Who Is Sister Christian, Anyway?

Night Ranger
(From left) Eric Levy, Keri Kelli, Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger perform at The Paramount on May 3, 2018 in Huntington, New York. Mike Pont/Getty Images

There are some mysteries that will never be solved, like the true identity of serial killer Jack the Ripper or the reason why your mom gave away all of your Star Wars action figures as soon as you left for college. But we are here to solve a mystery that surely has awakened the soundest sleeper in the middle of the night: Who is Sister Christian?

You know her from her namesake power ballad, "Sister Christian," recorded by San Francisco big-hair band Night Ranger for its 1983 album "Midnight Madness." But is the band serenading a nun? Why is she the only one to say OK? And what on earth is "motorin"?


It turns out there's a disappointingly simple answer. Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy wrote the song about and for his younger sister Christy. She wasn't a nun, she was about to graduate high school. When Keagy played the song for his bandmates the first time, they mistakenly heard him singing "Sister Christian," not "Sister Christy." They liked the sound of "Sister Christian" better, so they kept it, and hair-band history was made.

Keagy got a consolation prize for having his sister's name changed in his song. He wasn't the lead singer usually; he was the drummer. Jack Blades, the bassist, usually sang lead. But on this one, it's Keagy belting out his song for his sister, which is sweet. What high school girl wouldn't want her older brother to sing, "What's your time for flight/ in finding mister right?" It makes perfect, unassailable sense.

Speaking of not making sense, the first word of the chorus is a lusty "Motorin'!" followed by a power chord. It turns out that Christy was one of the kids who cruised the main drag in Eugene, Oregon, the Keagys' hometown. Cruising in cars, children, was known as motoring in some places. Ask your cool aunts and uncles about it.