Hired Gun (2016) Script

I could go out on tour, actually, and play by myself as far as... you know, most people know, but, uh...

It works like an orchestra on-stage.

I happen to write the songs.

♪ I write the songs ♪ And I kind of conduct the band, and we work as an orchestra.

I don't go out and... do a Tom Jones thing with a bunch of sidemen.

A hired gun is an assassin.

The best available musician that gets hired to go on tour, to deliver that music for that artist.

Nobody will know who he is.

But he gets the gig because he is the elite player.

It seems like there's about twenty musicians we're talking about that have made every single record that everybody owns.

There's always somebody standing by ready to take your place if things aren't going well.

That's for sure.

My job security was my awesomeness.

You had to be even more focused than somebody who's permanently in a band.

Because, what you're doing today reflects on what you are going to be doing tomorrow.

You have to play great all the time because you're entertaining the name.

And if you're not great tonight, you may lose your gig tomorrow.

We know the riffs that they played on guitar, or piano, or saxophone, but we don't know their face or their name.

Being a hired gun, you're sitting in the front row, to a very glamorous, high profile, exciting lifestyle.

But it has nothing to do with you.

My mother was always into music.

We used to cut school to go see Frank Sinatra and stuff like that...

My father was a bit of a square.

But, they bought me a set of drums when I was, maybe, twelve, eleven years old...

Because, my father says, "Because they didn't make Prozac back then."

When I was 19 years old I was playing with a guy named Richie Supa.

And Doug Stegmeyer and Russell Javors are in the audience watching me play.

There was just something about Lib that was very, very special.

And I would go there as a kid and I'd say, "I'm going to start a band with this guy.

That's the drummer I want to play with."

And it just evolved.

Eventually we started a band called Topper.

Doug Stegmeyer got the gig with Billy first.

He went on the Streetlife Serenader tour with Billy Joel when Billy told Doug that he wanted to move from California back to New York, and he wanted a New York style drummer.

So, Doug said, "Well...

We got the guy. I know the guy!"

First one Doug brought in cause he was looking for a rhythm section was Liberty.

So they really started doing Turnstiles together with the three of them.

We got in the studio. The three of us started to record, me, Doug and Billy, just bass, drums and piano.

And when we listened back, Billy would say, "Well...

You know, I could use some guitar on this."

And we said, "Well, we know guitar players."

So, eventually, Topper became Billy Joel's band.

And that was the band that went on and toured the Turnstiles album.

The rest is history.

As a hired gun you have to be on point all the time.

Are you gonna be prepared and ready to go?

The one most important thing that'll make it good is your attitude.

Be damn sure you know, what the artist needs.

That's the key.

And then provide it.

Being able to sing is always a plus. If you can sing good, and play, you're gonna get the gig before the guy that just plays good!

You gotta be able to memorize stuff... fast.

We get good at zeroing in on exactly what we need to hit very quickly.

There's no room for a B-game here.

You gotta always bring A, and just knock teeth out.

That's what you gotta do.

I didn't really start playing metal or rock until I became part of Quiet Riot.

And I'm talking about the Quiet Riot version with Randy Rhoads which I was a member of in the 70s.

That version of Quiet Riot was more of a glam rock band.

But the music scene at that time was very much centric on...

New Wave and Punk.

And bands like Quiet Riot...

We were considered dinosaurs.

There was word around town that the singer from Black Sabbath was looking for new musicians, you know, to put a band together.

So, I was trying to get a hold of anybody.

Meanwhile, Ozzy's management, his people, you know, were trying to get a hold of Randy to come and audition.

He went out there, you know, met with Ozzy, and as he was tuning up and just doodling around the guitar, he got the gig.

And early 1981, I get the phone call from Ozzy, "Randy keeps telling me that you're the one" and I met with Ozzy that night, and Sharon, and I guess I passed the test.

"You want the gig?"

I said...


So, I went from sleeping on a floor, just a sheet, to all of a sudden... I'm, not only am a member of Ozzy's band, but, I'm living with him and Sharon, up in a mansion in Beverly Hills.

It's been an incredible ride ever since, you know.

Good people don't stay undiscovered for very long.

That's what I always tell people that think the business is so vast.

It's not.

Because if you're good you stand out quick.

Everybody in the business from...

From Marilyn Manson to Rob Zombie, to Ozzy Osbourne, to myself, who are lead singers...

All know who... where the carrel... The A carrel is.

So, you, of course, go for those guys first.

All right. I broke two strings!


Two strings!

I remember getting the paper, and opening it up.

And I remember my tears hitting the newspaper...

And, like, snot hitting the newspaper.

Man, it's like, "Fuck, what? Fuck!"

Anybody, especially at that time they were into metal.

He was our hero.

He was Jimi Hendrix of the bass, man.

I've told that to anybody, straight up.

I don't care who you are, playing bass.

You're not as good as Cliff, sorry.

And, I had only seen him in concert, man.

I'm standing right in front of Cliff, like...

And spent my last 14 bucks on my Metallica shirt, you know.

The talk started happening.

They were talking about auditions.

"Okay, who's the bass player, man? We gotta get somebody because we have to continue this tour."

They have a big, big hit on her hands, need to Rock n Roll.

They've gotta push through. There's momentum, and you're never gonna get that momentum again.

They call out 45 to 50 people from around the world.

And I got an early flight, borrowed money from all of my friends.

Twenty from that person, ten from that person, seven, nine from that guy.

Whatever they could give me. "Dude, you got... "What?"

An audition with Metallica? Are you..."

Everybody's flipping the fuck out!

And so, I was ready and I got there early and I was there the first one.

I was there before the band got there on audition day.

I look over and I poke my head in, "What have I got myself into?

Like I'm actually going to step in and play with..."

It hit me, like, "Metallica, dude!"

Eleven days after that we were touring japan.

Metallica touring Japan for the first time and I was the bass player.

And at that time, I was a hired gun, for $500 a week.


I mean, I would have done it for a sandwich.

I mean, it wouldn't have mattered then.

I would have paid you guys five bucks to let me go. Shit, you know!

So that was it. Five hundred dollars a week until April the next year, when I joined Metallica...

And I was a full member for 14, 15 years.

I was not gonna pass this up or take this for granted that I was given this opportunity by these guys.

"Now you're in it, dude.

You signed to be in this thing.

You can't take that lightly.

This is big responsibility now."

Everybody's got their role in this band and nobody wants to be the weak link.

That's why that band is still around.

Finding the right person for your band is almost impossible because you're looking for, to me, three things.

You got to find somebody who... is an excellent musician which, that's the easiest thing to find.

There's a million excellent musicians.

Then you gotta find somebody who's really cool... who can stand on stage in front of you know 15... a 100,000 people, and be amazing.

Then, it whittles it down to a smaller group, and then you gotta find somebody you can stand to be around 24/7.

Because, you know, you live with them, day in and day out.

Then it shrinks down to about...

Here's the three people, in the music industry I can actually stand to be around.

So, know, that is the trick.

You're gonna be traveling with these guys for the next year.

So, you're gonna really have to like these guys, because there are certain people, you just don't...

It rubs you the wrong way... You know.

It all comes down to the chemistry between people and bang!

And how you get along with each other.

And what kind of person you present yourself as in the group.

I've been lucky enough to not have to be on a tour with any douchy people.

I've talked to so many friends of mine who just were, you know, living hell on a tour, because of who they had to deal with on a daily basis.

There's been times where, you know, you've... had someone in the band who maybe isn't the greatest musician, and they leave and you replace them with somebody better, technically a better musician, but the chemistry is gone.

There's just something about it, you know, because sometimes its just that wacky personalities, the glue that keeps the other three people from killing each other.

There's a...

A bond with musicians when the chemistry is right, and it's an alchemic thing.

It's like people playing together, and when some take happens that is just magic... it's undeniable. There it is.

Right in front of you.

When we got into the studio with Billy, we had this interesting chemistry, that you know, just kinda clicked.

You know, it was kinda cool.

We were a very easy band to play with.

Nobody ever went in there with a "I'll show you" attitude.

It was always about framing the song, framing Billy...

