(c) Michael Richard Sneeburger
Today’s From The Vault is an interview with bassist, Rik Fox who will take us on a trip back through his life, his experiences in the music industry in NY and LA, his tenure in WASP, Steeler, Sin and Surgical Steel and much, much more.
Thanks so much Rik for taking the time to talk to HearEvil.com about your career and the projects you’re currently working on. How did you get started in the music business?
RF: Thank you for the opportunity! I guess you could say when I was in Parochial school, maybe 7th grade? I had an amateur band with my neighborhood schoolmates. John Altyn the painter was one of them, on guitar. I dubbed us ‘Phantasmagoria’, LOL. As far as ‘the business’, maybe that was more like when I made my debut performing at the famous and legendary NYC nightclub and restaurant Max’s Kansas City, with a group called ‘THE MARTIAN ROCK BAND’. From there I jumped over to New Jersey with a club circuit cover band called VIRGIN, and we did all the popular glam type music of the day. This was like, about 1976 and we competed against similar bands like (the original line-up of) Twisted Sister and Harlow.. .VIRGIN eventually became SIN at my suggestion, and we stayed that way for a few years. That’s around the time when ANGEL came out and played a HEAVY role in shaping my eventual stage image, where I was eventually mistaken for guitarist Punky Meadows quite often.
The Martian Rock Band
(c) 1975 Lee Black Childers/Mainman
Let’s start with your very interesting history with WASP, can you tell us about your role in the band?
RF: Sure. I guess you could say that since I joined the band while it was technically still called ‘SISTER’ after having come up with the band name of WASP, that would then, technically-speaking, equally make me a co-founder of the band as well—something that Blackie Lawless would vehemently deny and attempt to censor as he’s done since I was an original member back in 1982. I was spotted while working in a clothing store in NYC by some kids (3 guys), vacationing from L.A. who knew Blackie and used to watch his bands perform in L.A. and also their rehearsals. I guess you could say they were like these ‘uber-groupies’ (they would know every detail about their favorite musicians right down to what they ate and the kind of underwear they wore; it was really strange following Blackie like virtual puppies), LOL…and were on some kind of Twisted Sister ‘pilgrimage’ at some rock festival in New York. When I told them I was friends with Twisted Sister and KISS, (well, everyone *else* in Twisted Sister *except* for ‘Mr. Attitude’-Dee Snider who hated me for his own personal reasons), well, these kids, they nearly collapsed right there on the floor, LOL. They said that I resembled Blackie (having never seen him at that point I couldn’t disagree with them), and they asked me for a photo to bring back to show him, as they said that Blackie (who’s band was at that time, called ‘Circus, Circus’) and that he was looking for a bass player.
So I gave them a photo I had in my bag, and never heard from them again. About two maybe three weeks later, I began to get phone calls from Blackie who was doing his best to convince me to leave NY (I was living in Jersey City at the time, and performing in the clubs with my band AGGRESSOR at the time, having just left The E. WALKER BAND)…So, after several phone conversations, we agreed to fly me out to L.A. for an audition; if it worked, I would make arrangements to stay. If not I’d come back to Jersey and pick up where I left off. Suffice to say, history and fate shows that I not only passed the audition, I also created the band’s now-legendary name. Curious: I wonder what Blackie would have called the band, had I not been a member and suggested it to him…Although I was only in the band for about 4 months, that’s longer than Blackie was in The N.Y. Dolls (2 weeks) so, ‘technically’ if he can publicize that he was in the N.Y Dolls, ergo, I have even more validation as being a founding member of WASP, LOL. I had very little by way of knowing truthfully, some of Blackie’s previous try-and-fail attempts with bands like LONDON and other attempts that nose-dived. I didn’t know about his A-Type personality at controlling his bands and its members. However, I ‘was’ able to write and contribute at least part of one song, ‘Master of Disaster’ which, the band has never performed live, although it is believed that Blackie eventually cut the song up and clearly used parts of it in the hit song ‘Wild Child’, therefore depriving me of any claims to royalties. But the infamous WASP Demo is now out there, proving beyond a doubt that those are my (more melodic) bass lines running through several of the original WASP songs from the first album as well as the band photos taken by Don Adkins Jr. As to ‘why’ Blackie still ridiculously tries to deny my membership in the band, well, that’s his cross to bear, he’s not one to share due credits with very many people and his track record is proof of that. He’s not very well liked by many of his former band mates either, LOL, so I’m safe in good company.
Left to right: Rik Fox, Blackie Lawless, Tony Richards, Randi Piper
WASP photo © Don Adkins Jr.
After WASP you played bass in SIN and a few other bands. Can you share with the readers your musical journey through the 80’s?
