Ratt is an American heavy metal band that had significant commercial success in the 1980s. The band is best known for hit songs such as "Round and Round," and "Lay It Down" that ranked on Billboard's top 40 at #12 and #40 in the 80's and another songs like "Wanted Man", "Way Cool Jr." and "Lovin' You's A Dirty Job". Ratt has been recognized as instrumental in the formation of the early 1980s Los Angeles glam metal scene.
The band continues to tour and record today despite extended hiatuses and lineup changes. They released their latest studio album, Infestation, on April 20, 2010. and are currently working on their next studio album.
Early years (1976–1982)
The origins of Ratt go as far back as 1976 with a San Diego band called Mickey Ratt, which was formed by Ratt's founding member, vocalist Stephen Pearcy. Several CDs have been released of the Mickey Ratt line-ups, including several demo compilations and a live concert.
Mickey Ratt went through various line-ups. Members included guitarists Jake E. Lee, Chris Hager, Paul DeNisco, and Bob DeLellis, bassists Matt Thorr, Tim Garcia, and Dave Jellison, Mike New, and drummers John Turner, Seth Faver, Dave Alford, and Bob Eisenberg.
In 1980, the band moved to Los Angeles to increase their chances of landing a recording contract with a major label. The band recorded a single called "Dr. Rock" / "Drivin' on E", which was given to fans at their early Los Angeles club shows. Guitarist Jake E. Lee joined the Mickey Ratt line up.
In 1981, the band's name was shortened to Ratt. Robbin Crosby played with the band later in the year. Jake E. Lee, Chris Hager, Matt Thorr, and Dave Alford all left Ratt to form another band called Rough Cutt. Guitarist Warren DeMartini joined in January 1982 (recommended by Lee). Bassist Gene Hunter (from Jake E. Lee's Teaser) and drummer Khurt Maier (who played drums on the early "Tell the World" recording featured on Metal Massacre I) would temporarily play in Ratt before the arrival of Bobby Blotzer (ex-Vic Vergeat) and Juan Croucier (previously with Dokken). DeMartini was only 18 years old when he was called up to Los Angeles to join Ratt. At the time he was attending college in San Diego and reluctant to drop out to join a band that had, so far, had only limited success. Marq Torien briefly replaced DeMartini, though Warren returned in time for the recording of their EP, later in 1982.
Ratt EP (1983)
In July 1983, Ratt signed with independent Los Angeles recording label Time Coast Records. Later that same year, Time Coast released a 6-track version of the band's debut Ratt EP in the United States. Newly formed independent UK label Music For Nations released a 7-track version of the EP in Europe which included the additional track You're In Trouble.
Out of the Cellar (1984)
After a well-received, self-titled independent EP, the band signed with Atlantic Records and immediately started writing and recording what would be its first proper album Out of the Cellar. Released in March 1984, the breakthrough album was critically praised by both fans and critics alike at the time of its release. Milton Berle's guest appearance, dressed in his Uncle Miltie drag character, in the 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 bravado elements with the then-novel muted, staccato guitar-picking style of Judas Priest.
The album scored much radio and MTV play with the blockbuster anthem "Round and Round" (which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100), "Wanted Man", "Back for More", and "Lack of Communication". 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 them to an excited teen 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 stars 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 band's best work and a definitive moment in 80s heavy metal.
Tawny Kitaen, high school sweetheart of Crosby, who'd graced the cover of the band's EP from the previous year, agreed to appear on the cover of their debut full-length album. She also appeared in their video for "Back For More" as the girl in the 1950s skirt at the jukebox.
In 1984 the band toured extensively, sharing the stage with such acts as Billy Squier, Ozzy Osbourne, Blackfoot, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister and Lita Ford.
"Round and Round" was chosen as No. 61 on VH1's Greatest Hard Rock Songs Show.
Invasion of Your Privacy (1985–1986)
The band's second full-length album Invasion of Your Privacy was released July 1985. It peaked at No. 7 (which is the same position that Out of the Cellar peaked). The album met mostly positive reactions from fans and critics. Allmusic.com has called it "another batch of solid pop-metal tunes". It contained the favorites "You're in Love" and "Lay It Down" (which made No. 40 on the Hot 100) that assured the band a presence on radio and MTV. Footage from the band's performances at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, LA and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi were featured in the video to "You're In Love".
