Rik Fox, originally from N.Y., began photographing glam bands of the 70s like KISS, The Brats, and The Harlots of 42nd Street, and befriending The New York Dolls and drummer Peter Criss of KISS before becoming a resident fixture on the NYC legendary Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s rock scene himself with The Martian Rock Band as well as performing six nights a week with VIRGIN, and an early version of SIN along with The E. Walker Band on the NJ / NY club scene, before going on to Hollywood to establish his own successful glam presence. Rik Fox is also known for being one of the hotly debated founding members of WASP.
Interview With Rik Fox
December 9, 2015
By Londa R. Marks | Metal Music Interviews
Published By Rock Legend News, Firenze, Italy and
Tempi Dispari.it, Rome, Italy
Interview with Bassist Rik Fox ‘The Winged Knight of Heavy Metal’, from Hollywood, California’s 80’s glam bands: SIN, STEELER and WASP.
Rock Legend News: You started on the path to glam rock of the 80’s by photographing bands like New York Dolls and KISS in New York. What attracted you to KISS and New York Dolls glam style?
Rik Fox: Well, allow me to clarify, I didn’t photograph The New York Dolls so much as I did The Brats, KISS and The Harlots of 42nd Street, mostly at a club in Queens, NY not far from my home, called Coventry. It was a flourishing club across from Manhattan that showcased many of the Manhattan rock scene’s glam bands. I also hung out at the famous 82 Club where many of the same bands performed. In any case, while I was in high school during my formative years between 1970 and 1974, it was a magical and evolutionary time in the history of rock music. Many bands were rising up from out of the ashes of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and becoming something of a theatrical rock revolution. There was something very primal and attractively exciting about this; it was very different from what came before. Bands used to just stand there pretty much and just ‘play.’
Now, there was the incorporation of band interaction and movement onstage, a physical interpretation of the music in an energy coming from the stage. Bands began to incorporate wearing face make-up eye-liner, eye-shadow, lipstick, platform boots tight velvet or satin pants, and jackets, sequins and rhinestones began catching the stage lighting. There was also an element of androgyny, with bands like T. Rex, David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Slade, The Sweet and Queen.
This began to make its way to American shores and into the hard rocking punkish presentations of Detroit’s MC5 and Iggy Pop and the New York rock bands, like The Harlots of 42nd Street, The New York Dolls, Teenage Lust, The Brats, Luger, The Planets, Street Punk, Spike, and, of course, more notable bands like Alice Cooper, Silverhead and KISS. It was like the anger of punk meets the androgyny of glam.
Since I had already become friends with KISS’ drummer Peter Criss before he was in the band, and began to go to watch KISS’ rehearsals in NYC, even before guitarist Ace Frehley was a band member, I was also a member of the photography club while in high school around 1972-73, so, I had access to all the film and developing materials I could get my hands on for free. My father had bought me a German-made Hanimex Practika 35mm camera and I was good to go. I began sneaking into clubs in NY like The 82 Club, and Coventry in Queens and photographing many of the bands I was attracted to. I shot many of these bands and began to become influenced by them musically as a fledgling bassist. Originally, the first band I was attracted to was Steppenwolf in 1967-68, and they were not glam, but a leather-wearing hard rock and blues band. So, it’s difficult to explain exactly what this new attraction was; it was just something I felt in my heart and soul; some new form of personal communication with an audience who loved being entertained by this new form of music, which was loud, brash, very catchy and simply played.
One night, I even hung out with some of the members of The New York Dolls while I was photographing bands at Coventry, and I dressed along just like they did. In fact, Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan complimented my burgundy satin pants, and when I told him I was friends with his childhood friend, Peter Criss, he lit right up and smiled. Then I chastised him for carelessly dropping his cigarette ashes on my new pants, and he apologized.
Rock Legend News: After moving to L.A. from N.Y., you played bass guitar in several bands including SIN, STEELER and WASP. Which of these groups do you feel most tied to and why?
Rik Fox: Hmmm, difficult to say; each had its own special attachment. Passing the audition for and becoming an original founding member of WASP of course, had its own magic; it took me back to the loft in NYC and watching KISS evolve, so, naturally, I felt like stepping into a dream come true. Everything was going well enough, until, unfortunately, four months later, Blackie Lawless changed his mind, after I had created the band’ new name from Sister to WASP, and he suddenly fired me for no apparent plausible reason; the demo we recorded reflected my bass tracks which, to this day, stand up as solid and melodic. So, any back-pedaling excuses such as ‘musically Rik couldn’t cut it’, really make no sense and are all baseless and clearly BS lies. But the songs were very fun to play and record and, to this point, Blackie was very happy with how things were progressing with this new band line-up.
However, in the band photos taken by Motley Crue photographer Don Adkins Jr., I looked like I didn’t fit; I looked like Angel’s Punky Meadows, while the rest of the band looked like a bunch of sadistic truck drivers, LOL.Although briefly rehearsing with both WARLORD and HELLION, it was STEELER that initially put me on the map so to speak, and opened the way for me.
That was all the energy I needed to help me establish that I was no longer just a face in the crowd, but now a solid member of one of the top bands of the Los Angeles’ history of Heavy Metal, along with Motley Crue and RATT. To look at, STEELER wasn’t so much a glam band as much as just a straight-ahead, Heavy Metal band with lots of high-energy. Going toe-to-toe with Yngwie every night that we performed, began to give me the integrity and respect that I worked so hard to earn, and Ron Keel was the consummate showman performer. Where this guy drew his performance energy from was a mystery to me, and we had fun playing off of each other onstage.
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