RF: Well, I rehearsed for a while with HELLION; I auditioned for RATT and The Greg Leon Invasion. I was a member of legendary dark metal band WARLORD for a few months rehearsing and rehearsing. I must say that I do my best to adapt, improvise and overcome when I join somebody else’s band; WARLORD’s music was probably the most complex, minor-scale arranged music I ever played. I can say that my chops certainly improved, it was like a massive finger exercise playing their songs, many of which had me following the guitar lines more than just keeping the bottom steady with the drums. The songs I rehearsed wound up on their first album, but I didn’t get to record with them. I was with WARLORD for several months, so it certainly wasn’t like I sucked and the canned me; we did rehearse a LOT. Then they told me they didn’t want to perform live, they just wanted to record and that’s not what I’m about, so that is why I left, and not for the reasons that their band leader Bill tries to explain away in the WARLORD CD boxed set booklet liner notes. John Kornearns’ sister also played some keyboards with the band, and I met John when he started hanging around STEELER while Yngwie and I were in the band, so I knew him from then. He was a huge Yngwie fan and I guess it was something prestigious to have someone who played with Yngwie playing bass in WARLORD. John used to come watch the WARLORD rehearsals, and I saw him approvingly nodding his head as we rehearsed, so I know that it was working for awhile at least. I left and eventually posted an ad in the Music Connection Magazine while living in Hollywood, just around the corner from Canter’s Deli restaurant. I received a response from STEELER lead singer Ron Keel and the rest is history there, I became a member of STEELER, we brought Yngwie to America and after I was let go from STEELER (Why? I don’t really know-nobody will say)…I seemed to attract my share of Yngwie guitar fans, and found myself jamming /rehearsing with none other than Chris Impelleteri for awhile…I decided that I wanted to get away from that style of guitar playing style and didn’t want any grass growing under my feet, and since I now had a good marketable draw in the clubs, it was time to re-form an L.A. version of SIN, which I did. Two versions. The first version spun out of control, internally, and it got ugly. The guys I picked (but didn’t screen properly), who were literally nobody’s, well, within 6 months the egos were going out of control, and I lost control of the band. I literally got fucking walked all over with golf cleats. They all forgot whose reputation put them on the map and opened those previously closed doors in the first place. I was too busy being a nice guy and got shit all over. So, in 1984, I formed a second L.A. version of SIN and that band blew doors off the previous line-up. Practically blew a lot of the other L.A. bands away too, if I do say so, LOL. Everyone fell in love with my front man and lead singer, the late Frank C. Starr. I had 4/5ths of the band consisting of New Yorkers, so we had a whole different vibe like a local version of Twisted Sister as far as ‘attitude’ but SIN was best described as ‘a peoples’ band’; no pretensions, just a great, heavy metal, hard rock band that delivered the goods. After SIN recorded our album master demos, the band broke up against my efforts to keep it together. No thanks to producer Dana Strum holding all the cards. So I was recruited as a member of (NIJI Management’s band) BURN, (complete with designer stage duds from Ray Brown-designer to the rock stars), coming full circle from HELLION; all the members (minus Ann Boleyn), were the same. While I was rehearsing with BURN, I was hanging out with my new friends, Japanese band LOUDNESS on their west coast tour, and while with them in Phoenix, Arizona and scouting for potential BURN shows, I was introduced to SURGICAL STEEL band leader Jim Keeler, who made it known that he wanted me to join his re-formation of ‘STEEL’ in Arizona; as they were getting ready to record their debut album! DOKKEN’s Mick Brown came in as a guest, and played drums and together he and I ROCKED! It’s too bad that album so far, hasn’t been released, but I’ve been lobbying or it to get released, but Keeler is not responding to anyone about it which is a shame, really. It’s a hot rocking album. After the financial backing fell through for the album, I returned back to L.A. hung out at Rikki Rachtman’s infamous CATHOUSE Club and played a bit here and there. I was among many of Hollywood’s musicians who were featured in that famous ‘Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years’ movie, and then formed THUNDERBALL and had two amazing singers, Dale Thompson from the Christian band BRIDE, and then we replaced him with the amazing Mike Corday of Michael Angelo and again we blew doors down. By that time Seattle was kicking down the walls and all the good stuff was being pushed aside for all that depressing, grunge/heroin rock. I got to perform live with the late SAM KINISON, and RONNIE JAMES DIO, jammed with STEPPENWOLF’s Michael Monarch, and did a few gigs with a small local Hollywood band called WISEGUYS, and formed another band called FLYBOYZ, which was a departure for me and sounded closer to my roots of Steppenwolf mixed with The Cult, but even that fell through. I picked another bunch of nobody’s with healthy, growing egos and golf cleats, looking to use the ‘name guy’ in the band to open the doors for them. After I left, as usual, they broke up. Luckily I have a few really great songs from that line-up that will now be in the new re-formed SIN set list. Some really amazing material this time around.
Left to right: Mark Edwards, Ron Keel, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rik Fox
STEELER Photo © Neil ‘Zloz’ Zlozower
In the 90’s metal seemed to have been stripped down from the big hair and spandex. How did you embrace the new music scene?
RF: With disgust, really. Hollywood, at that point, had become such a homogenized carbon copy of itself, much of the spontaneity and originality was gone, everyone was copying everyone else. I’m a showman through and through. I came from the 1970’s and all my musical heroes were like gods really; ANGEL, KISS, STARZ, etc. So that separation between band and audience was disappearing with the onset of grunge, and the bands now had created an anti-image flavor of popularity, they turned their backs on all the bands they grew up listening to, and started dressing like the road crews; you couldn’t really tell who was a roadie or who was an actual band member. All the ‘shock and awe’ created by the earlier bands was now dead. After it wasn’t ‘fun’ anymore, I got out and laid low, working in other fields like the film industry, and waiting until the time was right to emerge again.
Rik Fox, Nikki Sixx
Courtesy of Rik Fox’s archive collection/ BURRN Magazine photo © by Tom Farrington.
You’ve been involved with the music business for many years and have played with some legendary musicians. Can you share some of your greatest memories?
