FIBM: So then you joined SURGICAL STEEL?
Rik Fox: Yes. Well, I made a few phone calls around 'first', checking around about this band, I wanted some more background info on them. I didn't want to walk into *another* "Sinking Ship", like BURN had become. I got a few positive reports on STEEL, and was told that if you like JUDAS PRIEST, you'll reallylike playing with SURGICAL STEEL, apparently, they sound *just* like them. They had this singer, JEFF MARTIN who supposedly sounded just like ROB HALFORD, and since HALFORD had a home in Phoenix, he was noted for sometimes coming out and doing a few JUDAS PRIEST numbers with the band. SURGICAL STEEL also had a small bit part performing "GIMMIE BACK MY HEART" in a low-budget film titled "THUNDER ALLEY", so, I thought this would be a more interesting prospect...
So I go back out to Phoenix, (at their expense of course), they fly me back and forth. Eventually, I'm 'officially' recruited by Arizona Metal act SURGICAL STEEL, recording a debut album, which was shelved, upon lack of funds to finish it. I, *did*, however, get to play (and thoroughly enjoy the moments) in the sessions with DOKKEN drumer MICK BROWN, which produced solid rythym tracks, (One of the highlights of being there), produced by ICON guitarist DAN WEXLER. SURGICAL STEEL, being an unstable band before I joined, eventually broke up. Jim Keeler had a bad habit of playing the 'Big Fish in the little pond' syndrome with me, and pretty much kept me out of the loop on mostly everything while I was in the band. Look, you have a major name player in a smaller local band, and try and downplay his position, while using his name to draw in your crowd, what's wrong with this picture? Jim refused my invitations to bring SURGICAL STEEL to L.A. and play much bigger venues and crowds. However, then Jim wouldn't have as much control over the project, and was afraid to become a victim of the 'small fish in a BIG pond' syndrome... However, one of a few good things that came out of the 'adventure', was that I met Mike Cordet, (my future singer in THUNDERBALL), and we got on very well. MIKE's also a CAPRICORN, so, we understood each other (as Forrest Gump would say:) "Like Peas & Carrots"), lol...JIM KEELER already had a singer picked out for SURGICAL STEEL, so, we couldn't use MIKE CORDET. The drummer, RANDY MARCHETTI, was really nice, and a really good drummer too. We played together really well. Then there was opening for LITA FORD on New Year's Eve at ROCKERS Club...LITA wound up using our back-line of RANDALL gear since it dwarfed her gear, and she got to use our 'tour bus' motorhome owned by one of our roadcrew. How funny, the headliner using the supports' gear and facilities! But, since we were all good friends it worked out.
FIBM: How did the recording thing go with SURGICAL STEEL?
Rik Fox: Well, as I said, I flew back out to Phoenix and brought my bass, and not much else, some clothes, much like I did when I arrived in L.A. for WASP. I said to JIM KEELER, "Ok, when do I audition for your band?". He says, "There's no audition, I already *know* you can play, Jesus, I mean, you *DID* play and record with STEELER, for Crissakes, so I'm not worried about your playing...you're *Already* in the band, so, I need you to learn the songs as fast as you can, we're recording in a few days"... I was like "WHAT?!?!" Ok, so, I start woodshedding, learning the songs. And then we go over to a friend of JIM's house, this guy who was some former star or something, Nice guy, BIG house, Piano-painted/shaped swimming pool, etc...We load the gear into the garage, to continue working on the songs, and I meet this drummer from Colorado, I believe. Nice guy, really, but meter worth a shit. His meter was all over the place, and I just couldn't lock in with him. I had JIM KEELER listen to us, and how I had the feel of the songs locked in, and we both heard this guy ahead of the beat, behind the beat, etc. So, JIM agreed, and he brings in his old SURGICAL STEEL drummer. However, for the live gigs, JIM brings in this local guy, RANDY MARCHETTI. Boy! This guy cooks! Real nice guy, great drummer, we really lock in together. I'm like "Where was this guy when we were in the recording studio?!?" Essentially, JIM KEELER had sacked his entire line-up and replaced a five-piece band with a four-piece band. He brings in a singer from I forget where. He's ok, got some range, but when he talks, he mumbles, so you can't understand a word he says...Also, I knew SURGICAL STEEL to be a black-leather-looking band, so, costume wise, I'm all set. HOLD IT! Flag on the play!...JIM KEELER says, since it's a new line-up, I'm making a change...we're all going to be wearing white"...! I'm like "That's nice, I have everything BUT white gear in my wardrobe, so, now, I have to have a new white-themed costume made. Not quite ANGEL, but more modern. So, I greate an 'Homage" to CINDERELLA, to keep up with the times, and I have this white lace and satin/spandex outfit made up with day-glo snakeskin tattered (SIN-like) colors, streaming and accenting off of it. It got a lot of "wow's" and was really cool to wear under the hot lights onstage. Well, I eventually see VINNIE VINCENT copy this and after a few 'alterations' he now has a new theme in his costuming copying what I had created...Sorry about the tangent...Back now to the studio...
