Don Bauder 8:30 a.m., Feb. 16
Ratt Loses Another Member - Is This Band Even Still "Together"?
Ratt bassist Robbie Crane chose his Facebook page to announce his departure from the band, after spending around 15 years as part of its epically fluid lineup.
"Hey all, Just thought I would let you know that as of a week ago I have decided to quit Ratt...for me, it is just time to move on." In a subsequent press release circulated via email, he thanked "all of the Ratt fans who have been so supportive through my tenure. It has been a pleasure!"
Well, at least THIS time it doesn't appear any band members are suing the others (for an encyclopedic book-length history of all the Ratt-related lawsuits through the years, see "Ratt Doesn't Want You To Read This Blog" )
Ratt is most notable for their 1984 hit single, “Round and Round.” The band has sold an estimated 10 million records in the U.S., while worldwide album sales are approximated at over 18 million. VH1 slotted the band at #79 on its 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
The origins of Ratt go back to 1978 with a San Diego band called Mickey Ratt, which was formed by founding member vocalist Stephen Pearcy. Guitarist Chris Hager, bassist Tim Garcia (and later Matt Thorr), and drummer John Turner completed the four-piece Mickey Ratt line-up.
In 1980, the band moved to Los Angeles to increase their chances of signing a recording contract with a major label. Later that year, guitarist Jake E. Lee joined the Mickey Ratt line up and the band recorded a single called “Dr. Rock/Drivin' on E,” which was given to fans at their early Los Angeles club shows.
In 1982, the band's name was shortened to Ratt. Jake E. Lee, Chris Hager, and Matt Thorr all left to form another band called Rough Cutt. (In October of that year, Lee left Rough Cutt and replaced Randy Rhoads as Ozzy Osbourne's lead guitarist.) The three members would be replaced by bassist Juan Croucier (who in 1982 left the band Dokken) and guitarists Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini. Warren was only 18 years old when he was called up to Los Angeles to play in Ratt. At the time he was attending college in San Diego, and at first was reluctant to drop out to join a band that had limited success, but he did.
By the end of 1982, the classic Ratt line-up of Stephen Pearcy (lead vocals), Warren DeMartini (lead & rhythm guitars), Robbin Crosby (rhythm & lead guitars), Juan Croucier (bass), and Bobby Blotzer (drums) was complete.
Ratt’s self-titled debut album was released independently in 1983, soon leading to a major-label contract with Atlantic Records. In 1984, the LP Out of the Cellar hit the U.S. top ten, selling over three million copies, with its first single “Round and Round” reaching number twelve on Billboard’s singles chart. The video for that song was in heavy-rotation on MTV --- it featured the late comedian Milton Berle recreating his drag queen persona (assuming he ever de-created it).
Last year, Pearcy recalled for the Reader's Andrew Hamlin “Yeah, Milty, y’know, when we did that first video [in 1984], he was our manager’s uncle at the time, and it was all new back then because all of a sudden you became actors. But when Milton Berle hit that set, he pretty much took over. Don Letts, the director, he was, like, “What in the hell...?” And Milton Berle just said, “I’m playing this woman in drag,” which was his forte, back in the early days on his show, “and I’m gonna be the husband, we’re gonna be at dinner.” It was unreal. We just followed the leader, y’know?”
Ratt left San Diego in the ’80s and scrabbled to the big prize in L.A. with their triple-platinum debut LP. According to Pearcy, “My band, Mickey Ratt [their original name], with Chris Hager and John Turner and Tim Garcia, we played everywhere and anywhere and actually became a staple. I had to start all over when I moved the band to Los Angeles in 1980, through meeting Van Halen. But what I learned in San Diego is take it in stride, y’know? Enjoy. It’s a beautiful place.”
“It was a culture shock going to L.A., but I knew it had to be done. Nobody was offering us a record deal. We’d be headlining Golden Hall, Plaza Hall, Bing Crosby Hall, we were playing in front of 1500 people. In ’78 I took a trip to L.A., Whisky a Go Go, went to a Van Halen sound check, was fortunate enough to get backstage, became friends with Ed [Eddie Van Halen]. And I’d watch them play in front of, like, maybe 50 people, and they were playing like they were in the Forum. I’d go back to San Diego and say, “There’s this band, they’re incredible, we gotta be a part [of it].” It was crazy. Everybody started movin’ up there.”
