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Why Is Richie Kotzen So Underrated?

Richie Kotzen is probably one of my favorite guitarists going today. Yes, he was briefly a member of Poison and Mr. Big, but his talents come through on his own solo work. Richie is a blues-man and he knows his way around the fretboard! I like listening to his stuff when I'm in a more mellow mood -- or when I'm trying to relax. Don't get me wrong -- his songs have that toe-tapping quality, but they aren't over-the-top frenetic like many Glam songs we love. There's no extra splash here: it's all raw talent.

Here's Richie on Two Tone Sessions.

And my favorite Richie song, "You Can't Save Me"

Reader Comments (24)

July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeo2
He's got the chops. He's got the looks (still!). He's go the ego (and always will!). Though the latter has been somewhat of a hindrance for him in that Kotzen's never been smart enough to latch onto a great singer/songwriter to form a decent band of their own. Because his real problem is his songwriting.

That and his ego makes him blind to the fact that he has a mediocre voice and writes boring songs, facts he relentlessly bears out on solo album after solo album. Proof that man does not live on guitar alone.

Kotzen should have learned a real lesson from some of his mentors, namely, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, who have proven otherwise with somewhat better, if inconsistent, results -- Satriani's perfect solo debut, "Surfing With The Alien" and Vai's stints with Whitesnake and David Lee Roth. At least those guys know REAL Rock and Roll, having occasionally lived it, despite all their own guitar meandering or misguided projects (Satriani's borefest supergroup, Chickensh*t, anyone? Sorry, Kari).

True, Kotzen did a high profile stints in Poison and Mr. Big but the results were pretty tedious. Listen to Poison's album, "Native Tongue" from 1993, his sole collaboration with them. If only that album had been better and he hadn't wound up messing it up on a personal level, Kotzen could have really helped take them somewhere, instead of all the rehash with C.C. And you guys can have the Mr. Big stuff -- Boring! Boring! Boring! -- I don't care who the guitarist is! One good song and it's Gilbert's -- "Addicted To That Rush".

I've got only a few songs of Kotzen's on my iTunes. The best are from his first band, Arthur's Museum. Check out their totally ROCKIN' 80's Hair Metal/AOR collector's gem of an album, "Gallery Closed". Great songs and smokin' guitar (of course).

You can experience a lot of Kotzen in that band on YouTube with some well documented live performances, etc. Just key in "Arthur's Museum". BTW, that album trades for $1,000+ as it's considered one of The Holy Grails of Hair Metal. It's almost sad to listen to because it's just misstep after misstep for Kotzen after that.

From there on, the pickin's get pretty slim... "She" from his 1990 "Fever Dream" album, "Squeeze Play" from his 1989 instrumental solo album, which, I admit, is a monster display of guitar prowess but it lacks the catchiness of Satriani's or Vai's instrumental highlights.

But after I've blasted the poor guy (well, I didn't completely do that, did I?), let's end it on a high note...

Pick up L.A. Blues Authority from 1992. Here we have Kotzen, the bluesman, destroying (in a good way) "How Blue Can You Get" with Kevin DuBrow on vocals! WOW!!!
July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
One other killer track on that 1992 L.A. Blues Authority album: "You Don't Love Me" performed by Kotzen, Steve Lukather (Toto monster guitarist -- talk about wasting talent in a band), Jeff Pilson (Dokken!) and James Kottak (Scorpions, Kingdom Come drummer!). Phew! Now there's a BAND!
July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
MB, I know you and I have been clashing lately :), but this time I'm completely on board with ya. Kotzen's got talent galore, but he really has made mistake after mistake. I think at times, he can be so eclectic that people have trouble latching onto him. First he was a shred player in the vain of all those shrapnel Records guys in the 80s, then he was a blues guy, then he was a blue-eyed soul guy, etc etc etc. and yes, he really blew his big chance at mainstream success when he screwed up his gig with Poison.
July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
MB, Richie grew up about 30 miles from me in Reading,PA. Although I've personally never met him, I know a few who have.And the impression I've gotten from everyone of them is that your statement about the dude's ego is spot on. Guy has talent out the ass on a guitar,but knows it and won't relent to getting a strong front man/writing partner I like the guy and wish he'd become bigger,but I guess he's happy doing it his way? (And as somebody who works 70 hours a week for a coal company busting his ass,who the hell am I to judge him!!) LMFAO
July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Hahaha!!! You are so right, Gary. He squeaks by on shredability and good looks doing' it his way. Who the hell am I to question him, really, except you can tell by just listening to him AND lookin' at him, he coulda been huger than HUGE.

Bob! You AND Gary and whoever else might read this, check him out when he was in Arthur's Museum. Great 80's Holy Grail of Hair Metal. He just tears it up on that album. You can hit YouTube for it. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!
July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Flashback for me MB. Arthur's Museum used to play in my area pretty often back in the day!! Saw them quite a few times. Thanks for igniting a fried corner of my brain dude!!! LOL
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary
MB: Before you skewer him and his career even more...

Kill, F*uck, Marry:

Jon Bon Jovi, Bret Michaels, Richie Kotzen???
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Whoa, Gary! Search the used CD racks in your local Indy Record Stores (if there are any left!), Goodwill, Pawn Shops, Yard Sales, Flea Markets and local Junk Shops or Antique Stores -- basically anywhere in your area that might have old CDs.

