ex-W.A.S.P., Steeler and Sin bassist Rik Fox talks about the N.Y. and L.A. Rock Scene and much more

ex-W.A.S.P., Steeler and Sin bassist  Rik Fox talks about the N.Y. and L.A. Rock Scene and much more
December 18, 2011 | By More

Rik Fox has played bass guitar in some of the most groundbreaking bands in Sunset Strip history.  He was there from the very beginning of W.A.S.P.,  coined the band’s legendary name and managed to survive Blackie’s hex placing ways well enough to rebound and form several other amazing bands.  He met up with Ron Keel and Mark Edwards and joined the seminal L.A. band Steeler,  recording their debut album along with a headstrong yet unknown young guitarist from Sweden named Yngwie J. Malmsteen, who became, in my opinion, the greatest living shredder of the modern era.  All of this happened well after Rik honed his craft in the famous east coast club scene where he saw the rise of ANGEL and was a behind the scenes witness to the birth of KISS,  including Ace joining the band.  Suffice to say, Rik has got enough photos and stories to fill a book and intends on doing just that.  We caught up with him recently and got just a little taste of what that book may include.  Read on….

Legendary Rock Interviews:  What was your earliest exposure to music and your childhood like?

Rik Fox: That would have to be back when my father got out of the Navy from the Korean War, and used his G.I. Bill funding to put himself through Broadcast School. He was a HUGE fan of all the then-popular stars of early Radio-Days entertainment, like Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra, the Big Band and Swing and Jazz era, etc. He eventually got a job with WGBB in Freeport, Long Island (N.Y.),This was from 1954-1956. He started out as a member of their announcing staff and won over everyone with his ‘natural’ on-air approach; many NY area record company reps made friends with him and eventually found him creating a Sat. Night Jazz show and he interviewed on air many legends such as Billy Taylor, Kai Winding, Billy Holiday, Telly Savalas, even Al ‘Jazzbo’ Collins of WNEW. Telly’s brother George was my Father’s engineer, so sometimes Telly would drop by while he was on the air. (How’s *that* for a degree of separation?). Anyway, having all this in the background I was fortunate to have a father so deeply into music roots that I would hear much of this music around the house as I got older. But I have come to appreciate a more, fuller, rounder appreciation for my Father’s music and we sometimes listen to music from the Big Band era and Glen Miller around the house. Probably not something you’d expect to hear from a heavy metal and hard rocker.  My Father would on occasion stop by the station (WGBB) to pick up a few things for his shows and bring me along, so I have a vague memory of being there and seeing the station and where my Father would do his shows from, and then  stopping at a local soda fountain down the street, and we’d have chocolate egg cream sodas together. How all this developed into my taste for rock is anybody’s guess, LOL. I didn’t really get into music too much until I was approaching 12-ish, when one of my relatives bought me some albums by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. I remembered how cool it looked that they were all so ‘uniformly’ dressed; they looked like what I thought a band or group should look like; that they all ‘belonged’ together, no mistaking them from the average civilian. Many years later bands such as KISS, STARZ and ANGEL would emphasize more heavily on that concept and I followed suit likewise. Like many kids of the day, I recall fighting with my father about me wanting to be allowed to grow my hair just over my ears like Gary Puckett did and also the Beatles, and with him having been in radio I couldn’t understand why he disapproved so strongly. So, music didn’t really begin to play any definitive role until my formative years of around 13 and on, when I received my first two ‘rock’ albums from my cousin: The Beatles’ ‘Rubber Soul’ and Steppenwolf’s debut album, both for my birthday December of 1968. That was what I’d classify as ‘my first step into the rabbit’s hole’ Wonderland of rock. I have to say that looking back I was born at a pivotal point in history as whatever was becoming popular in 1967-68 was really striking a chord (no pun intended) with me. I mean, I was well aware of the Beatles in the 1965-66 era and whatever else that was popular on the radio, but the approach to and into adolescence was where it all started solidifying. I began following the path of what I was hearing with Steppenwolf I have to say. I loved their look, their sound, and after seeing them on American Bandstand and bassist Nick St. Nicholas was wearing a fringed, buckskin coat, leather pants, boots, etc,  playing a Rickenbacker bass, that was it; the definitive moment that I, too, had to look like that and play a bass like that. Long before anything like MTV was created, around 1969 or so there was a late night TV show called ‘Now Explosion’ (you can Google it) that played many of the popular hits along to various footage of all sorts of thing related to the song or creative imagery and optical effects. I think it came on about 2 am and I’d try to see it when I could. My Mother’s 2nd husband co-managed two Long Island rock bands, The Unspoken Word and Liquid Smoke. He had tickets to a concert and  took me to my first concert in Hempstead, Long Island, it was a Richie Havens’ concert and I had never heard of him and I was kinda bored. I didn’t like folky acoustic music much. But in 1970, I went to Shea Stadium to see Humble Pie and Grand Funk Railroad and as a freshman in high school, this sort of began putting me ahead of the pack so to speak mentally over many of those in my age group. I collected underground Zap Comix and that put me in great with the upperclassmen so I was the only freshman hip enough to be accepted by and hang out with the Seniors.

LRI:  When you first started actively going to hard rock or heavy rock shows was that when the lightbulb went on “Hey I can do this”?  Were those early forays into playing when you started getting into the real New York scene?  (Some of our readers who know you as a “West Coast” guy may be unaware that you saw some pretty legendary things going on in 1970s New York City)