Warren DeMartini & Robbin Crosby's impressive guitar solos and Stephen Pearcy's highly sexual lyrics helped to further define the Ratt sound. Although it did not achieve the sales figures or the status of their 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 album release, the band released a home video 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 video was the first commercially available video to certify Gold sales status in the USA and eventually reached Platinum.
The model on Invasion's cover is Playboy Playmate Marianne Gravatte, who also made an appearance in the "Lay It Down" music video. Using a beautiful female model on an album cover later became a trend copied by many glam metal bands of the 1980s, such as Great White, and Slaughter. Pearcy himself would soon pose for Playgirl (August '86 issue). Invasion of Your Privacy was also one of the many albums that received the attention of the PMRC since the cover and the album title were a reference to voyeurism. The Tipper Gore-led organization presented it at a U.S. Congressional hearing on September 19, 1985 dealing with parental advisory labels on albums that display "inappropriate" content. The band toured extensively in the United States and Japan sharing stage with the likes of Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden. In August 1985 the band played on the Monsters Of Rock festival in Donington, England, along with ZZ Top, Bon Jovi, Metallica and Magnum.
Dancing Undercover (1986–1987)
Ratt's next release was Dancing Undercover in September 1986. The album was a relative disappointment with most music critics at the time of its release. From a commercial standpoint however, the album kept Ratt's string of consecutive Platinum albums alive.This is the first album as well to see Crosby's lead guitar duties minimized in favor of DeMartini.
In an effort to be taken more seriously, Ratt broke from the tradition of featuring a girl on the cover. 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 style promulgated by such bands as 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 releases.
Other popular tracks generated by the album included "Dance" and "Slip of the Lip". Through 1987, Ratt embarked on a U.S. tour with newcomers Poison, and played in Europe as a part of the Monsters Of Rock Tour (widely bootlegged). Their tour with Poison was the 6th highest grossing tour of 1987. Ratt also played Madison Square Garden.
Reach for the Sky (1988–1989)
The group's follow-up, Reach for the Sky was released in November 1988. Although the album achieved Platinum sales status and reached No. 17 on Billboard's album charts, it was widely panned by critics. Complaints ranged from it being formulaic and sophomoric to the album being uneven and lacking in focus. After this album, the band parted ways with long-time producer Beau Hill. For all the criticisms, Reach for the Sky nevertheless contained the popular tracks "Way Cool Jr." and "I Want a Woman" which received some airplay. Those two songs are now regarded as glam metal classics.
The surreal, Dali-esque 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. 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. 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 this would keep the record out of certain music stores. The revised version of the album contained the same tracks, but in a different order. After the revised version hit the record stores, producer Beau Hill stepped down from producer duties and tensions within the band increased. The band started the new year with a concert at the Tokyo Dome headlined by Bon Jovi The other bands in the bill were Kingdom Come and Britny Fox. Ratt would soon play the Tokyo Dome on their own. Both appearances have been widely bootlegged. The tour that followed in the spring of '89 (supported by Kix, Warrant and Britny Fox) was eventually cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
Ratt's fifth album Detonator was released in August 1990. Sir Arthur Payson took over as producer for the band following Beau Hill's departure after the lackluster results for Reach for the Sky. The album garnered mixed reactions. Critics claimed it lacked the live sounding energy of the band's earlier work, while some claim the sound more akin to "hair metal" (especially when compared to their raw early works) but still showing a band of experienced and refined musicians maturing and striving to expand their sound. Detonator featured among its tracks "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 appeared as a guest background vocalist on "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose". Pearcy also co-wrote Givin' Yourself Away with Diane Warren. Detonator's sales were around 800-900,000. Robbin Crosby played on the album (acknowledged in a KNAC interview), despite rumors to the contrary. (Juan Croucier stated on his message board that Crosby's guitar parts are on the disc but were low in the mix.) Plagued by addiction for some time, Crosby authored just one song, "Can't Wait on Love", and contributed notably to another, "All or Nothing". Crosby entered a rehab facility during the early stages of recording.
