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Richie Kotzen (born February 3, 1970 in Reading, Pennsylvaniamarker) is an Americanmarker guitarist, singer, and songwriter.

At a young age, Richie Kotzen was taken by music and first began playing piano at the age of five. At the age of seven he was inspired by New York Citymarker band KISS to learn the electric guitar. Relentlessly developing chops and his own unique voice on the guitar, he started his career in a band named Arthurs Museum. Kotzen was eventually discovered by Shrapnel Records' Mike Varney, and he recorded his first album by the age of 19. He created the video Rock Chops for REH video in 1989, highlighting many of his formative techniques, including using wide-intervals and fluid sweeping.

In 1991, Kotzen made his big break when he joined the rock band Poison at age 21, co-writing and performing on the album Native Tongue. This album produced two top twenty singles which Richie co-wrote, "Stand" and "Until You Suffer Some ". In 1999 Kotzen replaced Paul Gilbert as guitarist in the mainstream rock band Mr. Big. Kotzen maintained the band's enormous success, performing on the Mr. Big record Get Over It, which sold more than 175,000 copies in its first two weeks in Japanmarker, eventually reaching platinum status. Kotzen also contributed guitars to Mr. Big's subsequent release Actual Size. The record included the Kotzen song Shine, which debuted at number one on Japanese radio charts. Following the disbanding of Mr. Big, Kotzen released the solo album Change, in 2003. The title track, and the song Get A Life were featured in TV commercials throughout Japanmarker.

In 2002 Kotzen bought a commercial building in Los Angeles and established a recording Studio/Production company. He has since been producing acclaimed solo albums and collaborating with various figures in rock, jazz, and fusion including jazz legend Stanley Clarke.

In mid 2006 Kotzen was the opening act in Japan for the Rolling Stones on their Bigger Bang tour.

He has also covered various songs from the Gundam franchise including Soldiers of Sorrow, The Beginning, The Winner, Blue Star, and Fly! Gundam.

Guitar playing style

Richie has a unique style, which he has described as a mix of rock, blues, jazz, fusion, and soul music. Of his albums, he claims he is most proud of Vertú. Kotzen utilizes a heavy amount of legato and sweeping in his playing.

Instruments and equipment

Richie Kotzen has used Fender electric guitars for most of his career. His most notable instruments are his signature model Telecasters and Stratocasters, as well as other custom made models. Currently, there are two Richie Kotzen signature models, made by Fender Japanmarker - a Stratocaster (STR-145RK) and a Telecaster (TLR-155RK). Both guitars feature ash bodies with flame laminated maple caps, maple necks and one piece maple fretboards with abalone dot inlays and 22 super jumbo frets. The Telecaster model features a DiMarzio Chopper T pickup in the bridge position (single spaced humbucker) and a DiMarzio Twang King in the neck position. The Stratocaster is fit with three custom made DiMarzio single coil pickups.

At the beginning of his career, Richie Kotzen used Ibanez guitars and Laney amplifiers, later moving on to Fender guitars and Marshall amplifiers in the early 1990s. He used Marshall Super Lead, JCM800 and JCM900 models.He also used Yamaha DG Series amps in the late 90's. Yamaha DG1000 preamp with Marshall EL34 100/100 poweramp, and Yamaha DG130H, Yamaha DG100 combo etc.

In 2005, Cornford Amplification issued a Richie Kotzen signature model - RK100, a single channel tube amp head developed and designed in collaboration with Kotzen to suit his expansive playing style. There is also a matching signature model speaker cabinet, equipped with four Celestion Vintage 30 12" speakers. Both the amplifier head and the speaker cabinet are the only Cornford models fit with Kotzen-style black tolex covering.

Kotzen prefers not to use many pedals (effects in general) when playing live. However, when not playing with the Cornford, he's been using over the years several versions of Sobbat Drivebraker and Glowvibe pedals on top of marshall amps. He also uses reverb and delay effects of his signature series Zoom G2R effects processor, which is connected in the effects loop of the amplifier.


Richie Kotzen in San Diego, November 2007

Arthurs Museum

Solo Albums

With Greg Howe


Mr. Big


  • (1999) Vertú (project with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White)

Forty Deuce

  • (2005) Nothing to Lose

Wilson Hawk

  • (2009) The Road


  • (1996) Sticky Wicked (with TM Stevens)
  • (1996) Ground Zero (with TM Stevens)
  • (1996) Only You (with TM Stevens)
  • (1999) Not So Innocent (with Jesse's Powertrip)
  • (2000) Mikazuki in Rock (with Mikazuki Tekkodan)
  • (2000) Submarine (with Gregg Bissonette)
  • (2003) All That I'd Be (with Steve Saluto)
  • (2004) Nowhere To Go (with Takayoshi Omura)
  • (2006) Rough Beat (with Steve Saluto)
  • (2006) Avalon (with Richie Zito)
  • (2006) Erotic Cakes (with Guthrie Govan)
  • (2007) Live For Tomorrow (with Marco Mendoza)

Various artists albums

  • (1991) Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: Music from the Motion Picture
  • (1992) L.A. Blues Authority-"L.A. Blues Authority"
  • (1992) The Guitars That Rule The World - Vol. 1
  • (1994) L.A. Blues Authority Volume V: Cream Of The Crop
  • (1996) Crossfire - (A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn)
  • (2000) Bat Head Soup: A Tribute to Ozzy
  • (2001) Stone Cold Queen: A Tribute to Queen
  • (2002) One Way Street: A Tribute To Aerosmith CD
  • (2002) An All Star Lineup Performing The Songs Of Pink Floyd
  • (2004) Spirit Lives On: The Music Of Jimi Hendrix Revisited Vol. 1
  • (2005) Numbers From The Beast - An All Stars Salute To Iron Maiden


  • (1989) Rock Chops
  • (1993) 7 Days Live (Live shot concert with Poison)(re-released 2006)
  • (1994) Mother Head's family Reunion (Videoclip from the Mother Head's family Reunion Album)
  • (1996) Wave of Emotion (Videoclip from the Wave of Emotion Album)
  • (1997) Something To Say (Videoclip from the Something To Say Album)
  • (2001) Don't Wanna Lie (Videoclip from the Slow Album)
  • (2001) Shine (Videoclip from Mr. Big's Actual Size Album)
  • (2002) Hi-Tech Rock Guitar
  • (2005) Live In South America
  • (2008) Chase It (Videoclip from the R.O.T.M.F.R. Album)
  • (2008) Bootlegged in Brazil
  • (2009) Everything Good (Videoclip from Wilson Hawk 'The Road' Album)

External links

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