We were very open minded as to how we would do it.

So, George Martin that comes to one of the gigs, and we're all excited, "George Martin's here, Oh my, God! The Beatles producer!

He's going to come and hear us play, and he's going to love it, it's gonna be great.

I mean, this is fantastic, he's like the greatest producer in the world!"

He watches the show... After the show he says, "I love you, Billy. I want to produce you, but I want to use studio guys."

Billy was so loyal to the band that he turned down George Martin.

I just went off on my own and said, "Look, I'm going to use my own guys.

I don't care, politically, what the ramifications are, I gotta use my own band."

And, we went in with Phil to do The Stranger.

He saw the guys and he went, "Wow, they're great!"

He loved them, and the band went, "He likes us?"

Certainly, Lib and Doug's contribution, is what stood out in those records, because, frequently, Billy would record in a stripped down way, and we'd even do a lot of the basic tracks with just basic drums.

Phil came in and he said to Liberty, "Why don't you play this backwards samba?"

And Liberty is a real Rock n Roll drummer, and he... it's against every grain in his body to play these... samba type line of beats.

And he turned it around. It was like, boom...

And he gave it more of a flow.

♪ Don't go changin' ♪

♪ To try and please me ♪ And it just...

It flowed along a lot better.

Lib was right at the core of those songs.

And his mindset was just really perfect for those records, because he had that tough Rock n Roll attitude about those songs.

Yet, he knew when to put it out there and when not to.

So, these were really parts that really brought the song out of the grooves.

Liberty DeVitto, some people may not know, but this guy has got 30 plus years with the same artist.

Now, in the hired gun business, three years is a lot.

Thirty, is unheard of.

He, definitely is, one of those guys that made the band he was in.

Billy Joel sounded like Billy Joel because of Liberty DeVitto.

The Keith Richards of that band.

There's no question.

Ow, right here, Topo Gigio, the Italian drummer...

When you see a Billy Joel album, if you look at the back of The Stranger, it will say, "Words and music by Billy Joel."

It won't say, "Music arranged by..." anywhere.

Because we all arranged the songs.

Only The Good Die Young, he wrote it as a Reggae tune.

And then, I'm like, "This is terrible.

It's really bad."

I looked at Billy and I said, "You know, the closest you've ever been to Jamaica is, Jamaica, Long Island, where you change trains on Long Island railroad."

♪ Only the good die young ♪ My drum part, the intro, was I always loved the song called Up From The Skies, that is on the Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love album, And Up From The Skies starts like that...

And has that quick...

Sol kind of like thought about that song when I said, "Let's do it this way."

And it turned out to be good.

♪ Come out, Virginia, don't Let me wait ♪

I had spent my entire younger years trying to develop some kind of skill Playing guitar.

That's the only thing I cared about.

I practiced hours and hours and hours a clay.

Not because I wanted to make sure I was good, I played because I really loved it.

It was fun.

You could hear yourself getting better.

You could pick up things that you couldn't do a week ago.

By the time I was moving to LA I knew I had a certain skill level.

So, any opportunity I had to mingle with other musicians, and get up and play, be in it...

I was like three bands, four bands at a time.

I had played Tuesday nights with this band, I had played three nights with this band... local stuff.

Well, eventually, what happened was, one of the musicians in one of these bands said, "Hey, you know, um, Mandy Moore is looking for an acoustic guitar player.

And I think that'd you'd be perfect for the gig."

Jason got the Mandy Moore gig and I remember thinking, "Good for you."

I mean, it's a little lighter than what I thought he would probably go for but...

He was working, making a good living.

People might not understand me in the Mandy Moore gig, but all I thought was, like, "Part one of the plan in motion."

Like most of those gigs, I'm not in control of it at all.

Right, I'm just the rented guitar player.


At some point they decided to do some left turn with business, she was going to go make a movie, or we're going to shut down the music part...

She was going to focus on acting or whatever...

Whatever the reason was.

And you, just in one nano second, you're job is over.

And then you start to realize, "Hmm, okay.

There is no security here."

When you're a kid, you're like, "I want to be a rock star.

I want to be a rock star."

I never said that.

I always said I want to be a session guy.

To be a studio musician, to be a great studio musician, you have to be a great musician.

I mean, you just do.

There's just no two ways about it. You can't be mediocre.

Because there's, you know, good is the enemy of great.

So, if you're only good, there's a thousand great guys that are gonna take your place.

Our producer wants to cast the right people for the right role of this record.

So, they go out and they find the best player that fits the role.

They find the best guy for the drums, they find the best guy for the bass, they find the best guy with the keyboards, they find the best guy for the guitars.

But they also want these guys, to be able to blend as if they were in a band.

The guys on the record not playing on the record, never cross my mind.

In fact, when someone go, "You know, that's not even, whatever Ace Frehley playing that?"

That's so and so... That's... Than"

"I don't think that's Joe Perry." it's so and so...

I go, "Well, how is that possible?"

It never even crossed my mind that that ever went on.

If you look at the whole dynamic of the L.A sessions scene, all of us in that generation that-that replaced, obviously, the generation before us.

We were all aspiring studio musicians.

Everybody who was anybody had to go through the record playing.

So, I had my guitar in one hand, my amp in the other hand, and my opening line which is the same line I'd use to sell songs was, "You can sit here and I could tell you how great you are and we could talk for 20 minutes, or you could just let me play for five minutes and I could get out of your hair.

We didn't carry ourselves like rock stars might carry themselves.

We took a lot of shit for it in the press.

They made it, like, being a session musician was bad.

"Anybody can do that. You just sit and read music all clay."

Well, I said, "No man, that's not what we did.

We often times polished the turd."

Before pro tools there were pro's.

I'm a studio musician.

I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I've gotta save this, now, in real time.

That's my job.

Jay Graydon and I have been buddies for 45 years.

I came into a club and I saw him play, and I had just moved to Los Angeles.

I was so in awe of what I heard and what I saw.

This amazing technician with heart.

We became fast friends, and have worked together over the decades ever since.

Jay is like a forensic scientist.

He is so in to what he does, and he has such an inner ear for production and for playing.

You know, obviously, he's a great player.

I'm working with Roger Nichols. He's a recording engineer.

And he realized I was a good player in his eyes and said, "Steely Dan's having a really hard time with this one guitar solo.

I'm gonna recommend you for the gig."

And I said, "Roger, that would be great."

Because every studio musician, wants to be on a Steely Dan record.

This is as good as it gets.

Whether you like that band or not, you know that if they were ever on a Steely Dan record, they are one of the baddest motherfuckers walking.

I am five milliseconds away from crashing in the middle of the solo and hitting a wall.

So I'll take a chance and I'll step on my dick.

Fagen says to me, the key words, "Think blues."

And when I walked out of there I had no idea I was the final guy.

I'm thinking, "Well, I'm just probably just another guy they're going to try."

I know I was the seventh guy.

And they were gonna, "Who's eight, who's ninth, who's tenth?"

They loved the solo.

Record comes out and I'm on it.

And I'm going, "Eh, good, I won!"

So, good for me.

I was the guy that was, like, if I said that's a hit record it was clue.

When Africa... The song, Africa, almost didn't make the record.

♪ I miss the rains Down in Africa ♪ When I played on Beat It I thought that was hilarious.

I heard just the lyric and I cracked up, and I went, "Beat It! Oh, yeah, that's... destined for a hit."

And I played all the guitar parts, and the bass parts.

♪ Beat it beat it ♪

♪ No one wants To be defeated ♪ I said if this song's a hit I would run naked down Hollywood boulevard, okay.

Fortunately, at this point nobody's ever called me out on that, but...

We're seeing reviews saying Quincy Jones manages to get the members of Toto to play with some kind of taste.

On, you know, Thriller, They just hated the fact that we were on something so huge.

Most of us didn't stay as studio musicians very long.

We realized that it was kind of a dead end even though it was a great living.

But it was a dead end.

And all of us would watch the producers on the other side of the glass.

And I just know, me personally, I was going, like, "Wow, I know I can do that. I'm positive I can do what they're doing."

They're relying on us to come up with the music.