RF:  Well, I didn’t really think of it in those terms exactly, not like Clubber Lang did in Rocky when he went to all of Rocky’s fights and just kept that same thought of ‘I can do better than this’…I was more amazed and excited to see those bands having fun doing what they were doing and I wanted to do the same thing. I felt that I had an aptitude to be able to catch on quickly, if I could get the same type of break. I’m glad you brought up the statement: “Some of our readers who know you as a “West Coast” guy may be  unaware that you saw some pretty legendary things going on in 1970s New  York City”, as that’s exactly very true. Just before coming out to L.A. in early 1982, I was cutting my teeth playing in cover bands. The E. Walker Band was a six-night a week ‘day-job’ for me. Everything from Joe Jackson to Judas Priest, we played, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, whatever was popular in the clubs we did. Whereas Twisted Sister concentrated on sheer heavy songs and volume, E. Walker was more of a mid-range club band, but for a six-night a week job, it was almost like being on a mini-tour, and on my day off was when I had to do all my laundry all my stage costuming, LOL… After I left E. Walker, I hooked up with Shrapnel Records New Jersey guitarist Dave Ferarra from the “U.S. Metal” series and we formed a band based on his U.S. Metal cut ‘AGGRESSOR’, and really got down to business doing all the heavy metal cover tunes in the clubs: Rush, Scorpions, Priest, Van Halen. You name it, we did it and the fans loved it. Aggressor was the last cover band I was in right before I left N.J. for L.A. But, going back before that, I started out professionally, more or less debuting at the legendary Max’s Kansas City club, in Manhattan, NYC, with The Martian Rock Band; a sci-fi themed rock band. I took my cue from all that time seeing early KISS in the clubs and developed a painted/costumed character for that gig, since they didn’t really have anything outlandish or ultra-showy until I joined. One of our songs said that ‘the bass-player, he’s from Mercury’ so I designed a reptilian-lizard-looking character, complete with green skin, and green tongue, and, like Gene Simmons I puked up blood too, but mine was green, LOL…I shot fire out of my hands and used flash powder and flash paper from the Magic supply stores. It was all theater, from Alice Cooper to David Bowie, I watched everyone  and tried to create something different. I designed the first clear Lucite platform boots and shoes, I just didn’t know how to market them and I didn’t have the money to do it, but I still have all my original dated hand-drawn designs. So entering the New York City rock scene was yet another ‘Door of Wonderland’ I was now entering. However, I  felt that comparatively-speaking to L.A. the N.Y. rock scene had a sense of more camaraderie and cooperation between the bands and the members  themselves. I didn’t see much condescension or attitude being cast back  and forth between the bands; everybody pretty much realized that ‘hey,  we’re all in this *TOGETHER*’ It mostly evolved out of the N.Y. Art  Gallery scene and music was just a normal extension of another medium of expression, Max’s Kansas City opened and the ‘underground’ music that cracked its way thru the sidewalks of N.Y. and  made itself heard just exploded everywhere. It was truly a magical time  for me; an awakening if you will, and I was pretty much at the  right age for being where I was at that time. The N.Y. ‘glam’ scene was  fun back then. Nobody mocked bands who wore make-up and platform shoes  or boots, some of the influence was coming over from the UK and the  English music scene too, the layered ‘rooster’ haircut that Rod Stewart was making famous, many of the NY rockers (including myself) began to  experiment with that look, the tight stove-pipe jeans, velvet blazers,  scarves, French-cut t-shirts, velvet and velvet corduroy pants,  rhinestones, etc. it was all accepted by everyone on the scene. It was truly a magical and exciting time to be right in the middle of all this great material. Even if  you weren’t ‘in‘ a band (but wanted to look like a ‘star’ it  was openly accepted; no one mocked you as a ‘poser’…But once you got to  actually perform a show with a band, many of the other rockers in the audience would  accept you more openly as well, you were like being welcomed ‘into the  family’ as it were. Word would get around etc., the groupies were there  too, all that…I got to become pretty good friends with many of the bands and members of that scene. I hung out with the Ramones, The Dolls, The Brats, Neon Leon’s Rainbow Express, Wayne County, etc., the list goes on…Playing C.B.G.B.’s was a trip too. Out of The Dictators, for example, I got to know Ross the Boss who later went on to form Manowar, and my buddy Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza, who later joined Twisted Sister. (After Dee Snider joined). I saw the original Twisted Sister (before Dee) performing in the same N.J. clubs that we (Virgin) played in. But yeah, The Brats (who are still performing in NY) The Planets, Luger, the Dolls, Spike, (another Sean Delaney/Bill Aucoin Mgt. band project I worked for), The Harlots of 42nd Street, The Fast, Wayne (Jayne) County, etc…I was in the Martian Rock Band at the time. I got to meet and become friends with David Bowie’s (then) photographer, Lee Black Childers, who shot our band too and we wound up in Rock Scene Magazine a few times which was, more or less like the N.Y. version of Creem Magazine…So, when I joined them, the Martian Rock band didn’t have too much of an image, but  after I got the gig, I brought in my ‘KISS influence’ which made the  bandleader more motivated to up the ante and become more theatrical so  it worked out better for the whole band. We were shooting fire and I  puked up green ‘blood’ etc…I was definitely getting myself ‘on the map’…It was while I was a part of this NYC scene, that I was also working in a clothing store on 8th Street, in downtown Manhattan, just a few doors down from the legendary Electric Lady Studios where Jimi Hendrix (among many others) recorded and producer Eddie Kramer worked out of. In walked a guy and his girlfriend and they looked rocker types. We got to discussing KISS (of course) and how I knew them, and that I was a bass player…he said he was in a Glam cover band over in New Jersey, playing the club circuit there, and that they were called VIRGIN, and they they’d like to replace their bass player with someone who had a cooler image, asking me if I’d be interested in trying out for them. I said sure, and we set up an audition in one of the many rehearsal studios in Manhattan.I got the gig and began to learn a truckload of covers from Alice Cooper to Mott the Hoople, Bowie, KISS, hell, we did the original version of ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ by Ian Hunter back in 1976-77. Our singer, Ian Criss was a dead-ringer for Bowie and he had ALL the moves; we even did an Alice Cooper set and he came out with a HUGE python snake around him, must have been about eight feet long! We wore glam make-up, platform boots (mine were 8 inches easy), and by 1977, after getting a copy of Angel’s ‘Helluva Band’ album, I was SO into ANGEL, that I had a costume imitating Mickie Jones’ complete with the same hairstyle, until I grew it out and turned it into a copy of Punky Meadows’ hairstyle. Everyone loved it. We were a hit in New Jersey Club circuit, right along our competition, a band named HARLOW who did practically the same show, but we were all good friends. Harlow led the way in glam club bands even before the pre-Dee Snider Twisted Sister. So to say that I was paying my dues Long before I ever came to Los Angeles would be a major understatement. Today, people in, for example, Face Book, flip out when they see photos of me performing how I looked back in the 1970’s during *that* club band circuit! So, you can clearly see that all those ridiculous, petty ‘Rik Fox can’t play bass worth a shit’ comments really hold no weight, because they come from jealous losers, while I was performing long before they ever knew what Rock was, LOL. Again, I was extremely lucky to be caught up in the whirlwind of the N.Y./N.J. club scenes in the 1970’s.
LRI:  I guess what I’m getting at is, you know and saw things others didn’t, you dated Peter’s sister for god’s sake in addition to seeing that band in its’ most embryonic stages.  Are you going to include those days and photos in your upcoming biography?  The early KISS gigs, the Max’s Kansas City, gritty New York era or are you primarily going to focus on your more well known bands and time out west?
RF:  It’s going to be a LONG book. I intend to leave no stone unturned, LOL… How could my biography be considered complete without starting from the beginning. Even *Before* the beginning, LOL…And of course, photos too. However, the more I give away now, the less surprises I can save for my book, LOL.
LRI:  Fair enough…When was it that a young Rik Fox decided to make the jump to the west coast and why???
RF: A ‘young’ Rik Fox was twenty-seven at the time in 1982, and made such a jump to the west coast on an audition invitation from one Blackie Lawless, late of a band at the time called ‘CIRCUS, CIRCUS’, yet seemed to change that band name back to an earlier one: ‘SISTER’. Their logo consisted of a reversed pentagram and the band name illustrated on fire. Nothing special, I lost my Sister t-shirt over time. Or it was stolen from me. I was working in a clothing shop on Eighth Street, in Manhattan’s ‘West Village’ a mere few doors down from the infamous Electric Ladyland recording studios, when in walks these 3 or 4 ‘kids’ who were passing time and exploring New York’s famed hip spot of ‘the village’. They said they were in from L.A. to see Twisted Sister performing along with about 6 or 10 other bands at some rock festival who’s name evades my memory at the moment. We got to talking and when I mentioned that I personally knew Twisted Sister and that Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza was a close personal friend, and that I also knew Edie Ojeda and Jay Jay French, they nearly shit right there on the floor. The said they were also huge fans of KISS, so when I mentioned that I saw KISS from from before Ace Frehley’s inclusion in the band, it was ‘heart-attack-time’ for these kids…wow, TWO birds with one stone, what were the possibility of them meeting someone who personally knew several of their very favorite bands in a row! I told how I used to watch KISS rehearse in their loft and see their early shows, photographing them, etc. They finally got back around to asking if I was also a musician, which was a foregone conclusion, and when I mentioned that I played bass, they said they knew of a band in Hollywood who were looking for a bassist at that very moment and that they thought that I resembled the band leader (LOL!!!) Of course they were talking about Blackie, HA! HA! HA! In reality, of course, I looked nothing like Blackie, sans for our both having black hair. So they took a live photograph of me from The E. Walker Band that I gave them that was in my bag, and they went on with their ‘vacation’, and about two weeks later I got a call from Blackie and we talked a few times until plans could be arranged to fly me out to L.A. and audition for SISTER. Obviously History bears out that I not only got the gig, but that I also came up with the legendary moniker for the band. Who knows WHAT they would have called themselves if I wasn’t an original band member from the beginning??? As well, there’s also that legendary 3-track WASP demo that I recorded with the band and the obviously more melodic bass lines than what Blackie re-played on the first album. Lots of fans have written to me telling me that they not only hear the difference but that they actually like what I played on that demo better than what’s on the debut WASP album. So I’m grateful for all the new WASP fans I’ve gotten since not only getting on Face Book, but also due to Darren Upton’s new book ‘WASP;Sting in the Tale.’ I guess fate in the bigger picture had other reasons why my path with WASP was to come to such an abrupt close. By the way, one of those ‘kids’ (he’s older now and is rapidly losing all his integrity) who took my photo back to Blackie has been running around for YEARS claiming that he was responsible for ‘discovering’ me, LOL!!! And has been whining and bitching to anyone who will listen to him all over the internet that I owe him something for that. Can you believe that B.S.?!?