Rik Fox, Ronnie James Dio
© David Plastik
RF: Oh man, there’s just SO many…let me see…Hanging with Motley Crue when I was living next to them on Clark Street up from The Whiskey Club, Going out to breakfast with Lita Ford and Nikki Sixx, having Nikki Sixx donate musical gear and old costuming to me, and MOTLEY CRUE’s extra leftover rehearsal studio time at S.I.R., and staying to hang around and watch us (SIN) rehearse, hosting Rock and Roll BBQ’s inviting many of the Hollywood bands, And, as I said, performing live with the late SAM KINISON, and RONNIE JAMES DIO, jamming with STEPPENWOLF’s Michael Monarch…Seeing Punky Meadows and Mickie Jones of ANGEL, hanging with LEGS DIAMOND’s Michael Diamond and ANGEL’s Gregg Giuffria at The Rainbow, Seeing VAN HALEN’s David Lee Roth backstage at our SIN show and he’s eyeing me up and down complimenting me on my reputation, and then two weeks later, seeing him in a copied pair of my SIN costume pants in the VAN HALEN ‘Jump’ video…Hanging with POISON and LOUDNESS on their tour busses, Being at RONNIE JAMES DIO’s Memorial Service and then later, ANGEL’s Mickie Jones’ Memorial Service…And speaking of Nikki Sixx, this man has the biggest, kindest heart…here’s a little anecdote for you as the afore-mentioned breakfast with Nikki and Lita: So, for a time, I was living in an apartment on Clark Street just up the street from The Whiskey club; it was sometimes rather a ‘party’ building, as some of the members of Motley Crue lived next door to the apartment I was staying in, and across from that was another apartment with the band members of a Chicago band called D’Molls, whose apartment balcony overlooked the buildings pool. Of course you know where this is going, and yes, many partiers jumped from that balcony down into the pool. The same pool that WASP’S Blackie Lawless, in a drunken stupor, walked from the Rainbow Bar & Grill came to that apartment building and placed all the metallic patio furniture, including the umbrella and table and all the chairs neatly into the bottom of that pool. In any case, I was staying under the ‘protection’ of the girl who rented that apartment named ‘Roxy’ (Roxanne who was, in reality the late, (and eventual) porn actress Trinity Loren, who was, before that, (while I was staying at her apartment next to Nikki Sixx), she was working as a high-class call-girl with her friends for the ‘Original Hollywood Madam: Alex’ that Heidi Fleiss eventually worked for and turned in. Talk about Degrees of Separation! Not only was she kind enough to take care of me, she also allowed a broke and hungry Nikki Sixx to run a utility extension into her apartment for electricity power. One day I knocked on Nikki’s apartment door and I heard him yell ‘c’mon in!’ I walked in, to see Nikki sitting cross-legged on the floor huddled under a blanket trying to keep warm. ‘Hey dude’ he welcomed me in his traditional fashion. As I looked around, thinking ‘so…THIS is the home of the famous Sunset Strip monster band Motley Crue…’ the apartment was in shambles, as if a massive party had taken place and nobody bothered to clean up. Either that or a police raid, not much difference in the overall appearance. We talked awhile about this and that, and Nikki acknowledged Roxy’s generosity for allowing him to tap into her apartment for power, and he said Vince moved out with a girlfriend (actually his first wife) and Tommy was also moving into another place somewhere else so he had the place all to himself. Another time I knocked (yes it’s true, there was no lock on the door after having been busted into by the L.A.P.D. so many times), and I heard Nikki inside say ‘c’mon in!’ Again I entered to find the two leather couches (actually a couch and love seat) pushed together to form a sort of boxed sleeping area just inside the door against the wall to the left. Nikki rolled over and looked out from under the blanket and as usual ‘hey dude’ greeting. The blanket moved and someone else was obviously next to him. Groggily that other person moved the blanket away from over their head and I saw a mass of blond hair, then being pushed away by a pair of feminine hands. As the blanket and hair parted the young lady began to come into view. I stood there shocked; it was none other than a groggy Lita Ford,(!) who also mimicked Nikki’s ‘hey dude’ greeting. Truly, this was a priceless, Kodak-moment that would never be believed; I walked in on Nikki Sixx and Lita Ford, sleeping together!!! They got up, got dressed and announced that they were going to a local restaurant for breakfast, so as I began to excuse myself, when, out of the blue, Nikki generously offers an invitation for me to join them. I embarrassingly mentioned that I was short on pocket cash, to which Lita immediately piped up with ‘don’t worry about it, c’mon with us.’ Now, I not only walked in on Nikki Sixx and Lita Ford and woke them up, I had the privilege and honor of going out to breakfast with both of them and Lita generously picked up the tab! I mean there’s a LOT to try and remember…That’s why I’m writing a book…
Left to right: Rik Fox, Lorenzo Lamas, Scott Plank
Courtesy of the Rik Fox Archives
Tell me about working in the film industry – how did you get there and what have you worked on?
RF: While living in Hollywood, like any musician knows you need to have a decent ‘day job’ to survive. When I came to L.A. from N.Y., I was also transferring from my nice day job at an upper-midtown company called Lieberman Research, a huge Marketing Research company where I had a good position there in the consumer division. Back in the early 1980’s you weren’t required to have a Bachelor’s Degree like you do nowadays. At least, I didn’t need one. They also had a satellite company located in Century City, so my office manager made a call and arranged for me to be able to slip right in and pick up where I left off in N.Y. However, when I arrived in L.A. the company in Century City told me that they had no current openings despite the pre-arranged call from the office manager in N.Y. and financially, I was now, out of a job and had no income to work with, which is why I virtually starved while living hand-to-mouth at Blackie’s house, and, for the first time in my life, out of destitution, being forced to steal packages of cheese from the local supermarket. So, in reality, I *do* know what it is to be a ‘starving musician’, in Hollywood. I know, I had my time when I was new in L.A. and at the mercy of those around me who were here longer than I and I, too, had my time living in similar situations, but it wasn’t because I *wanted* to; After being let go from WASP, I was fortunate enough to have a few individuals who wanted to keep me from starving on the street while I looked for another gig. But I already discussed that in the previous question. I eventually would up working for that Marketing Research position at Lieberman West, while I was in the band Warlord, cruising with my friend Grant Strauss, and living in an apartment around the corner from the famous Canter’s Deli restaurant in the ‘Fairfax District’, what we lovingly referred to as ‘little Israel’ due to the large Hebrew Jewish demographic. This was just before I got the gig in STEELER, and we used to host huge Rock and Roll BBQ parties with many of the local well-known Hollywood bands including RATT and Motley Crue showing up. To answer your question directly, I would up getting work at what was formerly known as the old Zoetrope Studios, which eventually became Hollywood Center Studios, a short walking distance from around the corner from my apartment. (I once was invited there to watch a pre-tour VAN HALEN warm-up show held there). I worked out of the studio’s management office in a position known as a ‘Lot Dog’, or, doing whatever they tasked me to do, which was a myriad of things; I even got to move actor George Burns’ office off the lot to another office just across the street from the main lot, and eventually, began working my way onto the film crews finding me striking sets and up in the gangways overhead pulling cable for one of Jane Fonda’s workout videos, as well as working around the sets of films like ‘Misery’ and ‘Exorcist III’. Since HCS was affiliated with their other location on the KTLA Channel 5 studio lot at Sunset and Vine, I would sometimes transfer over to that location just to keep working. So, I got to work on a lot of television shows at those stages, such as ‘Supermarket Sweep’, ‘Jeopardy’, ‘Soul Train’, ‘The Tim and Daphne Reed Show’, ‘Fresh Prince of Bell Air’, (and yes, I got to hang with VERY cool actor Will Smith and even Flava Flav), and even worked on a video for the band RATT, whom I already was friends with. Since film was my other love long before I found rock, and I grew up on classic Hollywood films, I found a new ‘home’ of sorts. I always wanted to be a swashbuckling actor like my film idols, Errol Flynn, and Tyrone Power, but being ‘around’ the film community was something of a back-seat, although I must confess that I was actually hipper film history –wise than many of my co-workers.