Anyway, so, I'm sure I can do that.

I went from six figures a year, to the first year I produced, I made a total of $5000.

Three albums. All three of them stiffed.

No sales. No nothing.

And I was very discouraged.

Because I used to think that, producing meant just getting a bunch of great musicians together and making a great track.

But it's not what producing is.

Producing, fundamentally, is finding great songs and pairing them with great artists.

And I didn't have that part together yet.

The break out, was when I met Earth, Wind and Fire.

And again that ties in to jay Graydon because we wrote After the love is Gone together along with Bill Chaplin.

♪ After the love is gone ♪

♪ How could you lead me on ♪ And it just... It propelled me into the 80s, into, uh, Alice Cooper, and Chicago, and Chaka Khan, and Kenny Rogers and Kenny Loggins...

It was in a hell of a decade.

I got called by Tommy LiPuma at Warner Brothers to produce George Benson.

I've got four days to come up with a song.

After two days, I have nothing.

I'm trying to write something and I'm just a blank.

I don't have anything I like.

I came over and he goes, "Well, let's write a song for Benson."

And then afterwards, you know, we'd hang.

"See if you can come up with a verse?"

I said, like, "I'm just going to walk away for 20, 30 minutes.

I'll just go do something.

And I'll come back and see where you're at."

And I came up with a, you know...

I had come back and he's got the intro and the verse nailed.

And I'm going, "This is great. This tune is shaping up great."

And I came up with that part, and he says, "Hey, man, I gotta take a shit. I'll be right back."

I'm sitting on the shitter, I pop a deuce, and the melody comes into my head.

I've got the groove, I've got the melody, I've got the bass part...

I've got the chorus to the song.

And I'm going, "I've got to get off the can as fast as I can, man."

I'm doing my best to get off the can.

And as fast as I can!

And he comes back, and he starts singing Turn Your Love Around.

And we were laughing because Jay when he'd...

He had one of his OCD things...

He has to take of all of his clothes, be completely naked when he takes a shit.

Jay is gonna kill me for that.

♪ Turn your love around ♪

♪ Don't you turn me down ♪

♪ I can show you how ♪

♪ Turn your love around ♪ Unlike Dave and Jay, I just wanted to be a star.

I want to see my face on the TV screen.

My mama didn't understand what I was doing.

I came home with a record one time... and I was so excited.

And she would look at the record and go, "I don't see you."

And you know what? In all fairness, she was right.

I was wrong. She was right.

Well, why don't you see me?

And so, one day I thought about it.

I said, "Well, you know what? I gotta cut a record where my face is on the front." Well, I did it.

I've started writing songs, then I decided to cut my own music which I thought I was going to record with this tune I wrote called You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.

♪ You make me Feel like dancing ♪

♪ I'm gonna dance The night away ♪ Number one record, won the Grammy which... That's a whole another story.

And I had another tune called Jack and Jill.

♪ Jack snuck down the hill ♪

♪ He snuck down the hill ♪ So, Clive Davis got wind of Jack and Jill, and he thought that was a smash.

So he heard it, he loved it, and we sold almost two million of those.

Only a few people get phenomena, and only a couple of people get hits.

And it's more important, to have a classic song that is to have a number one song.

First of all, I never ever could possibly imagine that I could write a song that would become part of worldwide folklores.

It's not even American folklore.

♪ Ghostbusters ♪ While I was in California, I'll never forget, I had... dinner at Spagos, and across the street was this black billboard, and every week, or so many days, they'd put different things around.

So now they got the circle board up

"I wonder what that is?"

Well, guess what, the phone rings, Here's Gary LaMel from Columbia Pictures and he's saying, "Ray, There's a movie coming out."

He says, "Have you seen these black posters where we got the circle?"

He says, "By the time we get the ghost inside the movie's coming out, okay. So, this is gonna happen fast."

And he says, "We've now spent a year, a year and a half calling everybody.

We've hired everybody, we've spent millions of dollars, but the director is insistent upon the word Ghostbusters.

Must be in the song."

♪ Ghostbusters ♪ Well, I told Gary, I said, "Well, that's nice, but I'm going back to Detroit.

I'm not doing this. I'm like, sorta...

Not retired but sorta retired.

And you mean if you don't like it I get to keep the..." He says, "Yeah."

"if we hate it, and you turn us the music, you get to keep the fifty grand."

Stayed up two or three clays, wrote the song and gave it to him, and the director Ivan Reitman called me at 3:30 in the morning.

He loved it.

Two weeks into this deal Clive Davis said, "We sold four million records overseas just on imports."

And at the meetup festival they were already presenting me with a ten million selling album award.

To this day people ask me, "Are you tired of hearing people say, 'Who you're gonna call?'" Well, no!

It's like, "Am I tired of holding the best lotto ticket, or the best thing that ever happened?" No.

♪ Who you gonna call? ♪

♪ Ghostbusters! ♪

♪ Who can you call? ♪

♪ Ghostbusters ♪


Justin's amazing!

Nearly ten years I've been playing with Pink.

It's been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

It's a cool process because we all have a lot of input.

She really let's us be ourselves.

And it comes across live.

People feel that, people see that.

♪ Pretty, pretty please, Don't you ever, ever feel ♪

♪ Like you are less than ♪ For me it's important that I create a family atmosphere for all of us because it just makes for a healthier environment.

♪ Like you are less than ♪

♪ You are perfect to me ♪ To be a musician and feel like you're being looked after makes you want to do a better job and do a great job, because you know that you're being looked after and you're appreciated, and you feel appreciated.

So, it just makes everyone feel like they wanna be their best at all times.

The bar is high.

So we have to be right there with her.

As a hired gun, I'm there to be a supportive band member.

To the artist, to the other musicians, to the audience.

I have the most brilliant, wonderful, best ever band.

Give them a hand.

Mark Shulman on the drums!

Sometimes, I look out at the audience and it doesn't look like anybody's looking at me.

But I think, "Why should they look at me?"

They can look at Pink!

♪ Yeah! ♪

♪ We're perfect ♪

♪ Oh, perfect ♪

♪ To Me ♪

♪ Like you are less than ♪ ♪ I'm so thankful I've got all these people in my life because it's just been an awesome ride, man.

You know, there's just...

Fuckin' nothing like it, man.

The first time I heard something I did on the radio...

It was definitely uncredited, I knew it was me.

Well, you look at the Billboard top 100, and you're, like, on 30 of the songs in the Top 100, or something like that.

And they never include us in any of the documentaries for these records.

And we had a lot to do with them.

More so than people realize.

I'm of a mind where if anybody does anything on a recording they should be credited for it.

Whereas, there's a lot of records that you think were made by bands by themselves in that era and before, where there were lots of the side people playing on them.

They just didn't credit them.

You know, Stranglehold is a big song for him.

And, of course, in turn a huge song for me.

But most people think Ted sings it.

What they don't realize is that I'm the voice, that everybody thinks is Ted's voice.

Songs like Snakeskin Cowboys, songs like Dog Eat Dog, Songs like Stormtroopin', songs like, of course, Stranglehold.

The song I wrote, Hey Baby, songs like just What The Doctor Ordered.

That's me singing all that stuff.

One night a man in the audience comes up to me and he goes, "Man, I'm sorry Ted's throat wasn't feeling good tonight, but, you did a really good job singing the songs."

So, the next time you hear this song you're gonna know it was my voice.

And not somebody else's.

♪I jammed everyday I jammed every night ♪

♪ I practiced till I knew all The licks ♪

♪ Now I'm on the verge Of a nervous breakdown ♪

♪ I don't know The meaning of quit ♪

♪ But I like it ♪

♪ Oh, Baby ♪

♪ Yes you know But I like it?

♪ Yeah, baby, yes I do

♪ I've found a cure for my Body and soul ♪

♪ But this is what the doctor Ordered ♪

♪ But this is what the doctor Ordered ♪

♪ But this is what the doctor Ordered ♪

♪ Oh! That's what the doctor Ordered ♪

Kenny, man...

I love Kenny. He's got an energy, man.

One of the most working dudes, right?

Oh, that guy is so energetic!