Ratt released a string of albums but, by 1992, Pearcy left and the band split up, presumably putting away the pouty poses for good. Ratt reunited briefly in 1997, but the group soon became estranged with their lead singer once again.
The renewed animosity between turn-of-the-century Ratt members and their once-and-future frontman seemed to peak in January 2000, when Pearcy walked out on the band and manager Tim Heyne six days before the start of what was being billed as a “comeback tour.”
Pearcy claimed in later court documents that his ex-bandmates posted on the Internet that he had quit the band and caused the cancellation of January 2000 tour dates, and that they had publicly accused him of being an alcoholic and/or a drug addict. Pearcy contended the group ignored him when he informed them in December of 1999 that would not tour with Ratt, and that Blotzer and DeMartini misled the public by saying that he would.
Ratt subsequently hired singer Jizzy Pearl, of the band Love/Hate.
Ratt members past and present took to badmouthing each other at every given opportunity. The website metal-sludge.com interviewed Bobby Blotzer and read him a quote from Ratt’s former singer. “Pearcy recently said about you, ‘Bobby's a drummer, not a songwriter. He's a guy who knows nothing about anything and now he thinks he know something about everything. Bobby's a pr--k. Give yourself some respect man and shut the f--k up! You're running the integrity of our music and band into the dirt. I'm sure that Robbin and Juan are thanking themselves for not being part of this mess [the new Ratt].’ What is your response to that?”
Blotzer replied “I just laugh at Pearcy…anyone who knows Pearcy knows what I'm talking about. The only songs that Pearcy truly wrote himself were the ones on the EP [1983’s ‘Ratt’]. Beau Hill, Juan [and] Robbin...used to come up with most of the melodies on the tunes, and rewrite most of the lyrics that he [Pearcy] would come up with. Sorry, but that’s the truth. And as far as myself being only a drummer? I've played guitar for 28 years and, while I'm not breaking any records for the most material written, I've had some good ones down the line.”
Asked what he thinks of Pearcy touring with a band he calls Ratt, Blotzer said “I think it’s a joke.”
The legal battle got more bitter on February 20, 2001, when Pearcy filed suit against Blotzer and DeMartini and Ratt’s former manager Tim Heyne, claiming breach of contract and seeking unspecified damages. Pearcy alleged that his two former bandmates withdrew thousands of dollars from a corporate checking account the trio opened together.
Judge Workman dismissed Pearcy's claims for trademark infringement, unfair competition, defamation, misappropriation of corporate assets, and breach of fiduciary duty, and ruled that Pearcy was engaging in unfair competition himSELF, by using the trademark “Ratt” name for his own touring group billed alternately as “Stephen Pearcy’s Ratt,” “Ratt Featuring Stephen Pearcy” and “Ratt With Stephen Pearcy.”
An injunction was then placed against Pearcy, demanding he cease and desist from using the Ratt trademarks, and another order was sought attempting to force him to turn over profits earned from his unauthorized Ratt tour.
“Stephen Pearcy’s Ratt” was part of a summer 2001 package tour called “Voices Of Metal,” which also included other ‘80s hair band survivors plying their tired trade on Highway Has-Been, such as Slaughter, Vixxen, Cinderella, and Britny Fox.
In July 2001, during an interview on KNAC in L.A. which was later transcribed and posted on the station’s website, one-time Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby admitted that he had “full-blown AIDS” and that he’d been living with the virus for the last seven years.
“Basically,” he said, “it’s killing me. I’ve got a terminal disease. Recently, I went in for surgery cause my back hurt so bad, and they got all this infectious fluid out and then they found that my bones were not getting oxygen under the infectious fluid which is called osteomyalitis. I’ve been in the hospital for eight straight months and in and out for over seven years."
Crosby said he was diagnosed with HIV in 1994, but that he didn’t have any way of knowing exactly when he contracted the disease. Its dormancy period can be up to ten years, so medical opinion is that he could have been exposed as early as the mid-eighties. Crosby said he got into heroin early in Ratt’s career, and that’s how he thought he acquired AIDS.
Crosby died Thursday June 6, 2002, in his Hollywood apartment. He was 42.
At that time, the legal rights to tour and record under the name “Ratt” belonged to guitarist DeMartini and drummer Blotzer. This was established in court, when the duo accused Pearcy of passing off his own faux-Ratt as the real thing on the road.
