(L-R) Richie Ranno, JJ Kristy, Sean "Niggy" Campbell, Rik Fox
Tales from the Foxhole
by Rik Fox
STARZ On The Horizon
After graduating High School in 1974, I began my search for more Rock ‘n Roll in great earnest.
I had started hanging out at the Legendary Manhattan club MAX’S KANSAS CITY, met and hung out with the likes of THE RAMONES, and all of the legendary bands that came out of that scene, and eventually got to play on the same stage that ALICE COOPER and AEROSMITH did early on in their careers. During this, I had several various day jobs as a (foot) messenger (as opposed to a bicycle messenger which came much later). One office I worked out of was right off the corner of 51st Street and Madison Avenue, smack in the center of Manhattan. I had walked past that Church on Park Ave. and 50th Street that was used in the finale of the film “Arthur” almost 20 times a day, as well as the Seagrams building and its massive fountains and many more. One office building in particular was a favorite of mine to visit for pickups and drop-offs, was located at 55 East 55th Street. THAT was the building that housed the offices of AUCOIN Management, aka, the firm that managed the infamous band KISS. Having already been friends with Bill Aucoin and some of his staff from being there, back when I watched KISS form from the ground-up, and now, sometimes, actually bumping into them at the AUCOIN Management offices, when I’d stop in to say hi, or chat with Bill about the latest on KISS or maybe even get a free Press Kit with something cool in it, as well as hear advance news on KISS before it hit CIRCUS or HIT PARADER MAGAZINE
I must add, being hipper than all other messengers, I never dressed as a typical messenger, oh no, not for me thank you. I was ROCK & ROLL all the way. I had the in-at-the time, Rod Stewart ‘rooster-layered’ haircut, wore a light rust-colored velvet corduroy English-style blazer, usually over a favorite KISS or ANGEL tour t-shirt, tight jeans and either a new clean pair of sneakers or sometimes my silver, “Ace Frehley-Rollerball-Studded” platform boots. It was a look that spoke that this guy was not a messenger, but more importantly, probably an assistant tour manager or some such important position. Whatever it was, I could have easily fit in as looking like a member of ROD STEWART’S band SMALL FACES. What finished off the look, was my ever-present ‘anvil’ tour brief case. Anyone familiar with the touring cases and equipment trunks, bands use to protect their gear on tour, can identify with the briefcase version of this. They are almost always covered with tour backstage passes of the many groups one comes into contact with, and mine was no exception. It was covered in backstage pass patches, and I used to put whatever it was that I was picking up or delivering, inside the case. My ‘territory’ was anywhere from 8th Avenue to Lexington Avenue, from 40th Street on up to 59th Street. Prime, Madison Avenue, Advertising area. Before they closed, I was a frequent visitor to THE Premier Rock & Roll clothing shop, “GRANNY TAKES A TRIP”. ANYONE who was ANYONE in the Rock Scene bought their stage clothes from this store, and I purchased a pair of 8-inch stacked-heel, white leather and python checkerboard, platform boots from them. (You may see them in some of my early performance, on-stage photos).
(L-R) Rik Fox, Joe Dubé (STARZ), Sean Campbell, JJ Kristy
One day, during a visit to AUCOIN’S Management offices, I happen to greet one of Bill Aucoin’s ‘creative’ partners, a man by the name of SEAN DELANEY. Being a former stage & production manager of off-Broadway, among other accomplishments, Sean was largely responsible for teaching KISS all their choreographed stage moves, and some song arrangements, as well as an early tour manager for KISS.
This time, he tells me to follow him into their conference room, and takes out a bunch of watercolor and conceptual sketched drawings for two new bands he was putting together to introduce to the world, now that KISS was on their way, more or less…
One band was called SPIKE, a 3-piece band much in the same vein as KISS; however, their colors were to be an obviously pre-STRYPER, combination of Black & Yellow. (We’re talking maybe 1975-76). I wound up working with this band for about a year, later on. But the other band that Sean was really excited about, was a new group they were going to call STARZ. As Sean introduced me to their conceptual artwork of the bands’ looks-to-be, and, in a sort of marketing fashion, ask me what I thought, being that I was in the age demographic that STARZ, like KISS, would appeal to. Personally, at the time, I thought, what an unimaginative, common-sounding name. But, their costume sketches were a wash of interesting, spacey-looking images, hence, the tie in to the ‘celestial’ concept of the band name.
Their complete back-line of amplifiers were to be airbrushed with a giant mural of outer space, complete with stars, galaxies, eclipses, etc., and their amps had to be numbered, like a large puzzle, in order to assemble them in the proper order to complete the giant celestial mural. Those who’ve seen STARZ early on in their career, will remember this awesome sight behind the band on stage. I thought, “WOW! Now THIS is COOL”! Very different. Eventually, though, the multi-colored individual costumes would give way to a more toned-down version of various black costuming of leather and stacked-heel platform boots, and assorted accouterments.