Kenny Aronoff, uh...

He loud.

I worked with him one time. He's loud.

Fucking loud!

He's a really well schooled musician.

To the point where he writes out all of his parts.

He's kind of like the Godfather of the hired gun of drums.

I mean, he was doing this shit when I was in junior high.

Now, I grew up in a small town of 3000.

How the fuck do you get out of a town of 3000 into The Beatles, and on stage, and touring and making records?

I didn't know.

I was gardening at 50 cents an hour.


And I saved up for the snare drum, and the cymbal.

All I knew was I wanted to be in The Beatles.

So the only thing I do is I started a band.

I did five years at university.

I was practicing nine hours a day, and playing five nights a week in a Jazz trio.

One day I'm sitting eating dinner, I'm about to walk out and I go, "You know, I should just chill for a second."

Had I not chilled for a second I wouldn't have run into this singer/songwriter who said, "You know this guy johnny Cougar?

He's looking for a drummer."

So they said, "Do you know any of the songs on the record?"

I said, "I'm familiar with the album."

They picked a song, I tore it up.

Broke a cymbal, sticks flying...

Looking at me smiling, shakes my hand and goes, "Welcome to hell!"

I'm like, "Well, what does he mean by that?"

Well, I found out.

And five weeks later we were going to go to L.A to make a record.

In one day I was off the record.

Life changing moment for me.

Huge life changing moment!

John tells me, "Well, you know, Kroppa wants to get this song, this album done fast.

You haven't had quite enough experience in the studio."

And I'm thinking, "No, no, no, no, no, no. This is not going to go down this way."

"And, you know, you go home, and..." And I just went, "Am I your drummer!"

I'm going, "Did I just say that?"

"I'm not going home."

"Am I your drummer?"

And he goes, "Uh, uh, uh, uh...

Yeah, it's just..."

"Well, find me a drummer.

I'm gonna go to the studio. I'm gonna watch these guys play my parts and I'm gonna benefit from that.

And you're gonna benefit because I'm your drummer.

Because I'm gonna get better.

And that's good for you.

You don't have to pay me, I'll sleep on the floor.

But I ain't going home."

He didn't know what to say, he went, "Uh... All right."

I did stay and I did watch, and I took notes.

And that was the beginning of a 45 degree angle of my career which is still going at 45 degrees.

He's just a creative drummer.

You know, the thing in jack And Diane that he does...

I don't care if it was like pulling teeth to get it out of him.

He made it up. It's brilliant.

That's Kenny Aronoff.

And, that drum fill right there is that guy's personality.

"Aronoff, get in here.

We need a drum solo."

I'm like, "What!"

On a ballad?" I'm thinking, "How do you do a drum solo on a song that's like...

A little diddy, about jack and Diane...

You can't go..."

Because nobody had done that. Yeah, except for Phil Collins.

You know, I'm walking towards the drums, I'm going, "You got 25 feet to save your career.

You got 20, fifteen, ten.

What are you going to do, Kenny?

What are you going to do?"

I'm at the drum stool facing that way...

"Five." Now I'm like, "What am I gonna do?"

Ding! Something pops into my head.

That was it. This short little concise thing.

John's like, "Groove, stop playing the beats."

So, you know...

That song goes to number one.

Instead of getting excited, I shit my pants.

Because down I'm going, like, "Now you have to be, number one, and you have to do it again."

And I don't know if I'm that...

Am I good enough to do that again?

I think out of all the drummers, when you people used to say, "if there was somebody to take your place with Billy who would it be?

And Kenny was the only one I could think of.

Because I think me and him play a lot alike.

Very aggressive and to the song.

The great thing about it...

About Kenny is...

He is never satisfied with himself.

So he will always give you that extra bit.

He'll bother you to do it.

I traveled around with guys in my band.

It's like a New York street gang.

But we kind of keep each other down to Earth.

We're always putting each other down, and smacking each other around.

And we keep ourselves in line like that.

We took a band attitude.

We took a family attitude to what we did.

Those tracks and those tours, and that whole trajectory of what happened with Billy...

That was part of our legacy too.

We all had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun, but, uh, I'd heard a little scuttlebutt. You know, that on the business side, there was a lot of weird, vibes going around.

That's when he found out that his manager screwed him out of money.

I mean, there was millions lost.


That will make you paranoid.

Make you not trust anybody.

Charges in the lawsuit are that they paid kickbacks to Billy Joel's manager, but never reported this to Mr. Joel.

As a result of this Mr. Joel did not fire the manager until after he purported to defraud Mr. Joel out of tens of millions of dollars.

When I got the phone call from Billy, he was... so... such a wreck. He was broke.

He had no money.

He was, like, broke!

The thing he said to me was "I want everything back.

You're not gonna get that payment anymore on the records.

You're not gonna get a percentage of the gross."

And then he got this accounting firm that was watching out for his money.

And they decided that, "Well, you're name's on the marquee.

Why are you paying these guys so much money?

You can get anybody you want."

And that's really when it started to get weird.

I was tired of being pegged, I was tired of being stereotyped.

Tired of being pigeon holed.

Tired of being bagged.

As what?

As Billy Joel and his band and his producer.

And, no matter how much of a different album we put out from the album before, um, it wasn't enough.

On The Bridge album, I could kind of feel that, it was coming to an end.

There was an undercurrent there that I kinda, in the back of my mind, you know...

I could see the writing on the wall.

I never felt it. I thought we were gonna go on and, you know, continue to go on.

But we were in Australia and Billy said to me, "What if I go in the studio with just you and all new players?"

And I was like, "Man, what are you gonna do with the other guys?"

You know, he goes, "How am I gonna get any new players?"

He just... cut them loose.

Now I've got three children and I'm married, and I'm like, "What am I gonna say?

Well, I quit. I'm out."

We weren't making that much money that I'm a millionaire, you know.

The way it would work is that we would do a tour or whatever, and then you wait around and you get the call.

And you go in. There's a new batch of songs and you go bang em' out.

So, you know, we were kind of in that holding pattern.

And one day I'm driving around and I hear on the radio that Billy's got a new band and a new album.

I said, "What?"

I called up Doug, "You're not gonna believe this."

And that's how I found out.

Nobody ever said a word to me after all those years.

I knew it was going to announced on MTV that Billy Joel was going in with just me and a whole new bunch of players.

The guys didn't know yet.

And I told Billy, I said, "You gotta call these guys and tell them what's going on."

And he was like, "I don't have to do shit. I'm Billy Joel."

It was just time to do something different.

I worked with a different co-producer, and I worked with some different musicians for the first time since 77.

Doug and I got let go at the same time.

I mean, I remember calling Doug, to tell him what I heard on the radio.

You know, you think that you know...

If you work for a company that many years you get a watch and a pension.

So, um!

You know, I didn't even get a phone call.

Russell was upset, you know, I think it still gets under his skin.

I can honestly say that I never had any animosity towards Liberty.

It's just... I just didn't get it. You know, I just...

You know, here we are, you know, we're all brothers and now we're kind of out... of the loop here. It was just...

You know, it was... That was the toughest pill to swallow!

You either accept it and move on or you don't.

You are no longer the person that you were the day before.

You're no longer in Billy Joel's band.

You're no longer, going on tour.

You're no longer playing at Madison Square garden.

Your identity is totally gone now.

You're still the guy that played on the records, but you're not that person that you were the day before.

And Doug had a very, very diffi cult time with that.

Doug tried and tried and tried to move on, but... His life just kept taking steps backwards instead of steps forward.

Then I went out, to do a gig and then I came home, and my wife then was crying on the couch, and something had happened in the afternoon.

I said, "Come on, you're still crying over what happened this afternoon?"

She goes, "No, Doug Stegmeyer killed himself."

Every time I spoke to Doug on the phone, it was always, "Hi, how are you doing?

What's going on?"

Blah, blah, blah... Small talk.

And then, you know, "Yeah, I'm having a hard time paying for this." Or whatever...

"You at least... you still got your fucking gig with Billy!

Fucking..." You know, "I fucking lost my gig and you got your fucking gig.

Remember, I got you that gig."

