Richie Kotzen

Richard Dale "Richie" Kotzen, Jr. (born February 3, 1970) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. Kotzen has a prolific solo career, with a back catalogue of more than twenty album releases, was a member of the glam-hard rock band Poison from 1991-1993, Mr. Big from 1999-2002, and since 2012 has been the frontman of the band The Winery Dogs.[1][2][3] Kotzen was signed to California-based Shrapnel Records from 1989 until 1997.

Richie Kotzen
Richie Kotzen 2011
Kotzen in 2011
Background information
Birth nameRichard Dale Kotzen, Jr.
BornFebruary 3, 1970 (age 49)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresHard rock, blues rock, Progressive metal, funk rock, instrumental rock, pop rock, heavy metal, jazz fusion, blue-eyed soul
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, producer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, piano, bass guitar, drums, keyboards, mandolin, dobro, violin, banjo
Years active1987–present
LabelsShrapnel, DGC, MCA Records, Spitfire Records, Headroom-Inc
Associated actsArthur's Museum, Poison, Greg Howe, Vertú, Mr. Big, Forty Deuce, Wilson Hawk, The Winery Dogs


Richie Kotzen began playing piano at the age of five. At the age of seven, he was inspired to learn the electric guitar by the band Kiss. He started his career in a band named Arthur's Museum. Kotzen was eventually discovered by Shrapnel Records' Mike Varney, and he recorded his first solo album by the age of 19, the first of two instrumental records, simply entitled Richie Kotzen. He created the video Rock Chops for REH video in 1989, highlighting many of his formative techniques, including using wide-intervals and fluid sweeping. One year later, a second solo album called Fever Dream was released, which was the first one to also feature his lead vocals. Since then, Kotzen has released a long series of more than twenty albums with musical influences ranging from Rock, Hard Rock, Pop, Blues, Blue-eyed-soul, R&B and Funk to Jazz Fusion.

In 1991, at age 21, Kotzen joined glam-hard rock band Poison, co-writing and performing on the album Native Tongue. This album produced two top-twenty singles which Kotzen co-wrote, "Stand" and "Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice)".

After that, Kotzen focused on his solo career, regularly releasing song oriented, r&b/soul & funk influenced melodic rock albums such as Mother Head's Family Reunion, Wave Of Emotion, Something To Say, Break It All Down and What Is. He also made guest appearances on several albums by artists like Glenn Hughes, Stevie Salas, T.M. Stevens and others. In 1995 and 1997 he collaborated with Greg Howe on two Jazz Rock Fusion albums.

In 1999, Kotzen replaced Paul Gilbert as guitarist in the mainstream hard rock band Mr. Big, performing on their album Get Over It. He also contributed guitars to their subsequent release Actual Size. The record included the Kotzen song Shine, which debuted at number one on Japanese radio charts.

In 2001, while still in Mr. Big, Kotzen managed to record and release another solo album called Slow, which contains a mix of some crunchy funky and bluesy rock tunes and softer R&B/Pop songs like "I Don't Wanna Lie", for which a music video was filmed. On some of the songs on Slow Kotzen experimented with the use of a drum computer, while on others he played drums. After Mr. Big disbanded, Kotzen continued his solo career. He released his next solo album Change, in 2003. The title track, a soft ballad, and the song Get a Life, a rock song in the style of Mr.Big, were featured in TV commercials throughout Japan.

In 2002, Kotzen bought a commercial building in Los Angeles and established a recording studio and production company. He has since produced his own acclaimed solo albums and collaborated with various figures in rock (e.g. Gene Simmons), jazz and fusion, including jazz legend Stanley Clarke, with whom he realized the project Vertú.

The 2004 follow-up-album to Change, Get Up featured a more edgy, aggressive rock sound. It was more hard rock oriented than any of his previous solo outputs since Fever Dream and contains the ballad "Remember", which became a minor hit.

In 2005, Richie Kotzen teamed up with three Japanese punk rockers to form the short-lived Forty Deuce-Project, which only lasted long enough to record and release one album.

Later in the same year, Kotzen collaborated with Funk Rock Fusion guitarist Steve Saluto on his album Rough Beat, where he contributed 50% of the vocals and co-wrote some of the songs. The album was first released on December 31, 2005, and got re-issued in 2009 under the name Resurrection, coming with five additional tracks.

In 2006, Kotzen was the opening act for The Rolling Stones in Japan on their Bigger Bang tour.

