My personal Ratt story
April 09, 2010 6:21:47 PM UTC Post #1

I've been a huge fan of Warren DeMartini -- and Ratt, as a whole -- since the release of "Out of the Cellar" and actually had the opportunity to meet Warren back in 2001. So, when I saw that Ratt and their record label were sponsoring a "Tell Your Ratt Story" contest, I was quick to enter. I encourage anyone who hasn't entered to do so if they have something they'd like to share.

Below I've pasted a copy of my entry -- not as some cheap ploy to garner attention for contest purposes (there are probably a lot more touching entries than mine), but because I think others may enjoy reading it. Plus, if members of the band take the time to read these posts, it would mean a lot to me if Warren were able to see it, since it mainly pertains to his being an unknowing mentor to me and how that ultimately led to me meeting him.

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Everyone has heroes in life -- people they idolize and admire from afar.
Some have a specific athlete or movie star who inspires them, while others look up to people who have filled the attainable but necessary roles of doctors, firefighters and servicemen.
When I was growing up, I looked up to people like that too. But when it came to the one person I truly wanted to emulate, there was only one name that came to mind -- Warren DeMartini.
Odds are, few people in my small Arkansas town recognize the name. To some it may ring a long-suppressed bell. But for me, it’s a name that’s firmly etched in the back roads of my mind.
I started playing guitar when I was in the sixth grade. I liked it and had a natural knack for it, but it wasn’t until one hot, summer afternoon the following year that I witnessed something that would impact how I viewed my instrument forever.
I remember coming in from the heat and turning on the television. Naturally, I flipped it to MTV, my channel of choice. There was a video on with Milton Berle in it, which was cool, but what grabbed my attention was the incredible guitar work that accompanied the visuals.
The song was “Round and Round,” and the band was Ratt. I’d never heard anything like it, and I was instantly hooked -- not just by its catchy sound, but by a guy playing one of the most soulful solos I’d ever heard.
That guy was Warren DeMartini.
From that point on, I had a new drive in life. I didn’t just want to be a good guitarist, I wanted to be a great one. Before I knew it, I was as good as my instructor and no longer needed lessons. I started playing in cover bands, belting out note-for-note renditions of the hits of the day. It wasn’t long before I actually started getting paid for it.
As the years passed, I progressed significantly on my instrument. My main focus in life was sitting in my bedroom rewinding tapes over and over as I learned new songs. The majority of those songs were by Ratt, and in my mind, I was always accompanying Warren on stage before a crowd of thousands.
Of course, time slipped away and, before I knew it, my high school dreams were a thing of the past. I had more important things to think about -- college, my future. I still played guitar daily, like I do now, but I no longer looked at pursuing rock stardom as a feasible option.
The ‘80s were a thing of the past as well. Bands like Ratt were abandoned by fickle record labels in favor of the seemingly fresher sounds of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Before I knew it, my childhood hero and his band had vanished into obscurity.
All that changed in 2001.
Thanks to a local promoter and my then-career as a newspaper editor, I had the opportunity to do something I never had a chance to do as a teen. I got to see Ratt perform live -- in my hole-in-the-road town of all places. Considering the magnitude of the band’s popularity during it’s platinum-selling era, it was hard to believe they would actually be gracious enough to do anything short of buying gas here.
Best of all, I got to finally meet Warren face to face.
Ratt stopped by a local sports bar the night before the show to meet fans and sign autographs. Being a member of the press at the time, I was able to interview him. But what started as a question and answer session quickly turned into one of the most memorable moments of my life.
To be honest, I didn’t expect much and was prepared for the worst. I assumed Warren would be cocky and destroy the dreams of my youth. Instead, he was a super nice guy, who was totally into everything I had to say. We talked about music, guitars, our childhoods -- everything. Before I knew it, 90 minutes had slipped by and he hadn’t yawned or looked away once. The guy who inspired me the most musically was not only treating me as an equal, but as a friend.
And it meant a lot.
Needless to say, I was at the concert the following night inside the local theater. I had promised the promoter I would take some shots of the band in action. Mainly, though, I was there to watch Warren work his magic.
I felt like a kid again. I was just a few feet away from one of the best guitarists to ever strike a chord, and it only took a five-minute drive to see him. I know that probably sounds silly and meaningless to people from big cities, but if you lived here, you’d understand that things like that simply don’t happen.
To top it off, Warren spotted me in the crowd fairly quickly. He threw a handful of guitar picks in my direction a few times, but each time others beat me to them. I kept scanning the floor, hoping to find one someone had dropped or overlooked.
And then it happened.
In between two of the night’s final songs, Warren walked to the edge of the stage with a pick in his hand and reached out over the crowd. Everyone tried to grab it, but he didn’t let go until it was firmly locked in my grasp. I felt like the kid in the old soda commercial who caught Mean Joe Greene’s jersey.
What meant the most, though, was the fact Warren DeMartini, one of the top rock guitarists in the world, surpassed all of my expectations. He was humble. He was appreciative. And, most of all, he was sincere.


April 10, 2010 2:53:46 AM UTC Post #1

Thank you for sharing your personal story! I think it was great that you had the chance to interview Warren, and then talk to him in a genuine down to earth way, with no "rockstar attitude" that some seem to have. I do remember the commercial you are talking about. I would feel that way also! And it's nice to know that Warren was humble, appreciative but most of all sincere! What a great memory for you!

April 10, 2010 9:35:50 PM UTC Post #2

@Rock_Chick83: You're welcome -- and, yes, that's definitely one of my favorite memories. Warren's definitely a rock star all the way, but he doesn't seem to have lost who he is as a person over the course of his musical journey. That definitely makes him the exception to the rule, given the status he's managed to achieve as a guitarist.

April 11, 2010 11:49:38 AM UTC Post #3

@Guitarist est. 1971: Couldn't have said it better myself! You ROCK!

April 14, 2010 3:15:51 AM UTC Post #4

Great story! Thank you for sharing. :)

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