The Midnight Riders are a fictional, Grammy-winning Southern Rock supergroup. Little is known of their background before the green flu, the pandemic that caused the zombie apocalypse which plays as the setting for the Left 4 Dead series. They consist of four members:
- Dusty- "The Brawler", Lead Guitar
- Jake- "The Lover", Bass and Keyboards
- Smitty- "The Drinker", Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
- Ox- "The Drummer", Drums
Before Jake, the bass was played by Riggs Donner, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1985.
The story of how the group formed is a mystery. What is known, though, is that they first achieved fame after out-staging another band that they were the opening act while in Galveston, Texas. (which may be the band's hometown) Since then, they had released 23 albums; none achieving any popular acclaim. Despite being named, presumably by themselves, as the "Greatest Southern Rock Supergroup of All Time", they have had only little commercial success. Their 1989 single, "One Bad Man", became their only #1 hit. In 1993, they won the Grammy for "Most Pyrotechnics in a Single Concert."
In 2009 the band set out on their "No Salvation fairgrounds tour" to promote their greatest hits album. Around October of that year, the Green Flu outbreak had become a pandemic. Nonetheless, they vowed to "stop touring when [they] stop breathing". They were scheduled for a gig at Whispering Oaks amusement park, which was cancelled due to the approaching infected. They were feared dead by most of their fans, writing tributes on the stadium safehouse wall. However, one message revealed that they were actually privately air-lifted from the area before the events of Left 4 Dead 2, with some later writings expressing disgust. Their whereabouts are unknown, with one writing hinting that they were dropped off at their next show: a mall opening.
The canceled concert serves as the finale for the Dark Carnival campaign. Here, the survivors use the loud music and unused pyrotechnics to attract a chopper and fight off the hoard. Also, jukeboxes peppered throughout the game play the two songs, "Midnight Ride" and "One Bad Man", that are heard during the finale.
In the The Passing, which takes place before the Dark Carnival campaign, the band's tour bus is programmed to drive by at a random time: similar to Jimmy Gibbs Jr.'s zombie appearance in Dead Center. However, this is more of an easter egg as its appearance can be interpreted in many ways: it could be the band fleeing the area, or it could be some other survivors using it to escape themselves.
It is rumored by fans the band may become playable characters in later campaigns for L4D2: pointing out the use of guitars as melee weapons, the number of band members, and the rendered artwork of the group. Additionally, there are a series of unused lines in the game's memory which suggest that at one point, or for a later campaign, the Riders were to help the survivors escape, via the band's tour bus.
While the band has 23 known albums, players of Left 4 Dead 2 have only heard a few individual songs:
- Survivors Ellis and Coach are huge fans of the band. Coach claims to own all of their albums, even the ones "that ain't any good". Ellis once saw them live in concert, where the band's pyrotechnics burned off his eyebrows.
- The Midnight Rider's Grammy-winning pyrotechnics, a staple of their performances, are said to be the best in show business. It's rumored that the pyros are so grand they could be seen from space, among other things.
- The Midnight Riders may be named after the song "Midnight Rider" by The Allman Brothers Band, who are also a southern rock band.
- Since their music plays, which their vocals, during the Dark Carnival finale it could be suggested that they lip-sync their own songs during live shows.
- Valve has set up a website for the band, complete with the band's history and a few blog postings, which end after a post about performing at Whispering Oaks.
- The two songs "Midnight Ride" and "One Bad Man" are available on the Rock Band Network.