Mark Reale will be best known to all as the guitarist and founding member of hard rock band Riot. On January 25th, the much-loved musician died following complications with Crohn’s Disease. He was 57 years old.
At the beginning of January, Reale was hospitalised; reports suggested he had suffered a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage and was in a coma. At the time Reale was taken ill, Riot were touring to promote their 2011 release ‘Immortal Soul’, released only two months previously.
A band seemingly dogged by bad luck, Reale is the third key figure in Riot’s history to pass away prematurely: the band’s first vocalist, Guy Speranza lost his life to pancreatic cancer at age 46, while second vocalist Rhett Forrester was shot and killed during a carjacking in 1994. The perpetrators have never been caught.
Riot formed in 1975 and released their first album ‘Rock City’ in 1977, followed by ‘Narita’ two years later. While these albums were instrumental in creating and tightening Riot’s sound, for many fans, 1981’s ‘Fire Down Under’ acted as the band’s breakthrough. In 1982, following the departure of vocalist Guy Speranza, Riot acheived greater attention with ‘Restless Breed’ – the band’s first album to feature vocalist Rhett Forrester.
After the first Riot break-up in the mid-80’s, Reale formed a new band named Narita which failed to get off the ground. He revived Riot in 1988, who subsequently released ‘Thundersteel’ – the first release with vocalist Tony Moore. As a sideline, Reale also teamed up with ex-TNT vocalist Tony Harnell in the late 90s to form the hard rock powerhouse Westworld. With Westworld, Reale never achieved any huge commercial success, but critically, the hard rock press were often more than enthusiastic with regards to the band.
Meanwhile, shifting line-ups in Riot never deterred Reale, who continued to record with the band throughout the 90s and beyond. The arrival of 2011’s ‘Immortal Soul’ had been particularly anticipated by the band’s fans, since not only was it Riot’s first studio record in five years, but it also marked the return of vocalist Tony Moore.
On Wednesday January 18th, just a week prior to his passing, Riot performed their first gig without Mark Reale.
He will be sadly missed by many fans of classic rock and melodic metal the world over.