According to a 2002 ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David A. Workman, WBS, Inc. - Ratt's touring entity - is “the sole and exclusive owner of the Ratt trademarks, and thus WBS’ arrangement with DeMartini and Blotzer supercedes and nullifies any claims Pearcy may make for use of the name.”
In Summer 2005, the apparently misnamed “Rock Never Stops” tour featuring Ratt, Vince Neil, and Slaughter stopped after just one date. Arriving patrons at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire July 23 were greeted by a sign informing “Vince Neil was in a car accident and broke his leg. Because of this, he will be unable to perform tonight. Both Ratt and Slaughter will still be performing.”
Ticketholders who’d bought passes at the box office were given three options; enter to see Ratt and Slaughter and receive comp tickets to upcoming concerts by Staind or Blue Oyster Cult, enter and get $10 back off the $29 ticket, OR turn in tickets through the Casino box office for a full refund. Angry patrons reportedly booed through Ratt's entire set, later taking to the internet to mock all the performers on the bill that night.
All the remaining Rock Never Stops tour dates were cancelled.
After the Hampton Beach show, Ratt flew direct from to Winter Park Colorado to perform on their own the following day, at – and I swear I’m not making this up - “Hawgfest.”
IMHO, once you’ve been sued by your former lead singer, had your guitarist die of AIDS and drug-related complications, been booed by Vince Neil fans - in New Hampshire! - AND you’re playing something called “Hawgfest,” it really IS time for the rock to stop.
In October 2005, Stephen Pearcy dropped the first hints that the band’s MTV era lineup (minus the late Robbin Crosby) could reform. “I tried to put an end to that Ratt mess last year,” he said at www.stephen-pearcy.com. “I made a proposal, sh-t or get off the pot. It could be a good thing, our 20 year anniversary.”
And the dollar signs began lighting up countless soulless eyes…
In summer 2007, Ratt partially reunited its classic lineup, with Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini, and Bobby Blotzer. The late Robbin Crosby was replaced by guitaristt John Corabi. Ratt bassist Juan Crocier refused to participate, so he was replaced by Robbie Crane (from Vince Neil's band). They toured with Poison and released a Very Best of Ratt CD and a DVD compilation Videos from the Cellar.
Their 2010 album Infestation reached #30 on the Billboard charts, but the band played a limited number of shows before tensions within the band forced an indefinite hiatus. After a tour, bassist Robbie Crane joined Lynch Mob, to play on their European dates, while Pearcy announced a pending solo album called Sucker Punch, set for release in Autumn 2011.
After drummer Bobby Blotzer released his 2010 book, Tales of a RATT: Things You Shouldn't Know, he began mocking Stephen Pearcy on his Facebook page. After Pearcy played the Ramona Mainstage in early 2011, Blotzer posted “Congrats to the Stephen Pearcy solo band adventure on the first show for his Huff 2011 tour, and the lucky 52 people who got to hear Ratt’s music butchered.”
In August 2011, “Round and Round” was ranked at #61 in Guitar World Magazine’s 100 Greatest Classic Rock Guitar Songs, in their volume 32 #8 issue (page 82). That same year, drummer Bobby Blotzer created a new book franchise called WANTED – Things YOU Need to Know. “I got the idea for the series in thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to approach the author of any given book that always has one or two unanswered questions? I want to gather not only the questions, but also have the person posing the question be in the book itself.”
At the end of 2011, original Mickey Ratt bassist Tim Garcia passed away. Pearcy posted a tribute writeup on his website.
At the beginning of 2012, Foo Fighter Dave Grohl was working with Ratt packers Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini. According to Pearcy’s website, “Warren and I are recording an original song (Grohl song idea open to Ratt madness). Not for a Ratt record. We’ll let [Dave] tell you about it when he’s ready.”
So is Ratt even still a band at this point?
Just a couple of weeks ago, drummer Bobby Blotzer told Radio Screamer “We started [a new studio album] a few weeks ago,” “We’re in pre-production and it will be out in August.”
We shall see, Mr. Blotzer, we shall see...
Blurt: "Ratt Singer Stephen Pearcy Blows...Off Steam" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...
Musician Interviews: "Ratt 'n' Roll" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...
"Ratt Doesn't Want You to Read This Reader Blog" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...