The cover is a photo of Robbin Crosby in 1999. As the rhythm guitarist of Ratt, he lives up to the recurrence of metal rhythm guitarists who have bigger builds than the lead guitarists. The most popular example in the twentieth century was Metallica’s James Hetfield being more muscular than Kirk Hammett. In the twenty-first century, the most famous example outside of Metallica is Slipknot’s Mick Thomson being considerably heftier than Jim Root. Speaking of guitarists named Mick, Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars respected Robbin enough that he bought the below 1958 Gibson Flying V from Robbin. Mick confirmed it years ago in an interview. I consider Robbin to be just as important as Hetfield in terms of being one of the first guitarists to do thrash metal, as evidenced in Ratt’s self-titled 1983 EP. Beyond thrash, Robbin was more ground-breaking since he pioneered three other sub-genres of metal on that EP – groove metal, sludge metal and grunge (easy-listening doom metal).
It’s no wonder that Jackson Guitars decided to have a guitar brand named after Robbin’s nickname – King. Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine didn’t mind being seen with the Jackson King V, although he would eventually have his own V brand in late 1986. This article contains a question-removed radio interview that the KNAC site posted back in July of 2001 but they no longer have it on their server. It used to be available on the official website of Juan Croucier (Ratt bassist) in text form. I can see why it had to be put in that format, since the volume was low and the pace was slow. Congratulations to Mitch Lafon for allowing the progenitor to clear the air on things on air, but I’ve truncated it to remove redundancies as well as improved upon the structure so that it has a more linear flow. You have to note that even the previous text version was already truncated. This is the best version that you will experience, so here it is…
When we started, everybody was friendly and worked their asses off. We did (I think) an incredible 320 shows in 14 months on the Out of the Cellar tour. It was a real burn-out, but it was fun. Little did we know that we were being worked too hard. We just thought “We’re on tour” and we were digging it. Physically and everything, there’s only so much you can take, but it didn’t even begin to faze us at that point. When we got home, we took a little time off and then the whole band went to Maui. Part of the problem was that you take a 24-year-old guy who’s never had anything, you hand him this huge wad of money and responsibility and tell him: “Hey, you need to buy a house and some cars for tax reasons and this that and the other.”
I didn’t come from a poor background, but we all lived together in a one-bedroom apartment. Back to the whole Hawaii excursion, everybody was already doing their own thing. We were supposed to write together, but Warren had his wife and a new baby that he hadn’t seen in months. Juan – same thing. Stephen had his own place. I just remember feeling really alone. Nobody ever came over to my place. We all wanted to get some time off, but if we went surfing or f#cked around for a day, the manager was there saying: “Well. When are you guys going to get together and write?”
If Warren would come up with a riff, I would turn it into a tune with Stephen. Warren had great guitar riffs, but they weren’t really songs per se. It was like pulling teeth. This was for Invasion of your Privacy. Then we go out on tour with Bon Jovi opening. Stephen was hesitant. He claimed that Bon Jovi gave him the “I’m badder than you vibe” whereas in reality it was probably vice-versa. Those guys were so nice and they all got along so well together. Johnny, in my opinion, is a great guy and I would consider him a real good friend. Every night, they all had a great time in their dressing room before the show, but go into our dressing room and everybody is b!tching at each other. They’d be sitting around trying to read a magazine, but in reality it was like: “What’s the matter with this soup? The soup sucks every night and we got the wrong booze in our dressing room.”
Every night, Stephen would go out, watch about two seconds of their show and would come back in just raging p!$$ed that Johnny was ripping off his shtick. It was like: “Stephen, you don’t have a shtick to rip off. You’re not David Lee Roth. You don’t say anything special. You barely know what city we’re in. So, what do you mean he’s stealing your shtick?”
So, it just became the feud of the century. Every night, he’d wanna cut some of their lights or cut some of their stage or this that and the other. He would do it without talking to us. He’d go straight to the production manager. We’d find out and say “F#ck that” – so there was animosity there. Stephen felt that we weren’t backing him up, but it was just Stephen being Stephen. It got pretty weird. He didn’t have a girl for a while and he was drinking a bit, so was I and doing a lot of drugs. I spent all of my time in Bon Jovi’s dressing room. Before they went on and after they came off, they were all high energy. I’d get all hyped up being around them.
Then I would go into our dressing room and everybody would literally just be moping around. It was like “Ok guys, let’s get ready to go” and they’d be like “Okay” and grab their guitars and mosey on out there. I thought we were a great band and kicked ass, but Stephen had his problems with being in tune on stage. The Bon Jovi thing just got absolutely ridiculous and I got turned into Benedict Arnold with everybody because I spent time with them. Sometimes, I’d go on their bus and on days off, I would go over to their hotel. I had met my wife at the very end of the tour. When I got home, I was really burned out, so I started smoking heroin.
