Fender-wielding Los Angeles-based guitar hero Richie Kotzen is frequently touted in the international guitar press as one of the world’s best guitarists, with a 50-album discography to back it up.
Born in 1970 in Reading. Pa., Kotzen began on piano at age five but became smitten with guitar at age seven after seeing Kiss. Throughout his teens he steadily developed into a fine guitarist with a dexterous and versatile voice that combined elements of rock, blues, jazz, fusion, pop and soul.
Kotzen moved to San Francisco at age 18, recording his first album at age 19 for metal mainstay label Shrapnel Records. Guitar World magazine readers proclaimed him one of the top three best new guitarists of 1989.
Kotzen’s big break came in 1991 when, at age 21, he joined multi-platinum glam rockers Poison, with whom he recorded 1993’s Native Tongue. The platinum album spawned two top-twenty singles written by Kotzen, “Stand” and “Until You Suffer Some (Fire & Ice).”
Post-Poison, Kotzen recorded albums on Geffen, Shrapnel and JVC until 1999, when legendary jazz bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White invited him to form Vertu, which recorded an eponymous album that year and toured Europe extensively. Later in 1999, Kotzen joined hugely popular rock band Mr. Big, recording Get Over It (1999) and Actual Size (2001) and penning his first number-one single in Japan, “Shine.”
Throughout the early 2000s, Kotzen subsequently recorded and released more solo albums and continued to tour worldwide and make guest appearances with other artists, such as Gene Simmons and Dogstar. As a solo artist in 2006, Kotzen was the opening act for the Japanese leg of the Rolling Stones A Bigger Bang tour.
Kotzen is one of the few artists to have two signature model Fender guitars in Japan; a Telecaster and a Stratocaster bearing his name have each been top sellers in Japan since they were introduced in 1995.