During the seven shows of the Japanese leg of the 'Detonator' tour in February 1991, Crosby's substance abuse had reached a point where his playing had become increasingly inconsistent onstage. The band had already removed the acoustic intro to Back For More, which Crosby performed, along with modifying sections of other songs that featured Robbin as lead guitarist. During one particular show, after the band performed two songs using non-standard tunings, Crosby did not properly switch out guitars with his guitar technician. As a result, he was not in tune with the band for the next two songs. The last show of the Japanese tour, in Osaka, would be Robbin's last with Ratt. He would not record or perform with the band again.
When the band returned to the United States, Robbin checked into a rehab facility and Ratt continued on with Michael Schenker, formerly of Scorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group, and McAuley Schenker Group.
MTV Unplugged, Nobody Rides for Free and Ratt n' Roll 81–91 (1991–1992)
Ratt was featured on the first season of MTV Unplugged to promote their most current album and new single, sharing the stage with all-female rock band Vixen. Michael Schenker was still performing with Ratt at the time of this taping.
At the end of 1991, Ratt released the final single of their career, "Nobody Rides for Free" which appeared on Point Break's soundtrack album. The song and video clearly signal a change in the band. Robbin did not participate in the recording of the song and was not present for the shooting of the video in which only the four remaining members appeared.
The band never again recorded or performed with the original five members.
Atlantic Records released a greatest hits compilation entitled Ratt & Roll 81-91 in September 1991. The album featured five songs from Detonator, more than any other album featured on the compilation. It also featured the aforementioned song "Nobody Rides For Free". This greatest hits compilation achieved Gold sales status.
Ratt "disbanded" or "on hiatus" (1992–1996)
In February 1992, Stephen Pearcy exited the group to form a new hard rock band, with former Cinderella drummer Fred Coury called Arcade, before moving on to VD in '95 and the industrial-tinged Vertex in '96.
Robbin Crosby started Secret Service, which included bassist Krys Baratto (Samantha 7, Juice 13). In 1993, Crosby performed on Rumbledog's self-titled debut album.
Warren DeMartini (who had left after Pearcy in '92) was in Whitesnake in 1994 and issued two solo releases: a single, 1995s Surf's Up!, and a full length, 1996's Crazy Enough to Sing to You.
Bobby Blotzer and Juan Croucier both started to live more normal lives outside the public eye and the two of them became producers for underground bands.
Juan Croucier ran a recording studio called 'The Cellar', and, in 1994, received a lifetime achievement award in Los Angeles (Crosby was there). During that year, Robbin Crosby was diagnosed with HIV, which later developed into AIDS.
First reunion and self-titled album (1996–2000)
In 1996, the five classic era members of Ratt began discussing a reunion and a subsequent album after their publishing had to be renewed. After meeting with Robbin, it was decided that he was not in any physical shape to record or perform with the band. As the talks continued to progress, bassist Juan Croucier made the decision not to participate in the reunion as well. Rudy Sarzo was first thought as a replacement but would end up rejoining Quiet Riot. Ratt eventually moved forward with Pearcy, DeMartini and Blotzer, along with new member, Robbie Crane (formerly of Vince Neil's solo band and Pearcy's Vertex tour) on bass. The band issued a compilation album called Collage in July 1997, which consisted of B-sides, alternate recordings, and new versions of songs from the Mickey Ratt period. In 1998, Ratt secured a worldwide record deal with Sony. The 1999 self-titled Ratt album featured new material with a more conventional blues rock feel. With A&R guru John Kalodner in control over how the album turned out, bringing in outside writers in the process, the album didn't come close to the platinum success that Ratt typically achieved, though the album's first single, "Over The Edge", did graze the Top 40 Mainstream Rock charts.