So we're in the studio and there's a song I bring in from SIN that JAY wrote, and we call him to ask if we can re-record "DON'T SAY GOODBYE", which really went well with the new STEEL songs. We get his ok, and since no ohter drummers can seem to pick up this easy song, which we have from our SIN demo, Producer DAN WEXLER from ICON calls in local boy "Wildman" MICK BROWN from DOKKEN, and MICK picks up the song in minutes!. We go in and we really LOCKED! Mick and I play as if we came out of the same womb, playing together. This guy's meter is SOLID! We have a great time together, and I think I have a new 'fan' by way of respect for my playing. We even get a short visit from another local DOKKEN member, GEORGE LYNCH, who listens in, and likes what he hears.
The sessions are now moving along, and we start getting into gear for live dates...Then, ANOTHER flag on the play! The financial backers for the guy putting out the money for the SURGICAL STEEL album is forced to back out. NOW we have to resort to playing covers and originals in the local clubs to pay for the balance of the recording bills... I'm thinking: "THIS is NOT what I signed on for...OH BROTHER"...Here it comes...ANOTHER "Sinking Ship"... (BOHICA)...
FIBM: Tell us about a night performing with SURGICAL STEEL...
Rik Fox: Well, there was two brothers who owned ROCKERS Club in Phoenix,and the one I remember most was a guy that Jim Keeler referred to as "Brother Richard". (Anybody from the Phoenix music scene and remembers this, will be laughing their asses off)...He was always upset about something, rather high-strung, but I got on well with him for some reason.
He was always yelling "GET 'EM ON THE PHONE!!!", when he wanted to yell at someone about something. So, I had a T-shirt airbrushed in his honor, with that saying on it. JIM KEELER said "Don't let him see you wearing that!, he'll blow a gasket at us"!. At this point, I had started to become so dissapointed in where SURGICAL STEEL was going (yes, the "SINKING SHIP" syndrome again)...that I started taking liberties that would give me some small satisfaction, especially, since I didn't have to live there and suffer any of their problems when I flew home to L.A. So, like Dennis the Menace, I wore the shirt in front of Richard, and as JIM KEELER looked on anticipating horror, I said "Rich, I had this made in your honor, I hope you like it". Richard,looks at it and says "Hmmm, that's nice, thanks!" JIM KEELER, nearly fainting, scratching his head, wondering how *that* did not cause a problem...?
Later, we go onstage, and after hearing how much of this "MASSIVE" draw SURGICAL STEEL *supposedly* had, having this huge reputation for being the largest drawing band there, I see maybe 25-30 people tops, in this 'famous' club...After performing in front of thousands, with my previous bands, I feel that I had once again, joined that 'Sinking Ship', because after JIM KEELER sacked all his original bandmembers, not too many people were really interested in coming out to see Jim's "New" SURGICAL STEEL without singer JEFF MARTIN, and the other members, (RIK FOX, notwithstanding). So, in my own way, in mid-songs, I jump off the stage while playing, and try to 'co-erce' patrons to get off their asses and hit the dance floor. This annoyed JIM, because it took attention off of him onstage, I found out. I said, "Hey, whatever it takes, it has to be done to get them up and moving"...However, my 'coup-de-gras', was, during mid-song, running out thru the dressing-room door, running out into the club, to the main entrance where the pool-tables were, and since I was wireless, I jumped up, onto the pool tables, and played from the other side of the room! NOW, this caused the patrons to have to turn around from watching us onstage, and see what I was up to. I was doing 'anything' I could think of the get people moving, which, again, annoyed JIM KEELER, because he got upset when he wasnt's the center of attention at all times (Jim was a LEO, go figure it out). Anyone who knows Jim from back then, will be nodding in agreement at this...I figured, I don't have to answer to anyone about what I do, so I did what I wanted and got away with it! JIM also pretty much kept a lot of his fans and friends away from me, and tried to keep me shut up at his place. JIM wanted to control every aspect of SURGICAL STEEL. A few times, I got to get out and hang out at ROCKERS for some drinks, and we even hung out one night at someone's house for an after-party with/for FASTER PUSSYCAT, who were in town playing somewhere. It was NICE to see TAIME and some familiar faces!