LRI:  We know you wanna save some of the “juice” for your own book and want everyone to check out “Sting in the Tale” which is the first true W.A.S.P. book but we also wanted to clear up a REALLY big misconception.  If our page does one thing with fervor, clearing up misconceptions is IT. Over the years, Blackie has taken credit for not only all of the theatrical elements of rock and roll but also the coining of the name W.A.S.P. and what it supposedly “stands” for, which he changes whenever it suits his needs.  He’s also claimed that you were NEVER even in the band despite photographic evidence which is possibly the silliest thing ever.  Is it true that the name stands for NOTHING, that you you just thought of it out of the blue after almost stepping on a WASP?  Do you think he deserves as much credit as he THINKS he does for “perfecting” shock rock?
RF: I know I’ve told this story so many times, and told it to Darren Upton for his ‘WASP; Sting in the Tale’ book,  but I’m grateful that you’re asking again John, because this is one of THE greatest misconceptions in rock that certainly needs clarifying as much as possible. Within 2 months of arriving in L.A. and passing the audition and joining the band then still known as SISTER, I recorded that now-famous (bootleg) 3-track, live demo and actually coined the band’s new name: WASP (with no periods), after stepping on one, outside of LAWLESS’s Hollywood home. I’ll explain the story behind name, because so many people tend to twist the details and it starts to take on a life of its own, and changes with each person re-telling it: I was outside Blackie’s Hollywood house on Fountain Avenue in the courtyard, on the phone to a friend back in N.Y. I was aimlessly kicking fallen leaves over when I hit one that had a Hornet under it, so I reacted fast and stepped on it. As it lay there dying, it curled up with its stinger moving around…and then, the word came to me: WASP. Initially appearing to me, as the old “GREEN HORNET” logo, coiled, about to attack, stinger first, just like that dying Hornet/WASP. So I went back in the house and He (Blackie) was sitting there watch a N.Y. Yankees Baseball game on the TV and I said “I have an idea for a new band name.” He looks up at me and asks “What is it?” I said: “WASP”, and told him what just happened out in the courtyard. Blackie gets this far-off look in his eyes deep in thought, as if he could actually see a decade up the road with the name in lights, looks back at me and says “That’s a great idea, keep thinking like that.” And he went back to watching the ballgame. I began immediately to sketch my logo design idea. (I have since, found my original artwork sketch of this and it’s in my WASP Case File photo album in Face book. (If you want to use it for reference  for this interview, let me know). When we arrived at rehearsal he told Randy (Piper) and Tony (Richards) that the new band name is going to be WASP. He didn’t tell them that it was *I* who came up with it, so I then told them the story again. With that, Randy said he was thinking of the name ‘HELLION’ because that what bad kids are called back in Texas where he was from, but I told him there already was a band in Hollywood with that name. Tony immediately says “That’s dumb, who names a band after a BUG?!?” I thought quickly and said “The Beatles?”  Scorpions?”, and that was it. WASP was born at that moment in 1982. Not long after that Blackie called up Don Adkins Jr., who had taken Motley Crue’s early photos and set up time for us to do a Photo session. And it appeared that soon, WASP would be playing live. I was looking through a Hollywood classified newspaper after that and I saw that first press photo of Mel Gibson, in the then, newly-released film “THE ROAD WARRIOR“, I conceptualized later, to Blackie, a new look for WASP, which, until then, only one band was using, and that was Australian band HEAVEN, who were friends of mine from back in N.Y. But not that many knew who Heaven were yet, and no one else had yet thought of this. At first, LAWLESS told me something ironic coming from him: “We can’t go scaring off the record labels, we need to get the songs recorded in a better format first and then, come up with an image.” My friend from A & M Records, Hernando Courtright was in town over at the label’s west coast offices on La Brea Ave. So I called him up and we scheduled an appointment to visit him and have him hear that WASP demo we did. He was happy to see that ultimately, I followed his advice, and left N.Y., and I got the gig with the band. He knew Blackie too, so we sat down and talked and then played him the demo, which he liked, but of course, said it needed a bit more polish on it. We kept rehearsing and one day I begin getting the cold and distant treatment from Blackie. He’s not talking to me or anything. This goes by about two days and then finally says to me ‘We need to talk.” So, I then get the ‘We need to talk’ story of how it’s not working out and that Randy and Tony aren’t happy, and if I want, they’ll pay for my flight back to N.J. Or, he goes on, that “You could stay in L.A. because the opportunities are much better to get somewhere than in N.Y.”, but I’d have to move out and move on, find someplace else to go, he was letting me go from the band.
 What was really interesting, was that Blackie was severely adamant about me not possessing Any of the photographic evidence that I was in the band…as if he knew what the future might bring if I kept any documentation. So, true to form I went right out to a photo lab with the negatives, and made copies of some of the photos and when Blackie found out he blew a gasket! Like a volcano he starts yelling at me like some abusive father to a misbehaving son, and I’m thinking ‘who the hell do you think you are talking to me like that?!?’ I gave him a couple of the photos because he was extremely demanding and all in my face about it. But, luckily, I kept a bunch of others, including the color copies of us from that photo session taken at Don Adkins’s parent’s house. My case of proving that I was in the band would have been that much more difficult if I had not kept some of those photos and Thank God for it. Now, although there were many witnesses who saw me rehearse, and write with, and invent the band-name W.A.S.P., to this day, BLACKIE LAWLESS angrily denies I ever had anything to do with the band, which would, of course, undermine everything we formerly knew about the bands’ early days. If there “was no WASP for me to be in” as BLACKIE contends, then how do you explain my bass tracks on the WASP demo, and me being in all the pictures of that early WASP photo session? Yet, as soon as I got the gig later as bassist in L.A.’s popular Metal act STEELER, BLACKIE began to back-pedal and recant his allegations, as my prominence grew in the Hollywood Metal community, so now, he’s thinking he’d have to do ‘something’ to recover a ‘plausible deniability’. Later, confusing everyone now, BLACKIE reverted back to his original denial of me ever being in W.A.S.P. The guy just can’t stick to his own stories. In retrospect, I’ve said that since *so many* members have passed thru the ranks of W.A.S.P., humorously, (and, realistically), it actually now comes to stand for: W.(e’re) A.(ll)S.(ide) P.(layers), especially, since Blackie was holding all the cards from the start, telling me a Nazi quote from early on: “If you ever have to lie about something, lie “BIG”. The bigger the lie, the more fantastic it has to be, making it more believable.” Blackie obviously followed his own advice after dismissing me for *purely* personal reasons, and not anything to do with not getting along with RANDY PIPER, (another BLACKIE lie),whom I temporarily performed some years later with, in PIPER’s band “KING’s HORSES“. When I played with Randy, he kept telling me that Blackie “is one of the BIGGEST liars on the face of the planet and that he takes credit for EVERYTHING.” So as we can all see now, no matter what claim is made by LAWLESS, I obviously and truly was a member of the original W.A.S.P.BLACKIE LAWLESS has apparently developed a bad habit of dismissing his reasons for removing band members by accusing them of having ‘drug problems’. Well, considering all the good-quality players he’s had the ‘honor’ of sharing his name with, in W.A.S.P. BLACKIE shouldn’t cast stones so easily, since I’ve personally seen him down whole entire bottles of Vodka back in the day…So, who’s the person with the ‘problems’?…
As for Blackie claiming or trying to claim credit for things such as he has done that is nothing new, It’s come to me not only from former band members but also Nikki Sixx himself, that Blackie is notorious for shooting down the ideas that others bring to the table and then tweaks them with a personal twist and then brings them to the table as his own ideas. Now, I’m not knocking his songwriting; the man does, in fact write some magnificent material, but we’re talking about the other, creative side of the band, the visuals. It’s well-documented about the animosity that Alice Cooper has for Blackie and granted, we all do ‘borrow’ from those that came before us, (How many people have thought that I looked like the mirror-image of Angel’s Punky Meadows for so many years?), but Blackie, cleanly takes ideas of others and makes them his own. What gives him plausibility, is that his songwriting speaks so strongly of itself so how could anyone ever doubt him for anything else he’s done…? It’s a great posture of smoke and mirrors with which he fools everyone, and he wields it perfectly as a master magician. Since Darren’s book came out, I have experienced a LOT of new WASP fans who have ultimately come around and embraced the fact that I was the original bassist and did create the band name, and for that I’m very grateful; those WASP fans ROCK! The sad and unfortunate side, is that some of his fans (note, not fans of the BAND, just Blackie himself), do not know the real depth of the man that I and the other band members have seen and experienced first-hand, and in so doing, defend the image he portrays and I have personally experienced some extremely dangerous and virtually maniacal Blackie Lawless fans who eat, sleep, breath and live for Blackie (and any incarnation of WASP). To say fan-atical is an understatement. Except for maybe Johnny Rod, probably because I am virtually the most outspoken former member of the band who is willing to speak about my time in the band and what I know, that really tends to rub some of the fans the wrong way. Because in doing so, they feel that I am tearing down the fantasy that they have built around Blackie and they hate me for that, misguidedly believing that I am jealous, LOL…The only thing that Blackie deserves credit for, is only for making himself and WASP a success.  However, with a side-bar related to WASP, Since you’re allowing me the time to clear up misconceptions, there is one last nagging misconception that’s been hounding, nay, STALKING me for the last two decades, that I’d really like to put to death…I have to laugh at those who claim that I was never in the band (WASP), if that were true, then how do you explain all the witness’s who saw me rehearsing with the band, moreso, the photos of me in the band and then, the infamous bootlegged WASP demo that I recorded on…? You see? It’s not impassioned pleas that win cases in court, it’s the preponderance of EVIDENCE. and in my case, the evidence speaks for itself.
