Unfortunately, for *my* new education in L.A., this was *how* things were done in the 1980's L.A. Rock Scene. TONS of ego-driven insecurity by an over-populated Heavy Metal "alpha-male' competing arena. Band members were summarily fired for ANY reason, and the ever-flowing revolving-door policy amongst bands was prevalently the norm. "Welcome to L.A. Rik, now...get lost!"
FIBM:Do you still receive residual checks from the Steeler sales, since it is still in print? How often are payments made?
Rik Fox:Hey, that's starting to sound a little too much like an IRS question, lol...Yes I still do receive royalty checks, amazingly! Believe it or not, that STEELER album STILL continues to sell! Although the royalties are increasingly smaller, but still welcomed....They come when the label's accountant sends them.
FIBM: What was it like working with Ron Keel?
Rik Fox:Interesting. Very Interesting. In the beginning, I got the feeling that Ron was a 'guarded' person. Kept much to himself. I really was looking forward to working with very open, congenial people. That's the way that I am. I like to be best friends with those I work with. It makes things easier for me that way, I love to collaborate, and create ideas together, work off of each other, y'know? Although he was always there, Ron pretty much kept to himself, I thought. I figured, well, he's the band leader, he's probably got a LOT on his mind. (And he did). On occasion, I got him to open up more, and laugh a bit more. I was really lookijng for the more compassionate, human side of him. Perhaps, since he had just sacked his previous line-up, he was only looking out for his best interest, and keeping STEELER alive on the scene, which, is perfectly understandable. We had a Stage manager, named Mark Workman, who had this Korean girlfriend. Every Sunday, we'd go over to Marks apartment, and his girl would make us these huge Korean-food dinners, which we soaked up like a sponge! Lol...We were really a 'starving' band like many others at the time. During the week, we subsisted from the likes of 'Top Ramen' and the many ways you can creatively come up with preparing it, Like today's G.I.'s do with M.R.E's, lol...That, and we lived off of the gratuity of whatever girl(s) we were dating at the time, and could afford to get us something to eat. We lived in what was, several store-fronts linked togther, inside, and some of the walls were re-cut so that all the rooms entered-exited into each other. It was a pestilential hole, and the kitchen had "armies" of roaches who went scurrying like Iraqi insurgents, whenever we turned on the light or the stove, Lol...
That was the room that Yngwie stayed in, on a big waterbed. He had the idea that we lived in rich digs and had a pool, etc., lol! Boy, was THAT a shock to his system! Lol...
I stayed in the farthest room, and fixed it up real nice, because I'm always creating or building *Something*. I had a stereo, raised bed off the floor, curtains like a railroad coach bed, so less access by the roaches, but I shared the wall with the rehersal room,so, if anyone wanted to practice, Like Mark...woke us the hell up damn fast! Eventually, this room became BOBBY DAHL's room, when we moved out of there, some new, dinky little band just arrived in Hollywood named..."POISON", found our place, and moved right in! Bobby told me about it, and I said, "That's our old STEELER place!" Bobby said he lived in the best looking room there, made-up all real nice and comfy, raised bed, curtains, shelves, and...a DOOR for privacy! I said, "Yup! That's MY old room!" and we laughed big-time. That's how I got to be good friends and hang out with POISON...Pre-POISON, and then-barely legal, CC DEVILLE reminded me that he was "the annoying kid who used to pester me, by constantly grabbing my pants-leg & yelling HEY! HEY!", when I was doing the light show, and follow-spot, for many of the bands I worked with in the former "HOT" N.Y.C. club named "THE GREAT GUILDERSLEEVES", where many newly-signed, and mid-range touring bands came thru...EVERYONE who was ANYONE hung out there, and we had a special place of Honor right out front for the HELLS ANGELS Club to park their "HOGS". My good friend "ZEUS" (Steve Johnstadt) Former Lead singer for A & M Recording act "MAYDAY" also doubled there, when not performing, as a bouncer! ZEUS has worked with TONS of bands since then, as a writer and musician. Anyway, I digress, (see, lots of "Six Degrees" here, WHEW!)...I learned a lot from working with Ron. He taught me a lot of valuable lessons back then about his experiences in a band such as STEELER. I was VERY lucky to get the gig in that band, out of the TONS of players in L.A. It was Fate. Kismet... FIBM:What was it like working with Mark Edwards?