For the time, not too many drummers had such a massive set-up such as STARZ’ drummer JOE X. DUBE had. All silver TAMA drums, and had silver cut-out stars hanging above his kit onstage. Interestingly enough, JOE’S background came from a very different kind of band than seeing him in STARZ. JOE was originally from the early 1970’s band LOOKING GLASS, of the famous song “BRANDY”. If I’m not mistaken, I think bassist PETER SWEVAL was too. A few of the other members of STARZ had also come out of other early 70’s bands, whose names escape me at the time of this writing, however, for confirmation of the early beginnings of STARZ, be sure to write to guitarist RICHIE RANNO at http://www.starzcentral.com , and be sure to ask RICHIE and tell him I sent you. He’ll appreciate the interest in the history of STARZ.
Anyway, I thought the bands’ early concepts were very cool and very different. And, they seemed to have an interesting introduction to the world of touring as STARZ, by having AUCOIN Management market them out with free concerts in all of the major cities across the U.S.A.! Their first release, simply, STARZ, held many of what was to become several classic numbers: “Detroit Girls”, Boys in Action”, “Pull the Plug” “Live Wire”, “Night Crawler”, “Now I Can”, and the very, radio-friendly hit, “(She’s Just A) Fallen Angel”. NO doubt about it…STARZ ROCKED! Whatever their first release did, was monumentally vaulted much higher by the release of their second release “VIOLATION”, produced by AEROSMITH producer JACK DOUGLAS. It was here, that I began actually hanging out with the band, as they recorded VIOLATION in N.Y.City’s, RECORD PLANT Studios. (I used to date the receptionist there, and that is how I got to meet TONS of recording acts and hang out with them during breaks between recording sessions). Bands such as “BILLION DOLLAR BABIES” (the original band members of ALICE COOPER, after they left to continue on their own). I also, was fortunate enough, to meet with a very friendly STEVEN TYLER, and a sour-pussed (at the time) JOE PERRY as they were recording their ROCKS album,(if I recall correctly). By the time of STARZ’ third album, “ATTENTION SHOPPERS”, there began to be various grumblings within the band, as, guitarist BRENDAN HARKIN wanted to take the band into one direction, and guitarist
Richie Ranno wanted to continue in the successful direction that VIOLATION had taken them. It was somewhere around this time, that I had met the ex-wife of New York Glam Band lead singer Gene of THE HARLOTS OF 42nd STREET, a regular house band at a club in Queens, N.Y., called COVENTRY, where I’d seen KISS play in their early days, and I hung out with members of THE N.Y.DOLLS, The BRATS, and many other rock bands of the scene back then..
This girl, Cherylyn, (whom I started to date off and on), also happened to work at the newly-moved, and expanded offices of AUCOIN Management. She also happened to pass on to me, that STARZ had left bassist PETER SWEVAL behind, and that they were looking for a new bassist, and that I should try out and audition for them. I said “What should I do? I know all their songs, how can I get in for this”? She said “Let me take care of that”, and winked.
Next thing I knew, was that I was THIRD in line to audition out of a list of about 30 bassists!!!
Cherylyn had ‘bumped’ my name far up to near the top of the list!
The other two bassists who were before me were ex-REX bassist ORVILLE DAVIS (REX ‘ lead singer REX SMITH, was the little brother to STARZ’ MICHAEL LEE SMITH), and the other bassist ahead of me was none other that TIM BOGART of BECK, BOGART & APPICE!!! And I was THIRD in line after these guys?!?!?! How cool is THAT?!? I’d been informed, that STARZ was rehearsing in PINK FLOYD’S warehouse in Queens, and I would get a call when it was my turn. Sadly, however, that call never came in, because, although obviously, TIM BOGART’S jazzy, bluesy style wasn’t a match for STARZ, but, since ORVILLE DAVIS was the bassist for REX, and REX and STARZ were pretty much cousins, it was decided to just make it a done-deal, and make ORVILLE DAVIS the new bassist for STARZ, which, really did nothing good for their stage image and presence. ORIVLLE, in many a STARZ fan’s opinion, (including mine), was just kind of goofy-looking and moved his head like a pecking chicken. Some time later, Guitarist RANNO actually verified, that he saw my name as 3rd on the audition list for STARZ, after ORVILLE’S name, and asked why I never came in to audition. When I told him about what I’d heard about the audition’s being cut because of MICHAEL LEE SMITH’S decision to just keep ORVILLE, RICHIE agreed but said “You should have come up anyway; it would have been fun to have you jam with us”. STARZ went on to record a very cool COLESIUM ROCK, and, like my possibility (with the assistance of KISS road manager J. R. SMALLING), to replace ANGEL bassist MICKEY JONES and become a member of ANGEL, I almost got to be a part of it all…Which would have seriously re-written my part of Rock & Roll History…See Ya on the next one! –Rik-
Read the Starz Postscript from Rik
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Back to Rik Fox Feature Topics
Interview w/ Steeler / SIN bassist Rik Fox Part I
Rik Fox Part II
Rik Fox Part III
Search Fibits for Steeler cd's
Other Recommended Music:
Steeler Self-titled CD
STARZ Violation CD
STARZ Self-titled CD
STARZ Coliseum Rock CD
STARZ Attention Shoppers CD
W.A.S.P. Self-titled CD