True Tales Of Rock ‘n Roll, Sleaze And Debauchery With Riki Rachtman
‘I very nonchalantly said to Axl ‘I’d like to do that show Headbangers Ball and he was ‘you want me to call them and set up an audition?’ Yes Axl Rose I would like you to call them and set up an audition!’ He called them up and flew with me to New York for my audition!’ Riki Rachtman, at this point the infamous owner of the notorious Sunset Strip club The Cathouse, tells me how he got the the gig as the VJ of the most influential show for rock music on the most influential TV station for music, MTV.
Rachtman himself was highly influential. There was not one album released in rock or metal circles during the Strips, and MTV’s, hedonistic and musical apex of the early 90’s that didn’t have his name in the liner notes starting with the biggest band of the time Guns N Roses. Go on, go and check. We’ve got time.
‘I’m such a jerk cause the first thing I did – God I hate I’m admitting to this – as soon as an album would come out, I’d look to see if my name was in the thank you’s. It’s bad but a lot of times it was!’
Rachtman was an influential character in the rock scene of the late 80’s through the 90’s that have been immortalised in books and movies from Slash and Motley Crüe and beyond. But Rachtman has his own stories of ‘Rock N Roll sleaze and debauchery’ and his upcoming tour of Australia ‘One Foot In The Gutter’ is a chance for the man to regale us with his.
‘What I’m gonna try to do is really describe the Hollywood scene – I’m gonna write a whole new script – and try to bring everybody with me into the 80’s in Hollywood. When all my friends are getting record deals, we were doing all sorts of bad stuff and what the scene was really like in the 80’s. If some people don’t know what Headbangers Ball was, I’m also going to bring some clips and show you what that show was.’
This is a man who was once famously described by Guns N Roses guitarist Slash as ‘a bad influence on Axl Rose’ due to his own proclivity to party.
‘As much as you’ve heard crazy stories about The Rainbow and The Sunset Strip – I mean any kinda decadence you might have heard – it was triple at the Cathouse! I mean it really was a totally different time. A time that could no way be duplicated.’
The scene though imploded on itself and a the next generations middle finger to the establishment came along, then the next one and the next one. MTV stopped playing music and Rachtman’s world became very different. This show touches on the roller coaster down to the rags and then back to the riches.
‘I don’t think anybody knew how low it go for me. People didn’t know about me going to jail. Going completely broke till I had to get a job wearing a suit and tie selling cars. That the power got turned off in my apartment. No one knew it got that low and then I ended up working and never stopped working and built it up to radio, started an apparel line and now I’m doing these shows!
I have no problem telling everyone that story. There’s people I’ve had at shows who are going through really hard times, feel like giving up and I went through some really hard times but I never ever gave up and some of the bad times I had led to a great direction that I wouldn’t have been in not for those bad times.’
Ractman’s legend is cemented but what is not known are his stories and this is a moment for many of us to get closer than we’ve ever been to that gloriously hedonistic and depraved era. The man himself is looking forward to meeting Australia too.
‘I love the feeling of going onstage and telling my stories. The whole idea of going to Australia and playing four shows is mind-blowing. It’s more than I could ever have dreamed off.’
That’s some statement from a man who has…well go to his show and find out what he has done.
Tickets from Silverback Touring…