When Richie Kotzen met Michael Richards.

I am late to the Dean Delray “Let There Be Talk” podcast party. I’ve been overdosing on his podcasts over the last few weeks and find them really entertaining. Mainly to do with the fact that he interviews musicians who play in rock bands. Most of the time anyway. I’m a musician and I like rock music. Win win.

Remember Michael Richards? He played the part of Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld. Although, he is unfortunately more famous, or infamous for using the “n” word when reacting to hecklers at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, on November 17, 2006.


Michael Richards

Do you know who Richie Kotzen is? If you’re not into rock music, or guitars or you don’t remember the 1980s hair rock bands, you’ll probably never have heard of him. Well, he played with Poison for a while, and currently plays with The Winery Dogs, a rock band which included Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan. I’m not going to explain who those guys are!


Richie Kotzen

This is old news at this stage, but Dean put out a podcast with Richie, and there’s a story towards the end of it, which is funny and crazy at the same time. It involves Richie and Michael at the Laugh Factory about a week before the famous/infamous incident with Richards and some black audience members.

You can find the entire podcast on itunes, or anywhere else Dean can be found.

Here’s the Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/deandelray/let-there-be-talk-ep81

Transcription taken from podcast: Feb 24, 2014

Up until this part of the podcast, Dean and Richie spoke about everything and anything, from growing up, to music, to guitars, to playing in bands, to living in California. Then this nugget:

DEAN DELRAY: A lot of people know that Michael Richards had that meltdown on that famous night, but I was there the night he blew up on you, which is an incredible story, because I don’t think a lot of people know.

RICHIE KOTZEN: Yes, would you like me to tell you that story from my perspective?

DEAN DELRAY: So, I remember I’m at The Factory watching comics, and he comes on, and tell me what happens?

RICHIE KOTZEN: Well I remember, because I had a very bad day first of all, and I’m friends with Jay (Jay Davis is a stand-up comedian) as well, and he invited me, and my girlfriend at the time, and my friend and his girlfriend to come out to the comedy show, and so he gave us like the best seats up in the balcony, right in the middle.

So the show started, and people got up, and there were a lot of funny people and I was having a good time, and then suddenly he (Jay) says: “We have a very special treat, Michael Richards is going to get on the stage”

He came out, and I was very excited.

DEAN DELRAY: Yeah. We all were, because he wasn’t doing stand-up, and all of a sudden he’s starting to do it, and all of a sudden people are like: “Oh, woooh, Kramer!”

RICHIE KOTZEN: Yes, so he comes out and immediately it went dark, but not dark in a way of dark comedy. Dark in way like, we were just a bunch of meaningless morons that didn’t know anything about anything and suddenly he had all the answers and it was kind of like, you know, you have to realise, if it’s not for the public, you don’t have the opportunity to get up and do what you’re doing right now. So it’s kind of the opposite. What we do is what makes you, because you are commenting on us and our activities. There is no “what you’re doing right now.”

He started taking it, like, really dark. He said something about the military that was really really horrible and it hit a chord with one of us that lost someone, and so, I just got up and went to the bathroom and thought: “You know what, I’m just going to leave for a minute and maybe by the time I get back he’ll be doing comedy and it won’t be whatever it is he’s doing.”

So I sit down, and suddenly he goes on this thing about Jesus and he ties it into what he’s saying earlier and then there’s some other vulgarity and then he ends his sentence with: “Where is God anyway?”

And I just simply… I don’t know what. It was a surreal moment. The place was dead quiet. No one was clapping or laughing or anything, and I leaned forward and I went… and part of the thing that’s funny. I have to tell you what I was wearing, because I had this big black cowboy hat, big black beard, long long hair, and I looked right out of the south, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I leaned forward and I just said: “Wrap it up!”


RICHIE KOTZEN: When I said that, I heard my voice: “Wrap it up, wrap it up”, and I’m thinking: “Was that me? Did I just do that?”