And I was like, "Holy shit!"

So, the one time that he called, I'm listening to him on the answering machine, and I didn't pick up the phone because I didn't want it to turn into one of those phone calls again.

And that's when he ended his life.

Doug did what he did to himself.

We all could have been... better, and helped him.

But... it's something I still can't come to grips with.

I just don't understand, how you go there.

It's been maybe one of the toughest things I've had to deal with because I felt like I lost my brother.

And it's...

That's it.

Right before I got the phone call from Ozzy, the lowest point in my life...

I had just turned 30 years old.

The way that the industry was, the music industry in those days.

Being thirty years old, being in a dinosaur type of musical genre like we were doing in Quiet Riot wasn't very promising.

You know, to say the least.

But, what happened was that as I was pursuing my musical career I was also pursuing my own spirituality.

You know...

Finding the meaning of life, I made peace with God, that if I didn't make it as a musician, it was all right.

That's cool.

But, as long as my fingers kept moving I was gonna keep playing.

And within days I got a call from Ozzy.

That phone call came in at the right moment.

Joining Ozzy had a completely different meaning to me that it would had had... if I didn't had made peace with God.

I understood the blessing that it was.

I started my journey, in music as a hired gun for Nine Inch nails.

Trent had this record contract, and he said, "I saw you in that band Collapse, and you were jumping around the stage and you looked like you were having a good time.

Why don't you come and join Nine Inch Nails and use it as a stepping board to get out and do your own thing?"

And I was, like, "Okay, cool. This sounds like a great idea."

There was no negotiation.

It was, like, "Hey, you want to go on tour?"

"Sure." "Okay."

I actually thought, "I'm a part of this, right?

I'm allowed to work with you and make some guitar stuff."

I had said to Trent, I said "But when is the record coming out?

He's like, "Well, I'm almost done. I'm mastering it-II I'm, like, "Fuck, I didn't play on it.

Like, I didn't do anything on it."

I said, "Trent, man, you're going to New Orleans.

You're going to, you know, to rebuild your whole life, rent a new house and put a studio in it."

And I'm going back home and living with my mom in a basement!"

And he's like, he looked at me and he went, "Get off your butt, and go write a record."

So... I did.

I had written this song called Hey Man Nice Shot.

There's a glass ceiling in Nine Inch Nails.

There was a glass ceiling at that time of, even if you write you're never gonna own it.

I was making $400 a month.

John had called me up, who was their manager, and he said, "Hey, we're not seeing you that much, and we know you want some more money.

We're not really sure what you're doing.

But if you want, to make a little bit more money, there's a pizzeria, at the bottom of Cielo Drive,

and they're looking for drivers.

Would you want to go make some money, as a pizza delivery boy?"

I took my little song Hey Man Nice Shot, I got a new manager, I've got a lawyer, and I'm now in negotiation with five labels.

What would you go at?

The pizza?

♪ A man ♪

♪ Has gun ♪

♪ Hey man ♪

♪ Have fun ♪

The power of having a great song, and the fact that you're the singer, changes everything.

All of a sudden it goes from me being hired gun, to me being the guy who has to hire a band.

And I get why Trent was so heavy handed.

Now I'm in the hiring position.

To this day I sit him down and I say, "Listen, I'm not gonna offer you anything.

You're gonna go on tour, you're gonna have a fucking good time playing music that I wrote, as the drummer, as the bass player, as the guitar player, and that's what you're gonna do."

Oh, man, Filter was... it's almost laughable what we got paid.

We were...

Of every band we toured with we were the lowest paid band members, even if we were making the most in guarantees.

You know, as a hired gun in a band at that level you're not getting paid enough to sustain anything.

Why are you in Filter?

You know, what are you doing down here, like...

"We like to get in the muck.

We like to get dirty.

We play, fuckin', you know, shitty clubs.

You know, we like to keep it real.

We have to do the paid meet and greets unless they paid.

Like, the fans are paying money to meet the band.

We don't see any of that money.

I didn't see any of that money.

The singer keeps all to himself.

I like taking the money home.

I like just keeping it all at home.

You know what I mean? Like I'm not... I don't give a shit.

Like, it's a bus, stay on the bus.

You don't need a fucking hotel room.

I'd rather just sit home and not be in a band than have to deal with them for another day.

I know of guys that are hired guns that have great, stories, great situations.

They love their jobs.

That in this situation it wasn't for me.

I had that aha moment of, "Is this really worth it?" on stage, in Germany.

The show starts just like any other show and I'm running and jumping, whatever, and really just rocking out and enjoying it, and I almost felt this wave come over me, and I just...

I straightened up, I turned to Jeff, our drummer, and I just looked at him, I go, "This isn't fun anymore."

Like, literally, that was the moment where I was like, "I need to find my exit from this project."

And I was gone from the band like, a month later.

Yeah, so we'll just start with the duo.

You got it.

Rollin on one.

The Philly cheese steak burger on a fresh baked bun.

At Carl's Jr. and Hardy's.

And, I now am the voice on your TV and radio.

If they need stuff read, I read it.

The grilled cheese breakfast sandwich only at Carl's Jr.

The most notable one is the Carl's Jr. voice

"Without us, some guys would starve."

On our second leg of the Diary Of A Madman tour we started in Atlanta.

We did one more show, and our third show, was in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is the last time that Randy Rhoads performed.

A 25 year old guitar player, lead guitarist for Ozzy's band, Randy Rhodes is dead along with two other passengers in the single engine aircraft that spun out, wing touching the tour bus, cart wheeling into a two storey house that you see in the background.

I wake up to this boom!

This huge boom by the middle of nowhere.

I mean, the last time I saw Randy, he was standing on the doorway getting out of the bus...

He was yelling, "Hey, come on, Jim. Come on in.

We're gonna go on a plane"

Then I say, "You know what, I just...

I'm going to get out of my bunk when we get to the hotel."

And then it just lay by the pool.

And that's it.

And I closed the curtains, and went back to sleep.

That was the last time I saw Randy.

It's usually we were like always hanging out together and do adventures and do stuff together.

This was the only time that I decline, went back to sleep, and I wake up to glass everywhere.

There was glass shattered everywhere.

The window... The passenger back window, was gone. And I... looked out and there was our tour manager, Jake Duncan, on his knees pulling his hair out, crying, "They're gone, they're gone!"


My thought, "We must have been in a highway accident."

The last thing that I could imagine was that the plane hit us.

And once you realize, what's going on... it's this huge hum...


Really low frequency, takes over and I couldn't hear anything.

All I heard was a hum.

There's no cellphones, there's no way to communicate with any authorities like the fire department or the police, or anybody to come and help.

The plane, the Cessna just crashed through some trees... and exploded on impact on the garage that was attached to the house.

So the house was also on fire.

We thought, "No, they must've jumped off the plane.

They must be somewhere, maybe on a tree or something."

You know, we couldn't just... accept the reality of it, you know, that they had crashed inside the plane...

And their bodies were burning as we were listening to the fire.

That was... the worst experience I've ever had in my whole life.

Sometimes death doesn't give you a warning.

It doesn't say, "Treat this night, and savor it, because it will be the last night."

So, I play like there's no tomorrow.

I treat it like, "This is special."


There might not be a tomorrow.

This is it. This might be it.

Out of every tragedy there should be something positive gained from it.

And that's one thing that I've gained from it.

Living like there's no tomorrow.

Has a replacement for Randy been determined yet?

No, a replacement hasn't been determined yet, but a decision will be made, in the course of the next few days.

To be honest with you we really didn't have much time to... to mourn.

A decision was made to continue, to keep Ozzy busy... occupied.

If Ozzy would have just gone home, and canceled the tour, he would have probably drank himself to death.

So, basically, we had about ten days to find a guitar player that could actually play the songs the way that Randy composed them and recorded.

And fortunately that's when Brad Gillis, came into the picture.

It was like the biggest gig in the world that you could have at that time.

Because Ozzy was on top of the world, with, you know, coming out with his solo stuff...

And I got the call and I thought, "I gotta do this."

And the first night I stood at the sound boards singing The Castle, and the big huge stage.

