Richard Dale "Richie" Kotzen, Jr. (born February 3, 1970 in Reading, Pennsylvania) is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. Currently he is touring with The Winery Dogs with Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan, supporting an album they recorded in Los Angeles in August 2012.
Richie Kotzen began playing piano at the age of five. At the age of seven he was inspired by the band KISS to learn the electric guitar. He started his career in a band named Arthurs Museum. Kotzen was eventually discovered by Shrapnel Records' Mike Varney, and he recorded his first solo album by the age of 19. He created the video Rock Chops for REH video in 1989, highlighting many of his formative techniques, including using wide-intervals and fluid sweeping.
In 1991, at age 21, Kotzen joined glam-metal 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 & Ice)". In late 1993, he was dismissed from the band for having an affair with drummer Rikki Rockett's fiancee, Deanna Eve.
In 1999 Kotzen replaced Paul Gilbert as guitarist in the mainstream 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. After Mr. Big disbanded, Kotzen released the solo album Change, in 2003. The title track and the song Get a Life 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 acclaimed solo albums and collaborated with various figures in rock (Gene Simmons), jazz and fusion, including jazz legend Stanley Clarke.
In 2006 Kotzen was the opening act for The Rolling Stones in Japan on their Bigger Bang tour.
In 2013 the rock supergroup, The Winery Dogs released their self-titled debut album on 15 May in Japan with a worldwide release following on 23 July of the same year.
Guitar playing style:
Kotzen has described his style as a mix of rock, blues, jazz, fusion, and soul music. Of his albums, he claims he is most proud of Vertú. Kotzen utilizes a heavy amount of legato and sweeping in his playing. As his main influence 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.
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.
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 poweramp, 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. There is also a matching signature model speaker cabinet, equipped with four Celestion Vintage 30 12" speakers. Both the amplifier head and the speaker cabinet are the only Cornford models fit with Kotzen-style black tolex covering.
Kotzen prefers not to use many pedals (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.