EVER WONDER WHAT SHOWS,
tones, and gigs influenced Richie Kotzen? So did
we, and he gave us a little insight. —MB
What were the most life-changing concerts
you saw in your formative years and why?
Stevie Wonder and George Benson. They
were two separate concerts but both were in
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, at a really cool venue
with a circular stage that made for a very interesting
perspective. I was 12 years old and really
into music. The soul thing was huge where I
grew up and those concerts really got me going.
They inspired me to play music. I don’t know
what it was specifically, but it was a certain
feeling coming from both artists at the time
that made me want to play and be in a band.
What guitar tones did you hear that made a big
impact on your sound early on? What about now?
Van Halen’s tone was the first big impact,
then Stevie Ray Vaughan’s. As for modern
guys, I like what Jack White is doing with his
playing and with his various tones. I also saw
Smashing Pumpkins recently, and Billy Corgan
and his guitar player had some really cool
things happening tone-wise during that show.
What was the toughest gig you played as a kid
and what did you learn from it?
I don’t remember having any tough gigs
as a kid, but there have been plenty as an
adult. Oftentimes you are battling the elements—
poor sound, bad acoustics, maybe
even being booked in the wrong venue for
your kind of music. I think experience teaches
you how to deal with those situations. What
I have learned to do is rather than saying, “I
can’t do this,” is to find a way to adapt to
the situation and play off of what works.
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