Farrah Fawcett, Rik Fox
Courtesy of the Rik Fox Archives
Through those two studios I got to network with many film and television crews and eventually found some work at The Production Group on Vine Street, and that was where The People’s Court was shot among other smaller television shows I worked on. This was now during the time of the beginning of the Gulf War, so when possible, I sat glued to a radio listening in to all the updates. One day, at lunch I got to meet and sit with Cheers actor George Wendt, and discovered he was Slavic from Chicago’s Polish community. It wasn’t until years later that we worked together again on a film called ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ (originally Call o’ the Glen— a comedic take on the infamous Bohemian Grove)that I reminded him of our meeting years before and he happily recalled that and we continued to enjoy working with each other on the film. Since the sounds of Seattle’s grunge’ had sounded the death-knell for my kind of ‘arena-rock-of-the -gods’, I found myself pursuing film work much deeper; it payed better too, when you could get it. That was the downside of working in film; it’s inherent instability. Unless you were on a television show that had a long series run, you needed to constantly network and look ahead to the next production gearing up when yours wraps. Around the summer of 1997, I took a course that trained you to become a P.A. (Production Assistant, aka ‘Piss Ant’), or, essentially ‘go-fer’, the lowest form of life on a film crew. No sooner than I graduated, then I got paged by a frantic woman looking for a ‘Prop master’ for a film she was crewing up. At the time, I didn’t know enough about what a Prop master did, but, I took a HUGE leap and agreed to meet her at her production office. I BS’d my way into the job and learned by the seat of my pants what I needed to do for this film, and somehow, managed to pull it off. The film was, like many, a low-budget affair called ‘Dilemma’ starring C. Thomas Howell, and now-famous Latino heavy Danny Trejo. Both actors were very professional and cool to work with; In many cases, Prop master’s work very close with all the talent and so I eventually earned my right to address Mr. Howell as ‘C.T.’ During the shoot, the director asked if I’d like to get into costume for one scene (so they didn’t have to pay to hire extras), and I said OK. I was part of a L.A.P.D. SWAT Team, and even got some very cool ‘face-time’ onscreen during several shoot-outs, and working with an actor named Lou Knopp, who professed to be a former SEAL Team member, so I got to learn a lot about the Teams from him. This film is where I met the armorer (the guy who handles all the weaponry and guns and ammo). Quite often the Prop master and armorer’s do each others’ work and the lines of both positions become blurred. We commiserated together and despite his lack of appreciation of my rock star days and long hair, he noticed my aptitude for all things military, he, being a former Vietnam Navy Veteran, offered me some work with him because he couldn’t get his regular guys who were in the active military, and only available when on leave. At first he was OK, but soon I learned that this guy was not easy to work with or for and could quite often become a real prick; he had a terrible temper and a tendency to be quite condescending and disrespectful. TO him, everyone who was never military was an idiot, but he knew how to kiss ass for the A-Talent stars he sucked up to. If he couldn’t find a certain prop item in the prop truck, his terrible tantrums usually resulted in his throwing everything all over the place, leaving me to clean after his ‘tornado of destruction’. This is why he blew through so many assistants; nobody wanted to work with this guy unless they REALLY needed the work. However he did get me assistant prop master work on a season of the television show based loosely off the film ‘Air America’, which was described by the show’s star, Lorenzo Lamas as ‘The A-Team-meets-the-Love-Boat’, in that, each week there was a new guest star (many of whom were faces you’d seen in other films but now looking for work as well). It was inherently a gun-intensive show, and I worked with many forms of ordinance on a daily basis from M-16’s, AR-15’s AK-47’s, M-14’s, model 1911’s and Wilson Combat .45 caliber handguns and everything in-between. I also worked with a lot of the members of ‘Stunts Unlimited‘including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body double in the film ‘Predator’. . It was very hard work, sometimes in the grueling heat of the hills and lemon groves above Ojai, but the food was good and the pay was the best I ever made. It was also very long hours and a great distance to drive from Sherman Oaks, all the way out to Ojai. So sometimes I stayed at the hotel near the Santa Ventura Studios, where we shot, and I’d sleep in my Chevy Blazer. But hanging out with the actors and crew at the hotel bar once in a while was a very cool ‘rite-of-passage’ bonding experience, and is usually a great ice-breaker. I thought my friend, and co-star of Air America, the late Scott Plank all about a drink called ‘Windex’ which he fell in love with, and bought them for everyone, and usually wound up with he and I trading off on doing Christopher Walken impressions which had everyone in stitches. We were even joined by military actor Capt. Dale Dye on one episode which was very cool and sitting at the hotel bar was a privilege and honor to have a drink and talk with the man. I eventually wanted to work at a prop house so I would have a steadier job that I could go home to every day, rather than the grueling hours onset, ironically all the people who work in prop houses actually WANT to work on the sets, LOL. It was also during this time, I was also doing double-duty once a month serving as an E-4, Corporal in the California State Military Reserve (a uniformed, civilian branch of the U.S. Army National Guard) as a Radio Communications NCO Operator in the Installation Support Command and Office of Emergency Services at the Base in Los Alamitos. I also qualified on the M-16 at the Los Angeles Sherriff’s shooting range as either ‘Marksman’ or ‘Expert’ I can’t find my paperwork on that. I could give you a partial list of what I’ve worked on but it’s a real laundry list, LOL…Take a peek:
Some of the Films/Productions I worked on:
1997 Film: C. Thomas Howell, Danny Trejo , “Air America” 1998, Syndicated TV Series KCAL-Ch.9 / L.A., Worked with: Lorenzo Lamas, Scott Plank, John (Rollerball) Beck, Ben Murphy, Apollonia, (Purple Rain), Michael (Total Recall) Gregory, Richard Lynch, etc…, “Surface to Air” 1998 Film: Chad McQueen, Michael Madsen, Melanie Shatner., “The Flunky” 2000 Video: Shot at the Van Patten ‘Compound’, Lorraine Newman, Farrah Fawcett, Jimmie V. Patten, Dick V. Patten., “The Heist” 2000/I Video: Luke Perry, Ice-T, Richmond Arquette, Amy Locane, David Faustino, De’Aundre Bonds., “Bare Witness” 2002 Film to Video: Daniel Baldwin, Angie Everhart, “Seventh Veil” 2003 Film to Video, “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” (aka) “Call ‘O the Glen” 2002 Film: Harry Shearer, Michael (Lenny) McKean, Henry (Laugh-In) Gibson, Morgan Fairchild, Kenny (Young Frankenstein)Mars, Peter(Hollywood Squares) Marshal, John O’Herly, George(Cheers) Wendt, Tom Sharpe, Ming-Na, Howard (WKRP Cincinnati) Hessman, Fred Willard, Super Dave, (Bob Eisenstein), Kurtwood (That ‘70’s Show) Smith, and Allan Thicke, etc…
Actor/Some of the films I’m in:
“Dilemma” 1997 SWAT Cop, “Conflict Of Interest
” 1993 w/ Judd Nelson, Alyssa Milano, “Fast Forward” 1985 w/ Michael Delorenzo, worked one-on-one w/ Sidney Poitier, “Decline of Western Civilization- II; The Metal Years” 1988, “VH-1’s Driven” Series; Motley Crue show, “Bad Influence” 1990 w/ Rob Lowe and James Spader, “Adventures of Ford Fairlane” 1990 w/ Andrew Dice Clay, “Hard Copy” (twice) Filmed their very last show; ‘Vampires’ Segment, “General Hospital” Season 40 Episode # 186: (twice), was a ‘Musketeer’ mental ward patient-ala ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’-worked with show star Anthony Geary, ‘Path to Glory; The Rise and Rise of the Polish Arabian Horse’ 2011 Horsefly Films.