Now, in the case of this guy who visited NY with his friends to see Twisted Sister and as a tourist, walked into a store I was working in, in NYC, 1982. After talking about KISS (They were KISS fanatics), and how I knew KISS personally before Ace Frehley was in the band and I dated one of Peter Criss’s sisters, they lost their shit in excitement. This annoying little kid tells me he knows of a band in L.A. looking for a bassist, and asked if I would be interested. I didn’t give it much thought but I handed him a photo of me onstage which he then gave to Blackie when he went back to L.A. After which Blackie began calling me to come out and audition for his band (then called SISTER–NOT Circus,Circus). So Blackie scraped the money together and flew me out to L.A. and I auditioned for the band. I obviously got the gig and as we were recording that demo, I came up with the new band name–WASP, while I was staying at Blackie’s house in Hollywood as I mentioned above.  The afforementioned kid and his friends used to come to Randy’s rehearsal studio and watch us (WASP) rehearse, so he and a few others were witnesses to seeing me rehearsing with the band. But, over the years he has grown to become a severely bitter and jealous man, and has followed me ALL OVER the internet and rock gossip sites and they go talking smack-shit about me and attacking me, because this kid feels that he deserves ‘credit‘ for what he tells everyone: ‘I Discovered Rik Fox’ and got him the gig with SISTER (WASP), which is utter BS, it was a chance meeting and fate took care of the rest. Nobody ‘Discovered’ me, LOL…But given the opportunity, this nut  will do whatever it takes to dismiss anything I have ever achieved in rock. Consider also, that he ended up being a cross-dresser, who had a glam band WITH A BEYOND STUPID NAME I WONT MENTION that apparently failed miserably and no clubs wanted them back after one gig. So now you see why this knucklehead is so jealous and bitter over any success, however small, that I have received. Since this has gone on for too long now, others have begun to rise up, defending me and dismissing THESE PUNKS, and now, both of their credibility has been crushed; nobody believes a word these two morons say anymore, and everyone sees right through their BS and can clearly see the jealousy oozing from them both, because they never did anything significant with their own lives, so they now try to trash down everyone else who’s done something. These two are looking for anything to keep them afloat in a sea of bullshit. It’s just real sad that these two make it their life’s work following me around to give them life. As much as they hate me they sure seem to have a lot to talk about…Thankfully, people have stopped listening to them. I’ve given them far too much attention; way more than they deserve…There, now that THAT is out of the way, LOL, let’s proceed on with cooler topics…
LRI:   Your next band STEELER  were enormously hot on the strip and recorded an  record that I still listen to with regularity.  How did the members of Steeler end up together and what was it like to work with such a talented group of guys both live and on wax?
RF: Well, STEELER (the original line-up) were new in town in 1982, and making quite a big noise 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 (Bambi), who was eventually the model for the POISON album with the chick sticking out 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 mentioned that I was in WASP and that I was from N.Y.  I got a call out of the blue from Ron Keel himself, and he asked if we could meet and talk. He said “I had to scrap the line-up I had, and am starting over, I need the best guys I can find in order to compete equally with the competition I’ve seen here in L.A. 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, you have a great rock and roll look ,so, if your playing matches your looks we’ll talk some more.” I believe that Ron had explained in his own interviews as to ‘why’ he sacked the original line-up, despite the members being very adequate players. I don’t remember how he and Mark Edwards got together, really, but Mark was the first replacement member in the band before me. Yngwie came into the band after I did. (So that should officially kill the gossip-rumors that I joined Steeler ‘just to ride on Yngwie’s coat-tails’, LOL). It was ultimately amazing to work with some of the hottest talent in L.A. for sure. All the material was Ron’s until around the time we were recording the debut album. We had several more new songs that marked the first time we began writing as a band, together. Those songs, ‘Victim of the City’ and ‘Excited’, were bumped off the album in favor of Yngwie’s solo ‘Rising Force’ as the prelude to ‘Hot on Your Heels’, but we performed them both live and they are available on the STEELER ANTHOLOGY album. (Yngwie eventually took his hook-riff back from Victim of the City and rewrote is as ‘On the Run Again’ for himself, hence the same hook in both songs. 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 my friend, the late 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 ‘spec’ group Sean turned me on to 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. I learned the songs on the tape and when drummer Mark Edwards got back into town, we began rehearsing as a 3-piece, and I started to get that feeling again that I got when I began rehearsing with WASP, that I was about to step into something bigger than I could imagine. We auditioned guitarists but nobody was really cutting it to the level we needed. That’s when Ron contacted Shrapnel Records producer, Mike Varney, who was writing a ‘Spotlight’ column for new upcoming guitarists for Guitar Player Magazine.
Ron said “We need the guitar player from hell.” Mike told us about this young hot pistol from Sweden with a funny-sounding name, so he sent us a demo and we were quite impressed. Mike set up a 3-way phone conference so we could talk to this ‘kid’ named Yngwie “J” Malmsteen. All this guy could do was go on and on about how badly he wanted to come to America and play with our band. To say the least, we were impressed enough to arrange his coming to America so we could see what he could do live. Meeting him at the airport was like meeting a different person. You could just see and feel the self-confidence (read: arrogance) coming off this guy when we first met. In my opinion, he was more nonchalant and a little distant, real ‘star’ attitude. We set about to getting down to it, and when he plugged in it was like Eddie Van Halen on steroids, LOL. OK, so we knew he could deliver the goods, now…let’s see how well he plays ball with ‘the team’.  Almost as soon as we began to show him the songs, Yngwie began asking to rearrange parts here and there to make them ‘less simple and amateurish-sounding’. Me and Mark looked at each other; This ‘new guy’ was telling Ron Keel, to his face, that Ron’s songs were ‘amateurish’ Wow! That took Balls. Ron was doing his best to hide a ‘slow burn’ and keep his patience with Yngwie. Eventually it got to the point that Ron said ‘Look, either you’re going to play my songs the way I wrote them or you’re going to have to go, this isn’t working out.’ And we were like; this isn’t looking so good, like back to ‘Plan B’. And we started auditioning other guitar players right in front of Yngwie, until he relented and said “OK, I’ll do it your way.’ But you could tell that something was up his sleeve.
Sidebar): 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 champagne, 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 a while, and asked 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, unfortunately, all unsuccessful…Anyway, one night after we all came back from seeing Y & T at The Roxy, I felt the Muse was upon me, and I immediately wrote a short, instrumental intro piece, (titled by Mark Edwards): “Abduction“. I wrote it, Mark named it, and ironically, Yngwie somehow wound up getting most of the royalties for ‘claiming’ that *HE* wrote it! However, he could never really say anything plausible about how he allegedly created that piece. The truth behind it is this: My influence for ‘Abduction‘ was the instrumental intro piece found on the “Y & T” album “Black Tiger“. We (Steeler) had just seen them play at the ROXY in Hollywood, and I was inspired to believe that Steeler should also have an intro 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 believable one. Very easy, just an ‘E’ Chord, going to ‘C’ chord, which stirs the soul, suggesting something that sounds very mysterious, under-water-like, i.e. James Bond’sThunderball’, also, very powerful when combined together. I showed it to Mark when we got back to the ‘Steeler Mansion’ the run-down place where we lived together. Then, Yngwie came in said it sounded “really cool man, show me what you’re doing“. And that’s how it came about. Man, we had tons of guitars overlaid 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. As for Mark Edwards, despite all my years of playing the clubs in Jersey, nobody really made a big deal out of the finer meticulous things like meter and timing unless you *really*  sucked, so I pretty much just learned off the records whatever it was we had to play live…However, 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…Speaking of Frankie Banali, I again wanted to extend my gratitude to QUIET RIOT for having us as their support for that infamous Perkins Palace gig. Beyond sold-out, beyond-capacity. RUDY SARZO FRANKIE, CARLOS CAVAZO and KEVIN DUBROW, were very nice to us, and an extra shout out to promoter Gina Zamparelli for pulling it all off so successfully. (Digressing), 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 quiet loner-type, he too, had some fun moments. But the best is when Mark & I used to go together, alone into the rehearsal 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 including us. If only he could have controlled 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 kinds of accents would make sense. (I talked with Mark about a year or so ago and we caught up with each other and talked about what and how the breakup went down and we both agreed that it should have been handled differently and we should have stayed together a little longer and we would have been signed to a major label). However, 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 heroes, I always listened for them in their songs as well. Ron has been considering a reunion of sorts and apparently the world is waiting and watching to see if it will really happen. I get lots of fan mail and the fans are demanding a reunion.
 Since Steeler, Ron has gone on to do a great many things. But, so have I; I’m not the ‘new kid in town’ anymore and I have gone on to prove what I could do on my own many times and with many bands. I have a large fan base of my own as well, and I believe that Ron will take that into consideration with regard to a Steeler reunion. Steeler was a BAND, with four equal members, and not a solo act. I’m confident that he will do the right thing. I have my own ideas about this as well, I’m looking forward to a STEELER REUNION, isn’t EVERYBODY? Sadly, I’ve heard some pretty mean gossip-rumors  going around the internet, that Ron Keel had apparently mentioned in  some interviews, that my bass tracks were re-recorded over, (Why? Who  Knows?). So I went to the source, and asked both Ron and Mike Varney  what was the truth behind these rumors. Both Ron and Mike said they  didn’t know why the rumors were out there, but confirmed to me, that, ‘for posterity, your bass tracks are, in fact, intact and on the album.  STEELER was an amazing band to be in, and an undeniable cornerstone of Metal Rock in the Los Angeles/Hollywood music scene history. I believe we’ve more than achieved a ‘Gold Status’ in accomplishing ‘the most highest selling independent heavy metal release of all time’, but I have never seen the actual certification, you’d have to check with Mike Varney on that. We obviously influenced a LOT of bands that came after us and many today still acknowledge us for doing that in their respective lives. I still receive a lot of fan mail on this topic. So, in conclusion, I’m grateful that fate intervened and put me in the right place at the right time. it was really instrumental in putting me on the map for the next part of my ‘journey’ in rock.
LRI:     Personally, do you think your work with Steeler and that time playing the scene set the stage or raised the bar for the rest of your bands from that point on?
