Crash Crafton of Legendary Rock Interviews
conducted an interview with Richie Kotzen. A few excerpts follow below.
LRI: After the release of your 'Mother Head's Family Reunion' album and touring cycle, it was reported that you were joining Ozzy Osbourne's band due to departure of Zakk Wylde. Is there any truth to that and did you ever audition or rehearse with Ozzy?
RK: Wow! Not many people know that story. I can tell you that story. It is pretty funny because back then... I'm trying to remember what was going on. Ok, that was like in 1995, it must have been. I had just lost my deal with Geffen because my A&R guy had moved over to Sony. I had got out of that contract and at that time I was talking about signing with RCA. In that period, I remember that I got a phone call from my manager. The way it was presented to me was that they had called and wanted to meet with me. Sharon wanted to meet me and they needed a guitar player. At the time, they had done a lot of work with Steve Vai & for whatever reason, it didn't pan out. Zakk wasn't involved at that point.
So, they flew me to New York. I remember, I was so sick. I had to actually get to my gate in a wheelchair. I couldn't walk. I had some kind of food poisoning. It was a nightmare! I remember I got to the gate in a wheelchair which is really weird for me because I am one of those people who would never go to the doctor. I'm one of those guys who would just tough it out. I was really sick but I knew I had to get to New York. So I got to New York, I was fine by the time I landed.
I went to Ozzy's hotel room to meet him. He played a joke on me and I didn't even realize what he was doing. He had this like, um, you know when you have a tooth pulled? I can't think of the word for it but it was like this syringe thing that sprays water or alcohol. He was trying to make me think that he was about to shoot heroin. He was going through all these crazy motions & it was just me and him in this hotel room. For whatever reason, it wasn't registering what he was doing. I wasn't even paying attention and finally he got frustrated that I wasn't seeing that he was trying to play a joke on me. That became a whole other funny moment. But we sat in his room and we watched 'Dumb & Dumber'. Me & Ozzy watched the movie 'Dumb & Dumber' together. (Laughs)..For some reason I think there was two trips. On that trip, it was like this casual thing. I sat in this hotel's downstairs restaurant with Sharon. She basically told me what was going to happen. She told me what they were going to pay me, they told me I could sell my own t-shirts at the gig, all this stuff. It was like "Wow! I am going to play guitar for Ozzy!"
So, there is another point where I played with him as well but I don't know if it was the same trip. For some reason, in my mind, there is a huge gap. At one point I played with him at one point. Geezer Butler was the bass player & Deen Castronovo was playing drums. It was in New York. What happened, I came back and told someone that I was going to be Ozzy's guitar player. They had already negotiated the deal with my manager and everything. Back then AOL was really popular. Everything was going on in these chat rooms where you had people in there gossiping. I made the mistake of telling someone I was going to do this. They went and put it in one of these AOL chat rooms that "Richie Kotzen, ex-Poison guitar player is going to play with Ozzy!" And people went fucking crazy! And they said "That's fucking bullshit, a guy from Poison is going to be in Ozzy's band?" These were people who didn't even know my name & they had no idea who I was but because this person wrote "Poison" there was this huge blow back on the AOL thread.
I remember seeing it & I was so fucking pissed. I said "Why the fuck would you go and fucking make this public? I told you this as a friend and now you are fucking blabbing it on the internet!" So, the whole deal, everything, went dead. Literally, I can only assume that is the only reason. They had, my manager had negotiated the deal, everything was agreed upon. You know, it was all good. The minute it got out they quit responding, we got nothing from them. I had been sending them riffs, recording song ideas but after that happened, it went totally dead. What they actually did, I think Zakk ended up going back and making the record.
They got a guy [Joe Holmes] with no real history or at least not a history like mine for example. It is so funny man, that whole Poison thing for me, in one hand it was a great opportunity and I really loved that record we made but one the other hand, it really fucked up a lot of opportunities for me throughout the entire 90's. I mean, everything from that situation I just talked about to record deals. It was this horrible association that really fucked me up throughout the entire 90's. The sad thing about it is, what I do as I musician had absolutely nothing to do with what made Poison a famous act. So, it is like a double hit. Yeah, I was in the band, I understand it is not the coolest band in the world to some people. I also have been doing this whole other thing which is who I am. It was really fucked up & it wasn't until the internet came along that I was able to actually directly reach my base without having to deal with a label. That changed everything for the better for me!