courtesy of © Jen Miller from the Documentary film ‘Path to Glory’.
You also are involved with the Renaissance Faire scene. How did you become involved with the Faire?
RF: Well, as I mentioned above, through my late father, my love of being raised on the classic Hollywood swashbuckling films of Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power among others. Around 1995 or 1996, I had the occasion to visit a local Renaissance fair, known as ‘The Renaissance Pleasure Fair’ the original and largest of its kind in America. I threw together some makeshift passable costuming, and mingled about, thinking to myself, ‘I could do this real easy, and maybe find a group to join.’ I met three groups of Pirates at another local smaller fair in Burbank, and talked to each of them. The one I really was more attracted to was infamously known as ‘The Brethren of the Coast’ led by ‘the original founder of all things Pirate’ on the West Coast, a guy named Oberon Selicio, better known as ‘Capt’n Jamie Bellows’. I joined this band of pirates going on chartered cruises to Catalina island on real pirate type ships, booming cannon and all sorts of merriment that one now finds thru films like Disney’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. I wrote a featured cover-story about them for an SCA publication called ‘Chivalry Sports Renaissance Catalog’, which brought both them and I more attention. The Brethren was notorious for staging huge pirate battles off the coast of places like the beach caves off of Malibu and then having huge pirate BBQ parties afterward. Within several weeks as a new member, when not busy with the pirates, I visited the then-Long Beach Arts Renaissance Fair and was hanging with some mutual friends, then spotted, noticed and solicited by a guy named Nathan Willard, the Vice-President of one of the largest groups of the los Angeles Renaissance ‘community’, The Royal Spanish Court, who were ‘representing King Phillip of Spain during the time of the Spanish Armada against England’. I mean this group was HUGE, sporting some 40-50 lavishly well-dressed members who, for the most part, were all hammy ‘actors’. So, I would fit right in with this bunch, LOL. I accepted their offer to join, and quickly rose through their ranks from King’s Herald, to full-blown stage actor, now, actually being able to live out my Errol Flynn/Tyrone Power swashbuckler fantasy. I had an aptitude for sword play and became quite handy with a rapier as quick as my witty repartee’. I wrote and choreographed my own segment for the groups’ stage show, borrowing liberally, many famous classic lines from several of Errol Flynn’s films, adapting them to my part of the show, and which, during one of his visits, my father had the opportunity to see me ‘act’ as a comedic swashbuckler, onstage in front of a live audience. I was with this group for a few years and, in a land where everyone is a closet Shakespearean ham actor, found it difficult to tone down the attention-getting entertainer part of my ‘Rik Fox-ness’ from my rock days, resulting in causing some feelings of envy and jealousy emerging from among some of the male group members who didn’t understand nor care, who the F**k I was, because they were out of touch with the Hollywood rock element. All they saw was ‘this new usurper getting more attention than he deserved.’
Out of necessity, (and being a Capricorn) over the years, I had developed something of an A-Type personality, and this began to rub some individuals the wrong way; but, it was *their* problem, not mine. I had the protection of the groups’ Vice-President and he backed me the entire time, shutting them down which made them even more mad.
While during my tenure with The Royal Spanish Court, I began to look around and wonder why there was no Polish representation while the rest of Europe was enjoying full portrayals…Keep in mind most of what the average person knows about European History comes not from books, but from Hollywood movies…So I began solicit my father for historical information regarding Poland in this point in history, as he was the-then Director of the College of Heraldry for a an International Polish Organization, and he was the leading go-to authority on all things Polish Heraldry in the United States.
He began to fill my research with the history of Poland especially during the renaissance and all the massive historical contributions Poland gave to the world at this time in history. Among them was ‘the finest and most powerful cavalry in Europe’: The famed Winged Hussars. Well, through my personal experience, virtually every renaissance fair in America is centrally-based around either King Henry the VIII, or Queen Elizabeth I, something better known as ‘The Liz and Hank Show’, LOL. And so, at least back in 1996, most Renaissance re-enactors are, for the most part, historically ignorant to anything outside of their own sphere of historical interest and directly interested in only ‘Western’ Europe. My father reminded me of a model kit he built of a winged hussar when I was in my teens, and said that ‘this was our (family) ancestry; our historically-famous Polish Clan Coat-of-Arms was represented among the many Coats of Arms carried by the winged knights who charged at the famous Battle of Vienna in 1683’. So I began the most intensive research program ever, looking for anything possible of the winged hussars. And, back in 1996 there was virtually NOTHING available on the internet (at least in English) on the subject. Now, what’s important to mention here for the readers, is that at this time, I’d met another Polish character at Fair a guy I’ll call ‘Art’. I told him of my intentions to create a winged hussar persona impression and create the first-ever, Polish re-enactor group, because, looking around there is nobody representing the huge nation of Poland, and that should be corrected. Surprisingly, he warned me not to attempt any such thing!