RF: Absolutely! Did both. As the ‘scene’ got deeper and much more involved, more and more the bar was being raised by all the competition of the other bands each in their own way, incestuously copying from each other, yet trying to stand apart from those they copied or, ‘borrowed’ from. There were actually a few really good bands at our level, and I believe we (STEELER) were trying to achieve the level of success of those who were just above us, like Quiet Riot. Below us at that point were (excluding SIN, BURN and SURGICAL STEEL because those bands were already established) the next wave of those who were about to become Poison and such. I have been often told by the fans that the reason SIN stood out and away from all the other bands of Hollywood, is because “SIN were a ‘Peoples’ Band’.” That is, there was an element about SIN that made the band stand apart from all the other bands copying each other. That’s a part of the uniqueness that says that ‘this band has a better possibility to go to that next lever and actually get signed’. SIN didn’t look, nor sound like *any* other band in L.A. Slowly but surely SIN built a strong following the old-fashioned way; they Earned it! There was something for everyone at a SIN show; Macho eye-candy for the girls and power, and fury for the guys, as well as girls for the guys, lol. Finally the icing on the cake was that SIN has SONGS that Everyone liked. Hard and fast or catchy and memorable. The cherry on the icing was, I believe overall, the ‘attitude’ which was like no other band in L.A. You had four out of five members who were from New York, carrying with them the stereotypical ‘New York attitude’ which no other Hollywood band had or could try and fake. Bands who came from NY had this built-in mystique that was a natural pheremone or attractant to the L.A. crowd. So, except for our drummer Mark Anthony (Benquechea) who was from the band L.A. band Prisoner, you quite literally had a mostly N. Y. band, so essentially, SIN was still keeping with its original East Coast roots if you will. We might as well have been Twisted Sister with all that N.Y. testosterone running out of us, LOL. That’s why, we were being romanced by the labels and management, and why endorsements began coming in, because we had that extra edge over all the other bands; SIN came off like an already signed and touring act, and grew far beyond the ‘local-level/club act’. The last thing SIN had was ‘Pouf’, LOL we were NOT a pretentious band like many of the other ‘Sunset Strip’ bands had become; SIN was anything BUT a ‘Homogenized’ band…SIN was more like Scorpions or Judas Priest, leaving some of the ANGEL-like elements behind.Additionally, as a respectful courtesy for all the fans of ALIEN who never did get to see or appreciate the band beyond the local confines of N.Y. and Long Island. adding much of the material from their Mongol Horde debut album was considered a real treat for the fans, a successful flux of both types of material. It was already something comfortable and second-nature for the guys and augmented my songs (as well as bought us some needed time to write new material as a new band). So, basically, the fans got the best of both worlds. With my direction and decision-making, essentially, ALIEN became SIN, and I had my creative control and vision back more or less, surpassing far beyond the first L.A. line-up I had of SIN, and leaving them and many other way behind in the dust. It was only after Dana Strum began to get involved that it became a bittersweet affair. Yes, getting SIN into the studio to record our album master demo’s and arranging a potential deal for us, but also forcing me to ask Frank Starr and Mark Anthony to leave and be replaced by other new potential members and, exposing my songs to Vinnie Vincent behind our backs as if they were ripe fruit for the picking.In retrospect, I think that if we stuck to our guns and kept Frank and Mark, we still could have done it our way in the end. And in the end we wound up getting royally screwed over by Strum, Vinnie Vincent and our management, which really interfered with the chemistry of the band. Afterwards, there was nowhere else to go except to regroup and try and form another line-up, when I found out that BURN was looking to replace their bassist. Since we both shared Dana Strum as a producer it was still like it was ‘in the family’, so fortunately, it was a marriage made in heaven and I joined BURN. AND, is was under a more competent management in the form of NIJI, and, the legendary (and now late) Ronnie James DIO! Rehearsing with BURN was a lot of fun, and helped me get over the depression I had over watching SIN and everything I brought to the table thus far go through my fingers like sand. BURN was also at about the same level as SIN and stood a good chance to get signed as well , especially being a part of the NIJI ‘family’. Unfortunately, the family at NIJI apparently ‘forgot’ that I was a part of that family…At any rate, it appeared as if I was beginning a pattern of joining ‘sinking ships’ as it were. After I joined BURN, they developed a problem with their singer, the late Richard Parico, (who was as close to Ronnie’s style as there was at that time). Since I had jammed a bit with former original ANTHRAX vocalist NEIL TURBIN, I felt he was about the most capable to cover what Parico’s style could do needing that same power. However, Neil turned down the gig in favor of pursuing his own dream and that left me in a position of having to wait AGAIN. It was at that time that I ‘accidentally’ got the gig with SURGICAL STEEL…
LRI:   Is this around the same time that you were in the movie Decline of Western Civilization and did you have a good idea that that movie might end up being classic ?
RF:  Well, let’s see, I was with SURGICAL STEEL from about late summer of 1986, we were recording at El Chaton Studios in Phoenix, AZ, supported LITA FORD for a New Years 1986-87 gig with Flotsom and Jetsam opening, and was out of ‘Steel by about April or May of 1987, so I believe I was already back in L.A. at my place working on an as yet, unnamed project with some local guys, one of which was former SHOK-TU lead vocalist, the late TOMMY JOHN, from Columbus, OH., when ANNA SPHEERIS approached me in RIKKI RACHTMAN’s CATHOUSE Club and asked me if I wanted to be in this rock movie her mom, PENELOPE SPHEERIS was shooting. Penelope and I knew of each other from all the Hollywood Rock n Roll Sunday afternoon picnics that were going on, so I said ‘Sure’. Of course, to what end I was going to be in the now-legendary film “Decline of Western Civilization Part II;The Metal Years”, I had no idea, until somebody involved with the production, (or Penelope herself) called me up and asked me to come in and do an interview. That was the segment that is referred to as ‘The Light Bulb Kids’ segment, where many people from the Scene are interviewed sitting next to a bare light bulb. So I called Tommy up and asked him if he’d like to join me for the interview segment and since we didn’t have a decided-on band name yet, we thought up “SEXX”, since that’s what everybody pretty much likes or liked to do. In retrospect, since I didn’t have a full band at that moment, I wish Penelope had some better background on me Press-wise, so that I should have, perhaps, received a better billing in the production, i.e. acknowledging and asking about my background with WASP, STEELER, and some of the other bands I was with, which, in reality, would have raised my status for the film as well. The whole thing with my part was rather loose and fast rather than more thought-out planned and processed like some of the other segments. How that all got lost in the mix is beyond me, but it sure would be nice and considerate if she was able to add that oversight back in to the DVD version before it comes out. As far as perceiving if the film was going to be a ‘classic’, I don’t think that anybody thought that when it came out, we were all so shocked at what the final result was, that nobody was looking up the road another decade or two to conceive that. We weren’t thinking of how the next generation or two were going to receive the so-called legacy many of us were leaving behind in this film. Maybe some of those in the film didn’t really care. I personally didn’t know what to think. When we were all sitting in the (former) Cinerama Dome-now the Arclight Cinema for the Premier, we were all pretty much stunned from what I remember watching the reactions of others in the theater. (especially the Chris Holmes segment). But, the after-party at Miles Copeland’s home was pretty fun. I will say that I am grateful to Penelope for giving me that walk-on cameo in her film WAYNE’S WORLD! And she calls my name out on the speaker-phone on the set REAL LOUD, LOL, and all her P.A.’s are scrambling around like ants looking for me and none of them know who I am or what I look like…That was pretty funny. At first, I thought “Uh-oh, what did I do, am I in trouble?” LOL. And then she describes the scene set-up with me and calls (Garth character) DANA CARVEY over and runs down the scene with both of us, where ‘Garth’ comes into the club with ‘Wayne’ (MIKE MYERS), and his posse, and gets stopped by a bully, and then goes out to the car and comes back with a ridiculous-looking oversized sci-fi ‘Taser’ and blasts the bully sending him flying into a crowd of us. Well all this takes place with me directly in the scene, so that was a real blast to have Penelope call for me to be in that scene. So a shout out to Penelope! And it looks like ‘Decline’ will actually be considered a ‘classic’ by some…I know a LOT of people and fans are asking me about it on Facebook. SO I hope to be hearing from Penelope about hopefully doing some ‘pick-up’ shots with and for me.
LRI: Some may not be AS aware of your post SIN era bands…..but hindsight being 20/20 and all things considered…..after dealing with difficult personalities like Blackie, Yngwie or Vinnie (Vincent), did you have a better idea of what type of personalities to AVOID when forming them and have more fun overall working in them?
RF: Well yeah! But the problem with that is that nobody comes with a disclaimer or notice that notifies you when their ‘personal warranty’ is about to expire, LOL. IN the beginning, like any relationship or marriage, everything seems great, everyone is getting along and such. But then, at some unforeseen moment, suddenly, strange and weird things begin to happen, personalities begin to change and some even get ugly. Ultimately we’d ALL like and hope to avoid such situations, but it’s sometimes really difficult to see them coming until they’re right in your face. Lots of reasons can cause this, such as ego, drugs, alcohol and greed, or worse; a combination of all of those. Or even as petty as girls or girlfriends getting in the way, as instigators or flashpoints of deeper issues. Anybody who’s been in the business for a substantial amount of time and can clearly look back in retrospect can surely share horror stories of the many types of personalities that can or have come in and ruined some of the best band situations. Personally-speaking, from being walked on as much as I have and trusting, mostly because people operate under a false belief of mistaking kindness for weakness, one begins to build on a veneer of layers of what it takes to try and not let that element in to create obstacles in your path. Others who do not see or share your vision then mistakenly begin to describe you as a ‘problem’ or ‘difficult to work with’. When, like myself, you do not ‘420’ or smoke pot, but some of your band members do and begin to take on a lazy outlook, it does tend to piss you off, especially when you have band interviews lined up for them to join you on. But when those band members would rather sit home and watch a Lakers basketball game instead of performing their band functions or business, then I begin to have a problem with that, and am then seen as ‘overbearing’ as a band leader. I’m sure there’s SOMEONE out there who can identify with what I am saying. So when I am forced to do whatever it takes to get the job done alone, then it changes to ‘oh, look at who’s getting all the attention now’. Well, you had your chance to JOIN me on getting some of that attention, but watching a basketball game was more important at that time then wasn’t it…? In the case of Surgical Steel, I was being kept out of the band business when I wanted in. I had a bankable and marketable name and reputation coming from STEELER and  most likely (in my opinion) from what I could see, was being used as a magnet for the band to draw something more to them in the bigger picture, but on their local Arizona level, which was pretty much dying by that time. But when I kept offering to use my name and reputation to bring the band to L.A. where all my contacts were who could Do something bigger and better for the band, and get us larger venues and gigs, putting us in front of my A&R contacts I knew,  I was always met with excuses or side-stepping evasions. So, it’s really hard to see some of this coming up the road, and takes a sharp perception of people to try and see it coming if you can…
LRI: When you revisit those areas that comprised the strip in L.A. or the scene in NYC all these years later, what goes thru your mind? Some of the clubs or landmarks are still there but the scene is altogether different right?
