Friday, March 2, 2007


Round and Round

Ratt is an American glam metal band that enjoyed significant commercial success during the 1980s. The band is most notable for their 1984 smash hit single, "Round and Round". They have developed a sizable cult following in recent years and have acquired respect from within the music industry as trailblazers for the 1980s Los Angeles music scene.
The band has sold an estimated 10 million records in the U.S. while worldwide album sales are approximated at over 18 million.

Ratt's music was influenced by 1970s hard rock and glam rock bands such as Aerosmith, Sweet, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. They fused this with heavy metal influences from the likes of Van Halen and Judas Priest.

Though they later incoporated more of a blues sound into their music, the band was one of the first glam metal style groups that appeared in the early 1980s in California. Their image bore similarities to that of Aerosmith and the New York Dolls.

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 Matt Thorr, and drummer John Turner, completed the four-piece 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 early Los Angeles club shows.
In 1982, the band's name was shortened to Ratt. Also that year, Ratt included the song Tell the World on the first Metal Massacre compilation album, which is also known as the first album to feature a Metallica song (Hit the Lights). After this album release, Jake E. Lee, Chris Hagar, and Matt Thorr all left Ratt to form another band called Rough Cutt. (In October of that year, Lee left Rought 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.

By the end of 1982, the classic Ratt line-up of Stephen Pearcy (vocals), Robbin Crosby (guitar), Warren DeMartini (lead guitar), Juan Croucier (bass guitar), and Bobby Blotzer (drums) was complete.

In 1983 the band released an EP on their independent record label Time Coast. With the self-titled Ratt EP, the band began to draw public attention from outside of Southern California. It contained the hit "You Think You're Tough". Also included was a cover of "Walkin' the Dog"; originally a hit for Rufus Thomas in 1963. Ratt's version was a nod to Aerosmith, who had included a cover of the song on their influential first album in 1973. The track "Back for More" that appeared on the EP was a slightly different version of the one that appeared on their follow-up Out of the Cellar. The EP was a success, selling over one million copies (though it has been out of print for many years and is today considered a rare and valuable collectors' item).
After a well-received, self-titled independent EP, the band signed with Atlantic Records and immediately started writing and recording what would be its breakthrough album Out of the Cellar. Released in March 1984, the album was critically praised by both fans and critics alike at the time of its release. Milton Berle's guest appearance (dressed in drag, no less) on the above video for Round and Round helped draw even more attention to the band.

Out of the Cellar combined the then-prevalent Van Halen and Aerosmith influenced 'cock rock' elements with the then-novel staccato guitar-picking style of Judas Priest. The album scored many radio and MTV hits, including the blockbuster anthem "Round and Round", "Wanted Man", "Back for More", "Lack of Communication", and "I'm Insane". Pearcy's raspy yet bluesy vocals melded well with the pyrotechnic guitar playing of twin leads Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini. Their music videos (especially for that of "Round and Round") exposed their movie star looks to an impressionable prepubescent audience first tuning into the then fledgling MTV cable network.

Out of the Cellar became a commercial success, going platinum many times over in the United States as well as making them true rock idols in the Far East. The album catapulted the band to the top, capped off by an incredibly successful world tour that saw the band sell out countless stadiums and arenas worldwide. Out of the Cellar is today widely regarded as the pinnacle the band's prolific body of work and a definitive moment in glam metal.

Tawny Kitaen, who graced the cover of the band's EP from the previous year, agreed to appear on the cover of their debut full-length album. Her work with Ratt enamored her to the glam metal community and would later help Kitaen become an international celebrity. She would appear in movies, TV shows and even more music videos. Her provocative performances on Whitesnake's videos gained her even more acclaim and eventually a husband. She would be married to Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale for a few years.

The band's second full-length album Invasion of Your Privacy was released July 1985. The album met mostly positive reactions from fans and critics. has called it "another batch of solid pop-metal tunes". [2] It contained the hits "You're In Love" and "Lay It Down" that assured the band a presence on radio and MTV.

Warren DeMartini's impressive guitar solos and Stephen Pearcy's dripping-with-sex lyrics helped to further define the Ratt sound. Though it didn't achieve the sales figures nor the legendary status of their monumental debut, Invasion of Your Privacy nonetheless was certified double platinum (selling over two million copies) and remains highly regarded amongst fans.
A couple months after the albums release, the band released a home video aptly titled Ratt: The Video. The video featured the music videos from the Ratt EP, Out of the Cellar and Invasion of Your Privacy. The video is currently out of print and is very rare and difficult to find.
The model on the album cover is Playboy Playmate Marianne Gravatte who also made an appearance in the Lay It Down music video. Using a model on an album cover would later become a trend that would be copied by many glam metal bands of the 1980s, such as Bon Jovi, Great White, Slaughter and L.A. Guns. The cover for Invasion of Your Privacy was also one of the many album covers that received the attention of the PMRC, since the cover and the album title were an obvious reference to voyeurism. The Tipper Gore-led organization would present it at a U.S. Congressional hearing on September 19, 1985 dealing with parental advisory labels on albums that display "inappropriate" content.