He told me: “Don’t bother, It’s not popular to be Polish and you will fail, and everyone will laugh at you for falling on your face…nobody gives a shit about Poland and besides, there is a large anti-Polish agenda controlled by the Jewish-run media, so nobody will give you any media attention, I know, because when I first came to America,, I dated Jewish girl and took all kinds of shit for it. So give up and forget about creating a winged hussar and any thoughts of forming a Polish group, nobody cares.” (this later came back to severely bite him on the ass, because not only did I create the first officially-recognized representation of the winged hussars in the United States, I SUCCEEDED, for which he’s hated me ever since, and tried to use all of his influence to downplay and dismiss all my efforts. Thankfully he dried up and blew away-that’s Karma). So, I had assistance in putting up a web page and displayed as much about the subject as I could. Not soon after, other websites began to pop up, many of them using copied-and-pasted captures of all the material on MY website, without so much as a thank you credit from where they took it!!! By 1999, I had created a Polish Noble character while with the Spanish Court, much to their chagrin; they had just ‘promoted’ me to the title of ‘Captain of the Kings’ Flagship’. I was recommended by my father to visit a Museum Exhibition from Poland, coincidentally visiting America in 2000, called ‘Land of the Winged Horsemen; Art in Poland 1572-1764’, and received special dispensation for my research, from the curator of the San Diego Museum of Art to photograph certain aspects of the Exhibit. That was when I experienced an ‘epiphany’ when I was led to the hall of the winged hussar armor; I can only explain it thusly: ‘my entire scalp and skin stood up as if by electric shock from head-to-toe. I’d never before felt anything like it. My eyes began to well-up as if I’d been reunited with a long-lost friend from a previous lifetime. I felt an ice-cold sensation in my stomach, and heard a voice deep inside: “I’m Home.’ At that moment I realized that I MUST recreate this exhibit on a regular basis and with a level of passion heretofore unknown, and present it to America through the high-visibility medium of Renaissance Fairs and other events where possible. Americans MUST know about this important aspect of Polish History. Now I was going full-bore into my own ancestry, and found that, at the time of the Renaissance, Poland was the ‘Largest’ land empire in all of Europe. But, who knew this?!? NOBODY. I was becoming a stranger in a strange land. To literally everyone in the Renaissance community, Poland was ‘off-the-map’ and some uncharted remote barbarian land. This began to really irk me; when I dressed in my Polish costuming, and now handlebar mustache in the Polish noble impression, I was continuously mistaken for either Vlad the Impaler, or worse, a Cossack! (You NEVER call a Polish noble a Cossack)… And, who the hell in Renaissance times wore YELLOW hussar boots?!? I had my hands full trying to contain the most explosive slow-burn I ever knew.
courtesy of © Jen Miller from the Documentary film ‘Path to Glory’.
I even drew heavy fire from many of the snobby online renaissance community due to my chastising them all on their lack of historical knowledge of this huge, and (to my research, historically well-known) nation of Poland, until a friend advised me, ‘don’t get mad, get even; make up business cards with your website link and EDUCATE them.’ Which I did, and by the time I had put together my first winged hussar armor impression and took it through the Ren-fair, amongst the giggles and ‘what-he-hell-is-THAT’ getups questions, here and there, I began to hear hushed, even-toned comments from many of the older veteran guys at fair: ‘Hmmmm, a WINGED HUSSAR…Very cool.’ Not long after, I began to be invited to various costume contests and not only win them, but taking ‘First-Place-Best in Show’ awards. Now, this was beginning of my efforts to put Poland BACK on the historical map of Renaissance Europe where it belonged. And it took one man to take up the gauntlet with the nerve to do it no matter what the cost. I was told by some other renaissance re-enactor group leaders that ‘you picked a very impressive but difficult portrayal to represent, I don’t envy you one bit, but if you keep at it, if you build it, they will come, so good luck with this Polish impression.’ So, essentially both stories were right somewhat; Polish is not as popular in re-enacting as, say, American Civil War, or WWII, or Vietnam, but it IS a fast-growing interest across America due, largely, to my efforts of pioneering the way. (Although there are a still few remnants of other Pol-Am re-enactors in America, who would heatedly contest that documented fact). On the other hand, I *did* build it, and came they did. Slowly but surely, stragglers and interested individuals came (and some left) but the group and its name live on; Today, our group, Suligowski’s Regiment (of Sobieski’s winged Hussars), is “America’s first, officially-recognized 17th century Living History Re-enactment group of Polish Winged Hussar knights and Military Nobility of the Mighty Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” (and dedicated to the memory of the late Chevalier Leonard J. Suligowski after whom it is named).
We’ve moved on from the drama-infused Renaissance fairs to include military timeline and other cultural events where we are much more appreciated for what we bring to the table, picking a little-known, and mostly overlooked but hugely important aspect of European History that made quite an impact on American History; the creation of Cavalry in America, which was introduced and created by ‘The Father of American Cavalry’, General Count Casimir Pulaski, who assisted George Washington during the American Revolution, and whose earlier relatives were also among the winged knights who charged at Vienna. Essentially, I have connected the dots showing how the winged hussars directly affected America History. No one else before me has ever done this. However, keeping all this information in the public’s eye and memory is an endeavor the size of the Titanic. Today many people seem to have selective ADD-infused short-attention spans. So, I’m also writing a short book on my creation of the Winged Hussar movement in America.
The music industry and LA scene have changed so much over the years. What are your thoughts on music industry today and the scene?
Rik Fox, Jim Keeler
© John Vincenti
RF: Thankfully, I guess everything that is old is new again; there seems to be a renewed interest in the more fun aspects of the 1980’s rock music. There is a huge backlash and disinterest in Rap and Grunge, mostly because of the inherent negative messages carried in the content of that type of material, except for bands like Rage Against the Machine and Rammstein who have found ways to infuse electronics and utilize lower register keys while amping up the volume. I personally got out because I saw the writing on the wall; Bands that I was influenced by, arena bands like ANGEL, STARZ, KISS, Deep Purple, SLADE, DIO, Rainbow, and so forth, created our next generation of rockers, we were being forced into early retirement. Nobody looked up to us anymore, that separation between audience and band, became blurred so much so, that the bands started looking like the audience, there was nothing special anymore about performing because there was such a huge backlash against bands who also believed in having some kind of marketing image that visually identified them. Even back in the 70’s in NYC, Pink became infused with glam. We had power-pop bands who were also image-conscious.
