The four successful musicians, Jack Blades – bass guitarist and singer from Night Ranger, Michael Cartellone – drummer later from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent – guitarist and singer and Tommy Shaw – the guitarist from Styx, got together to make up the supergroupknown as Damn Yankees in 1989.
They went into the recording studio and released their eponymous debut album in 1990. Seeing almost immediate success the single “High Enough” went to No. 3 on the Hot 100 chart and No. 2 on the AOR chart. “Coming of Age” was also popular and reached the No. 1 spot on the AOR chart and No. 60 on the Hot 100. The album became double-platinum.
The band went on a world tour promoting the album which lasted around 18 months. They returned to the studio and released their second album, Don’t Tread in 1992. This reached gold status and produced the singles “Mister Please”, “The Silence is Broken” and Where You Goin’ Now” which didn’t see as much success as the singles from the previous album, but the Barcelona Olympic Games extensively featured the title song in their coverage.
Ted Nugent went back to his career as a solo artist in 1994, and Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades got together to record the 1995 release Hallucination using the duo name of Shaw Blades. The album received some minor attention with the title track being featured in the movie Tommy Boy and “I’ll Always Be With You” gaining a small amount of attention on radio airplay. After briefly touring Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw went back to Night Ranger and Styx.
In 1999 Blades, Nugent and Shaw got back together to record what was initially known as Bravo but they and their record labels weren’t happy with the end product and so it was never released. However songs were used on Jack Blades self-titled album in 2004, on Ted Nugent’s Craveman in 2002 and all four of the band members performed on 7 Deadly Zens by Tommy Shaw so some of the material may have been used for that.
In 2002 Shaw Blades appeared on A Classic Rock Christmas where they sang “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.
In 2007 Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades released a second album of cover songs as Shaw Blades called Influence. The following year they performed the Damn Yankees hit “High Enough” at the Arrowfest concert.
Several movies have featured Damn Yankee songs on their soundtrack. These include Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Nothing But Trouble, Nowhere to Run and The Taking of Beverly Hills.
In 2010 the original line-up appeared for the first time together since 2002 when they performed at a Taylor Guitars exhibit.
Jack Blades’ band was joined by Ted Nugent in 2011 and performed on Somewhere in California. “Coming of Age” was recorded as the B-Side and Ted Nugent played a different guitar solo from “Stranglehold”.