During the year 2006, Kotzen managed to produce and release two solo studio albums, first Ai Senshi Z×R, an album on which he played several English sung rock covers of theme songs from the Japanese Gundam anime franchise, and only nine months later Into The Black, containing ten self-penned rock songs. The latter one starts with the angry song "You Can't Save Me", in which he uses a certain F-word extensively, what eventually turned it into a fan favorite.

2007 saw the release of the album Go Faster, which alternatively was named Return Of The Mother Head's Family Reunion in Europe and Japan. On the album, Kotzen showcases a firework of edgy, driving, yet melodic funk influenced blues rock songs with strong hooks and passionate guitar playing. It includes the eight-minute-song "Fooled Again", which became a live favorite on the following tours, and the soft pop ballad "Chase It" with its significant mandolin riff, for which a music video clip was filmed in Venice.

In 2008, Kotzen's first live album, simply entitled Live in São Paulo was released, followed by the acclaimed Peace Sign album in 2009, for which Kotzen played and recorded all instruments himself.

In 2009, Kotzen also teamed up with songwriter/producer Richie Zito for a short-lived project they called Wilson Hawk. Wilson Hawk produced one album called The Road, on which they celebrate some R&B & soul influenced pop music in the style of the late 60s and 70s and many soulful pop ballads.

After the "Peace Sign" world tour, Kotzen took a little break and released only one single in 2010 (the Rod Stewart reminiscent Angry Boy).

But 2011 brought another full-length Kotzen-Solo-album titled 24 Hours, which features ten catchy, fresh 70s funk & r&b influenced melodic rock songs with strong hooks and vibes, garnished with a lot of fiddling around. The release was followed by another tour.

In 2012, he joined forces with Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan to form the rock supergroup The Winery Dogs who released their self-titled debut album on May 15, 2013 in Japan, with a worldwide release on July 23 of the same year. A world tour followed.

After that, Kotzen went on an acoustic solo tour and started working on his 20th solo effort, which became the Cannibals album, that was released on January, 5th, 2015. Cannibals features a more relaxed, and often r&b influenced rock/pop sound. Kotzen's girlfriend, bassist/vocalist Julia Lage, added some background vocals and also appears in the music video for the song "In An Instant". On the song "I'm All In" Kotzen shares the vocals with Doug Pinnick of King's X and Kotzen's daughter August Eve is featured on the ballad "You", playing the piano. For "You" also a music video was recorded.

Only nine months later, on October 2, 2015, The Winery Dogs released their second album Hot Streak, followed by another world tour.

By the end of 2016, The Winery Dogs went on hiatus and Kotzen focused on his next solo record Salting Earth, which came out on April 14, 2017. From August until late September Kotzen completed a European tour.

On January 25, 2018, Kotzen released a video for his new single called The Damned via youtube, which was filmed at Paramount Ranch in Agoura, California by director Vicente Cordero.

On June, 5th, 2018, a second video single called Riot was released via youtube, which was again directed by Vicente Cordero.

On December, 11th, 2018, Kotzen announces a Winery Dogs Tour through the US for May, 2019, via his official Facebook page.

Guitar playing style

Kotzen has described his style as a mix of rock, blues, heavy metal, jazz, fusion, and soul music. Kotzen utilizes a heavy amount of legato and sweeping in his playing. As his main influences, he lists Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen, Jason Becker (who produced his first album), Allan Holdsworth, and many other jazz and fusion players. Kotzen, since around 2007, has opted to stop using guitar picks and been playing exclusively with his fingers ever since.[4]

Instruments and equipment

Kotzen has used Fender electric guitars for most of his career, most notably his signature model Telecasters and Stratocasters, as well as other custom-made models. Currently, there are two Richie Kotzen signature models made by Fender Japan – a Stratocaster (STR-145RK) and a Telecaster (TLR-155RK). Both guitars feature ash bodies with laminated flame maple caps, maple necks and one piece maple fretboards with abalone dot inlays and 22 super jumbo frets. The Telecaster model features a DiMarzio Chopper T pickup in the bridge position (single-spaced humbucker) and a DiMarzio Twang King in the neck position. The Stratocaster is fitted with three custom made DiMarzio single coil pickups.[5]

At the beginning of his career, Kotzen used Ibanez guitars and Laney amplifiers before switching to Fender guitars and Marshall amplifiers in the early 1990s. He used Marshall Super Lead, JCM800 and JCM900 models as well as Yamaha DG Series amps in the late 90's. Yamaha DG1000 preamp with Marshall EL34 100/100 power amp, and Yamaha DG130H, Yamaha DG100 combo etc.