If you can find an Arthur's Museum CD, it's worth between $500- $1,000 on the collector's market! Happy Hunting!
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hahaha!!! Fletch you really come up with some f*nny sh*t! Read the comments of all again, if you can, and you will see I'm not alone in my observations about Kotzen.

We've all seen it all before... Sh*t hot guitarist thinks he's even more hot sh*t than most of his fans. There's no question, he guy's talented. It's just a shame we couldn't have seen it more fully realized in a major act more successfully.

But if you'll note in one of my earlier entries, Gary made me realize Kotzen's the master of his own destiny and if being a "cooler than cool" horse's a*s at the sacrifice of sharing his extraordinary guitar playing with the masses, who am I to stop him?

July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Yet? Dangin' scroll! Strike that. And what I meant to say is, "If being a pompous jacka*s 'doing it HIS way' at the sacrifice of his chance to share his incredible guitar playing is what makes him happy, who am I to keep him from that pursuit."
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I read every comment above.

The main issue I take is that people actually believe Bret Michaels version as to why he is no longer in (or kicked out of) Poison. Bret, (goodness bless him) is a narcissistic, pompous asshole, who cannot share any spotlight. The "reason" that RK was kicked out (as described by BM) is bullshit.

RK brought integrity to that band, a fact that BM refuses to acknowledge (but hired him over Blues, nevertheless). RK started to get more attention and acclaim than BM and Bret USED the "he fucked Rikki's girlfriend" as an excuse to get rid of him. RK did nothing wrong. Poison was "infamous" for sharing girlfriends and even more infamous for their "we started as friends" story. Bret used this to his full advantage. And, he continues to do so, to this day. Bret cares about Bret and the Poison brand...a quest that Richie (to his detriment) was set to re-define.

I have many KFM questions for MB, but I first want to hear the first question answered.
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Hahaha!!! You really are gone, Fletch.

First, I would never kill anyone. And since I'm not a chick, I wouldn't do any of the other stuff you mentioned with those clowns.

So, the answer is none of the above.

Now, here's a contest for ya...

Who'd you rather?:

Orianthi or Allyson Robertson from The Donnas?
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hurt, F*ck, Marry?
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
oh, and, MB, my comments about RK not being in Poison, has nothing to do with you. It's about his first band, The Specialists. Look 'em up. Now "that's" some crazy shit.
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Haha!! I believe I answered your question, Fletch. R-E-A-D! Now it's your turn to answer the question I left you... Tell you what, in the spirit of COMMUNICATION, I will choose...

I'll take Allyson Robertson of The Donnas.

Why? Because she's more ROCK'n'ROLL!

Here's another question for you, Fletch...

Do you know what ROCK'n'ROLL is, Fletch?! I mean, really...Do you? DO YOU?!
July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I am not that big a fan of his solo stuff. He does have some good songs but he cannot sing. He needs to find a singer/songwriter that fits and I think he could do some wonderful stuff. McAuley to his Schneker so to speak.
Plus, I think a lot of people do not like him because of what happened with Poison. I am going to call BS on fletch's assessment that RK was becoming bigger than Bret so they used an excuse to kick him out. RK was not becoming bigger, Poison will always be Bret as the focal point. Not saying that's right, just rock n roll truth. RK may have an ego but he has NO personality.
July 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterscott whitt
Even though I'm no fan of Brett Michaels (1st 3 albums and that was it), if it wasn't for Kotzen's philandering, the other reason why Poison probably ejected him was because he was incapable of writing a decent Riff, Hook or Lick, let alone Song, to save his life.

There's no question, the guy can burn, but he never wrote anything close to what C.C. did, nor could he.

And since Michaels is no Shakespeare, that union was doomed with one word: "Stand".
July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
MB: No question at all, I'd "marry" Alison Robertson. But if you wanted to get interesting, you should've asked instead, Madonna, Joan Jett, Pink, Gaga.

I (believe) I know what rock-n-roll is which is why I try to keep people on their toes. I might have made peace with you, but it does not mean I have made peace all around, sooo...if those who are "Reading" my commentary about the "Specials" want to make rational commantary or opinion, I would welcome it. Or, in other words (with all due respect and respect I give), you have your job to do and I have mine. Why continue to throw digs? Why continue the insults? Native Toungue came out in 1993- way past the Poison heyday. Those songs were artistically much better than anything that was written with CC in the Poison camp, but it wasn't commercially successful- but that was more of the time period than anything else. My point about NT (on some levels) is similar to your point about the topic, "What Appetite For Destruction Means to Me" where you stated that you just happen to "like" PBF's debut better, although AFD is better musically and lyrically. Same thing with Poison. I "like" the first 3 albums better, too, but NT "is" better, musically and lyrically.

MB: I thought a truce between us was declared. Am I mistaken? Either way, I don't care...I am too much rock-n-roll even for my own good.

P.S. "Stand" was completely ripped off from DLR solo, "Stand up" and DLR took that song from his earlier work "Standing on the Top of the World; which Van Hagar stole to output, "Top of the World" which Aerosmith stole to make, "Livin' on the Edge". (But DLR did steal "Little Dreamer" as a fuck you song to Aerosmith's 'Dream On."

P.S.S. If RK can't write a lick to save his life, than why are you promoting his work in Arthur's Museum.
July 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
This may sound shallow but I could never get into him in Poison because he looks like someone from Steppenwolf. For a band that was so visual and glammy they picked the last guy on earth that I thought should be in Poison.
July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVelvis

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