One night, onstage, JIM KEELER threw one of my triangular bass picks at me, and threw it like a Ninja star, and hit me right in the right eye in mid-song! I couldn't do anything about it except keep playing, and later threatened to kill him. At this point, things were seriously starting to deteriorate, and I couldn't help but wonder if this is a part of what went on in the previous line-up of SURGICAL STEEL. Don't get me wrong, JIM was a talented guy, very resourceful, and a great player. In fact, he was really funny, and had me, at times, in stitches laughing. While in Phoenix, I mostly slept on one of his couches, and had the hospitality of his home. But, after awhile, he starts asking me if there's anyone 'else' who's place I could stay at besides his. So, now his 'investment' is subject to the in-creeping of rudeness. JIM just had big problems with, just like BLACKIE LAWLESS, being a total control freak, and holding all the cards to the project. One band-leader, invites another, former, (and more experienced) band-leader into the project, keeps him out of the loop, and now you have a receipe for 'a situation'. JIM didn't like to share anything with anyone. Total control of everything. Sorry. For me, that doesn't work. I don't endorse, or lend my good name and reputation, and integrity to anything that I'm kept out of the loop on. I like to work WITH people, not be a non-hired hand, under the thumb.
Needless to say, much of SURGICAL STEEL went downhill from there. The financial backing for the album we were doing was pulled out from under us, and we had to resort to playing covers to pay for the recording bills we had incurred. I said "I didn't come out here to play covers for this guy's recording bills" and made arrangements to leave the band.
Suffice to say, Jim tried to have the lasty laugh, by mocking me in any way he could after I left. This included drawing over my face on their posters in the clubs. Their photographer, Michael Richards was a REALLY nice huy, and it was so sophmoric for Jim Keeler to resort to childish crap like that. I made arrangements to get my gear back to L.A. and take a break, while hanging back out at RIKKI RACHTMAN'S club "THE CATHOUSE" conveniently located about some 30 paces from the back of my apartment building in Holywood. How cool is THAT?!? we did have a blast playing a New Years' gig with LITA FORD at ROCKERS tho, and another gig that had MICK BROWN come and watch, and he brought GEORGE LYNCH's wife as well. LITA headlined, even though we let her use our backline of geear, we had the entire back of the stage FILLED with amp cabinets! LOL!!! I had like, nine or so RANDALL bass cabinets, and JIM had, like, about twelve!!! We took up the entire stage, lol...
In later years, I saw JIM in Hollywood at a Melrose Avenue Art Premier Party, and he was buying paintings for resale. He apologized somewhat and wanted to be friends again. That was the last I saw of him. He's lost most of his long, golden locks as well, and filled out in the waistbelt area, somewhat, like I have...
FIBM: After you left, the L.A. SIN line-up changed their name to Jagwire. Did you write any songs on the Jagwire / Made in Heaven release?
Rik Fox: The only main hold-over was the song "ON THE RUN", which Howard assisted me on with the hook of the song. He palyed one phrase of a segment, and I said "Ok, now repeat it here, and here, and here, like it's decending". Of course, he'd categorically deny that. Anyway, I wrote my own bass parts on all the songs that eventually wound up on the Jagwire album, which, for the most part, were formerly SIN songs. The songs in any case, were then copied, for the most part, by the replacement bassist. As for the name JAGWIRE...well, I have NO idea what that was supposed to stand for. Neither did anyone else I knew either...Sadly, we could really hear a badly done album, which sounded like they ran out of money to finish it properly. The overall final mix was AWFUL! No wonder it got returned for lack of sales. They *thought* they were going to hurt me, by using my given, family name of Suligowski on the lable, but no one even paid attention to it. I use it today in my dealings with our Polish Historical Re-enactments.