RF: Some of the memories are good and some are great and some are bittersweet. The scenes all change because time marches on, real estate makes changes to the venues and some just die out. It’s the way of things. All the great swinging night clubs of our parents’ era are pretty much all gone, as with each subsequent generation, there is less and less interest in what was, or in preserving anything of special note. People’s tastes change and so does everything else with it. When one is caught up in the middle of the vortex so to speak, enjoying the moment of each scene, rarely does one find themselves becoming reflective that where they are and when they are will all fade away someday. They’re too busy in the moment to think of such things, you just tend to move with the tide more or less. It’s only when you become older and more reflective on what was, that you find yourself reminiscing about the good old days and what you did or accomplished, and either miss it or don’t, it depends on the level of interest or fun you had, or didn’t. Although the scene changes, and many with it, sadly there are some, even to this day that refuse to change with the times and find themselves still trying to relive those days and are either under the influence of some addictive ‘crutch’ or allow themselves to be, and cling to those ‘personal demons’ and live in denial believing that those old friendships will be enough to cover over and hide any present negative issues. This generation is so much different than any of those that came before us, technology allows us to hold on to some of those memories better than in previous times. Personally-speaking, having been out of the Hollywood ‘scene’ such as it is or was, I’ve found myself to be very out of touch with it all but not feeling sad with it. I can’t relate to many of the people I knew back then; there’s not as much in common with them anymore, whether I want it to or not. When you have other, newer things that come into your life, you find the newer things or interests replacing some of the older ones. They can co-exist side by side, but each takes a different seat to the other in your life but that can also be rewarding because the end result is that you can become a much more well-rounded person in life. Sometimes I do in fact, miss the old Max’s Kansas City days and seeing KISS forming from the ground-up in the early 70’s, and experiencing the Rainbow Bar & Grill and the Sunset Strip scene of eh 80’s ; it was all magical to be a part of that ‘Wonderland’ and tumbling through the various levels of the ‘rabbit-hole’. “But times have moved on and the memories change, now I dream in a different shade.” ((lyric from one of my songs written back in the early 1970’s)…We can only look ahead, and ultimately must face the message in David Bowie’s song’s ‘Golden Years’ and  ‘Changes’
LRI: How did you go from the rock and roll lifestyle to working in the TV and film biz and how fulfilling has that been for you?
RF: When the ‘Seattle’ scene began to take hold, that was ultimately the writing on the wall. All of us who were involved in an ‘image-oriented’ rock stance, could hear the ‘death-knell’ and see our demise coming…From the era where bands onstage were viewed in a god-like status, where there was a clearly definitive separation of band member and audience, was now all about to come smashing down like a house of cards; Now, just anybody  could pick up a guitar (whether they knew how to play or not), and join the new ‘anti-image’ bandwagon-backlash against rock bands with a marketable image as we knew it, although, in doing so , were creating an image all to themselves: the depressing grunge-heroin image. Those ridiculous lumberjack-looking flannel shirts, baggy jeans, and jack boots were done years ago in England, and have now come back around but this time in Seattle, so that the average nobody special, average-talent fool could find himself signed faster than Warrant or Guns n Roses! That being said, I, too saw the writing on the wall and for the first time in my life began to grow facial hair so I cold camouflage and blend in rather than stand out. It was tough; just as long haired guys in Brooklyn became ‘Guido’s’,found disco turned their backs on rock and and cut their hair and called those who didn’t ‘fags’, those who began to follow the Seattle theme began to look condecendingly on anyone left who also didn’t change with the times. Since I had always had a deep love of classic cinema, and especially all those classic swashbuckler films, I found it easy to grow an Errol Flynn-type mustache and began doodling around with that image; the dashing leading-man look if you will. Some said I resembled actors Robert Taylor or Ronald Coleman or better Tyrone Power in ‘The Mark of Zorro’, like Douglas Fairbanks Jr. before him. I had already put in some time doing film-extra work and watched how productions were shot spending a lot of time on sets, so I began to work my way into film from the production end; working in set-shops crating various things for films and even working on a project that was on display over the front gates of Disneyland, and Goofy’s ‘Malt Shop’. Then I moved on to studio sound stages as ‘Lot-Dog’ for the old Zoetrope studios around the corner from my apartment and then over on the KTLA Lot on Sunset Blvd, where I worked on such sets as ‘Soul Train’, ‘Jeopardy’, ‘The Fresh Prince of Belaire’, and even a video by rock band RATT. doing whatever was needed on whatever set. I do have a resume of more of the productions I worked on. Then I saw an advertisement in a film trades magazine for a school forming for Production Assistants (or, P.A.’s), so I enrolled, passed the course (easy for me), and began to hit the pavement looking for work on film sets. It wasn’t very long before I got called in to do do ‘Props’ for a small film, and since I had no prior experience as a Property Master, I was winging it, flying by the seat of my pants. Thank God they were patient with me and I was picking up fast as I went along. It was on my second film, ‘Dilemma’ with C.Thomas Howell and Danny Trejo, that I not only did Props, but was also asked by the director, to play a member of a S.W.A.T. Team and met the ‘armorer’ (guy who handles the weapons and firearms). We began to commiserate about this and that, and sort of got along. He asked me if I’d like to work for him and I said OK, since I really liked working around firearms and weaponry. He was a former U.S. Navy Riverine boat crewman in Vietnam and a former State Policeman so he had a good pedigree to back that up. Whenever he would find a production crewing up he’d call me and I’d help him prep for the show, now gaining pre-production experience in breaking down scripts to the minutest detail, and doing accounting paperwork for the budgets of our department.Sometimes it was fun and sometimes it was extremely grueling work. Carrying half dozen or so AK-47’s AND thousands of rounds of ammo up and down hills on location in summer heat such as we did on the TV show ‘Air America’, if the Grip Department has commandeered  all the available quad-runner’s is really hard work. All gunfire scenes have pre-shooting meetings so everyone’s on the same page. The ‘gun guy’ rules the set at those times and has final say, so that part is cool too. I got to work with a LOT of stars over the years and that was rewarding as well. Most of them were really nice to work with.
Eventually, I start to hear about Renaissance fairs and began to poke my nose into them while still working on the films, and discover that here, was a venue where I could further explore my love of swashbuckling of the old films. Like many individuals who don;t really have a focused direction at first, I hooked up with a known Pirate group, easy for me, I became a modern-day Errol Flynn. The transition from onstage rocker with performance experience to an onstage character in earlier times. Still wearing costumes and still performing, same gig different audience, so to speak. I found a new outlet in which to pursue an acting-entertaining direction.
I rapidly moved from portraying a pirate to being asked to join a rather large group portraying Spain at the time of the historic Armada Campaign of 1588, and started to become well -known among the Renaissance fair ‘scene’ now. But virtually nobody knew of my background as a rock star or my back-story of some of the greats I had shared the stage with, many of these two very separate scenes had little to no knowledge of each other, and at some times didn’t really care either. Nobody celebrated who you were or were appreciative of having your notoriety in their groups; I found out the hard way, that although it’s not rock and roll, the egos are equally as large and as bad as in the rock world… I spent several years with that Spanish Court group while noticing that most of Western Europe was being represented; that’s what most of Hollywood portrays on film. But being of Polish ancestry, it was readily apparent to me, that while there may have been participants of Polish heritage, there was NO groups representing or portraying Poland itself! I set about to run this past my late father who was the go-to man the Director of Polish Heraldry in America and he helped me research Poland of the renaissance times; I learned Poland was larger than any other country of renaissance Europe and was making outstanding contributions to history and not really being recognized for it. I saw what was wrong with this picture and it hit me like a ton of bricks: Create a Polish group!–The first of its kind in American History! My father reminded me of an especially outstanding part of Polish military history, (and a art of our personal ancestry): the famous Polish heavy Calvary of central Europe; the winged hussars. Further research documented that this era of history had never before been portrayed in America. At least nothing ever outstanding has ever been done before. After seeing a Museum Exhibit that came over from Poland in early 2000 that had winged hussar armor and items from the famous Battle of Vienna, I had an epiphany and saw that my direction was to take up the crusade cross and create the first representation and official portrayal of the winged hussars in the U.S., which I did, with the help and assistance of my late father and my then-Fiancee’ (now wife-Tarrah). And like clockwork, various individuals filled with jealousy and bruised egos began to dismiss and decry my attempts. Some felt territorially threatened that I was stealing their thunder, or argued that I was not the first to do this, yet cold not provide definitive documentation to the opposite to support their hollow claims. Nearly a decade later, after establishing the first officially-recognized portrayal of the Polish Winged Hussar cavalry in the United States, Renaissance Magazine ran an article by an independent writer who did his own digging and produced the conclusive documentation in print, that “Rik Fox was, in fact, the very first to portray the winged hussar cavalry movement in American History”. (which really pissed off those who were now creating their own similar groups across America and created a very petty, jealous rift between us and them. But that is to be expected when you stick your neck out doing something new, one of the signs of success is that others are going to take pot-shots at you, just as they have always done to me in rock, so I knew I was doing the right thing and eventually we would win out and become recognized by everyone for such an accomplishment and contribution to Polish/Central Europe History in America. Today, After participating in a huge battle re-enactment anniversary in Poland in 2010, I was interviewed by several corespondents there, and they have graciously bestowed upon me the honorary title of ‘The First Sabre of the U.S.’ in recognition of and contributions to, all that hard work and years of ‘raising Polish Historic awareness and culture.’ Our displays and presentations have garnered us many accolades and diplomas and certificates of recognition and appreciation, we’ve been written about in many syndicated Polish and non-Polish newspapers, and, in 2007, I was ‘officially’ Knighted into The Order of St. Stanislas during that Investiture. he Order of St. Stanislas is an philanthropic group that assists and helps needy children with care and medical aid. Our group has been a hit with kids and they absolutely love us, so we try to give back. As we also have participated in cross-cultural events, that is a reward that pays for itself deep inside, it’s a gift that you give to yourself as you give to others. So, in that respect it has been an extremely fulfilling reward. Although I have never really left rock completely, I have still dabbled with it on a lesser degree, waiting for the right time to see if the water was safe for another try again. Now, a rock and roll KNIGHT! What almost happened during our trip to Poland was, behind the scenes, it was being planned for my onstage return by having me jam live onstage with Poland’s largest and most famous rock band TSA. However the budget had problems and that part fell through. Had it happened, that would have made headlines in the rock circles and press.
LRI: What do you consider to be the BIGGEST  misconception of you among  the multitude of things you’ve heard or read about yourself and how do  you simply want to be remembered?
