FIBM: What's new, what have you been up to lately and what's in the future?
Rik Fox:Just promoting our Living History group "Suligowski's Regiment of the Polish Commonwealth" Our *Prime Directive* is raising Polish Historic awareness. It's personal for me, since my Ancestry and blood is Polish. We have verified Polish Noble Bloodlines historically, going back to around 1148, I think. Our Polish Clan shield is that of the Clan of "Sulima" the same as Zawisza Czarny (Zah-visha- Char-nee), a noble and chivalrous and very large and famous black-armored Polish knight, who helped defeat the German Teutonic knights at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. 'Google it' and you'll see what I mean.
Our group, however, is the *Very First, in U.S. History, to represent the Legendary and most beautiful and fearsome cavalry in Polish (and European) History, the Polish Winged Hussars. (Google it).
That is why this is *personal* for me. It means so much more. This concept has never been done before in U.S. History, and now, happily, other groups across the U.S. have now begun to spring up and follow our path. we've made U.S. History in N.Y.C. in 2002 in the N.Y. Pulaski Day Parade. I've also been awash in a recent wave of interviews, the most I've done in some years. We'll be featured in a magazine called "Swindle" (google it), in December, I believe. You'll see me and our group in period armor and my wings. I think there might also be an interview in "Blender" magazine too. Recently, I got a call from Ron Keel from our old band STEELER. He is releasing (in October) a STEELER ANTHOLOGY album exclusively in Europe and Japan. He asked me if it happens, and a STEELER REUNION Tour is possible, would I be interested? I said "Of Course!"
Unfortunately (or Fortunatley, depends on your point of view) Yngwie won't be with us, and would be replaced by another 'pistol' who can cover his tracks. Drummer Mark Edwards sustained a severe back injury some years ago motocrossing, I heard and we'd need to replace him as well. I've got a list of some interesting candidates, however, Ron has final call on everything. So, it would be only the two of us as original members. I'm the only one out of STEELER who never got to tour Japan and Europe, and meet my fans there, so I'd be looking fwd to that. Our fans are the BEST! Many bands followed the STEELER 'formula', and went on from there, so, I know we set a mold for them to follow.
FIBM:What year did you start playing in bands?
Rik Fox:About 1975. I played the infamous N.Y.C. club-haunt, "MAX'S KANSAS CITY", and C.B.G.B's with a group called "THE MARTIAN ROCK BAND", we were 'so' cool. Aliens from different parts of the Galaxy. I looked like a green-scaled lizard-version of GENE SIMMONS,(a friend of mine), and I shot flames out of my hand instead of my mouth. We hung out with all the cool bands: N.Y. DOLLS, THE RAMONES, THE BRATS, THE PLANETS, LUGER and many of the bands that came out of that great N.Y. Rock Explosion. Photographer BOB GRUEN captured it all. He was the N.Y. version of famed L.A. Photographer NEIL 'ZLOZ' ZLOZOWER.
I eventually wound up playing in a cover band named "VIRGIN", in New Jersey, thru my good friend RANDY ROXX, a fellow KISS fan. Eventually VIRGIN (which pre-dates the L.A.-VIRGIN by Many YEARS!), became LUST (NOT the RON KEEL band LUST, we pre-dated that one too!). LUST eventually became "SIN", a name that I came up with, and originally drew the logo for, since I'm an artist. I was heavily influenced by the look of a group at the time called "ANGEL" This was around 1976.(more on that later)...That was how I wound up getting the gig with "VIRGIN", a local fairly successful GLAM band.
We did covers of ALICE COOPER (complete with a HUGE boa snake!), BOWIE, MOTT THE HOOPLE, KISS, AEROSMITH, LED ZEPPELIN, etc...VIRGIN was a big attraction on the New Jersey coast. Our biggest competition was a band called "HARLOW", who did almost the exact same show as we did. HARLOW were GREAT! They were THE hottest cover band on the circuit, and Headlined and packed ALL the best clubs in N.J. and Long Island. My friend bassist-Michael Harlow was also a big influence on me. Eventually, some new, little dive-band showed up on the scene called "PRETTY POISON", who eventually became "TWISTED SISTER", wearing all girls underwear and such, and found a new lead singer named "DEE SNIDER". After that, they really rocked, and took off! I was one of a small group of elite to actually get to watch KISS form from the ground up! I used to date one of PETER CRISS'S sisters in Brooklyn, before he was in KISS, so when he got the gig, we all used to go watch them rehearse. Then this weird guy in a grey pin-striped suit and mis-matched sneakers showed up and was in the band. That was ACE FREHLEY. So, I was there, from the beginning, but, whenever these KISS authors write their KISS history/biography books, I always seem to be forgotten about, especially, when I, too, have stories from back then that would have been of some value to their tomes. One book, has some of my stories, David Konow's book "BANG YOUR HEAD-The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal". I did like, 3-4, 90 minute interviews with David, and only a limited amount of my stories made it into the book. Like my coming up with the name WASP, verified by WASP guitarist RANDY PIPER. (and Vehemently denied by Blackie Lawless). (More on this later...)