FIBM: How long after leaving SIN Mach I, did you reform SIN Mach II?
Rik Fox: Actually, I was amazed at how relatively fast the reformation took place. From the time that the former ALIEN members arrived, to auditioning MARK ANTHONY, securing him, and rehearsing the material to the debut of the reformed line-up of SIN at the TROUBADOR Club, it was about a month (give or take), as I recall. Boy was I glad! You *really* should have seen the looks on the faces of the SIN-Mach I guys, LOL!!!! I'd never seen jaws drop in astonishment so long and so fast! THAT was 'really' worth it. It was like 'We just tried to kick him out of his own band, and NOW he has a NEW band that KICKS ASS in a MONTH?!?!?! How the HELL did he do THAT?!?!?' LOL!!!!! Tht's when they tried to hold onto the band name SIN, because that was all they had. It became a war ofver the name and, as I've said, I already had the legal rights to the name, so, when they *finally* dropped the usage of the name SIN, and changed it to JAGWIRE, it wasn't long after that, that they broke up. Sorry to say, but without the 'center of the wheel', it all falls apart like a house of cards. They relly lacked the 'soul' of what it took to keep a band together...
FIBM: How did you and former ALIEN & future FOUR HORSEMEN vocalist, FRANK STARR join forces?
Rik Fox: Well, FRANK was pretty much along for the ride when he came out with JAY and RICHIE. Since I was told about him and RICHIE in advance, so much the better. I 'did' tell JAY that I wasn't too interested in having a second guitarist, as, I wanted to keep it four-piece for the time being. But, he said that RICHIE had the van to bring all the gear, and that he was a good guitarist, so we should give him a shot. So, I said "OK, we'll try him out too". RICHIE made a fine addition to the group, and was a great guy, really funny too. FRANK became sort of a surrogate "Bro" (Brother). One time, backstage at the conclusion of a show we did at THE ORANGE PAVILLION in San Bernardino, CA., with KEEL, we experienced some problems with the fact that KEEL cut our power for our encore, which really pissed off the fans. Our power went off right in the middle of our encore song "HEADBANGIN'", from the ALIEN album, and the fans of both ALIEN and SIN, loved that song.
The events' promoters "Burn-N-Son", also tried to screw us with our merchandising booth, and with the performance fee they owed us.
So, I go storming into our dressing-room trailer outside, and start slamming things. Like the doors right thru the door-frames, etc...I was REALLY PISSED OFF! Then, FRANK STARR comes in and starts screwing with me, and I'm not really in the mood for him right then. Then, we both get into a physical fight. I forgot that FRANK was an ex-biker back in N.Y., and we both start going at it. FRANK and I grapple on the floor of the trailer, and we're all yelling. The security guards were now afraid to come in and try and break it up, and...we're *still* in costume! FRANK gets me and holds me upside down, trying to dunk my head against the floor, and I reached into our trash-can full of ice and drinks, grabbing a hand full of ice chunks. Now, I'm slamming FRANK into his thighs with the ice chunks and they're breaking into pieces. With each dunk FRANK does to me, I keep reaching on the floor for the ice chunks, and he sees this, then picks me back up, out of reach of the ice. Here we are..."Up-down...up-down...up-down...Now, it's getting really comical, and I put a hold on bith of FRANK's legs together, and he goes down with me. Here we are, both grppling on the soaking-wet, ice-filled floor, and we stop, and look around...
Terror-filled faces looking in from the outside door, me and FRANK look around, and then at each other. Then, as if nothing happened, we both bust out hysterical laughing...We help each other up, and realize, exactly how much of best friends we really were. Needless to say, the promoter not only paid us our performance fees, he also apologized about the misunderstanding about our merchandising booth and SIN T-shirts...The NEXT week, AEROSMITH performad at the very same arena. It was passed on to me, that STEVEN TYLER had the very same dressing-room trailer we had, and was complaining that none of the doors woked properly, and carpet-floor was wet, and the toilet didn't flush...THAT, was FUNNY. What a great memory of FRANK STARR. Our own band-mates were even too afraid to come in and break up that fight...Oh, I might add, that SIN out-drew W.A.S.P. at that same venue as well. It gave us a huge fan-base with all the "Inland Empire" fans who never forgot us. Our fans are the BEST! I salute them!
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