Michael Godsey, Mark Medley, and Les Shields were experienced veterans of the Nashville punk and hardcore scene when they met Vanderbilt student Melora Zaner in late 1983. Originally dubbed “Ring of Fire,” the initial look and sound was inspired by radical Americana such as Jason and the Scorchers, the Gun Club, and X. After playing their third show in May 1984 opening for The Cramps at Chicago’s Cabaret-Metro the band spent the sum-
mer touring the south and midwest, and in September became Raging Fire.
Encouraged by a strong Nashville follow- ing and the “anything is possible” DIY spirit of the times, the band began record- ing tracks in late 1984 with their friend Mike Poole, and a subsequent EP entitled A Family Thing was released in April 1985 on their homemade Pristine Records label. Featuring Melora's vocals and the band's hard driving, eclectic approach, the record was enthusiastically received by the burgeoning college radio industry and Raging Fire returned to the road in 1985-86, playing everywhere from New Orleans to Chicago, and Detroit to Athens, Georgia.
The EP sparked such demand the first
pressing ran out just as sales and nation- wide airplay were reaching critical mass. A second pressing was eventually comp-leted but effective record distribution proved unreliable in world of only land lines and postal service. Over the course of the next three-and-a-half years the
band would continue to evolve as they made music and appeared everywhere from Austin to Manhattan in their quest
to access a nationwide audience. In 1986 they released the LP Faith Love Was Made Of on Nashville's Neo Records and
submitted the lead track, 'Everything is Roses' to Vanderbilt's WRVU radio comp- ilation City Without a Subway. In 1988 the proto-grunge blueprint 'A Desire Scorned' was included on the Nashville Entertainment Association’s Hear Rock City, and in 1989 Raging Fire appeared on the national compilation Ten of Kind, a joint production of the College Music Journal (CMJ) and BMG/ RCA Records.
Raging Fire first appeared (along with the Pixies) on CMJ's list of top unsigned bands in 1987 and that year marked the first of several CMJ Music Marathon and New Music Seminar appearances. Mean- while, their music continued evolving as they performed increasingly powerful and sophisticated songs for large Nashville audiences at all age shows, nightclubs, and public music festivals. But despite their good fortune and considerable effort, national recognition was not in the cards for Raging Fire.
By the fall of 1989 record labels remained puzzled by the band’s unique sound as well as the fact they were from Nashville –in that day a place recognized only for country music. By early 1990 the members of the band all moved on to other projects.
In existence for barely six years, Raging
Fire left behind a history of powerful live shows and one-of-a-kind recordngs. With the breakout of alternative rock in the early 1990s, their music was proven visionary and it remains a document
of the band's transformation from an inspired punk band to a modern rock prototype.
Today the music of Raging Fire is documented in the remastered anthology:
Everything is Roses: 1985 –1989