The pyro and the lighting, and the sound.

I was at the soundboard going, "Oh, my gosh. This is huge!"

I've never even played with the band, hardly even met the guys, And here I'm playing my first show.

So, I didn't know what to wear.

They gave me a... They got a Ferrari jumpsuit they let me wear.

It was kinda cool. Wore that for the first show.

And they put make-up on me, you know, I never really did make-up before, and that was kinda strange.

And I tell you, for anybody, that would have been a tough gig.

But, you know, I was a hired gun, and been put on the spot, and thrown into the fire.

It was either shit or get off the pot.

You know, I thought if I didn't follow through with this, I'll kick myself in the ass the rest of my life.

One big issue that we were confronting at the time, was that Randy's style of playing was so new, so cutting edge, that very few musicians could actually play like that.

And Brad did a fantastic job.

There was so much pressure. He had so much pressure on him.

And he was incredibly graceful.

Talking to the rest of the band they said, "Hey, man, you can branch out and do your own thing.

Just stick to the major solos, and keep them as best as you can."

So, you know, I did that.

I tried my best to learn note for note.

But, with four days, and 19 songs, and I was learning on the spot.

I was... Everyday I'd practice on the road even after I started gigging with Ozzy.

But from the start it was tough for me.

It was tough for everybody seeing me.

And I knew that.

And I just had to do what I was there to do, and to do the best I could, and to get them through this tour.

I remember performing at Madison Square garden, packed house, and it was like a wake for Randy Rhoads.

Every banner, every sign, was about how much people loved Randy.

You know, a lot of kids in the audience, man, they were flipping me off, and "Randy Rhoads lives forever" signs, and guys with their arms crossed.

I had to expect that. I'm... filling in for the late great Randy Rhoads, and I'm just trying to help this tour move along.

After a couple of days I went to Rudy, I said, "I don't know if I could do this anymore.

It's tough that people don't like me."

And he goes, "Man, they'll start to respect you, man.

You just... just keep moving."

Brad Gillis...

We have to give him respect no matter what.

He and I have a lot of common thread.

We had that thing, like a beloved... instrumentalist, that reinvented their instrument, Randy Rhoads/Cliff Burton.

We had to step into those shoes that could not be filled.

Not everybody is made for that.

Metallica was already established as a giant touring band by when Ijoined them.

So, you go into these countries where they got to see Cliff dominate, right?

So, who is this guy standing in Cliff's place now?

Some places I got tortured, for the first couple of times we went there.

But because I stood my ground, and took it to em', and didn't let them get to me like I didn't.

You don't react back cause then they win.

The only way you react is by hanging in there and being better and singing stronger and that kind of thing.

So, I went through that kind of trial by fire, for a couple of years, besides doing the band, trial by fire.

Going on stage after Randy died, it was just a matter of surviving each show, emotionally.

I watch myself perform, and I'm going, "I'm not connecting with anybody here."

I'm not even looking at... around.

I'm not even looking at the audience. I'm just going through the motions.

That's not the reason why I started playing.

I didn't want to be a robot.

I didn't want to be disconnected with music, with my soul.

So, I had to move on.

I had to move on.

It was the toughest decision I've ever made in my whole life, to go from, like, people that I love, because Sharon and Ozzy, they... took incredible care of me.

They were gracious, you know.

But, I had to get joy back in my playing again.

I really did.

After having lost a certain gig where it was all shut down without warning, and then there's that sort of gap where you're scrambling, like a fish out of water trying... to get back into something, just so you can pay your bills.

I get a call from one of the guys that I used to play with in Mandy Moore's band, and he says, "I'm now the musical director for Lizzy McGuire, a Disney artist."

I'm like, "Who? I don't even know who that is.

Tell me more."

So I find out later that Lizzy McGuire is Hillary Duff.

And, "They're trying to mold her into a singer, and they kind of want to make her edgy.

They want a rock guitar player.

I thought of you. What are you doing?"

I had just come from two years on the road playing with Vince Neil, where it was drunk, rowdy, you know... Big theaters, bars, tits.

Girls French kissing in the front row.

All kinds of Rock n Roll stuff.

And then, now I'm touring stadiums packed, but it's, like, little kids.

Some... In most cases it was their first time ever at a concert.

The line backstage for me became, "Okay, guys, time to scare the kids."

You know, I'll get the, "Ahhh, who's this guy?"

It was funny because I took my daughter down to a venue in Phoenix, Arizona, where we live to go see Hilary Duff.

And stage, left, is this, like, really cool looking, Rock n Roll, like, heavy metal guitar player.

He's got on black jeans, like Doc Martin, he's got a chain hanging down, I mean...

He looked like he should have been playing in Metallica or something.

When I saw Hilary Duff's show, and I said, "Who's the guitar player?"

And somebody finally said, "That's Jason Hook."

And I said, "Yeah, write that name down."

Cause when I go to see other bands I always kinda make a note of who people are.

The second year that I was in that gig, the craze for Hilary went off the charts.

She was so successful that the band was on retainer which is something that doesn't happen very often.

And essentially what that means is that, they pay you whether you're touring or not.

I did something sort of foolish.

I said, "I'm gonna be an adult now.

I'm gonna buy a house."

It wasn't long after that where I was stunned because you literally get out of bed one day and you open the e-mail that says, "Hey, all.

After several meetings, with the label and the movie department, we've decided to take Hilary's career in a new direction, and we're gonna shut down touring.

Thank you very much for all your support and loyalty.

And we wish all of you the best of luck for your future."

The end.

I'm like...

Sheer terror.

It's one thing being Billy _loel's drummer, but it's another thing being the wife of Billy _loel's drummer.

I was getting divorced from my second wife.

I ended up telling her to take everything and just leave me alone.

So, I went to Billy and I said, "You know, if any scraps fall on the floor maybe you could sweep them my way."

And he just looked at me and said, "I can't do that."

"I wished you'd never asked me that. I can't do that."

Irrelative of my success is complicating things because everybody wants more money, more money, more more...

And I continued on the tour doing the tour, but we didn't... Never spoke after that.

The tour ends.

And the next thing I know is Billy's getting married again, to his third wife.

So, I call up the keyboard player and I said...

"I guess we're not invited to the wedding?"

And he says, "I got my invitation."

You're never fired.

You're just not asked to do the next thing.

I knew it was over when he played Madison Square garden and I was getting calls from people that wanted to get tickets to go.

Or, or... "Hey, I heard you're playing in my town?"

"Billy's coming to town. You're with him, right?"

"No, I'm not."

You know when, it's like saying it is like, it could happen, but once you say it, it's like, "Fuck, yeah, I'm not that guy anymore."

So, the divorce and that happened at the same time.

So, my wife buried me in sand up to my neck, and then Billy kicked me in the face.

What do you think now that you are a Rock n Roll star?

I don't think too much about it.

Because if I did, I'd probably get a real swell head.

The question is, when did it go from, "Love me, love my band," to "Get the fuck out of my dressing room!"

We played in Fargo.

It was Easter Sunday the next clay, and Billy had a private plane.

And I wanted to get on the plane.

And I was told, "No, there's not enough room for you."

"What... What do you mean?

I know there's so many seats on the plane and there's only so many people going?"

"No, not enough room.

Billy might want to lay down."


"Billy might wanna lay down.

So, you can't go home for Easter."

I thought I was part of something, that was going to write "payoff" at the end, but, uh...

Fuck, I guess it's never going to happen!

I told him. I said, "I understand why you're doing what you're doing.

You are Billy Joel. Your name is on the album cover.

But, if you ever need my help, I'm there for you."

When you're touring, and you're getting all those checks and they're just stacking up, you're like, "Ah, I'm good!"

But when the tour is over it's over.

The money you have left in your account you need, and all of a sudden it's like, "Whoa, like, I have less than a $1000 in my account now.

And I don't know when my next gig is coming up."

You know, you're living the life, you're on tour, everything is really great, that check is deposited in your account every Friday.

And then it stops.

And you're like, "Hmmm, maybe I got a little cushion, but I still gotta provide for my family."

Throughout the journey of being a player, sure, there have been lean moments along the way.

