second Coming (2013), No More Hell to Pay (2013) and Fallen (2015).
In September 2016, Sweet announced the band would be going on hiatus due to personal issues affecting bassist Timothy Gaines; Gains would permanently leave the act soon after. Perry Richardson would soon after replace him after the 'hiatus' ended for the release of God Damn Evil (2018).
Footnote: To say that Stryper was bible thumping their career away is not a complete statement, for they were as "godly" as Venom was "satanic"; in both cases each band talked about it, but the truth of the matter is it was more an image, certainly in the public eye, then a true statement.
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|City||Orange County, California|
|Active Years||1983-1993, 1999-2001, 2003-|
|RRCA File Code||REV00271|