RF: Hmmmm…I don’t know about the ‘biggest’, there’s so many of them LOL…I guess when fate decrees  that you are to become a person surrounded by some kind of controversy  on one level or another, at some point or another, I guess you just have to roll with the punches and try not to let those doing that to you become obstacles, yet, those  obstacles, by default, have a way of building a resolve  that can  overcome those who stand in your way. As quoted by Friedrich Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols, 1888, (and used as the lead-in to the original Conan film): “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Thusly, I have found myself having to run into that mindset many times over the years. If I don’t give in to what others think I should be, then obviously in their mind, I am an asshole. I question EVERYTHING. That’s how I was raised. I have found that asking questions, especially in L.A. really tends to piss people off. Nobody likes a guy who asks  lots of questions. If somebody gets pissed off at you asking them a lot  of questions, then obviously, they have something they are trying to  conceal from you and therefore, are not to be trusted. My late father used to say “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.”, I said: “Not in California Dad, here the just remove the entire wheel and replace it. ” He said: “Get outta California!”, LOL. He hated California…Comedian Gallagher once said: “L.A. is like a great big bowl of granola; what ain’t fruits and nuts is flakes!” Because of my many ‘stories’ and experiences in rock and show business, I was once referred to in an online rock gossip forum as ‘Rik Fox, the world’s biggest liar or the most unluckiest guy in rock.’ I was also non-offensively and affectionately referred to as ‘The Forrest Gump of Rock and Roll’ because of all the many run-ins I have had with celebrities in the  business.  I have found that to be very true. One person also said ‘No one person could have achieved ALL that, he’s obviously a liar!’, LOL. Yet, the documentation is out there… It seems that as a visionary of sorts, whenever I create something that is outstanding or gains rapid attention, there is always seems to be an  element standing nearby that either tries to prevent its progress from  blossoming, or, becomes copied, and someone else runs with it, because,  at the time, I am not within the wherewithal to properly protect what it is I am doing or creating. Then, when I point out that what so-and-so  is doing, was originally done by me (with documentation) and yet I still find myself being dismissed by those who would enjoy seeing me fail,  because that means less competition for them to have to worry about. Case in point example: during my time performing in L.A. in the 80’s, there were two favorite targets that other bands would love to attack; my  hair and my weight. I wasn’t especially overweight, so that left the  hair;‘well anyone with hair *that* perfect couldn’t possibly be any  decent musician because they would be spending all their practice time  working on their looks.’ Right? Yet when I hit the stage, time and again I delivered the goods on time and on budget. So we can all see from where such hollow attacks come; insecurity and jealousy. I’ve always said, especially coming from NY and living in L.A. “I am the most misunderstood person I have ever met.” LOL...I guess it’s just that I am so much like my father, and such a meticulous person, that those who would  otherwise be happy being lazy, have hidden behind such epithets as ‘Rik  Fox is anal-retentive’,so they falsely believe that this lets them off the hook. So, I am then perceived as a’ perfectionist.’. So? What’s wrong with perfection? All creators strive to achieve  perfection so I guess some are defined as eccentric, myself included. I  guess that would classify me under misconceptions. So, example # 2: then I create the first recognized portrayals of the winged hussars in  America. Can others be happy and supportive of and for me on that? NO! They have to make it their lives work trying to discredit me, and try  to save face and back-pedal to make themselves look good…I do know  that those who have been allowed into my inner-circle have come away richly rewarded with seeing up-close how unique and ‘different’ I am and what I bring to the table above and beyond the average person or rocker for that matter. With my 30+ years of pedigree in many different backgrounds, I can afford to be so, because I bring all that to the  world’s table to share. It’s a gift, really. Some just don’t recognize  it as such.
You ask ‘how would you like to be remembered?’
Well, at this age, given the gift to reflect back so far, I can say this: “Since I have been blessed with a great many gifts and talents and with all  that I have been able to produce and bring to fruition in this world and lifetime, I hope that if I have made a positive difference in the life  of just one person, and  changed their life for the better, then when it is my time to leave this place, I can do so with the peaceful satisfaction of knowing that I have left my mark on this world, and that I have done a  good thing for someone. Hopefully that person following my path, will  remember what I gave to them, and continue on the path that I have left  behind, and leave their footprints for others to follow for all those  yet to come. Some day that someone will say: It was Rik Fox who did this great thing for me, and I will never forget him for it…”  I’m pretty happy with that.
LRI: Everyone loves VH1 “Where are they now”…..give us the Rik Fox approved version of the old chestnut…..”Whatever happened to Rik Fox?”
RF: Oh, Rik? He’s right here out in back…Hey Rik! C’mere, some people wanna talk to you…Or maybe, he’s out back polishing his armor AND his bass gear up getting ready to help save us against the unseen enemy infiltrating our American defenses…what? he’s ready to lock and load too? Perfect!  I certainly won’t be residing anywhere near Spinal Tap in the ‘Where are they now?’ File, LOL…Funny thing though, you can’t find me ANYWHERE in VH-1’s website or files from what I can see. I was never considered famous enough for those rookies to be added for anything…That’s right up there with the fact that EDDIE TRUNK,  ‘Mr. Authority on Metal’, and who’s known me since he was first starting out years ago in New Jersey, won’t seem to have me on his show. He’s admitted to knowing me during his ‘Stump the Trunk’ segment for millions of his viewers…Now, there’s something SERIOUSLY WRONG when Eddie Trunk won’t put Rik Fox, bassist for some of the hottest METAL bands, on his show, wouldn’t you agree? LOL…Maybe someone should inform him of his uh…’oversight’ there…Ha, ha, ha! I’d like all my fans to call in to Eddie and ask him why I’m not on his show and then tell him what he needs to do…Yet, there’s IS one mystery left to ponder, and good luck getting a straight answer on it…Ever since the late 80’s into the 90’s to this day, in L.A., there have always been what is touted as ‘ALL-STAR jams’ going on. I was extremely fortunate to have been able to perform with the late SAM KINISON, and share the stage with the likes of LITTLE STEVEN, JEAN BEAVOIR, the late RANDY CASTILLO, JOHN GOODMAN and RANDY HANSEN at L.A.’s CHINA CLUB, or with the late RONNIE JAMES DIO, or WARRANT for that matter…Yet, these other jams consist of members of well-known famous bands, and it’s ALWAYS the SAME band ‘clique’ members involved, doing the SAME shows over and over. Even so, with my pedigree background, for as long as these ‘jams’ have been going on, there is some unspoken reason why I can’t seem to get invited or asked to participate in these ‘all-star’ jams, some of which are held for Charity  or good cause benefits, which I’m all for participating. Attempted contact and asking what criteria is necessary to be included in these ‘all-star jams’, with those who are behind organizing these performances, mostly result in evasive non-replies or straight answers, I’m just as good as anyone else who performs at these jams, yet the former bassist of Steeler,  WASP and others, can’t seem to crack the circle and be allowed to participate. As I said, something interesting to ponder and investigate further. You would think that one more well-known rock bassist would be a welcome addition…but not for one Rik Fox. Just some food for thought.
LRI: Ok…..Thanks so much for talking with us….final question…..We have to ask you again about the book because we hear you have quite the collection of photographs and memorabilia to accompany these stories. Have you officially begun working on your memoirs in a book form and are you open to any future musical projects rock or otherwise?
RF: Are you KIDDIN’?!? Is Burger King the HOME of The Whopper?!, Does Panda Express sell kick-ass Chinese food?!? LOL…Of COURSE I have plans, LOL…As we speak I’m currently working on my book and it promises to be a real eye-opener…it’s going to shock a LOT of people in some parts, and make you laugh in others. In one way or another I’ll be naming names, kicking ass and taking names…Some people are going to be really pissed off when they see what kind of treatment they get, and that’s because I won’t be pulling any punches. I’ll be ready to render credit where it’s due to those who really deserve it and conversely, will probably be tearing a few individuals a new asshole in the process. Why? Because. The Truth needs to be told, those hiding in the shadows causing BS crap need to be exposed and have the light of truth shine right on down on them, so there’s no hiding anymore. There’s not going to be any ‘enabling’ going on. Where others hold back, I intend to tell the story the way it should be told and I’ll be shooting straight from the hip. I’ve already got a LOT of people asking when it’s coming out, but currently, it’s still a work in progress; there’s a LOT of memories to collate. There’ll be lots of cool photos, obviously documenting the truth, so nobody will be able to argue about it ever happening. So this will be a real juicy cooker for sure. Some of the material will most likely wind me up on the talk show circuit because of some of the things that happened to me were so shocking in my youth… As for future musical projects, sure, I DO have plans…I’m sitting on a proverbial gold mine of unreleased material I just need some help in getting it all fixed up and set for marketing and merchandising. I also have some material I’d like to re-record and get that out there too; other sides of my musical background and taste, hard rock with a bluesy side feel and some stuff where, (almost nobody knows this about me) I also play a MEAN Blues Harp and I’d like to get some of that out there too…Tons of fans have been hounding me for my SIN and THUNDERBALL material which I have, problem is, once you begin to release it, others then begin to pirate it and mass produce it themselves, flooding the market with bootleg versions of your material, so how do you wind up making any money when that happens? Bootleg collectors trade your work and it gets spread for free instead of buying it, so how does one protect themselves from that? Technology has made it really difficult to protect your works fro being pirated. Only Gene Simmons seems to have the money and power to protect his KISS merchandise. The rest of us? Good luck. I’ll still be multi–faceted as well, continuing to promote my Polish Ancestry and Heritage, vis-a-vis, the Winged Hussars…I DO have a shameless plug I’d like to throw in–in 2012, I’d like everyone to look for my anecdotes and photos in two upcoming books;Ken Sharps’ new book: “Nothin’ to Lose: The making of KISS (1972-1975)’ and the second book is by NPR’s Personality and author Charlie Schroeder’s book “Man of War”http://www.amazon.com/Man-War-Adventures-Historical-Reenactment/dp/1594630917 where Charlie was our living history groups’ honored guest for a day at The Renaissance Pleasure Fair, donning the armor of a Winged Hussar and learning about Polish military History. I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve coming…Until then, I’d like to say that I’m extremely grateful for what little I’ve been able to contribute to Rock and History and to the world at large, and to all my fans who kept the faith, and never wavered. You’re the BEST!  I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me for this interview. I hope I’ve made a positive difference in somebody’s life out there, and in some small way, helped make the world a better place. As the late Ronnie James Dio always said: “Good on Ya!”. Cheers and keep on Rockin’!

