richie kotzen
Gig Seeker Pro

richie kotzen


Band Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Killer guitar"

By Oscar Jordan
NO matter how good you think you are, you’re no Richie Kotzen. Like a superhero, Kotzen uses his powers for good, coming to the rescue for bands such as Poison, and more than filling the hyper-speed picking shoes of Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big. Add to that his collaboration with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White on the jazz-fusion project Vertu, and it’s undeniable that versatility and chops are Kotzen’s middle name.

With 14 solo albums and a penchant for shred, soul, and blues, Kotzen has the rare ability to play one note or a zillion, and make you feel it. His latest release, Get Up, marks the evolution of an artist in transition. We recently caught up with him to discuss it.

Vintage Guitar: What was the turning point for you as a musician?
Richie Kotzen: I think singing has helped me the most. Once I embraced it and felt comfortable with it, it changed my guitar playing for the better. It was like I had another instrument, another way to express myself. A lot of times, a guitar player who doesn’t have vocal sensibilities will end up stepping on the singer, which is not what you want to do! Singing helps me understand and balance things between the two.

Besides singing, were there any guitar epiphanies?
By the time I joined Poison, I’d made three of my own records and I think I was prepared as a musician to do something different.

Getting away from the shred stuff...
Yeah, and that kind of happened naturally. I don’t think it was a conscious effort. All of a sudden I just stopped playing that way. I stopped playing like a teenager and started playing like a grown-up (laughs)!

What inspires you?
Getting away from music. In the past I was always one of those musicians who was constantly playing. Then my interest in music changed. It went from the mechanics of music to the art of music. I got more interested in writing songs and recording and making records than learning about the guitar. Now, after making records for all these years, getting away from it is the best. I’ll go a month without even messing with a guitar. Then, when I get back to the music, I feel inspired. I feel like I have something to write about.

Talk about your latest release, Get Up.
My previous record, Change, was written over the course of a year or so. I’d write a song, record it, then work in my backyard. With Get Up, I didn’t have any songs that I liked, so I had to start over. I got into writing mode, got a bunch of ideas, and felt I had enough for a record. I literally booked myself in my own recording studio. I went in and did it as if I didn’t have my own studio. I didn’t have the luxury of taking all day. I went in and did it, and it came out a lot more cohesive in a lot of ways. It sounds like all the songs are recorded at the same time, which I haven’t done in awhile.

I wanted to make it like my original records, like Fever Dream or Mother Head’s Family Reunion – guitar, bass, drums, and a voice. That’s what I wanted to do with this record, go back to where I started, musically. I wanted to make one cohesive sound that would encompass who I am. If someone were to ask, “Who is Richie Kotzen?,” I can hand them Get Up.

Your live set has a blue-eyed soul vibe. You close with the soul classic “Losing You,” and it fits right in.
I’m just doing what I do. I don’t know what the hell to call it. In a way, it has always been a problem for me because what I do doesn’t necessarily fit into a standard formula of what’s being sold. It makes it a challenge and makes it difficult in some ways. Once people hear it, they seem to like it. It’s kind of frustrating, trying to find someone willing to go out on a limb, push it, and get it out there.

Does that bother you?
It can’t really bother me because I can’t change who I am. I understand that I’m not a teen pop [artist]. I get that I’m a guitar player who sings and writes songs. I’m soulful. I’ve been told that I have that sound. If there’s a market for that, great. I know I’m selling records, because I’m getting paid. So at some level, I’m kind of doing it. It’s just that I’m not doing it on the level of Bruce Springsteen.

You now have your own commercial recording facility.
Two years ago, I bought a building in North Hollywood and built a studio. Not necessarily because I wanted to be in the studio business, but because of the relationships that could be developed by having a facility where people could come and work. The concept of production has always been very attractive to me. The idea of finding a band I could develop and get involved with on that level is something I really want to do. The studio is all part of that plan. We’ve had a lot of great clients.

This article originally appeared in VG’s Nov ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

For more articles like this each month, subscribe to Vintage Guitar magazine.