And you know that moment where you go to the ATM and you realize, "Wow, somebody around here has go to get a job."

Th funniest thing is my friends from high school think I'm rich.

"Are you kidding me?"

I go on the road, I come back, I have to get a job. My buddy and I are painting houses.

I remember painting this house, and I'm taking a break.

I'm sitting on a bucket eating a sandwich, I look up and Matt Sorum walks in.

I'm like, "Holy shit! Matt Sorum."

He's like, "Hey, man." And then he's like, "Looks good, looks good.

And he looks down on me, he was like, "I know you from somewhere."

I was like, "Yeah, we met at Hamburg.

We were on tour with Soundgarden."

He's like, "Shit, that's right.

How you been?"

I'm like, "Well, I'm painting your fuckin house, man."

The only reason why I sorta fell into hired gun type work is because, I was failing, you know, to get to the dream.

The A dream I kinda call it... The A dream for me, was to be in a band with four, five guys writing original music and everyone loved it, and everyone wanted to buy a ticket to the concert.

That's the A dream.

So, the B dream to me was, like, "Well, nobody... All the bands that I'm putting together nobody gives a shit about.

So, I'll just look after myself," and go rent myself to somebody, because I know that I can deliver.

You know, if somebody would have told me Hilary Duff's guitar player was coming and I go, "Yeah?" And he's going out the back door...

But, I also knew about Jason Hook's playing.

I didn't have to audition him.

I already knew he was going to be fine.

♪ Well, we got no choice ♪ Alice has always had a fantastic band.

And even when I wasn't working with him, he had... Davey Johnstone who's with Elton john, Kip Winger who's just a fantastic musician, and Eric Singer, lots of great drummers... and yeah, he's always attracted the best of the best of the sidemen.

Always surround yourself with A-list players.

I mean, everybody in my band's an A-list player.

It's that... I just don't have time for B-list guys.

I got a phone call from a national number that I didn't know.

And he said, "This is Kip Winger."

And he goes, "Are you available this summer?"

And I said, "I would have got some gigs. Why, what's going on?"

And he goes, "Well, I hope you can cancel them because I just got you an audition to play guitar for Alice Cooper."

I went back at the phone, I said, "Ah, my schedule just cleared up."

I just had a feeling about her and she was so eager.

And she was so pumped about doing this, you know.

She wood shedded, she had studied...

She came in and, well, she was perfect.

Now Nita will be in that A-list carrel now.

All the guys now will look, and they've heard her now and they go, "Okay, she's a proven... She's a proven thing now."

It says a lot about you, if you've been selected to be in Alice's band.

I know this because I was.

And I saw the other guys around me that were.

It says a lot about you and your ability, because those shows were exhausting.

There is no backing vocals, there is no click track, like, we do everything, live.

When it comes to the stage show I let them have their movement.

When I back up, they move forward.

When you're playing the lead you are now Alice Cooper.

So you take over.

Guitar players, are show offs.

Anybody that says they're not is lying.

We all want to show off all the time and if we could just stand in the middle and just do tricks the whole time we would. At least I would.

So, you know, and you learn as a guitar player till you show some restraint on stage and let the singer do their thing, and especially as a hired musician.

I've shown an unbelievable amount of restraint sometimes.

Alice let you be yourself.

If you were flashy, and wanted to be flamboyant, a real performer, he didn't care.

I played with Alice, all the way through up until 2008.

And Alice would be cool enough to let me get a replacement to come in for him for a week or two while I would go and play with Kiss.

Kiss and Alice never toured at the same time.

We were sharing the same drummer.

So Kiss would go out for four or five months, and then my tour would start right when the Kiss tour ended.

Eric never got a break.

There's no better compliment than to be in demand by two of the most legendary, bands, ever!

I think finally Eric just said, "I...

I can't do this anymore."

And I just said, "Go with Kiss."

When I was a kid I always said I wanna be in a band like... like a Kiss.

I want to be in an Alice Cooper.

I didn't know I'd end up in Kiss.

You tell that son of a bitch when he was 18, "You're one day you're gonna be in Kiss."

He'd be, like, "Get outta here."

I always looked up to him ever since I saw him in Badlands.

Now he's in Kiss.

It's like, incredible.

I don't ever try to play like somebody, per Se, but you want to at least be...

Be reasonably respectful to the part.

People think just because I wear, make up that was associated with Peter Criss as the original drummer, all of a sudden they think, automatically, that I'm trying to act like him and play like him. It's, like, "No.

Gene and Paul never said, Oh, Eric, we want you to watch videos. We need you to play more like Peter.

You need to do some..."

Never once!

It's so ridiculous that people say that.

I don't play like him at all, actually.

The only thing that I do in common is I wear that cat make-up.

That's where it stops.

And the irony of the whole thing is that, Peter and Ace didn't care about the make-up.

They sold the rights to Gene and Paul because they thought it was worth nothing.

Hey, who wants to sit out there and play in clubs and struggling their whole life? I don't.

All I ever wanted to do was play in a big band since I was a kid.

That's what I dreamed of doing.

And that's what I've ended up doing, and I'm very proud and happy about all the things I've gotten to do.

I think it's cool.

The Alice Cooper Five finger death punch transition, it really all comes down to my relationship with Jeremy Spencer.

I was out there touring with Alice Cooper, and he was in LA playing the clubs.

And they were starting to pick up heat and momentum quite quickly.

And when I would come off the road with Cooper, I would go see them play in the clubs.

And I remember sitting there watching them play, going, "I don't want to be left out of this.

This sucks."

Jason, you know, he was supportive from day one.

He was at our showcase that we got signed, and he was at our first gig we played.

And we were starting to have problems with our guitar player.

So, I'm like, "Hey, man, there may be an opportunity for me to get you in this thing if you're serious about it."

And he was like, "Well, I just wanted to let you know.

We can't afford to pay you Alice Cooper salary."

And I was like, "I don't care about that.

Money will come.

Money can be earned in other ways.

It's not about... it's about grabbing, the right wave.

The one that you believe in, and have a great time riding it to the shore."

Everybody was, like, "You really understand what you're saying, right?"

Like, "Do you really wanna go do that?

Do you really wanna travel around in a van and eat bologna, and play heavy metal?"

I was like, "Yes, I do. Absolutely, one hundred percent."

Because I knew their potential.

I had arranged to speak with Alice.

And he was so cool, he was just, like, "You know, I always encourage my guys to swing the bat, man, go out there, take your best shot."

All these guys leave with my blessing.

"Go, and be a big star."

Jason took that step and now he goes, and jumps into a band that's just on the cusp of making it.

And he puts that final...

That final touch that makes it happen.

So Jason had joined Five finger, I'm thinking, "Okay, you're joining on the trajectory on the way up, so there's...

You're taking a shot that this thing is gonna win big."

And I tell you, you gotta hand it to him, man, because he signed in at the exact right time.

A lot of the core ideas of some of our radio hits, have been from Jason... and you know, I'm really grateful that he's has the ability to do that.

Six years later, you have seven gold records, one platinum single, five number one songs, and we're embarking on the biggest tour we've ever done headlining arenas.

Death Punch is one of the last few hard rock metal bands that is actually able to make the amount of money that we're able to make and have the huge audiences that we have.

I mean, people are still buying our records.

In a time when nobody's buying records we're still going gold, as a hard rock heavy metal act with songs called Burn Motherfucker.

Five hundred thousand copies of Burn Motherfucker?

Very, very fortunate. it's like, your whole life you are writing songs trying to perfect the craft of making music, try to develop your skill.

And when you finally get a chance to do it for real, and people respond to it, to the point where they're willing to show up at an airport for, and wait for eight hours for your plane to arrive just so they can see you in person.


You can't pay for that.

For years I've been like, "I don't wanna be a side guy anymore."

And even if my band remains underground I'm cool with that.

I can do sessions playing on cool records, meet cool people, and do my own band.

But, how the fuck, do you say no to Bon Jovi?

I love making music.

And if somebody calls me up and says, "I have $200 and I really, really would love you to do, guitars on this track."

And I'm, like, "Send it to me."