I took whatever I saw from watching early KISS rehearse in their loft and at their early club shows and tried to create a stage image for whatever band I was in. During my time in the Jersey club circuit, we had glam bands like (early) Twisted Sister, and HARLOW, who were the main draw in that arena, I joined Jersey glam band VIRGIN, and fit right in. Even when I was with the popular E.Walker Band, who had a mish-mash, Cheap Trick like image mix, I still held on to my stage image and learned that I, too, could develop my own following. That became an important tool in self-promotion, a concept tool that every musician needs to survive. If you don’t have some marketable self-promotion going, you’re dead in the water. (I used this concept to promote my introduction and creation of the winged hussars in America, and using such an approach of self-promotion is what was at the root of rubbing many other re-enactors the wrong way. But, that was *their* problem, not mine, they just didn’t see the need for, or understand it. Well, of course. Most re-enactors are just regular, average people, and *Not* entertainers or anyone who understand the entertainment ‘Business’. The worst part was, they didn’t *want* to. After a few years of seeing me use it successfully, then, all of a sudden they began to imitate what I was doing. But, *that* was suddenly OK for *them* to do it, but I wasn’t allowed to for some reason). In any case, when the music scene du jour changed, that’s when I went into the film business, and then the re-enactment field. But, I never really left the music business…I merely sat it out to see where it was going. Oddly enough, with the creation and my subsequent membership in Face Book, is would seem that my popularity had literally exploded. Thousands of fans from around the world now had instant access to their ‘heroes’, and I guess that would include me too. Tons of STEELER fans maintain contact with me begging for a reunion which I hope for but final decision is in band leader Ron Keel’s hands. And, at present there doesn’t seem to be any outstanding want or need on Ron’s part to *what* to do a STEELER reunion, not when he’s enjoying touring with his post-STEELER band KEEL. Many of my fans tell me they aren’t actually fans of KEEL and ask me every day on the “I Want a STEELER REUNION, NOW’ Face Book page, for a STEELER reunion, so, there is some demand for it. However, I’m the last person to drag my feet on that issue and I can’t force Ron to get things moving.
It seems like literally every *OTHER* Hollywood band from the 1980’s has reformed and are doing reunions *EXCEPT* for STEELER.
So the ‘parade’ continues to pass me by so to speak. I can only think that if it hasn’t happened by now then perhaps Ron really doesn’t have as much interest in doing it. I mean, what other tangible reason could there be? We can definitely do it without Yngwie, and he condescends to both Ron and I anyway. Without further openness and besides business plans, I can only speculate that there must be some other, deeper reason behind it.
However, I cannot, and do not, speak for Ron or his reasoning, and we can only (yawn) wait and see. The same goes for SURGICAL STEEL.
I recorded an entire album with that band, and then due to lack of funding, the album got shelved. Many people think all I ever did was record one single and one album. That’s erroneous; I recorded literally two and a half albums. One was STEELER and that was released. The second was with SURGICAL STEEL and that got shelved. He rest was the album masters for what would have been our SIN album. There were several crooked individuals behind us that saw to our demise. One was our producer, Dana Strum, who brought Vinnie Vincent down into our sessions and played him our material. Eventually Vinnie outright stole one of my songs, ‘On the Run’, and changed the title and re-recorded it as ‘Let Freedom Rock.’ There is no mistaking it, the theft is cleanly obvious when heard back-to-back. Thankfully, karma struck him down and we all know that Vinnie Vincent is one of today’s more weirded-out ‘bottom-feeder’ losers in the media. I thought that getting involved with NIJI Management’s BURN would take me closer to another album, until I was tapped to join and record and perform with SURGICAL STEEL, until that fell through. I tried again and again with both THUNDERBALL and FLYBOYZ, but each time, not due to anything I was doing, something went wrong. Either timing or bad band member chemistry, something prevented me from finally grabbing that Brass Ring. Ironically enough, with each subsequent band, the members eventually faded into some oblivious dark corner. Even THUNDERBALL’s Joey (Mazola) Price, who returned back to Michigan and played with both SPONGE and the DETROIT COBRAS, and is hard to track down. In fact all attempts to contact most of my former band mates have turned up literally nothing, save my former SIN drummer Mark (Benquechea) Anthony, who is still playing, as well as my THUNDERBALL lead vocalist Michael (Meyers) Corday of NATIVE TONGUE and has expressed his interest in, and is ready to rejoin, the new line up of SIN. Of course my former SIN vocalist, Frank Starr passed away some years ago. Personally, I never even thought that anyone would be interested in seeing me back out there on the boards, rocking again, but I must say that the fan response is overwhelming and so by popular demand, I am reforming a new line-up of RIK FOX’S SIN once again. There is now a new market for SIN’s music once again, and the fans have spoken. As mentioned in the Press Release, since I’m tired of sitting on my ass waiting for other former band members to get off their collective asses jerking my chain, and make a fucking decision one way or the other, as a way of saying ‘THANK YOU’ to my fans, for the first time, SIN will be including both, two STEELER and two WASP songs in our set. This way the fans can still get a little of what they have been clamoring for and to see me playing songs from the bands that put me on the map in Los Angeles. Since logistics are currently an issue slowing things down, I won’t need to call in singer Mike (Meyers) Cordet until we’re ready for him to step in. I have been in contact with several promoters in the Los Angeles area and they have assured me that when SIN is ready, they will give us some gracious headlining bookings that will be on par for my status and track record; Any of the bands I was a member in never failed to deliver live, and that is the bottom line. We’ll give the audience and fans what they have been waiting for. I certainly don’t have my prior ‘image’ looks anymore so this time out, it’s all go-for-the-show rock down the house Rock and Roll. There’s also be some surprises in the set, some music that I love but have never really exposed to the world; hard, slide-guitar-ish, bluesy material as well. A little-known fact is that I also play a mean Blues Harp, but I never really had an opportunity to show that side of me, that’s more from my Steppenwolf roots. Hopefully I will be releasing some of my catalog of SIN THUNDERBALL and FLYBOYZ material in a RIK FOX Anthology CD set. And with regard to ‘That Metal Show’s’ Eddie Trunk, I know that has been avoiding me as if his life depended on it for some unknown reason. Everyone I know has been saying ‘how come you aren’t on that show, if there’s ANYONE who should be That Metal Show, it’s YOU Rik Fox!’ And, while I agree, since everyone who’s been tweeting Eddie about it, he ignores them and doesn’t respond to it whatsoever. I’ve known Eddie since he first started out as a nobody metal DJ in New Jersey and I was just out of STEELER, which he was a big fan of back then. He knows who I am, yet, for some personal reason(s), he’s been dissing me big time. Maybe Jim Florentine should kick his ass and make him ask me on the show, LOL…When my book is finished, I still doubt he’ll ask me as a guest on his show, just because. I don’t know, it’s Eddie’s personal trip for some reason and he’s acting the snob. Maybe Dee Snider and Blackie Lawless told him to ignore me. Whatever, it’s HIS loss, LOL. Maybe I should mention his attitude in my book, that will get him, LOL! I should diss him ‘just because’, and then he’ll WANT to get me on his show to ask me why in front of all the fans, LOL.
