RICHIE KOTZEN Looks Back On His Acrimonious Exit From POISON: 'I Think We All Got Over S**t And Moved On'

April 6, 2021

THE WINERY DOGS guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen, who made a name for himself via his hard rock, blues-influenced solo albums, perhaps got his most notable exposure during his one-album stint with glam rockers POISON in the early '90s. Kotzen was in POISON for two years before getting fired in November 1993 after drummer Rikki Rockett found out that the axeman had been seeing his former fiancée, the woman he had lived with for four years and had been engaged to for two before she left him just prior to POISON's European tour.

Asked in a new interview with Radio Forrest if he has ever run into the POISON guys in the decades since his exit from the group, Richie said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We ran into each other shortly after all that. And actually, the bass player [Bobby Dall] and I sat down one night at the Rainbow [in West Hollywood] and had a chat. That was maybe five years after, so the stuff was still relatively fresh. But the funny thing is I ran into Bret Michaels backstage at, I think it was a Rock Fantasy camp, and we hugged. 'Hey, I love you, bro. Great to see you.' We had a great talk. C.C. [DeVille, guitar], I ran into him. We were on tour with THE WINERY DOGS in 2019. The irony there is my tour manager for my solo tours and for THE WINERY DOGS, that tour manager is C.C. DeVille's day-to-day guy on the road. So that's totally ironic; we're connected there. But the craziest part of it is that my wife Julia, she's a bass player, and she did a show with Rikki Rockett playing the drums. And I actually overheard… Rikki was in the dressing room as I was coming down the hall, and I heard my name mentioned. Someone must have been asking him something. And I heard Rikki say, 'I don't give a fuck. I haven't seen the guy in 20 years. I don't care.' And then I ran into him, and I said hello, and I shook his hand."

Kotzen continued: "I was a kid when I was in that band. It was a great experience, but imagine you just turned 21 and now you're in a band that already sold 20 million albums. Everything was just like being in a fucking movie. And I think in the end of it, I still think we made a kick-ass record; I think we made a fantastic record. And if you think about what was going on with those bands back then, we were the only band that MTV actually gave a shot. That song 'Stand', when it came out, I used to sit in my room and leave the TV on. They played that video every 20 minutes, that video was on. And that was a great feeling back then. So we had a shot with that record, and it ended up [being] a gold record. I don't know if it eventually went platinum, but I definitely got a gold record out of it. A lot of those bands didn't even get their videos played on MTV [at that point], so we had a good shot with it. It was a great record.

"I was already signed to Interscope, and in my mind, I was just thinking, 'When am I gonna make my solo record?' So it was a weird situation for me coming in. I think we made a great record.

"People grow up and get over shit, and I think we all got over shit and moved on."

Three years ago, Dall told Detroit radio station WRIF that he harbored no resentment toward his former bandmate.

"Richie Kotzen's a very talented player," Bobby said. "[An] unfortunate personal issue happened in the band. It's pretty much public knowledge. I like the guy, but he hurt Rikki Rockett, a dear friend of mine, so I've got to let it go for what it is. But those guys have talked in recent years, and I've seen Richie at [the] NAMM [convention] and different things, and I don't hold a grudge against him or nothing. It just is what it is. The guy ended up marrying Rikki's fiancée at the time. It's a pretty difficult situation to go through and find out [about] in the middle of a tour. But it is what it is. I have no ill will towards Richie, [other than] the fact that it was the wrong thing to do."

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