That became a ritual. At that point, I was doing a couple of hundred bucks a day. I just liked the way it made me feel better. I didn’t get all drunk and hung over. I went through the whole “It’s not going to happen to me” and the “I can handle it” thing. Then we did the whole Dancing Undercover recording session. That was very tough. There was lots of weirdness. Whose songs are we going to do? 7th Avenue had potential. It just never really got its feet on the ground, but, of course, since Warren wrote it – it was great! He was starting to get bummed out that I was on all the magazine covers with Stephen. He was very quiet and didn’t have a whole lot to say, so magazine guys picked up on that. He was a boring interview and it wasn’t my fault that they’d want an interview with me and Stephen.
I went on Howard Stern, but I had no idea who he was. He wasn’t God of the World yet. At that point, the Playboy issue with my wife Laurie Carr was out (there were a couple of pictures of me in there too) and that’s what he wanted to talk about. I had been with Tawny Kitaen for years and I had dated Apollonia. He didn’t know anything about the band, but he liked Round and Round. Stephen was with me, but that’s all he wanted to talk about. I did interviews all over New York and Jersey that day. Must have done, at least, 20 stations and everybody was like: “I heard you on Stern this morning. That was great.”
When I get back to the guys, they were like: “Real f#cking nice, King! What the f#ck are you doing talking about that s#!t for? What’s that got to do with Ratt?”
So for days, it was like “F#ck you” when they’d see me. They’d be up partying all night, so was I, but I’d still get up early, fly ahead to the next city, and do interviews because nobody wanted to do radio interviews. I never got a thank you. They just thought I wanted all the attention, but all I was trying to do was help the band. If you ever read anything I ever said, I’d lie through my teeth and say we were the best of friends and, in a lot of ways, that’s what I dreamed of. I grew up with Warren. I played at his ninth grade graduation before he ever picked up a guitar.
During the first three albums, everybody looked to me for the last word. I really don’t know why. I think I was maybe a little more mature. All they knew how to do was kid around. I guess they trusted me. My nickname was The King. By the time we went and did the Dancing tour, I just let my position drop. I couldn’t handle the fighting anymore. It was absolutely getting worst. It depended on the day, but mostly it was me and Stephen butting heads with the rest of them.
Dancing Undercover was a big difference tour-wise. Although we were still doing big crowds, it wasn’t quite what the Bon Jovi tour was. The Dancing tour was kind of a wash really. We have Poison with us and the same s#!t is going on – Bret was ripping off Stephen’s clothes, make-up and choreography. The rest of the guys just hated them and were begging management to get them off the tour, so we got Queensrÿche to open up. We watched ticket sales take a nosedive. Queensrÿche and Ratt was a bad mix. We were a party band and they were like a dark thing. I like them, but it just didn’t fly. I begged everyone until they knuckled down and ate a huge dinner of crow to get Poison back. All of a sudden, the tour got big again.
The band should have just broken up or taken more time off, but wanting to get a hit and having another big album kept it together and we were sure that Reach for the Sky was going to be it – we got a new producer which was a huge mistake. He engineered the Queen records. We started getting really good drum sounds and great guitar tones, but we had a meltdown because we couldn’t get the bass to gel with the tracks. Everyone was blaming Juan and we had every bass guitar in L.A. down there that we borrowed from all the shops. I don’t know what was going on there, but there was so much coke getting shoved up everybody’s heads including the producer. It was crazy. When the producer was replaced with our old one, we had already spent 8 months and 800,000 dollars on the album.
By comparison, we recorded Out of the Cellar for two months and 65 grand. The main difference is that Reach for the Sky originally sounded like a demo. When Beau Hill came in to take over, he got Warren to redo all the guitar solos. Beau didn’t feel that there was a hit, so he collaborated with Warren to create a song that became Way Cool Jr. and that’s why Beau has a writing credit. Stephen never rehearsed with the band, so we never knew what the vocals would sound like. It was infuriating to me and Juan, who sing back-up. Live-wise, Stephen doesn’t sing on key, so every night is different. To harmonize to him is next to impossible. This things makes me feel so bad – Stephen used to pick me up from high school and we’d go smoke joints.