Rik Fox:VERY EDUCATIONAL! The MOST I ever learned about time, meter, playing 'with' the beat, 'behind' the beat, etc. was taught to me by Mark, for which I am indebted to him to this day. I am pretty much a 'feel' player, and always looked for the 'groove' to match the drummer. Mark taught me how to 'LISTEN" and "Find that FEEL". The rhythm section is what controls the songs, and the meter, is EVERYTHING. Later years, FRANKIE BANALI verified this to me, when I auditioned for QUIET RIOT, around 1985...Mark was also good friends with DEF LEPPARD drummer RICK ALLEN and saw to it, that when the PYROMANIA TOUR hit L.A. we all had backstage passes to see them, and later, hang out with the band at their hotel, and get to know them better. Rick used to share some of his endorsement gear with Mark. Although Mark, too, I found to be somewhat of a quite loner-type, he, too had some fun moments. But the best, is when Mark & I used to go together, alone into the rehersal room, and play thru the STEELER set, JUST drums and bass, locking into a real, great groove. We'd do this several times, take a break for dinner, then the whole band would go back in and we'd do it all over again as a unit. DAMN! was that beginning to sound TIGHT! We really ROCKED, I have to say. And, proof of this was obvious when we hit the stage, for the live shows. Ron was Untouchable as a frontman, Mark was Concrete in his playing. I did my best, as anchor between Mark and Yngwie (and Ron). But I felt that Ron's guitar-playing had MILES more actual feel that Yngwie's did. Ron played the second lead in the cut "COLD DAY IN HELL" and you can *really* hear the difference! Ron played more to the song, while Yngwie played more for himself. Granted he was a musical genius, but he never let you forget it either. Yngwie's ego, as the world has eventually experienced, is MASSIVE! And he turns everyone off when dealing with him. If only he could control his personality, perhaps STEELER would have stayed together and made BIG records...It's too bad about Mark's moto-cross biking accident. I really looked forward to the day when we could play together again, if it ever came about...Now, if STEELER winds up doing a STEELER REUNION TOUR, I'll have to work real close, with whomever is the new drummer, and make it a point, to have him play all of Mark's 'signature' points exactly like they are on the record.
Why? Because what you hear on the STEELER album, are the results of hours, and hours of Mark & I working on all those little 'kicks & stops' and 'cymbal catches'. Mark was professional enough to allow me to add little things in certain spots, where I thought those kind of accents would make sense. What you hear, was the final result of all that hard work. I know musicians like to add their own 'flair' on things, but, when it comes to the foundation of the songs, I demand the best a player can do. It was demanded of me back then, and I gave it. I expect others to be the same way. I'm always 'listening' for those 'signature' accents, for my cues, so, they're real important. As a fan of my heros, I always listened for them in their songs as well. That's why I was dissapointed in seeing a DEEP PURPLE reunion tour years ago with the original line-up, sans Richie Blackmore. Dixie Dreggs guitarist, Steve Moorse, who is excellent in his 'own' right, just didn't do it for me. He played whatever he wanted, to and, I felt, ruined the overall feel of the presentation. Richie Blackmore plays various 'signature' phrasings, and when they are not there, the songs and band are just not DEEP PURPLE. I feel the same way about songs I play on, whether mine or someone elses. PLAY IT LIKE IT WAS WRITTEN! The only person who has the right to alter a song is the writer themself! Steeler, 1983, opening for Vandenberg Mark, far left, in the band Lion, which featured, Whitesnake / Dio guitarist, Doug Aldrich FIBM:What was it like working with Yngwie?
Rik Fox:That's "Yngwee "J." Malmsteen, so as not to confuse him with all the *other* Yngwie Malmsteens" (Derek St. Hubbins/SPINAL TAP)...LOL!!! Well I just touched on that in the previous answer, however, I found that the ONLY way to 'level the playing field' with Yngwie, was to relate to him on a non-musician level. You bring up topics like UFO's, Dark things, belief's, and he got like a big kid, really excited. Nothing like the monster he was as a musician. When he agreed with you he'd say "That's quite cool, actually". He wore his Stratocaster around his neck EVERY waking hour, constantly 'noodling' up & down the fretboard. One day, I'd said to him "Hey man, the era of ALVIN LEE (TEN YEARS AFTER) was over". Yngwie says "Who's that?" I just shook my head....