Top Home Privacy Statement
All content copyright ©2007 Vintage Guitar, Inc. All rights reserved. Vintage Guitar is a registered trademark of Vintage Guitar, Inc.

maintained by Vintage Guitar, Inc

- Vintage Guitar Magazine

"CD review"

Artist: Richie Kotzen
CD Title: "Slow"
Reviewed by: Nick Martinelli The Shred
Reviewed: 6/21/02

Richie Kotzen is back with another guitar driven masterpiece. This time he hits you with an even more bluesy and soulful CD. From start to finish it will have you rockin' your socks off. It has a great blend of blues, rock, funk, R&B, and soul. This has been on of the most energetic guitar release I've heard in a long time. I know for a fact if your looking for a new angle on guitar playing, Richie will deliver on hell of a smack in the head! This cd is 150% radio friendly and any music fan could enjoy this wonderful work. I was impressed as always by his soulful and bluesy approach to guitar playing. This album has a very cheerful outlook, and its a obvious that this album will go down in guitar rock history.
- The Shred

"Who The Hell Is Ritchie Kotzen?"

He’s Probably One of the Hottest Guitarists Most People Have Never Heard Of

Who The Hell Is Ritchie Kotzen?
By Jude Gold | July 2005

He regularly plays huge venues and festivals in South America, Asia, and Europe. He has been on the cover of Japan’s Young Guitar magazine eight times. He has released 13 solo records, including his latest pair, Get Up and Acoustic Cuts [Frontiers;]. Fender markets a Kotzen signature Telecaster, and Cornford Amplification manufactures a raging, hand-wired 100-watt signature tube head. He has done monster tours with major hard rock bands, including Mr. Big and Poison. He owns Headroom-Inc., a stunning Southern California studio where everyone from Gene Simmons and Blu Cantrell to Toto and Me’Shell NdegéOcello record. His lightning licks landed him in Mike Varney’s Spotlight column when he was barely old enough to drive. On top of it all, he just plain looks cool, exuding “rock star” from head to toe. So why is it, then, that so few Americans know about Richie Kotzen?

“The biggest pitfall about being the guitar player in Poison was not the people who liked Poison, but, of course, the many who didn’t,” reflects Kotzen of his tenure in the popular, yet oft-lambasted hair-metal band. “At the time, it made a lot of sense creatively and economically for me to join forces with them as a songwriter and touring guitarist. But things went haywire on tour when—as you might expect—we started performing the songs that made them famous, rather than the songs I wrote with them. What’s most annoying now is that some people assume I’m not playing music anymore, when I’ve done so much since then.”

Another factor that may be keeping Kotzen one of the best-kept secrets in guitardom is that, like many veteran recording artists in recent years, he has become reluctant to sign with a major label. “If you’re on a major, and they actually go the whole nine yards because they think you have a hit, it can be great,” observes Kotzen, who produced, sang, played drums, bass, and, of course, all the guitar parts on his latest disc, Get Up. “But quite often that’s not the case. Big labels typically keep all rights to the record, they give you very little money, and, half the time, they can’t get it into the stores properly. I do have a fan base—especially internationally—and when I release a record, I should be able to pay my mortgage, right? These days, I can market myself over the Internet, and make that kind of money way easier on my own.”

And, of course, Kotzen’s somewhat under-the-radar status in the States may be simply due to the fact that he is (to invoke the “e” word that many a musician dreads) a bit eclectic. From raw shred to party metal to acoustic rock to his ever-evolving brand of hard-rocking soul music, Kotzen has kicked down the walls on many different styles of music. Genre-wise, it makes the guitarist hard to pigeonhole—especially when he does surprising albums such as 1999’s self-titled debut by the jazz/fusion group Vertú.

“That group featured no less than fusion pioneers Stanley Clarke [bass] and Lenny White [drums],” recalls Kotzen, “and playing with them was one of the highlights of my career. But the audition was tough, because the first thing they did was put some sheet music in front of me. I started laughing, because I had to explain that I didn’t read music. Stanley had to sit at the piano and show me what I needed to play. At the end of the audition, I said, ‘I probably won’t get the gig, but it was great playing with you.’ When I got home, I had a message from their manager saying, ‘They loved you. You’ll be doing the record and all the jazz festivals in Europe.’ What a surprise! That’s why I don’t stress out much about auditions. I feel that if you’re right for a particular gig, you’re going to get it.”

Stunning violin-like legato, soothingly lyrical R&B bends, and a near-supernatural ability to coax vocal timbres out of monster amps saturated with gobs of distortion—these are the things Kotzen seems to do effortlessly. “Everyone has their big breakthrough on the guitar,” he says. “It’s like the sun suddenly comes out, and you can finally see clearly. Some guys hit it in their teens, while others hit it way later. It happened for me when I was in my 20s, and the big turning point was when I started to sing. Singing really changed how I approached the guitar, because it put a vocal quality into my playing.”