In 2005, Cornford Amplification issued a Richie Kotzen signature model – RK100, a single channel tube amp head developed and designed in collaboration with Kotzen to suit his expansive playing style. Cornford ceased production of all amplifiers, including the RK100, in 2013.[6] There were also matching signature model speaker cabinets, equipped with one or four Celestion Vintage 30 12" speakers. Both the amplifier head and the speaker cabinets were the only Cornford models generally supplied with Kotzen-spec black Tolex covering. The 4 x 12" cabinet also includes a special locking jack socket on the rear. Now Richie uses Victory Amplifiers. He has his very own Signature Victory Amp. Kotzen prefers not to use many pedals (or effects, in general) when playing live. However, over the years, he has been using several versions of Sobbat Drivebraker and Glowvibe pedals on top of Marshall amps when not playing with the Cornford. He also uses reverb and delay effects of his signature series Zoom G2R effects processor, which is connected in the effects loop of the amplifier.[7] In 2014, Tech 21 started selling the Richie Kotzen Signature RK5 Fly Rig, which was developed in close collaboration with Richie, who used the final prototype for the bulk of his 2014 tour with the Winery Dogs.[8]



  1. ^ Portnoy, Mike. "MP Studio Diary for Portnoy/Sheehan/Kotzen sessions - Day 1". Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  2. ^ Portnoy, Mike. "MP Studio Diary for Portnoy/Sheehan/Koten sessions - Day 14". Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  3. ^ "THE WINERY DOGS: Official Logo, Band Photo Unveiled". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "Interview: The Winery Dogs — Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy — Talk Debut Album, Gear, Technique and More".
  5. ^ "Signature Gear".
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Rig Tour: Richie Kotzen, The Winery Dogs".
  8. ^ "Richie Kotzen Talks Tech 21 Signature RK5 Fly Rig, 'Cannibals' and Dog Camp 2015".

External links

24 Hours (Richie Kotzen album)

24 Hours is the eighteenth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Ai Senshi Z×R

Ai Senshi Z×R (Zeta×Richie) is a cover album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen. The album is a compilation of several English language covers of theme songs from the Gundam anime franchise.

Bi-Polar Blues

Bi-Polar Blues is the tenth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Body Talk (Poison song)

"Body Talk" is a song by American Hard rock band Poison, it was the 3rd single from their 1993 Native Tongue album, which reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 200. The song also features on the Poison DVD Seven Days Live which features a live concert from the Native Tongue world tour in 1993, in support of the album.

Body Talk is the first Poison single to not feature a music video and the last Poison single to feature Richie Kotzen on lead guitar.

Break It All Down

Break It All Down is the ninth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Track eleven is a cover of The Spinners' hit from 1972.

Cannibals (Richie Kotzen album)

Cannibals is the nineteenth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Change (Richie Kotzen album)

Change is the twelfth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Electric Joy

Electric Joy is the third studio album by guitarist Richie Kotzen, released in 1991 through Shrapnel Records.

Fever Dream (Richie Kotzen album)

Fever Dream is the second studio album by guitarist Richie Kotzen, released in 1990 through Shrapnel Records. Notably Kotzen sings on all tracks, unlike his self-titled debut album from a year earlier, which was composed entirely of instrumentals.

Get Up (Richie Kotzen album)

Get Up is the thirteenth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Into the Black (album)

Into the Black is the fifteenth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen. It's the only Kotzen's album with a parental advisory sticker on it.

Live in São Paulo (Richie Kotzen album)

Live in São Paulo is a live album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen. This is the first official live album by Kotzen and was recorded live in São Paulo, Brazil.

Peace Sign (Richie Kotzen album)

Peace Sign is the seventeenth studio album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Project (album)

Project is the second collaborative studio album by guitarists Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen, released on November 11, 1997 through Shrapnel Records. A previous collaboration between Howe and Kotzen, Tilt (1995), had sold well and thus resulted in a second album.

Richie Kotzen (album)

Richie Kotzen is the self-titled first studio album by the American guitarist Richie Kotzen, released on August 11, 1989 through Shrapnel Records.

Slow (Richie Kotzen album)

Slow is the eleventh album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

The Best of Richie Kotzen

The Best of Richie Kotzen is Richie Kotzen's 2004 greatest hits compilation album released only in Japan. Along with the guitarist/singer most well-known songs the album also features a new version of the song "Socialite".

Tilt (Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen album)

Tilt is a collaborative studio album by guitarists Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen, released in 1995 through Shrapnel Records. The collaboration was organized by Shrapnel founder Mike Varney due to his enthusiasm for both guitarists' stylistic similarities, and as a result of good sales a second album, Project, was released in 1997.

What Is...

What Is... is the eighth album by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen.

Richie Kotzen's bands & collaborations

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