Two versions of Ratt, Death of Crosby and new era (2000–2006)
After this, Ratt added Keri Kelli as a second guitarist. In 2000, Pearcy left the group again, going on tour as Nitronic, and soon after, as 'Ratt Featuring Stephen Pearcy'. His record label Top Fuel Records released some archived Ratt material and Pearcy solo work.
Meanwhile, DeMartini and Blotzer would carry on their version of Ratt replacing Pearcy briefly with singer Robert Mason who would demo with the band. He would play a showcase for Portrait Records before he and Kelli both left. Jizzy Pearl and guitarist John Corabi ended up replacing Mason and Kelli. After a legal battle, the Demartini/Blotzer version would eventually win the rights to tour as 'Ratt'.
In 2001, former guitarist Robbin Crosby publicly announced that he was HIV positive. He died on June 6, 2002 from a heroin overdose. He was 42 years old.
For the next two years, they would be 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, but lost. Pearcy then toured as 'Stephen Pearcy' and occasionally nicknamed his solo band the Rat Bastards.
On January 7, 2005 a fan asked Juan Croucier on his message board how long Blotzer and Croucier decided to put the band to rest back in 1992 after Pearcy and DeMartini left the group to which he responded:
With this message on his website, Croucier became the first member of Ratt to explain the events that ensued following the breakup in 1992. Corroborating previous interviews given by band members (including Pearcy, Blotzer, and DeMartini) that they did disband in 1992.
On May 11, 2006, Ratt was profiled on VH1's Behind the Music. In the episode, it was revealed for the first time publicly that former guitarist Robbin Crosby died of a heroin overdose, and not AIDS-related complications as was sometimes erroneously reported.
During the group's inactive years, present-day and former members continued 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". Warren DeMartini and Jizzy Pearl worked on their respective solo careers and continued to record new material. In a surprising turn of events, Juan Croucier and Stephen Pearcy toured with one another during the summer and fall of 2006. Even further surprising many, Blotzer joined them onstage at a show on October 27, 2006.
Second reunion (2006–2008)
On December 1, 2006 the website "Metal Sludge" generated a large number of rumors after reporting that Pearcy and Croucier would re-unite with Blotzer and DeMartini. On December 4, 2006, Jizzy Pearl announced on his message board that he was no longer a member of the band, further increasing speculation and excitement. On March 17, 2007 another website stated that Ratt would go on the 2007 tour with Poison and Great White. On April 12, Bravewords reported that White Lion would open for Poison and Ratt, while Great White was still 'in talks' to join the tour.
On March 20, 2007, the official Ratt website was finally updated with only the band's logo after a year and a half of being dormant. One week later, Blabbermouth.com reported that Ratt would take part in the "Rocklahoma" festival on July 13–15, 2007 in Pryor, Oklahoma, with original singer Stephen Pearcy and without Juan Croucier, who decided not to participate in the reunion tour. Robbie Crane continued to play bass instead.
Tramp's White Lion was removed from the tour due to legal issues, and Vains of Jenna took their place. The summer tour started June 13, 2007 at the Bi Lo Center in Greenville, S.C., and ended August 19, 2007 at the Coors Amphitheatre in Denver. The tour, which brought Poison and Ratt onstage together for the first time since 1999, visited amphitheaters, festivals and fairs in such cities as Boston, Detroit, New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles.
Festivals the tour performed at include Birmingham, Ala.'s City Stages (June 16), Bay City, Mich.'s Bay City River Roar (June 22), Pryor, Okla.'s Rocklahoma (July 13), Sturgis, S.D.'s Buffalo Chip (August 5) and Newton, IA, Iowa Speedway (August 4).
On July 31, 2007, Ratt released a DVD entitled Ratt - Videos From the Cellar: The Atlantic Years which chronicle the band's video history. On August 21, 2007, they also released a best-of CD entitled Tell The World: The Very Best Of Ratt.
In November 2007, Ratt toured Japan and Australia, the Australian leg featuring Winger as support act. Throughout October the band was to tour Europe, but instead, the band planned to return in June 2008 to perform at some of Europe's most popular rock festivals including Spring and Airbrake as well as several other key dates in the UK and Scandinavia. At the end of January 2008 they played at Motley Cruise, a 4-day cruise in the Caribbean (Miami, Key West and Cozumel, MX) with Vince Neil, Skid Row, Slaughter, Endeverafter, and Lynam.