FIBM:How long did you play in Steeler?
Rik Fox: Hmmm, I think, about 8 months. Enough time to do the album and a bunch of cool gigs. we played with HUGHES-THRALL, and even VANDENBERG (Adrian's pre-Whitesnake band).
(I once met guitarist PAT THRALL when he was a member of PAT TRAVERS's band, playing THE PALLADIUM in N.Y.C. I met him back stage. Years later, then in STEELER, opening up for him, I said "Hi PAT", We met back at...."and his eyes go big as saucers! He says "Oh my God! THAT'S RIGHT! NOW, I Remember you!" "Holy Shit"! I said I loved his post-TRAVERS work with AUTOMATIC MAN, and he was flattered). He DUG STEELER too. Really, really nice guy, PAT THRALL)...
Steeler at Perkins Palace
Rik Fox, Ron Keel, Yngwie Malmsteen, Mark Edwards
At this time, all of a sudden, Blackie Lawlwess, after sacking me out of the band I named (WASP) (well, it *was* HIS band), starts recanting, and wanting to be my friend again. What a load of crap. NIKKI SIXX and I got to be real good friends. Nikki was cool. He used to give me his old Ampeg amps gear, and costume pieces. I have an old pair of his burned thigh-high stiletto-heeled boots too. I wore them in my first L.A. version of my band "SIN". Anyway, we really made a mark on L.A. when we opened up for "QUIET RIOT" at Perkins Palace in Pasadena, CA. This was right when "Metal Health" went to No.1. We played a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd! It was awesome! Some of that concert will be featured on the upcoming STEELER ANTHOLOGY album. Two songs that never made it to the regular album, "Excited" and "Victim of the City" will be on there. They're really cookin' songs, and represents more of us writing as a group, beyond the songs that Ron already had, when I joined STEELER.
FIBM:What are some of your memories of the Steeler recording sessions?
Rik Fox:COLD! VERY COLD! HA! HA! HA! By that I mean that we recorded up northern California, in a town called 'Cotati', up in the 'wine country', so, at night it was FREEZING! It was on a farm, so there was NOTHING but cows and horses for MILES around. When Yngwie's fans heard that we were just north of San Frnacisco, they DEMANDED that we do a gig there in the city. So, we took a break from recording, and did the gig. It was hot, sweaty, and rockin' just as any STEELER gig was. Back in the studio, I was having a problem with the newly aquired Aria-endorsed Bass. The pickups s*cked and just weren't putting out anything that the board could read. Real weak pick-ups, so, I HAD to use a Fender Precision bass with 'really' old strings, which the engineer-owner refused to let us change for new ones. So, I was limited in what I could do, except to just play. After sessions with Mark & I alone, I had to come back in and re-do everything with the Fender, while Ron, and Mark watched from across the room. I layed down some cool grooves, I believe, and when done, they both smiled, and said "Good Job". Yngwie couldn't play a lick until his green-card paperwork arrived much later. Mike Varney was pretty much responsible for all the recording opportunities.
I wrote a short, instrumental intro piece, titled by Mark Edwards: "Abduction". I wrote it, Mark named it, and Yngwie got most of the royalties for 'claiming' that *HE* wrote it! My influence for 'Abduction' was the instrumental intro piece found on the "Y & T" album "Black Tyger". We had just seen them play at the ROXY in Hollywood, (more later), and I was inspired to have a piece like that. I said "We need a cool opening theme too". After comparing the two, side-by-side, you can see how my claim is the more believeable one. Very easy, just an 'E'Chord, going to 'C' chord, sounds very mysterious, under-water-like, also, very powerful when combined together. I showed it to Mark when we got back to the place where we lived together. Then Yngwie came in said it sounded "really cool man, show me what your're doing". and that's how it came about. Man, we had tons of guitars overlayed on that track, and piano too. I feel the finished piece is very complimentary, even if I didn't receive the due credit for writing it.
-Steeler Recording Sessions-
Prairie Sun Studios, Cotati, CA
FIBM: How did you end up playing in Steeler? Were you aware of them before you joined the band?