Ratt's next release was Dancing Undercover in September 1986. The album was a relative disappointment with music critics at the time of its release. From a commercial standpoint however, the album kept Ratt's string of consecutive platinum albums alive. In an effort to be taken more seriously, Ratt broke from the tradition of featuring a model on the cover of the album. They instead opted for gritty black-and-white photos of each of the five band members. Likewise, the album does not contain a single power ballad amongst its ten tracks and even features experimental forays into thrashier and heavier sounds.

The song that reflected this most strikingly was "Body Talk", which was featured on the soundtrack for the 1986 Eddie Murphy film The Golden Child. The more straight-ahead style of the album (especially with this song) lead many fans to believe that Ratt was headed in a direction more akin to the thrash promulgated by such bands as Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. However, that proved not to be the case as the slightly experimental undertones of the album were quickly replaced with a bluesier sound throughout their next three albums.
Other hit songs generated by the album include "Dance" and "Slip of the Lip."

The group's follow-up, Reach for the Sky was released November 1988. Although the album achieved platinum sales status, it was widely panned by critics. Complaints ranged from it being formulaic and sophomoric to the album being uneven and lacking in focus. Ratt were simply going through the motions at this point in their career, suffering from creativity issues during the recording process of Reach for the Sky. Though inspiration was lacking, drugs, alcohol, and loose women weren't. The lack of vitality within a band that had established itself as a rapid-fire hit songwriting machine lead them to part ways with long-time producer Beau Hill after this album. For all the criticisms, Reach for the Sky nevertheless spawned the hits "Way Cool Jr." and "I Want a Woman". Those two songs are now regarded as glam metal classics.

The album cover featured a statue wearing night vision goggles, a human hand emerging from a bundle of twine, a World War II fighter plane, and a wicker chair. Though the band has remained mum as to what the album cover is supposed to symbolize so as to facilitate the diverse interpretations of their fans, many speculate that it is yet another brilliant example of the band's wry method for commentary on society. Early pressings of the album cover revealed the breast part of the statue as requested by lead singer Stephen Pearcy. According to Pearcy, he wanted to use that version of the cover but the other band members feared that the version would not get the album into certain music stores. Also the track listing would have been different, it contained "No One Can Stop You Now" (aka "Wishing Well"). Mainly it was the same tracks but in a different order. After the revised album hit the music stores, producer Beau Hill stepped down from producer duties and tensions within the band increased.
Ratt's fifth album Detonator was released August 1990. Sir Arthur Payson took over as producer for the band following Beau Hill's departure after the lackluster results of Reach for the Sky. The album met mixed reactions. Critics claimed it lacked the live sounding energy of the band's earlier work, while some claim the more "hair metalish" sound of this album (especially when compared to their raw early works) shows a band of experienced and refined musicians maturing and hitting their stride. Detonator featured the hits "Shame Shame Shame" and "Lovin' You's A Dirty Job". The band co-wrote most of the album's songs with Desmond Child while Jon Bon Jovi of Bon Jovi fame appeared as a guest background vocalist on "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose". It also became the first Ratt album to not achieve platinum sales status and was instead certified gold. Released on the eve of the grunge explosion in the early 1990s, the band's failures signaled the end of an era.

Ratt was featured on the first season of MTV Unplugged to promote the album, sharing the stage with all-female rock band Vixen. However, the once- cohesive unit that formed Ratt was by then coming undone at the seams. During a stop at the Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan during their world tour for Detonator, guitarist Robbin Crosby's use of drugs became painfully apparent. While the band was performing their biggest hit "Round and Round", Crosby grabbed the wrong guitar and miffed the song's guitar solo, oblivious to the fact that his guitar was way out of tune and that the thousands of people in the arena (including the band) had stopped what they were doing to stare in befuddled silence. After the show, Robbin quit the band due to the shame he had placed on the band and himself. He quickly returned to the United States and checked himself into rehab. Former Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker subsequently replaced Crosby for a short time with the band. In 1991, Schenker left the band and Ratt became a quartet with the release of Nobody Rides For Free, which appeared on the Point Break soundtrack album. After releasing a compilation album Ratt & Roll 81-91(which ironically featured 5 songs from Detonator), Pearcy abruptly left the group in February 1992. The group disbanded shortly thereafter.