It’s why the drug thing enveloped me, although I never used on tour – I would go cold turkey. The Reach tour was difficult for me, I had to take a lot of pills. The tour was alright. We had Warrant and Kix…there wasn’t really any animosity. The crowds were okay and the band was playing pretty well. Nobody had anything really to b!tch about. Otherwise, it wasn’t really a bummer other than the crowds not being so good in middle and small markets. Declining ticket sales and us being burned out meant that we cut off the tour before the three final weeks. We weren’t going to earn a fortune by continuing to burn ourselves into the ground. It was the only time that we were collectively real happy. I never minded playing clubs in small towns because that was usually our best gigs.
Most of the guys in the band were really blasé unless we were playing at Madison Square Garden or The Forum. They had a half-assed attitude, but I always tried to give it my all. You get fan mail where the fans mention about travelling for 3 hours from somewhere like Arkansas, and you can’t help but feel grateful when they show their gratitude. The Reach tour was poor, but I love that record. I like the music on it, it still seemed a lot more Ratt to me than pretty much most of the stuff on Detonator. That album, to me, is so un-Ratt.
They had gotten together with our new manager, Alan Kovac at Left Bank management. He was going to save our careers and make us millions, but he ended up absolutely just f#cking us over. He got us these huge advances, then everyone came back and sued for them because not only was the tour cut short but he crossed up some deals with the publishing people by getting us with some people when we’re already with somebody else. Before the album was recorded, Kovac brings in Desmond Child because “Look at what he did with Bon Jovi and Aerosmith!”
Well, s#!t, you talk to Bon Jovi or Aerosmith after it was all said and done then they go: “Oh, God! What a nightmare! Not only does he throw in a word here and there, he demands thirty percent of the publishing.”
Which is what he did with us. I did play on it, but I was promised that when I got out of the hospital that my stuff would be heard, but by that time it was “Well, we’ve got the songs pretty much figured out.”
I got Can’t Wait On Love on there and All or Nothing. That’s it. That hurt my feelings badly. I had been in rehab for thirty days and really had nothing to do with the album, so maybe I’m biased. It also really hurt my feelings that, when I was in rehab, nobody came to visit me except one time when Warren brought Desmond with him, but it felt like a forced maneuver by management because Desmond and I never clicked. He was a bit too much for me.
After I left rehab, I was like: “You guys. I just wanna s#!t-can the whole Desmond thing and go harder style. The real Ratt sound like the EP.”
That’s Ratt to me, kicking ass and playing live. The EP was a live record and that was the band. All the records after that just got more posh. In my opinion, if you wanna hear Ratt, go buy the EP and listen to the six songs.
The Detonator album and tour was just pfff! I didn’t even practice the damn songs for the tour. It just wasn’t our music. It didn’t sound like us and it just wasn’t us. It was a very pop album. I mean…Diane Warren and Desmond Child on every song with all these goofy lyrics. It just really bummed me out. It was just so not hard rock. At the time, the writing was on the wall with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The new bands were sounding harder, and Metallica was getting bigger. Besides, I was always into heavier rock than we ever really did.
Back to the Detonator tour, we did some okay club gigs in Europe but we never really broke the scene over there. We had a bad scene in Japan. The band was bickering, fighting and I was drinking real hard because I was trying to get clean from the drugs. Nobody had any feeling. It was just go out and go through the motions. It was terrible. They started playing gigs that we had lined-up with some kid that had a guitar with peace and love flowers painted all over it. Like this kid is going to take my place. Then Michael Schenker did some gigs with them. That was when that band Kovac put together, Contraband, opened up for Ratt. Schenker filled in for where I would have been. This was in `91. They never said anything about it in public, so I never said anything.
When the greatest hits album, 81-91, came out, Kovac had encouraged me to leave and that he was going to make me more money than I ever was going to with Ratt. He was going to make me a huge producer and get me all these bands. So, I felt pretty secure in leaving. We had a terrible time on the last Japanese tour and I was just like “F#ck it! I’m out of here. This sucks! I cannot live like this anymore.” So, I started to record this band that I thought, actually still think, had they been done right would have been right in there with Soundgarden and all that. They were called Mail Order Brides. They were real good and they were edgy. They weren’t punk but they had a tear-it-up attitude. Our manager told me to go ahead and start recording them and we’ll give you $6,000 to do the demos.
I did the pre-demo demos with my money and they never paid me a nickel. That was the beginning of the whole real animosity s#!t with both management and Ratt. They were backing him up and I’m saying he’s a f#cking thief. I was friends with him and his wife. My wife and I would go out to dinner with them all the time. It was like that with me and Marshall Berle (ex-manager) along with all our tour managers. I made friends with all these people to avoid being put into the Hellhole of sitting around and b!tching with Ratt. For that, I was always the bad guy. I was the traitor, but all I wanted to do was get a little peace of mind. It was all for the best of the band.