One can only imagine the satisfaction British amp wizard Paul Cornford got when he first heard Kotzen playing jaw-dropping rock licks through a Cornford MK50 head. Inspired, the amp maker soon teamed up with the Pennsylvania-born guitarist to design Cornford Amplification’s first 100-watt head, the fire-breathing EL-34 powerhouse known as the Richie Kotzen RK 100 signature model.

“Paul will tell you that his amps do a certain thing better than just about anything else out there, and it’s true,” says Kotzen. “That ‘thing’ is hard to describe, but it’s very real when you hear it. It’s a particular clarity in the midrange of the lead tone. In most other high-gain amps, there’s a fuzzy, processed element in the lead channel that isn’t musical. Paul figured out how to get rid of that.”

In his 1988 appearance in GP’s Spotlight column, Kotzen—just 17 at the time—professed that one of his chief goals was to play in a nationally successful band. “I met that goal,” he says. Right now, I can still tour and release records, so my current goal is simply making sure that I don’t f*** things up!”
- Guitar Player Magazine

"The Shrapnel Years - Album reviews"

instrumental collection: the shrapnel years - album reviews
During the '80s, Shrapnel dominated the shredder guitar market with prodigies that seemingly had cartilage removed from their joints in order to play 128th-note guitar solos in the blink of an eye with samurai-like precision. One of those ambitious young axegrinders was Richie Kotzen, who would later show up in Poison. This collection of his tenure in Shrapnel presents two phases: the hard-rocking years when guitar acrobatics were at the forefront of compositions (1989-1997) and the more melodic and composition friendly albums of the 2000s. The first four tracks find Kotzen competently backed by the amazing combo of Stu Hamm on bass and Journey drummer Steve Smith, and pretty much set the tone for the first half of the disc with over the top antics and musicianship shadowing the mother of all shredders, Steve Vai. Things wind down a little bit, but Kotzen's abilities only mature and grow stronger as time goes by. This is a great overview of the accomplishments of one of guitar metal's unsung heroes. ~ Rob Theakston, All Music Guide
- Artist Direct

"iTunes -reviews"

iTunes Reviews

blues rock god
by bonscottjovi

This cat has the most original arrangements, killer guitar chops,…and THE VOICE. What a fine soulful throat he has! Filled with emotion.

outstanding new release!!!
by Kotzen fan

Richie delivers another great release.. I can’t say enough about and artist that just keeps putting out great cd’s year after year…so go and purchase all of his music you will not be disappointed…If you like great guitar playing and outstanding vocals and great songs than Richie is the one for you…K in LA

Another Great Album!
by CGalambos

If you are familiar with Richie Kotzen’s body of work and appreciate his supreme talent Into The Black will not disappoint you. Richie is a great songwriter, singer, musician, producer and engineer not to mention a virtuoso guitar player. His cd catalog is very impressive and is overflowing with consistent quality. It is a shame that he gets no attention in the US. However, his talent is not lost on everyone, he opened for the Rolling Stones for every show on their recent Asian tour. Hopefully Richie’s entire catalog will be on iTunes soon!

by poison

Great voice, Great music, Great Lyric. Anything he does is great.

Love it
by oly

You can’t save me is a wonderful song, his vocals sound very similar to audio slave, his album cover looks like Michael Jackson though…

- Fans

"Guitar Player Magazine's 40th Anniversary Concert"

Richie Kotzen's evocative voice, stage presence, and searing guitar playing provided an abundance of exhilarating rock-star moments... Michael Molenda, Editor in Chief of Guitar Player. - Guitar Player Magazine

"Return Of The Shredi"

Richie Kotzen
Into The Black
May 2007 Guitar World Magazine

Shred Guitar has come a long way from the stock “sweeping arpeggios over one-chord galloping vamps” that characterized the genre in the late Eighties and early Nineties. This month, we check out new albums from two of the era’s survivors, Marty Friedman and Richie Kotzen, as well as one from ex-Marilyn Manson and current Rob Zombie guitarist John5...

Richie Kotzen’s powerful vocal style takes center stage on his 14th solo album, Into The Black, a soul-baring, R&B-influenced affair. But come solo time, there’s no denying his chops are still in order. Even in an understated solo like the one in “Misunderstood,” Kotzen shows he can still deliver the goods, ending with a tasty 16th note triplet motif. On the tracks like the Zeppelin-esque “Fear” or the minor-key platforms “Doin What The Devil Says to Do” and Till You Put Me Down,” Kotzen lets his blues rock side shine, occasionally mixing in his signature legato runs. But the album highlight, from a shredders point of view, is no doubt Kotzen’s solo in “Sacred Ground.” Sporting one of the most fluid attacks in the business, Kotzen takes you on a fretboard roller coaster ride before climaxing with an intervallic hopscotch that would leave mortal fingers tied in knots.

