One in a long line of would be super guitarists Kotzen, along with many others, had his cause championed by Shrapnel Records mentor and guitar guru Mike Varney. Shrapnel released Richie's debut solo effort when the guitarist was a mere 18 years old. Kotzen, whose style veered more towards the experimentation of JOE SATRIANI, had previously been a member of ARTHUR'S MUSEUM whilst he was still in high school.
The debut record, a totally instrumental affair, has Kotzen complemented by JOURNEY drummer Steve Smith and bassist STUART HAMM. For 1990's 'Fever Dream' bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Atma Anur were utilized Varney himself also puts in an appearance trading licks with Kotzen. The 'Electric Joy' album was recorded entirely at Kotzen's home.
Putting aside his pursuit of excellence Kotzen was to replace C.C. Deville in POISON during 1991 having been made aware of the vacancy by his A&R man at Interscope, Tom Whalley, who had signed POISON when he was at Capitol. Kotzen's tenure with the Glam Rockers was brief if controversial. The guitarist recorded the 'Native Tongue' album, co-writing the two hit singles 'Stand' and 'Until You Suffer Some (Fire And Ice)', and participated in the band's ensuing tour before departing in less than savoury circumstances.
Kotzen's first post POISON album, 'Wave Of Emotion', was released in Japan by Polystar in 1996 and was a tad similar in style to 'Electric Joy', if a little funkier. Kotzen followed the album with further product in both 1997 and 1998 with 'Something To Say' and 'What Is' respectively. 1997 also saw a project album with fellow guitarist GREG HOWE for the KOTZEN HOWE PROJECT.
The guitarist formed part of the Fusion all star venture VERTU in 1999 led by the esteemed STANLEY CLARKE. This unit toured Europe extensively. That same year Kotzen joined MR. BIG for their 'Get Over It' album, a huge hit in Japan, the same year Kotzen issued his latest solo effort 'Break It Down'. The guitarist also guested on GREGG BISSONETTE's 2000 album 'Submarine' and made live appearances with actor Keanu Reeves band DOGSTAR.
Kotzen's August 2004 album 'Get Up' saw guest studio contributions from
STEVIE SALAS and drummer Brian Tichy. The guitarist also donated his skills
to tracks on Japanese guitarist TAKAYOSHI OMURA's debut album 'Nowhere
To Go'. June of 2005 found Kotzen touring South America, taking in shows
across Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.