While alternative rock bands (such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and The Smashing Pumpkins) became popular, glam metal bands like Ratt were no longer in vogue and quickly lost their major record label support. Pearcy left the group to form a new hard rock band, Arcade, before moving on to another new band, the industrial-tinged power trio Vertex. Blotzer and Croucier both started to live more normal lives outside the public eye and the two of them became producers for underground bands. DeMartini issued two solo albums including 1995's Surf's Up! and 1996's Crazy Enough to Sing to You while the rest of the band waited for glam metal to become popular again. In 1994 former guitarist Robbin Crosby was diagnosed with HIV, which would later become AIDS.

In 1997, Ratt re-formed as a four piece with Pearcy, DeMartini, Blotzer, and new member Robbie Crane (formerly of Vince Neil's solo band) on bass guitar. The band issued a compilation album called Collage, which consisted of B-sides, alternate recordings, and new versions of songs from the Mickey Ratt period. In 1999, Ratt secured a worldwide record deal with Sony. The 1999 self-titled Ratt album featured new material with a more conventional blues rock feel. It marked a change for the group as they abandoned their anthemic party tunes to focus on more serious themes. The album was heavily criticized by fans and critics which many felt that it had a weak sound to it and Pearcy's vocals sounded very worn out. The album then became a commercial failure. After this, Ratt added Keri Kelli as a second lead guitarist. In 2000, Pearcy left the group again, forming two more bands: Vicious Delite and Nitronic, then he moved on to a solo career. He also started a record label named Top Fuel Records, which released some archived Ratt material and Pearcy solo work.

Ratt then replaced Pearcy with singer Jizzy Pearl. Keri Kelli was replaced by lead guitarist and former Mötley Crüe vocalist John Corabi. Their gig at the House of Blues in 2000 was released as a bootleg CD. In 2001, former guitarist Robbin Crosby publicly announced that he suffered from AIDS. He died in 2002 from an overdose of heroin and not from AIDS related complications. The last two years, they've been featured in the Rock Never Stops Tour alongside other 1980s hard rock/heavy metal bands. In 2001 Pearcy attempted to sue the band for touring under the "Ratt" name, claiming he owned the rights to the name. The lawsuit was a failure, after Blotzer and DeMartini were awarded the rights to use the name.

On May 11, 2006, Ratt was profiled on VH1's Behind the Music. In the episode, the members revealed for the first time that former guitarist Robbin Crosby died of a heroin overdose, and not AIDS-related complications as previously reported.

Today, the members(and former members) of Ratt continue to work on their own side projects. Blotzer, Corabi, and Crane joined forces with Keri Kelli in the classic rock cover band named "Angel City Outlaws[5]". Warren DeMartini and Jizzy Pearl continue to work on their respective solo careers and are continuously recording new material. In a surprising turn of events, Juan Croucier and Stephen Pearcy toured with one another during the summer and fall of 2006. In a surprise to many, Blotzer joined them onstage at a show on October 27, 2006.

Current members
Stephen Pearcy - lead vocals (1982-1992, 1997-2000, 2006-present)
Warren DeMartini - guitar, backing vocals (1982-1992, 1997-present)
John Corabi - guitar, backing vocals (2000-present)
Juan Croucier - bass, backing vocals (1982-1992, 2006-present)
Bobby Blotzer - drums, percussion (1982-1992, 1997-present)

Past members
Robbie Crane - bass, backing vocals (1997-2006)
Jizzy Pearl - lead vocals (2000-2006)
Robbin Crosby - guitar, backing vocals (1982-1990)
Keri Kelli - guitar, backing vocals (1999-2000)
Michael Schenker - guitar, backing vocals (1990-1991)

Ratt is featured on a promotional spot for Viacom's cable TV network, VH1 Classic. Set in the summer of 1985, the promo shows a person peeling The Grateful Dead bear car sticker off of a car window and replacing it with a Ratt car sticker.

Guitarist Robbin Crosby was Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx's roommate for a while during the mid 1980s. It was Sixx who introduced Crosby to heroin, the drug that would cause Crosby's death several years later.

Warren DeMartini was roomates with Jake E. Lee during the 80s, during which time they both influenced each others styles substantially.

Their song "Round and Round" was featured on the V-Rock station in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Ratt Fan Forum
Juan Croucier's Message Board
Jizzy Pearl Official Website

External links
The Official Ratt website

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