Left to right: Tamara Fox, Chris Holmes, Rik Fox
Courtesy of the Rik Fox Archives
Recently we announced that you were going to reform SIN? What can fans expect for the SIN reunion?
RF: Oh…you just wait, LOL…SIN will be something of a journey. A little WASP, a little STEELER, a little THUNDERBALL, a pinch of FLYBOYZ and some other surprises, but ALL SIN. Our planned encore is a song that has been a sort of Mantra for me over the years, as an ‘homage’ a tribute to my friends in the New Jersey band TRIGGER that I used to work for, we’re doing a rendition of ‘We’re Gonna Make It.’ That has been the call-sign not only for me, but of many a struggling musician, and it’s a rousing show closer.
Courtesy of the Rik Fox Archives
What other projects are you currently working on?
RF: Re-forming SIN! And, writing my book. Two actually, one is about my time from childhood to now and the other is about how the Winged Hussars as a living-history re-enactment were created by me in America. I’m extremely grateful that there has been this resurgence of interest in me and my time in the music business, and there has been no lack of interview requests. Including this one from you, thank you very much! I have been the interview subject of several books by other authors, one being WASP fan Darren Upton’s recent book: ‘WASP; A Sting in the Tale’, which actually galvanized many of the former WASP fans that I never had and who didn’t believe I was actually a founding member of that band as well as creator of the band’s name, which, to this day, Blackie Lawless still foolishly tries to deny, despite all the factual documentation that has been produced in the public eye. Another recent book is author Charlie Schroeder: ‘Man-of-War’ and his experiences as an historical re-enactor. Charlie generously dedicated nearly the entire chapter four to me and our winged hussar group, more from the perspective of one man’s vision, and all the trials and adversities therein. Because of my personal ties to KISS in their formative years back in NYC, I’ve also contributed to an upcoming new book about KISS by author Ken Sharp, titled: ‘Nothing to Lose; Early KISS’, which is to have some of my exclusive early KISS photos and my interview anecdotes as well. Due to some scheduling conflicts, I was told that the publishing release date for that one was pushed back from August 2012, to sometime in 2013.
You have built a huge career in the entertainment industry – is there anything you feel you haven’t conquered yet that you would like to do?
RF: LOL, yeah, finally be more successful at it and get a hold of that Brass Ring with my name on it. I’d like to finally establish my name among the ranks of my rock and roll peers, and all those who gave up or lacked faith in me or forgot that I wrote my own book on how to rock, and show them that I and SIN will be a force to be reckoned with. All the naysayers will have no platform to shout from and this will shut them up for good. There’s a scene in one of the ‘ROCKY’ movies where Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed is now Rocky’s trainer, and he tells Rocky: “When this is over, a lotta people are gonna owe you an engraved apology!” I’ve been reminded of that scene by those who are following my progress, and I tend to agree with them. As for the smiling backstabbers, they will fall flat on their faces, and be cut off.
One more thing…In keeping a constant eye on current world events, if the shit hits the fan, I do have some contingent plans that may call for me to re-enlist in the California State Military Reserve; I intend to be on the winning side. So this will undoubtedly entail me having to cut my rock-locks to a shorter, more, ‘pass-muster’ appearance. But then, although it may come as a shock to some, there are many rockers nowadays who have shorter hair whether by natural causes or by choice. This is one decision that I cannot have both ways. But, in the end, whatever road I take, I will ALWAYS be Rik Fox; one of the most interesting men of the 20th-21st centuries!
What would you like Rik Fox to be remembered for?
RF: Hmmm, bringing joy and laughter into the lives of others…Here’s an excerpt from my book-in-progress: “When my time comes to leave this plane of existence, with all the tools I was given to work with, and despite all my foibles, if I made a positive difference for the good in someone’s life, that is, if I know that I’ve made a positive impact on just one person’s life, then I can be at peace in knowing that I left a footprint for someone else to follow and hopefully, they, too will do the same in my memory and remember what I tried to do for them. That is the reward that pays for itself and you can take that with you when it’s time to check out. I aspired to Ronnie James Dio’s outlook on life and I hope that I, too, would be remembered as a cool guy and a great person who tried to give back something.”
Anything you’d like to say to your fans on HearEvil?
RF: I know that I’m not the easiest person to understand or figure out, but that comes with patience and consideration, so thanks for the patience and consideration. Interesting people are like that. It’s like an onion; made up of many, many layers. The more you peel the more is revealed. I know that with being popular all this comes with it, and also the haters. Haters who hate because they have nothing going in their own lives, so they try to feel good about themselves by trying to bring down others like myself. They eventually dry up and blow away when everyone ignores them and walks away for them. I hope that I was at least one of the most interesting individuals in any case. I was recently complimented on being the Polish-American version of the Dos Equis’ ‘Most Interesting Man in the World.’ I certainly hope I can live up to that! I have a lot more interviews coming up and more surprises, so, stay tuned. Thanks for keeping the faith and supporting me. YOU ROCK! See ya on the other side!
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