But as a player, Yngwie'd have an entire song already worked out in his head, saying to each player around him: "You play this" (and he's show them the part he already wrote 'for' them), "You play this", "You play this", etc., to each player, then he'd lay down his leads over it. He was really gifted in that way. We really grooved when I'd start playing an old DEEP PURPLE tune, and he'd 'Richie Blackmore' out on it! For anyone who's seen Yngwie live, you can see, that he's copied ALL of Richie Blackmore's classic, 'signature' moves. Yngwie's also notorious for taping off square boxes on stage for his other band-members to "STAY IN" while they perform, this way, no one else gets any spotlight time BUT Yngwie. Move out of the box, "You're FIRED". Definitely not the way to run a "BAND".
Whomever is utilized to replace Yngwie on a potential STEELER REUNION TOUR, would, in my mind, be expected to copy what Yngwie played on the STEELER album exactly same way, for the same reasons I cited above. I would be listening for all those 'cues' for my parts to be 'there'. FIBM:What are your 3 most fond memories of being in Steeler?
Rik Fox:Well, I think I pretty much hit the mark on that one in the other answers...Let me think on it some more...Oh! When we did our FIRST show as the new line-up of STEELER, we opened for HUGHES-THRALL at "THE COUNTRY CLUB" in Reseda, CA. As the curtain was going up, it started to take my mike-stand with it and it's half-way up in the air, and we're calling to the roadies to stop, and get the mike stand back, out of the curtain!, LOL!!! They had to lower the curtain, and start all over again! What a way to begin our new show with new members...Later, after the show, RATT drumer BOBBY 'The BLOTZ' BLOTZER, walked by my dressing room, and I gave him back "What For" and completely embarrased him. He respected me after that and we became good friends after that.
(Back Story: When I auditioned for RATT, and THE GREG LEON INVASION, before STEELER, Bobby Blotzer had preferred bass players who played with their fingers, over those who used a pick. I stated that some of the BEST bassists used a pick. Bobby says: "Like WHO?" I said" Paul McArtney, Pete Way, Gene Simmons, etc...), He didn't like that, because I was right. I said "Different players, different preferences, besides, I can play either way". THEN, he picks on my bass, because it wasn't a 'traditional' shape, like "real players' use a Fender Precision. I was using a more-exciting-looking Explorer-body bass made by a GIBSON offshoot. Problem was, I overlayed the fret-markers with those little 'prism-looking' stars, which were easier to see, and (I thought) cooler-looking. 'The Blotz' always dogged me on that, so, when I finally showed up in the hottest new local act, STEELER, opening for a MAJOR act, he'd asked Ron Keel's girlfirend (who booked acts for THE WHISKEY AND ROXY), in the audience at the time, "Who's the new guy with the 'Disco Stars' on his bass, he looks familiar...".
Well, as Blotz passed me after the show, he looks in at me, up close, THEN recognizes it was ME, that guy who didn't get the RATT gig, and I say: "Not bad for 'DISCO STARS', huh?!?" Blotz turned six shades of red, and ran up the hallway, LOL!!! Now THAT was funny! He later relented, and thought I was a 'decent' player...When we opened up for VANDENBERG at the Roxy, the stage was recently re-built higher off the main floor, and, subsequently, still a bit wobbly. Every time I stepped up to the mike for backing vocals, the mike-stand would wobble, and the mike would hit me in the mouth, lol...
I'd been told that Eddie Van Halen, Brian May, and other BIG famous guitarists were out in the audience to see this new 'pistol' named Yngwie and his 'new style' of playing. Later between shows, (we did two sets, BLACK N BLUE did the previous night the same way), I was visited by NIKKI SIXX and Blackie Lawless...Blackie, now thinking, that I was a person to be reckoned with as a player in a hot, Sunset Strip act, begins recanting his original feelings about kicking me out of WASP. He NOW says "If there's ANYTHING I can do to help you, you just let me know, and I'm there"... I look over at Nikki, remembering what Blackie told me about "the BIG Lie", and Nikki grabbed me and pulled me into the upstairs dressing-room-men's room, and locked Blackie out. He says Blackie is the BIGGEST liar and thief he ever met. Blackie helped him out so he could get further along for himself. Nikki was too smart for him, and since they'd played together in LONDON, Nikki knew how Blackie operated. He said "Don't EVER give ANY ideas or suggestions to Blackie, he'll steal them fast as he can throw your grandmother off a cliff and get away with it".
