The aptly named SteelHeart is the rock n’ roll band fronted by internationally known Croatian-American musician Miljenko Matijevic. Miljenko’s powerful multi-octave vocal range is and always has been the steel, heart and soul of what is SteelHeart. With much heart and steely determination, this band has been going strong and rocking hard for 26 years. SteelHeart shows no sign of riding into the sunset as they are once again on the horizon with a new album on the way.
The group’s self-titled debut album ‘SteelHeart’ was released May 10, 1990, (later re-released with a new cover in 1991); brought the group almost immediate commercial success. The original line up included Miljenko Matijevic (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Risola (guitar), Frank DiCostanzo (guitar),James Ward (bass), and John Fowler (drums). The guys found themselves hitting the big time as their first album reached #40 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1990, being certified Gold by the RIAA in 1991. The band’s fan- base growing swiftly around the world. “SteelHeart” sold 33,000 albums on its first day in Japan alone. Power ballad “She’s Gone,” hit #1 on the international charts, staying there 17 weeks. The second single, another power ballad, “I’ll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)” reached #14 on the Billboard charts. Another song, “Can’t Stop Me Lovin’ You” further showcased Matijevic’s vocal range, but this time, Risola’s lead guitar skills were also noticed.
SteelHeart’s next effort album wise, “Tangled In Reins,” released July 10, 1992, had a more mixed eclectic song style. With heavy-hitting, hard-driving songs like “Loaded Mutha,” “SteelHeart,” “Electric Love Child,” and fun-loving “Sticky Side Up,” to tear-jerking ballads such as “Mama Don’t You Cry,” to name a few. The song “SteelHeart” featured Miljenko hitting the highest note of his song catalogue. The ballad “Mama Don’t You Cry” charted #1 in many Asian countries, promoting their live unplugged performance in Hong Kong. The album did not reap the same commercial success as SteelHeart’s debut album, reaching only #144 on the Billboard charts, signalling the grunge sound invasion was starting to take force in the music business.
But, then, momentously, SteelHeart was asked by heavy metal band Slaughter to perform a show with them on Oct. 31, 1992, Halloween night. Steel- Heart had just performed the 49th and final show of their tour, not ready to go home yet, decided to keep rocking. It turned out to be momentous in a way they didn’t expect as tragedy struck. The last show of the tour, in Den- ver, Colorado, Steelheart took the stage one last time with the original line up, that fateful Halloween night. That night would forever be remembered by SteelHeart fans as one of the scariest ever. While performing “Dancing in the Fire,” from their “Tangled in Reins” album, Matijevic decided to climb a lighting truss, which was improperly secured, forever changing the lives of Steelheart and their fans. Trying to dodge the massive rig without success, the thousand-pound truss hit the back of his head, hard, driving one of the greatest vocalists of all time face first into the stage: breaking his nose, cheekbone, jaw and twisting his spine. Talk about SteelHeart: Matijevic miraculously found the strength to walk off the stage and was immediately hospitalised. Of course, this was the end of the SteelHeart in one formation, but a new beginning to a total rise from the ashes. SteelHeart ended that night, at least for a while, after a very impressive career.
Four years later, in 1996, after much physical rehabilitation, Matijevic formed a new version of SteelHeart: Kenny Kanowski (guitars), Vincent Mele (bass) and Alex Makarovich (drums) – to record and release the album “Wait.” This album was very different to the previous two. The single “Wait” went #1 in many Asian countries and the re-released song “Momma Don’t You Cry” (Tangled In Reins) performed by Miljenko in an acoustic setting was the vessel for a 1997 Asian tour. This intensive unplugged tour saw SteelHeart performing 26 shows, spread out over 28 days, with 21 flights, to various countries across the Asian Continent. The song “We All Die Young” was later used in the 2001 Mark Wahlberg / Jennifer Aniston film, “Rock Star.” Miljenko played a huge part in the “Rock Star” movie by lending his voice to Mark Wahlberg’s character Chris Cole in a Steel Dragon coverband, and later, as his alter ego Chris “Iggy” Cole of Steel Dragon.
In 2007 SteelHeart released the ‘STILL HARD’ 2 disc DVD SET showcasing their live tours. The DVD welcomed rave reviews by fans around the world. Showcased on the DVD is their Japan Tour ’90, Bootleg Concert Toad’s Place ’91, Hong Kong MNET show acoustic ‘92, Official Videos from ‘SteelHeart’ album, Extra’s like Interviews, Photos, and TV Spots.
The story does not end there. Rock star to the end, Miljenko has been working non-stop on music since the accident. In 2008, he released “Good 2B Alive,” which he wrote, produced and engineered with producer Kit Woolen. Miljenko joined Ray Manzerak and Robby Krieger in 2010 as the lead singer transcending the late Jim Morrison of “The Doors”. Two remarkable tours performing theatres and festivals throughout the US and Europe including a 52 piece orchestra in London, Dublin and Wolverhampton with “The Royal Phil Harmonic Orchestra.” Matijevic delivered remarkable performances every night with rave reviews. Miljenko then returned to his roots with SteelHeart, and toured with his band for many shows throughout the world, performing on several continents: Eu- rope, Asia and North America. Early January 2016, Miljenko was in Korea for six months, a country where he’s a superstar, performing on various TV shows, and festivals including The Dream concert. Miljenko is the only foreign artist ever to perform this concert to a 60,000 audience strong and televised to many countries. Miljenko’s performance that night received outstanding reviews with the whole stadium singing the chorus alone. He also penned two songs, one late 2015 and another early 2016, for two of OST Korea tv’s top hit dramas, “My Love Is Gone” and “Stay.” Miljenko then took just one week off from touring/playing Korea to join three festivals in the US and perform at the Hollywood Bowl for the sold-out Los Angeles Korean Times Music Festival on May 7, 2016. Next day, he jumped on the plane headed back to Korea for still more shows. After six months in Korea in the summer of 2016, Miljenko came back the US for more SteelHeart touring.
Steelheart has recorded the band’s first new album since the “Good To Be Alive” album in 2010. The new album was released September 15, 2017 by Italian label Frontiers Records. Currently, SteelHeart is working on their 30th Anniversary box set. To be released in the fall of 2019.