Today I want to briefly talk about the concept of “newfound respect.” It means you gained respect for something that you didn’t have previously. As a musician it is very common to learn to like different kinds of music as you mature. That is, music that didn’t necessarily catch your attention in your youth. I also find this to be true in regards to other musicians. I have found that as I grow older I’ve come to appreciate drummers that I didn’t respect in the past.
One such drummer, and one that I am ashamed for overlooking, is Rikki Rockett from the band Poison. By getting caught up in their tongue-in-cheek glam rock image it’s easy to forget that the band has sold over 45 million records worldwide. My garage band actually covered a couple Poison tunes and looking back, the parts were a lot of fun to play. Rikki had a great sense of tempo and he used things like tom-based grooves and shuffles on many of their hits. It wasn’t until I watched a video of one of Rikki’s drum solos that I went back and rediscovered his contributions to late-80’s rock.
I remember Poison’s videos were often shot on a stage with the band imitating playing live. Each one had a party theme with an underlying sense of humor. Their look, as apparent on their debut album cover from “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” was make-up and teased hair, giving them an androgynous appearance. Perhaps that is why I never took them seriously. I do recall digging on Rikki’s drum sets, especially one that looked like a rocket. (Decades later Rikki opened up his own custom drum shop called Rockett Drum Works Inc.)
Another aspect of Rikki’s playing that I overlooked was his tasteful approach to the drums. From straight-up rock songs to bops and ballads, he played for the song and accompanied his fellow band mates seamlessly. Unfortunately in my mind, his image overshadowed his musicality. Today Poison performs el natural and they have maintained the same spirit they originally had without the distraction of hair and make-up. This has made it more apparent that Rikki Rockett is an exceptional drummer. His groove is impressive and his obligatory drum solos show that his chops have remained. Here are two videos. The first is of Poison in their heyday and the second is the band today. Compare them. The song is “Nothing But a Good Time.” Notice that “nothing” has changed musically. In fact, I think they are better.