I say "Well then, why do you continue to hang out with him?", and Nikki just goes "For laughs. And, because I'm now a bigger star than he is, so he likes to tag along and see what girls he can try and get by hanging out with me"...Then he lays out some 'lines' (blow), and we do them. (my first time)...Nikki tells me how proud he is of me in STEELER, and that I was "kicking Blackie's ass all over", with my look and performance. Meanwhile, Blackie's banging on the door screaming "C'mon guys, let me in! What's going on in there?!?"...Nikki looks at me and says "Watch this"..."WHATTA YOU WANT OLD MAN?!?" And we both crack up laughing hysterically...It was truly a bonding moment, to be 'recognized' as a "PEER" by Nikki, who, I think was well onto working on the "SHOUT AT THE DEVIL" album by then??? (This was summer of 1983)...We eventually opened the door and Blackie looks all 'left out of the fun'. (he didn't do drugs, but, downed Vodka like a fish!)...Nikki says to me "Have a great set, winks, and laughs with me, as he heads back downstairs to the club, Blackie looking like, "What'd I miss?!?" I'll never forget it. I have a picture of the three of us together posing that night backstage. "The Three Gods". All bassists, all black-haired. All wild.
Then...there was the night we as STEELER, were coming home from that "Y & T" "Black Tiger" tour show we saw at the Roxy club...
We're all packed into somebody's car, I can't remember who's we borrowed, might have belonged to one of our roadies. another car pulls up next to ours at a red light. Gang-bangers.
(only that phrase wasn't yet coined). They say something to us. I can't rememebr what was said, or, replied with. Next thing, one of them gets out of their car with a gun, I believe, and starts coming towards us. "F*CK THE RED LIGHT...GO!!!!!" we punched it, I'm talking LIGHT SPEED! Zero to Eighty in .1 seconds!!! These guys then tear out after us, and now there's this chase, like right out of Steve McQueen's film "BULLIT", all thru the streets, and NO frickin' cops ANYWHERE!!!! Up streets, down streets, around corners, tires squealing, burnin' rubber and all! We finally ditched them by pulling and ditching into one of those strip-malls between some parked cars, and killing our lights. ZOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!! they go right past us, doing about 90 MPH...We all look at each other, in shock. "Man, THAT was CLOSE!"
We were never so GLAD to get back to that roach-infested dump, we called 'home' on the western edge of South Central L.A. When we went up north to record our album, we loaded up anything that wasn't nailed down, for fear that our place would be broken into because we were the ONLY white guys in an all-black neighborhood, and the kids were always trying to probe our defenses, which would result in us chasing them down the streets with baseball bats, boy can those kids run, lol!!!! We loaded up everything into the truck and the road crew drove it up north to the studio. Whatever we needed 'from home' was conveniently located right outside the studio in the truck!!! LOL!!!
Opening one night for us (STEELER) at the Country Club in Reseda, CA, were SHRAPNEL RECORDS label mates "WILD DOGS". at the time, this was of no special signifigance. They were nice guys, and rocked the place.
Push on to...the 1990's...I'm a guest of L.A.GUNS, thru my friend, Stage manager CORKY late of SWEET PAIN where KELLY NICHOLS came from. (I was told by my ex-SIN drummer BASIL STANLEY, that he 'groomed' KELLY NICHOLS to be another version of RIK FOX)...Anyway, L.A. GUNS are opening/support for BAD ENGLISH and ex-BABYS bassist RICKY PHILLIPS, now with BAD ENGLISH calls and offers me backstage passes. I used to hang out with RICKY and former DIO sound engineer, (also from back home in N.Y.) ANGELO ARCURI at RECORD PLANT Studios. So, after L.A.GUNS's show, I go backstage to say hi to everyone, and I'm hangingg out with TRACII GUNS who's showing me his new 'ocotpus dreds' hairstyle, when I hear my name gets mentioned, I hear this REALLY LOUD YELL from behind me: "OH MY GOD! MY FAVORITE BASSIST! HOLY SHIT!...RIK FOX!!! Now, the entire backstage area is all on full alert!
