The band formed in the late 1970s. After gaining popularity in the Kansas City area, Shooting Star became the first American group to sign with Virgin Records. They recorded their 1979 debut album in England with producer Gus Dudgeon, best known for his work with Elton John and David Bowie. The band gained national exposure when a number of songs garnered moderate air-play on album-oriented rock radio stations in the US.
Shooting Star initially consisted of Van McLain (guitars, vocals), Bill Guffey (keyboards), Steve Thomas (drums), Ron Verlin (bass), Charles Waltz (violin, keyboards, vocals), and Gary West (lead vocals, guitars, keyboards).