R.I.P. – Mark Reale (June 7, 1955 – January 25, 2012)
Yesterday (Wednesday, January 25th), RIOT guitarist and founder Mark Reale passed away due to complications stemming from Crohn’s disease in a San Antonio hospital. He was 56 year old. Reale had been in a coma since January 11th due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He had battled Crohn’s for most of his life, working and performing while enduring almost constant pain and the side effects of treatment for his illness. He was in Texas bravely attempting to practice for the band’s scheduled shows, but was felled by a severe onset of Crohn’s symptoms, which eventually put him in the Intensive Care Unit.
A statement at his official website reads as follows:
“Our brother Mark Reale went home to be with our Lord this day January 25th, 2012 after a long battle and complications from Crohns disease. He is survived by his father Anthony Reale and was precede in death by his mother Frances Reale. Mark was born June 7th, 1955 in Brooklyn New York at a time when rock and roll was flourishing with many new sounds. Early in his life, his first interest had been the movies. ever so curiously, he had shown an interest in films. But then, songs he heard on the radio began to change that. He quickly began to love music from THE BEATLES and CREAM. Mark lists GEORGE HARRISON and ERIC CLAPTON as great influences. When he was seven years old his grandfather bought him his first basic guitar to practice on and later his father bought him a new guitar and amp, his passion had begun.
In the early to mid ’70’s his influences included the likes of EDGAR WINTER, RONNIE MONTROSE and RICK DERRINGER. He also loved a range of bands and artists from AL DI MEOLA to DEEP PURPLE. In 1975 Mark formed his band Riot, then at a block party Mark’s father found vocalist Guy Speranza. Mark’s guitar style and his passion for writing songs that told stories that were so deep and moving had made a real connection with those who would become life long fans. The fans felt so connected to Mark because the lyrics in Riot’s songs were extremely close to the stories of their own lives. His song writing style could weave tales of anything from old lore to battle fields and warriors, personal loss and triumph. And heavy metal anthems that will be with us for decades to come.
The brethren of brothers that Mark spent his life long career in music with and whom he leaves behind or joins in heaven are, Guy Speranza, L.A. Kouvaris, Kip Leming, Peter Bitelli, Rhett Forrester, Rick Ventura, Jimmy Iommi, Sandy Slavin, Tony Moore, Don Van Stavern, Mike Flyntz, Pete Perez, Bobby Jarzombek, Mike Dimeo, John Macaluso, Bobby Rondinelli, Mike Tirelli, Frank Gilchriest and Damon Di Bari who was always like the “6th” member of the band being Riot’s lighting director / production manager / tour manager and Mark’s personal assistant. Mark’s final days were spent with Damon at his hospital bedside, sharing the fans thoughts, well wishes and prayers. Even though Mark began his career in New York, San Antonio was a special place he loved and not only lived here for a while but had planned on moving back here to make San Antonio his permanent home.
With heart felt thanks to the fans around the world, the United States, Japan, Europe and all points in between. The Riot army meant everything in the world to Mark., it’s what kept him going. The loyalty and love of the fans fueled his passion and desire to continue making music for as long as possible.
Please keep the Mighty Tior in your hearts and the memory of Mark alive within you.
Shine on, Mark shine on!”
It’s a very sad day for me here at Heavy Metal Addiction because I am a huge Riot fan and Mark Reale is one of my favorite guitar players. I knew that Mark suffered from severe Crohn’s disease for years, and I had been following Mark’s recent hospitalization due to Crohn’s complications because Riot was scheduled to tour the U.S. and the band had been rehearsing in Texas with Mark. When I read the news early this morning, I was shocked to find out Mark had passed…..it’s always a shock when one of your heroes passes, they seem so indestructible. Mark’s music, whether it be in Riot or Westworld, has been some of my favorite Heavy Metal and Hard Rock in the last 30 years, he was a criminally underrated guitarist, very influential and a great talent…..the music world has lost another great musician. Albums like Riot’s FIRE DOWN UNDER and RESTLESS BREED, and Westworld’s debut album, are some of my favorite all-time albums and are worth seeking out if you are a true Metal fan.
Sincere condolences go out to Mark’s family, friends, bandmates and fans…..shine on and rest in peace.