I just about get turned around, and I get lifted up in a bear-hug by none other, than, ex WILD DOGS drummer DEAN CASTRONOVA, now, playing with BAD ENGLISH! I never expected that, and had no idea it was DEAN who was now drumming for BAD ENGLISH...That guy is one AWESOME drummer!
What a commotion THAT was! TRACII GUNS was like "Who's THAT?!?" And, by this time, PUNKY MEADOWS & I had identical hairstyles for some years now...It was a GREAT show by BOTH bands that night!
Rik Fox: Y'know? I'm not too sure. I wasn't there when it happened. I think Ron would be the better 'go to' person to ask on that one. I know, that by about July of '83, some 'wierd vibes' were starting to creep into the band. We had just done a hot, sweaty, and successful STEELER 'annihilation' gig at a club in Orange County called "Radio City", I think, and Ron was acting noticably wierd to me. (There was no 'dressing room' that I recall, we had to use the kitchen to get changed in). I truly have NO idea 'why'. Mark was acting distant too. I figured, well, they must have a lot on their minds. They did.
The next day, Ron was out doing something, I don't know what. Mark comes over to me and give me that "We need to talk" line...He tells me that Ron isn't here so we can have the planned band meeting, so, it fell upon him to deliver the goods. I was being 'let go' for "unspecified reasons" (the usual "it just isn't working out routine" we all hear about). Nothing that I rememeber specifically, just that a decision was made between he and Ron, and that I was being 'let go'. All this after we just delivered an awesome first album. I couldn't find the logic in the decision.
Later that day, A truck pulls up to the front of our place, and Andy Trueman, manager of ALCATRAZ gets out, and says to Yngwie, "OK, you'ready to go?" (Little to my knowledge did we know, that Yngwie was already making "other arrangements" to leave STEELER, and join ALCATRAZ...Boy, were THEY in for it now...). So, with that, I began packing up my stuff. In walks some 'new guy' named Mitch Perry who hears me listening to a TALAS album by my good friend BILLY SHEEHAN, and says "WOW! WHO'S THAT?!?...That guitarist is AMAZING!" I said, "THAT is no guitarist. It's my friend, Bassist BILLY SHEEHAN". Perry says, "I gotta see this guy play!" Eventually, he went on to play with Billy in TALAS...(Years earlier, back in N.Y. I had spent my last Dollar on subway fare to see the original, 3-piece band, TALAS, (from Buffalo, N.Y.), perform to a *completely empty* house at GREAT GUILDERSLEEVES, where I did lights for bands there. I sat right up front in front of BILLY SHEEHAN, COMPLETELY mesmerized by a style I ahd never seen before in bassists. BILLY had this awesome bass solo, that he showed me later after the set, in the dressing room. Imagine my suprise, at hearing the premier release of the first VAN HALEN album... When I heard "ERUPTION" I said "WOW! There's BILLY SHEEHAN'S BASS SOLO, only...it's on GUITAR!!!!")...Years foreward, now, BILLY tells me VAN HALEN wanted him in the band, and after seeing the band, EDDIE VAN HALEN was *Very Impressed* with BILLY's Bass playing. Yeah...I'll bet he was! What a rip-off act that was...Anyway, digressing, STEELER went on after me and Yngwie, with a VERY boring, Donald Duck-looking Mitch Perry on guitar, and a new *very* un-rock-looking guy named RON MURREY, late of a band called "DUTCH COURAGE", who had the lead singer named RALPH MORMON, from a band called "BUX" better known as "DADDY WARBUCKS", which, as we all know wound up forming the nucleus of..."A-N-G-E-L"... (WOW, Six Degrees or WHAT?!?)...I believe Ron Keel soon after canned the whole idea of STEELER, and started from scratch again, calling his new group, simply, "KEEL", and they went on to some nominal success after that. Mark Edwards went on to record and perform with "LION". Both KEEL and LION (and ALCATRAZ) had toured Europe & Japan. Alhough my second L.A. line-up of SIN was at the threshold of a major deal, I unfortunately, never had enough success with the bands I put together, to finally get over there and see my fans. Bassist MASAYOSHI, of the Japanese band LOUDNESS, confirmed that I had HUNDREDS of fans who were waiting for me to get there and meet me. At this point, it is still a dream. Most of them, by now, have no doubt, moved on from their STEELER/RIK FOX fan days...We'll have to see what kind of hand, Fate deals me...
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