Rik Fox:I 'was' aware of STEELER alright...They were new in town and making quite a big notice already. They were one of the only bands who commanded their own truck, light show and sound system (a true sign of a road band for sure). I was at the Roxy Club on the Sunset Strip one night, hanging out with my good friend, (the late) ERIC CARR of KISS. (I had once played with a band that had his not-yet girlfriend fronting it in Long Island, N.Y.). He was interested in this girl who was a friend of mine (and, who's life I saved one day). I was trying to set him up with this girl (Bambie), that was eventually the model for the POISON album with the Chick sticking our her tongue ("Open up and say ...Ahhh")
We were both watching STEELER, and Ron was screaming his head off, getting really red-faced. But they were hot. Eric said "These guys are Really LOUD!" I eventually put an ad in Music Connection Magazine in L.A. looking for a gig and availing my services as a Bassist. I got a call from Ron Keel, and he said "Your ad looked the most professional from what I've seen in there. Here, take this cassette tape, learn these songs and show me what you can do." At the time, Ron was also very interested to hear that I was personal friends with one of his favorite bands, that being KISS, so, when I came back to show him what I learned on that tape, we kinda goofed around with the stage moves that KISS did, and I showed him the moves that SEAN DELANEY (former KISS 'road manager/teacher') showed them. Ron really got into it, and we did those moves live. I knew Sean from his days at Rock Steady Management. I used to visit their offices quite often, and Sean turned me on to two of his other 'creations'..."STARZ" (whom I was *also* up for as bassist in later years), and a group that never made it called "SPIKE". whom I wound up road managing for a short time back in N.Y.). To this day RICHIE RANNO & I are good friends, and STARZ is back playing the clubs. Anyway, that was what happened with STEELER. One night just before I made the decision to make STEELER my 'home', I was invited over to sit with GREGG GIUFFRIA (keyboardist of ANGEL). He was putting away some champaign, and re-opened up our past dialogues regarding my interest in joining the band of my dreams, ANGEL. NOW, I had a dilemma. Who do I go with? Gregg said (my friend) RUDY SARZO was filling-in with them for awhile, and was I still interested in joining ANGEL? I thought about it for awhile, and felt confident that my decision to join a new, hot band like STEELER was the better decision, and I have never looked back. ANGEL tried several times to make comebacks, all unsuccessful. (More on that later)...
I was up as a potential replacement for Mickie Jones after he was fired from ANGEL, however, FELIX ROBINSON was in a better position at the time, and had already been working with ANGEL in the meantime, as, ANGEL were in a touring mode, and needed a fast replacement. PUNKY MEADOWS (guitarist) knew of me, and I think he wanted me, but Felix was more ready to just jump right in. My lobbying for ANGEL was being handled by J.R. SMALLING, former Road Manager of KISS ("YOU WANT THE BEST?, WELL YOU GOT THE BEST...KISS!" *KISS ALIVE* album). J.R. was working out of Leber-Krebs Management's office (formerly of AEROSMITH) back then, and making the phone calls for me as I sat there listening. So, I was rather 'connected' back then, before I came to L.A. Before I did come to L.A. I hung with a friend who worked at A & M Records, HERNANDO COURTRIGHT, who had TONS of connections in the business. He used to ask me to come to his office (in Manhattan), and listen to the demo tapes submitted by bands looking for a deal. That's how I first heard of MOTLEY CRUE. He had a copy of their first (Leather Records)album. He made me a cassette copy and I had that entire album memorized by the time I landed in L.A., LOL!!! Hernando also hipped me to other hot L.A. bands like SNOW, QUIET RIOT, etc., etc...Then I asked him about Blackie Lawless. Hernando knew Blackie, and upon Hernando's advice I accepted Blackie's offer to come to L.A. and 'audition' for their then-named band "SISTER". Since there was already a TWISTED SISTER, and a local L.A. band called "WHITE SISTER" the name SISTER wasn't really going to go anywhere. Blackie was looking for some new material... That's when, as the honest story goes, that while on Blackie's telephone outside his bungalow-home, in his courtyard, I aimlessly kicked over the leaves of the avacado tree there. I kicked over one leaf and a HORNET was under it. I quick flipped the leaf back over on it, and stepped on the leaf before it could attack me. I then turned the leaf back over, revealing a dead Hornet. Because it was semi-curled, it hit me! "The old T.V. show, GREEN HORNET"!
I went back inside to Blackie, watching the N.Y.Yankee baseball game, and said "Hey, I got an idea for a new band name for us"...He looks up at me from his boredom and says "What"...I said..."WASP"! Blackie looks off, thoughtfully, as if he could already envision what the band eventually became, and said "That's *real* good. I *like* that! Keep working on that, it sounds like a cool name", and he went back to watching the ball game on T.V. God's Honest truth, THAT is EXACTLY HOW the name WASP came to be. Next day at rehersal, Blackie says the new name of the band is WASP. Drummer TONY RICHARDS, says "Who names their band after a BUG?!" I said..."The BEATLES?" and Everyone laughed. I followed with "SCORPIONS?" And it stuck, "BLACKIE'S LAW". RANDY PIPER wanted to call the band HELLION, because coming from texas, that's what bad kids were called. However there already WAS a band in Hollywood called HELLION, (with whom I later played with, for a short time, while they were fronted by ANNE BOLYN. Later incarnations became a group magaged by RONNIE DIO's NIJI Management, called "BURN", to whom, I was requested to join after SIN's demise and played with them, before I left to record and perform with Arizona's one-time hot act, eventually a failure, "SURGICAL STEEL". I wrote the text for BURN's Video commercial)... Digressing...