- Guitar World Magazine


1988 Gallery Closed Arthur's Museum (LP & Cassette Release ONLY!)
1989 Richie Kotzen Richie Kotzen Guitar, Keyboards
1990 Fever Dream Richie Kotzen Guitar, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr)
1991 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Original Soundtrack Producer, Performer
1991 Electric Joy Richie Kotzen Guitar, Arranger, Composer, Producer, Engineer
1992 Guitar on the Edge, Vol. 1 Various Artists Guitar, Performer
1992 Guitars That Rule the World Various Artists Guitar, Producer, Engineer, Performer, Mixing
1992 L.A. Blues Authority L.A. Blues Authority Guitar, Vocals, Performer
1993 Blues: L.A. Blues Authority, Vol. 2 Glenn Hughes Guitar
1993 Native Tongue Poison Guitar (Acoustic), Dobro, Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals (bckgr)
1993 Stand [Cassette Single] Poison
1993 Stand [CD Single] Poison
1993 Until You Suffer Some Poison
1993 Ultimate Guitar Survival Guide Various Artists Performer
1993 The Electric Pow Wow Stevie Salas
1994 L.A. Blues Authority: Cream of the Crop Various Artists Guitar, Vocals, Performer
1994 Mother Head's Family Reunion Richie Kotzen Guitar (Japanese Release)
1994 Mother Head's Family Reunion Richie Kotzen Guitar Geffen Records
1994 Rats Sass Jordan Vocals (bckgr)
1994 Songs from the Better Blues Bureau Various Artists Guitar
1995 Inner Galactic Fusion Experience Richie Kotzen Guitar
1995 Smoke on the Water: A Tribute Various Artists Guitar, Vocals, Performer
1995 Tilt Richie Kotzen & Greg Howe Guitar
1996 Alter Native Stevie Salas
1996 Alter Native EP Stevie Salas
1996 Wave Of Emotion Richie Kotzen
1996 Times Gonna Tell/Stoned EP Richie Kotzen
1996 Crossfire: Salute to Stevie Ray Various Artists Guitar
1996 Poison's Greatest Hits 1986-1996 Poison Guitar
1996 Stickey Wicked T.M. Stevens Guitar
1997 Something To Say Richie Kotzen
1997 Black Night: Deep Purple Tribute Various Artists Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals, Group
1997 Project Richie Kotzen & Greg Howe Bass, Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Keyboards
1997 Look Paula Barnett Castillo
1998 What Is Richie Kotzen
1998 Not So Innocent Jesse's Power Trip Guitar
1999 Viva La Noice Stevie Salas
1999 Bi-Polar Blues Richie Kotzen Organ, Bass, Drums, Guitar (Bass), Vocals, Producer, Engineer, Wurlitzer
1999 Break It All Down Richie Kotzen
1999 Get Over It Mr. Big
1999 Superfantastic Mr. Big
1999 Static Mr. Big
1999 Various Fusion 101 Various Artists Guitar, Vocals
1999 Vertú Vertú (with Stanley Clarke) Guitar, Vocals
1999 Radioactive T.M. Stevens Guitar
2000 Bat Head Soup: A Tribute to Ozzy Various Artists Performer
2000 Mikazuki in Rock (with Mikazuki Tekkodan)
2000 Wave of Emotion Richie Kotzen Organ, Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Drums, Leader, Vocals (bckgr), Clavinet, Producer (Spitfire Reissue)
2000 Something to Say Richie Kotzen Bass, Guitar, Piano, Arranger, Drums, Vocals, Producer, Writer, Wurlitzer (Spitfire Reissue)
2000 What Is... Richie Kotzen Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr), Producer, Engineer, Mixing, Wurlitzer (Spitfire Reissue)
2000 Break It All Down Richie Kotzen Producer (Spitfire Reissue)
2000 Deep Cuts: The Best of the Ballads Mr. Big Guitar
2000 Where Are They Now Mr. Big
2000 Submarine Gregg Bissonette Guitar
2001 Actual Size [Bonus Track] Mr. Big Guitar, Vocals, Engineer
2001 Actual Size Mr. Big Engineer
2001 Arrow [EP] Mr. Big Engineer
2001 Light at the End of the Tunnel War & Peace Guitar
2001 Stone Cold Queen: A Tribute [Triage] Various Artists Guitar
2001 Stone Cold Queen: A Tribute Various Artists Guitar
2001 Rock Champions Poison
2001 Shuffle Masami Okui
2002 In Japan Mr. Big
2002 Hellsing [Pioneer] Original Soundtrack Recording Guitar, Engineer
2002 One Way Street: A Tribute to Aerosmith Various Artists Guitar
2002 Pigs and Pyramids: An Allstar Lineup Performing the S Various Artists Guitar
2002 Slow [Lion Music Bonus Track] Richie Kotzen Guitar, Producer, Engineer
2002 Slow [Yamaha Bonus Track] Richie Kotzen Producer, Engineer
2002 Songs of Pink Floyd Various Artists Guitar
2002 Mr. Big Box Set WEA International
2002 Todd Rundgren & His Friends Todd Rundgren Performer
2003 Brief Glimpse of the Relentless Pursuit: Tribute to Pink Floyd Various Artists Guitar
2003 Change [Bonus Track] Richie Kotzen Producer, Writer, Performer
2003 Change [Japan Bonus Track] Richie Kotzen Producer
2003 Change Richie Kotzen Producer, Performer
2003 Poison's Greatest Hits 1986-1996 [CD & DVD] Poison Guitar
2003 Best of Ballads & Blues Poison
2003 Slow Richie Kotzen Producer, Engineer
2004 ASSHOLE [Clean] Gene Simmons Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Soloist
2004 ASSHOLE Gene Simmons Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Soloist
2004 AC/DC We Salute You [Bonus DVD] Various Artists Guitar
2004 Greatest Hits Mr. Big Guitar, Vocals, Engineer, Group Member
2004 Influences & Connections, Vol. 1: Mr. Big Various Artists Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Vocals,