I love that band with all my heart. It was everything I ever wanted to do and more, and I made it. All I ever wanted out of rock n’ roll was to see the world. I never expected to make money, so to do both was something else. Anyway, I had a divorce from my wife after the band ended for me. I let my wife stay in my house and I got an apartment to smooth things over. The house was for sale so I figured I’d let her stay there until it we sold it and then we’d split the proceeds. Except that never happened, so I lost out on everything even my down payment. I pretty much lost everything between the divorce and a huge habit that cost thousands a week. I was broke.
I thought I was made of money, but I never checked the books `cause I just didn’t want to know and I just let myself fall into a real bummer scene. I didn’t care about anything including myself. It was me and my black Labrador against the world. That was us. I was just on my own. I didn’t have any friends or anything. The band just ignored me. I was the bad guy. I got really drugged out, my health started getting weird then I was in the hospital and the doctor asked me if I’d been checked out for HIV. I said yes, so she said: “Do you mind if I check it again?”
Then I started getting all these messages from her and I thought – Oh, boy! I know what this means. Because if I was negative, she wouldn’t be trying to track me down. This was in about `94 that I found out that I was positive and I hedged on that with the press for years cause I didn’t know what to think or make of it. That just led to more drugs and real true depression. I tried to kill myself…the whole nine yards. Some people can call you a wimp, but I’d like to see them go through what I went through in a matter of a year and not have the feelings that I did. I was very close to being homeless. Nobody offered to help me out. That hurt so bad that I couldn’t even see or talk to the guys in Ratt. Sometimes when I would get real destitute, I’d call them up and say “Hey, can I borrow some money until we get our next publishing check?” They’d be like “No!”
Later on, Stephen did lend me a little money, but this was after years had gone by and they found out that I was sick. That softened them up to the tune of about $100. I have full-blown AIDS. Basically, it’s killing me. Recently, I went in for surgery because 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, but in and out for over seven years.
Nikki Sixx and I had gotten into the heroin thing together. He was supposed to be the best man at my wedding back in the eighties and he didn’t even come because there was going to be people drinking – that was when he had just gone through his rehab thing. That really fried my ass. So, we didn’t talk for a few years and he’d never lend me money or anything either. They didn’t want me to just shoot it up my arm, I guess? But now, I’ve put all that behind me. I just wanted to live. I wanna pull myself together and do some music. I’ve been clean for about 15 months now. and it’s helped me feel better. I can’t wait to get out of here and work.
When I get out of here, Juan Croucier, I and a lot of friends are going to do an album. I’ve got a lot of great music and some of the proceeds will go to the AIDS Health Foundation. I want to give back to the people that have helped me. When was the last time that there was an album like this done? Anyway, this is going to be a good rock album and for people who are still into hard rock. I will absolutely play on it. I’ve been playing all along. I play right here in the hospital! I just can’t say how long I have left. I don’t know if we are getting anywhere with the antibiotics, or the surgeries. I’m pretty much out. That’s why I want to do this album so bad. I just want people to know that I’m not a complete loser. I do care for them and they care for me. I mean the amount of e-mail I receive via Juan’s site is just phenomenal.
Juan and I pretty much always talked. We never really fought. He’s just a little bit savvier than some. I don’t know how to say that without putting other people down because I don’t want to do that. He and I always had rapport. We were born real close together and we had just a little bit more education. Stephen will sometimes get ahold of me. We went out, not too long ago, had dinner and he lent me $80. Warren, Bobby and I had lunch a few months ago but it seemed pretty forced. I don’t know what their problem is. I just don’t get it. I think they just feel really bad that they let the whole thing go on. We never should have broken up. We should have just taken a righteous hiatus, a year or two or whatever it took. I mean people were burned out. S#!t, we did an album a year for six years in a row. We needed some fresh air.
I ate, slept and drank rock n’ roll since I was 10 years old. My dreams have all come true and have been dashed against the rocks by some people that I didn’t even really respect at times.
Without all five guys, I don’t think it’s Ratt. I just think it’s kind of weird that they’re calling it Ratt. What’s up with that? It seems to me that they could have made more money by having a new band.
I think Juan’s new band, Liquid Sunday, does good music. It’s not the kind of thing I’m going to be doing. I’m into much harder rock than that, but that’s the kind of thing that Juan has always been into – pop with a hard undertone. That’s not what I’m going to be doing with him and he knows that. I won’t do any lead vocals on the album, but I may do lines here and there more as an effect. There are a few things I’d like to say that have meaning. I want to have fun with this thing. I want people to really get a kick out of it. You should run out and get this record because it’s for a good cause and a good man who’s giving his soul to rock ‘n’ roll. We can leave it at that.