In May and June 2008, Ratt toured Europe. On June 5, 2008, they were supported by local Leeds band's King Nothing and Slash Vegas at the legendary rock club Rio's.
In August 2008, Sirius Satellite Radio's Hair Nation channel reported that former Mötley Crüe singer John Corabi had resigned as rhythm guitarist for Ratt and was rumored to be replaced by former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo. Bobby Blotzer confirmed these rumors stating that Cavazo was set to replace Corabi and would make his debut with the band on August 27. His first show with Ratt was in Baton Rouge, LA.
Infestation and hiatus (2009–2011)
Ratt joined a variety of other hard rock acts on the November 2009 cruise entitled "ShipRocked". In April 2009 Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records announced the signing of a worldwide deal with Ratt. Their new album, Infestation, was released in April 2010. Infestation reached No. 30 on Billboard's Top 200 chart. A video for the first single titled "Best of Me" was filmed. A world tour in support of Infestation followed. Infestation also marked something of a return to Atlantic, as Roadrunner has been owned by Atlantic since 2006.
In a March 18, 2010 interview with Metalholic Magazine, guitarist/founder, Warren DeMartini said of the new album, Infestation; "It really exceeded our expectations. Conceptually we kinda wanted to revisit the period of Out Of The Cellar and Invasion Of Your Privacy. We were sort of loosely trying to shoot for something that could fit between those two records. We were looking for more uptempo ideas and the double leads that Robbin Crosby and I started doing back in 1983."
RATT were confirmed to play the main stage at the Download Festival 2010 at Donnington Park, UK in June 2010. However, on June 8, 2010, it was announced on Download Festival's website that RATT had pulled out of the festival due to surgery of one of the band members.
On October 26, 2010, it was announced Ratt would be going into an indefinite hiatus after tensions within the band reared their head. It was left uncertain whether Ratt would disband permanently, but bassist Robbie Crane, confirmed that following the end of the band's tour supporting the album Infestation, the band were on an indefinite hiatus. He also confirmed that all members were busy with their own projects: him touring with Lynch Mob, frontman Stephen Pearcy touring with his solo band, Warren DeMartini touring with his and Dee Snider's Christmas band, and Carlos Cavazo and Bobby Blotzer working on a project together. It was also rumoured that bassist Robbie Crane would not be returning to Ratt if they chose to reunite. On October 27, 2010, vocalist Stephen Pearcy said that Ratt would be on hiatus "for a while.". However, he later confirmed that a RATT tour would be possible in 2012 after his other commitments. During his time as guest guitarist on "That Metal Show", Warren DeMartini said that the band were in the talking stages of getting back to writing in the winter.
Reunion with Croucier and new album (2012–present)
In January 2012, singer Stephen Pearcy said that Ratt was in the process of writing material for a new album, planned to be released that summer. Also that month, it was announced that Ratt will be playing at the M3 Rock Festival in the summer of 2012. On March 22, bassist Robbie Crane announced his departure from Ratt to focus on Lynch Mob. In April 2012, rumors arose that original bassist Juan Croucier would rejoin the band that summer; these rumors were confirmed when Croucier played with Ratt at the M3 festival on May 12.
In January 2013, drummer Bobby Blotzer said that, with songwriting completed, pre-production of the band's next album would begin in the near future with Brian Howes producing.
Ratt's music is influenced by 1970s hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Aerosmith, Sweet, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Scorpions and KISS. They fused this style with NWOBHM influences, including Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, Fall Out Boy all view Ratt as an influence.
Although they later incorporated more of a blues-rock 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 Rough Cutt, which had several members who were previously in Mickey Ratt (from which Ratt evolved).
- Out of the Cellar (1984)
- Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)
- Dancing Undercover (1986)
- Reach for the Sky (1988)
- Detonator (1990)
- Ratt (1999)
- Infestation (2010)
- The Official Ratt website
- Ratt at Allmusic
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