To this day, Blackie has denied that I ever had ANYTHING to do with the WASP, and changed it to W.A.S.P. Well, I have the photos to prove it, as taken by then-MOTLEY CRUE photographer DON ADKINS. I have color AND, B & W photographs, about some 10 or so pics. If there was no WASP for me to be in, then why go to the trouble to take band photographs, and make that now-infamous live, 3-track demo???? It's all over the internet now, and *my* personal copy was *Stolen* years ago. That's probably HOW it wound up mass-produced. I even titled my copy of the demo "BACK FOR THE ATTACK", (pre-DOKKEN), and this was picked up and further mass-produced. I now have a shitty multi-copied copy, from who knows where. There was also a small group of friends who used to come over to Randy Piper's rehearsal studio "Magnum Opus" in Buena PArk, Ca. and watch us rehearse. One of them was DAN STARR, who eventually became my Bass-tech, and stage manager for my band SIN. (Incidentally, RANDY PIPER's MAGNUM OPUS rehersal Studio is where I met drummer Mick Brown playing in a band called "EXCITER" with GEORGE LYNCH. Later Mick join DOKKEN, and more later, whom I'd record with for SURGICAL STEEL at EL CHATON Studios in Arizona, produced by ICON guitarist DAN WEXLER). So, NOW, there were WITNESS'S to the fact that I WAS, in fact, a full-on member of WASP. (pre-periods). I still have my original sketch artwork of the logo I drew up in my files somewhere. So, actually, by right and legally, Blackie Lawless owes, me quite a hefty sum of back-royalties for my idea(s). (The Road-Warrior-look for WASP was also one of my ideas too, which Blackie originally shot down). In later years, one-time WASP drummer (and former STEPPENWOLF / KEEL, eventually "L.A. GUNS" drummer) and good friend, STEVE RILEY admitted that "Blackie became violent at the very sound of my name, and that he often-times stole the costuming ideas of fellow WASP members after shooting down their original pre-touring ideas, which Blackie later used for his own". Blackie told me on my first night in L.A. at his house: "If you're ever gonna lie about something, make it the BIGGEST lie you can, the more OUTRAGEOUS the lie, the more believeable people will believe it". Well, Blackie Lawless has lived by his own philosophy for all these years, and OWES me *Millions* in back monies. Well, Sorry for getting off on a rant, but, SO many people ask me "What's your story with WASP?". There's a few W.A.S.P. internet fan sites who claim me to be a 'poser' and that the whole thing is a lie. If they only could open thei star-filled eyes, and pull their collective heads out of Blackie's ass, they'd see the truth. Some have actually found my story truthful, asking me, "Well if you came up with the name WASP, what does it stand for (with the periods)?" I said, "when I named it, it was more related to the GREEN HORNET logo, 'coiled, about to strike'.
Tony Richards, Blackie Lawless, Rik Fox, Randy Piper In later years, considering all the many, many members that have been 'sentenced' to play with WASP, I coined this version now and say it means:
W(e're) A(ll) S(ide) P(layers), which, in retrospect, is very amusing, and many laugh at it, including RANDY PIPER. Well, that's it. True, top-to-bottom. I have no profit to lie about any of it. Years later, Randy admitted to me, "The reason Blackie kicked you out of the band was, since you lived at Blackie's place, he got *real pissed off* when you brought a girl home, after she had aready turned him down earlier in the evening, when he tried to pick her up. It was like you were unintentionally rubbing it in his face. He got sick of it, and fired you. It had absolutely nothing to do with how you played as a musician. We couldn't defend you, because it was HIS band, and he'd fire us too". (At one point, Randy and I bonded over his favorite, Champagne, because he had misinterpreted my quick-dry, N.Y. humor, and threatened to leave the band. Blackie, of course never one to be accountable for anything HE did, places blame on me, and says "If Randy leaves the band..YOU'RE DONE!, now...GO FIX IT!". Randy & I wound up getting toasted drunk, and we both 'ganged up' on Blackie whenever he turned his back and we'd goof on him and laugh. Ever-like the stern school-master, Blackie would yell "What's going on here?!?)...Giggles...
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