And they send me the song, and the song's good and the person was really sweet, I'll do it for nothin.

But if somebody sends me, "I have $300, and I want you to play on this. I know you'll take it to the next leve."

And I listen to it, and I can't stand the song, "I can't do it."

I feel like I'm nickel and diming my soul.

Because, when you pay me 300 bucks, you're not getting Phil X for three hours.

You're getting what it took me my entire life, to cultivate into these hands in this heart.

I can't play on a piece of shit for $300.

♪ One eye on your shaker One ear to the ground ♪

♪ Your doctor says you got A mult-personality disorder ♪

♪ The choice is in your hands Your voice on my dic-taphone ♪

♪ I got me some evidence And the girls sing ♪

♪ Wop wop doo wah ♪

♪ Sunny days Were made for you ♪

♪ Oh oh but everything you do ♪

♪ Downward spirals into blue ♪

♪ All I can say is Pound for pound the bitch Crazy ♪

♪ Pound for pound the bitch crazy She's out of her Goddamned mind ♪

I made the decision to go from the biggest band in the world, Ozzy Osbourne, to the total unknown Quiet Riot.

It wasn't even really a leap of faith because, I mean, I have faith in Quiet Riot, that we could sell maybe 50,000 records a year and make a living, play, you know...

We didn't aspire for anything bigger than that.

We just wanted to make another record.

So, we have Metal Health finished.

Ready to be released.

And we couldn't find a manager.

We would say, "Listen to this record."

"Eh, I don't know, that kind of music I don't think is really ever gonna come back."

So, our beginning with Quiet Riot was very, very humble beginnings.

We were driving ourselves in a station wagon, playing up and down the pacific coast.

And by the time the tour ended, we were in Denver and the promoter Barry Faith, who was actually booking the acts for the US festival, needed a band for the metal day because somebody, was out of the line-up and they had a gap, so, it's like they asked us to do it.

So, we say, "Yeah, we'd love to do it."

So, we were the first band to go on.

♪ Come on feel the noize ♪

♪ Girls rock your boys ♪

♪ We get wild, wild, wild ♪

♪ Wild, wild, wild ♪

♪ So you think I got an evil Mind ♪

♪ Well I'll tell you honey ♪

♪ And I don't know why ♪

♪ And I don't know why ♪

♪ So you think my singing's Out of time ♪

♪ Well it makes me money ♪ And, that was incredible exposure for us.

You know, just phenomenal. Phenomenal!

And by then the record was double platinum.

You know, we had Come On Feel The Noise was in rotation on MTV every half hour. I could set my watch.

Because every half hour Come On Feel The Noise came on on MTV, you know, Music Television.

Who knew?

And by November, we had a number one album.

We're talking number one when your competition is Thriller, Synchroncity by the Police, and all those those incredible albums.

So, to me it wasn't just about, having a number one album...

It was about being in such great company.

What's really interesting about going to the top, with any group is that, your landscape is exactly the same, because I've experienced that with three bands.

Going from the bottom, to the very top.

I did it with Ozzy, I experienced that with Quiet Riot, and then later on with Whitesnake.

And then once you get there, the trick is to stay there.

To stay on the top, which is because there's plenty of room at the bottom.

There's only so much room at the top.

There's only gonna be people trying to push you, you know, shove you off the the top.

So, that is the toughest thing to accomplish.

Getting to the top is hard.

Staying at the top is virtually impossible.

I wish I would have the foresight, to predict any of the band's successes, or you would just have to follow your heart.

And after doing this for a while I began to see the signs.

You know, I began to realize that, all of these opportunities, to be...

To be playing with some of the greatest musicians, in the world, actually are... it's a blessing to do that.

The Ozzy Band.

I played with Quiet Riot and achieved such incredible heights, you know, success.

To go on stage with Whitesnake, a band that I'd been a fan of.

My God!

So, it took me a few years to actually have the time, to look back and really relish, in all of the success that I've been blessed with.

And after all said and clone, the most important thing that you have to remember, is the journey itself.

That's when you say, "Oh, wow, check this out.

I've accomplished this."

But I've gotta tell you, it's the people, that I am on the journey along with.

That is priceless!

That really is.

And that is... why I get out of bed everyday.

Since I made God a promise that as long as my fingers were gonna keep moving I was gonna keep playing.

I can't go back on my promise, you know.

This is what I do. I am a musician.

I must play.

I'd like to introduce you to, Liberty DeVitto!

How's it going?


One of the last things that was ever said to me while I was on the road with Billy, came from the piano tuner.

We were walking down the street I remember coming from breakfast or something.

We weren't even talking, just silent, He just turned to me and he goes, "You know what your problem is?

You're a nice guy."

You're the drums. The center of everything.

Like almost being the center of the universe.

We're the ones that make people get up when they dance. it's our beat.

So' Little Kids Rock puts instruments and gives free lessons to kids, where their school program has been taken out of the school in underprivileged schools, like in Harlem... and you know, down and out areas in different cities.

Little Kids Rock has been a saving grace for me.

That was fun, right?


Music is always fun. It's a lot of fun.

It's a great way to burn off energy and stuff like that.

And, you know whats great about it is going from emotion to emotion.

Like a fast song to a slow song.

Reflecting back, we made great records.

We really did.

I mean, those records will last forever.

People still get off on that stuff.

Every time I'm driving in the car and the station plays, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, like, "Yeah, that's me playing."

You know, and when I hear that stuff, people say, "Does it upset you?"

And I say, "No, I just go right back to the studio, and what it was like in the studio making that record."

We were like brothers.

It was like going to war and we've got very successful at what we did.

If Billy is the father, the parent of those songs, I'm at least the uncle, you know.

But now if I saw Billy I'd hug him and tell him I love him.

If he called me up and said, "I'm sorry. Do you want to play again?"

I'd say, "Yeah."

Playing music gives you an identity.

It really, like, "look what I can do!

It took me a long time to learn how to do this.

But look what I can do now."

So, it's a great, great thing to learn how to play an instrument.

And it's not too bad.

I got my shot. My mother used to tell me all the time, "Lib, you had your turn. Now it's the young guys turns."

But right now life is good.

I play all the time, great people.

You know.

It's cool.

I want to see Bucket-head get together with the other guy that's in the other band, and the other drummer that's in that band, and put together a band, of side guys.

They're all great players, why not?

Why not put their own band together?

Nobody's done that yet.

Just call themselves On The Side.

Like French fries on the side.

One, two, one two, three four.

♪ Day fight shines through ♪

♪ My window shade ♪

♪ Feels like my dues ♪

♪ Are always far from paid ♪

♪ It ain't the good life ♪

♪ But I can't complain ♪

♪ When it's all said and done ♪

♪ Gotta carry on ♪

♪ I've been clawing along ♪

♪ It tears me apart ♪

♪ I'll be the last one Standing ♪

♪ It started with hope ♪

♪ But finished with heart ♪

♪ I am your hired gun ♪

♪ Wake up alone again ♪

♪ Someone else is there ♪

♪ Talk to myself again ♪

♪ My only friend ♪

♪ When it's all said and done ♪

♪ You gotta carry on ♪

♪ I've been clawing along ♪

♪ It tears me apart ♪

♪ I'll be the last one standing ♪

♪ It started with hope ♪

♪ It finished with heart ♪

♪ I am your hired gun ♪

♪ I sold my soul to protect ♪

♪ What's left ♪

♪ Cause it's worth defending ♪

♪ I will never forget ♪

♪ I am your hired gun ♪

♪ Hired gun, hired gun Hired gun ♪

♪ Hired gun, hired gun Hired gun ♪

♪ Started with hope ♪

♪ Finished with heart ♪

♪ I am your hired gun ♪

♪ I've been clawing along ♪

♪ It tears me apart ♪

♪ I'll be the last one Standing ♪

♪ It started with hope But finished with heart ♪

♪ I am your hired gun ♪

♪ I sold my soul to protect What's left ♪

♪ Because it's worth Defending ♪

♪ I will never forget ♪

♪ I am your hired gun ♪

♪ Daylight shines through ♪

♪ My window shade ♪