Touted as “one of the best guitar players in

the world, a voice on par with some of the greatest

rock/soul singers and creative songwriting, Richie

Kotzen has had an incredible journey in the world

of music. In 2006 as a solo artist, Kotzen was the

opening act for the legendary Rolling Stones A

Bigger Bang Tour in Japan.

It all started at the age of seven when Richie

learned to play the electric guitar in his hometown

of Reading, PA. He formed his first band at the age

of twelve and played live gigs around PA, Delaware

and New Jersey. When he turned eighteen he

headed West to San Francisco and recorded his first

album for Shrapnel Records. That year, Kotzen was

featured on several magazine covers including

Guitar World and was voted one of the Top 3 Best

New Guitarist’s of The Year by it’s readers.

After recording three albums for Shrapnel

Records, Kotzen moved to Los Angeles and just out

of his teens he joined the multi platinum glam metal

band POISON and started living the dream! He

recorded the cd Native Tongue with the band and

ventured on a world tour in support of the album.

His song Stand, reached #4 on MTV’s Most Wanted

and was in the Top 20 in BILLBOARD MAGAZINE.

That record soon reached platinum status.

After POISION, Kotzen continued recording

albums on various labels including Geffen, Shrapnel

and JVC until 1999 when he was invited by jazz

legend Stanley Clarke to form the band VERTU. They

recorded a self titled album for SONY and spent the

summer in Europe playing the Montreux Jazz and

other festivals. “It was an honor and a great

experience to be in a band with Clarke and the

other members.” States Richie.

Later that year Kotzen joined the immensely

popular rock band MR. BIG, who are known for their

#1 hit song To Be With You. In 1999, they played

the Osaka Dome in Japan with AEROSMITH for the

coveted Millennium Count Down.Kotzen wrote 2

studio records with MR BIG and had his first #1

single in Japan with a song called Shine.

Richie continues to make killer solo records and

tours around the world with superstar status in

several countries, playing stadiums, festivals, and

clubs. He has played with other well known

musicians like Gene Simmons from KISS, and Keanu

Reeves band DOGSTAR wherehe has made cameo

performances on stage, including Television

performances with the band on Jay Leno and Regis

and Kelly. Richie is always included in books,

magazines, and websites as one of the top

guitarist’s in the world!

Kotzen is one of the few artists to be honored

by Fender Guitar with not one, but two signature

model guitars of which the Kotzen Telecaster guitar

has repeatedly been the #1 selling signature

model guitar for Fender Japan. Cornford

Amplification honored Kotzen with his own signature

series guitar amp RK100 which in 2005 was voted

AMP of The Year in the UK.

Kotzen has amassed a 30 plus album

discography and he is just getting warmed Up…


“Touring and making music is my life. It is all I

have ever done. I am very grateful to all the people

around the world who have made that possible”

Richie humbly says.

Richie resides in Los Angeles and enjoys

spending time with his daughter August. His

hobbies include basketball and playing poker. At

times you might catch him jamming with other music