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Category: Interviews

Comments (7)

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  1. Rik Fox says:

    Thanks John! Would like to know what the ‘good’ reviews are, if any, as well as curious as to what the crybabies are saying too, lol…
    Thanks for the opportunity for the interview!
    best Wishes,

  2. Timmy Hankish says:

    What a refreshing, down to earth, just the facts, type interview….
    Can’t wait for the book….

  3. BrineB says:

    One thing you can’t say….that he doesn’t have much to say. STOP HOLDING BACK RIK!!!

  4. Frank says:

    Hi Rik,
    I was a friend of the Burn singer Richard Parico back in the day. It says in this article “the late”???
    I didn’t know he had died. Can you tell me how/when please?


    • Rik Fox says:

      Thanks for your question, yes, Richard Parico passed away a few years ago, I’d have to check my other friends who knew about his passing to get more information. I believe he was back in Philly when he passed.
      Great and talented singer. Terrible room-mate. R.I.P.

  5. MaryLou says:

    I’ve been told about these online “interviews” with Rik Fox for years. I never bothered to read all of them, because, while I always liked Rik, he’s just so full of himself. I knew him in NYC and then later in LA, but haven’t seen him in almost 20 years. I just read little tidbits here and there. He embellishes the truth and will never, ever, ever, admit when he’s wrong. Long winded and not factual. When you have at least 4-5 people who were there and witnessed certain things, why are you gonna believe just one person?? The main reason Rik was fired from all these bands is simple. He can’t really play…or…he can’t play well. Add to that the ego, the attitude and the almost “male groupie” personality and it’s a dangerous combination. Take for instance the reference to Richie Ranno, Eric Carr, all these other “good friends”…or his “friend” Sean Delaney. He is or was…and “acquaintance”, nothing more nothing less. As for his claim that he was “up” for the bass position with Starz? Never happened. Orville Davis who played with REX replaced the original bass player, Pete Sweval. It was a done deal, no audition required. The reason I know these facts to BE facts is because I was there for it all. I worked for Glickman Marks, who was the business manager for all of the bands that Bill Aucoin and Sean Delaney handled. Rik needs to step back, take a breath and stop with the bullshit. The people that were there know the truth and they make fun of him every time he opens his mouth.

    • john Santos says:

      Classic . Good to hear from another source . You can tell the guy’s ( Rik Fox – iski ) full of himself .