DEAN DELRAY: It was like Tourette’s right?

RICHIE KOTZEN: Yeah. And he looks around, and he goes like this, and he’s not looking up there, because it’s dark and he says: “Who said that? Who said that? Who said that?” And he’s pointing, and I continue and I said: “God said that and He’s up here!”

And he looks up and he goes: “Oh, you think you’re God?” I said: “No, that’s not the point.” The reason I said the God thing, cos he said “Where is God anyway”, and I said “God said that and He’s up here asshole!”

And he looks up and says: “Oh you think you’re God?” and I said: “No I don’t think that, but I think I came to the Laugh Factory because I wanted to laugh and you’re not funny. Why don’t you get off the stage and let someone get on the stage that’s funny. Someone that can make us laugh, because that’s what we’re here for.”

He didn’t know what to do and he says: “Oh, ok. If that’s what you want I’ll leave. I’ll leave!”

And people are like.. One person clapped. Maybe it was you! Everyone else was like: “What’s going on?”

In this one little moment, someone comes over to me and says: “Sir. If you’re going to do that, and you’re going to heckle the comedians, you’re going to have to leave.”

I said: “I’m really sorry. I don’t know why I did that. That’s not my character. I won’t do anything like that again. I’m sorry.”

In the moment that person left, Richards came back on stage like a lunatic and screaming: “Fuck you! Fuck you!”

Then he went on kind of a racist tangent, because he called me a redneck. He called me a redneck motherfucker and said that it was because of people like me that the world was this and the world was that.

All I said was that you’re not good at what you do. It’s not because of people like me that the world is fucked up. So he goes on this crazy tangent, calling me names, and then suddenly…

DEAN DELRAY: I think he said something like: “You old washed up 80s rocker”. Something…

RICHIE KOTZEN: So then he says: “What are you trying to do? Impress your girlfriend?” So now she flips out and she jumps up and starts screaming at him and I heard what she said, and she said: “You may have been funny when Seinfeld was writing your shit, but you’re a fucking has been. Fuck you!”

So then he starts screaming at her, and I swear to this day, I heard him call her a spic whore.


RICHIE KOTZEN: And so they’re going back and forth and she’s screaming literally over the railing. The place is erupting in chaos…

DEAN DELRAY: Absolutely…

RICHIE KOTZEN: Suddenly this huge dude comes over and is lifting me out of my chair, pulling me out of the place. So she doesn’t realise that I’m being thrown out. So I grab her and say: “Hey! They’re throwing us out!”

So she calms down. We get to the bottom of the stairs. He runs off the stage. The bouncer gets between, and he (Richards) says something to the effect of: “I hope I made your night”, or something like that.

I said: “No, you didn’t make anything, but you should be thanking me, because I made your fucking set. Until I opened my mouth, this place was fucking dead! I made your night!”

DEAN DELRAY: Haha. I remember you guys. He was like: “Come on!” He wanted to fight almost.

RICHIE KOTZEN: Please, he would be dead if he fought me! So we go outside, and Jay comes out and he starts saying: “I’m so sorry.” And I said: “Why are you sorry. I’m the asshole that opened my mouth. I shouldn’t have done that.” But I couldn’t help myself.

So here’s the thing that nobody knows. A week later. Well, everybody knows this, that he went nuts on those black folks in there. Well, when that happened, there was talk, because they caught it on film, there was this talk about he should pay a hundred grand for every time someone says the “n” word, and I just thought that that was…

I thought that what he said was horrible. I thought what he said was wrong. I also thought that he shouldn’t have called me a redneck. I know that’s not nearly as bad. I also thought that he shouldn’t have called my girlfriend a spic whore. So I think all of it is wrong.

Someone was saying that he should pay a hundred grand for every time he says something racist.

And I thought: “That’s really weird.” So I wrote a letter to Larry Elder. I don’t know if you know who Larry Elder is?


RICHIE KOTZEN: Google him. You’ll know who he is. He has a talk show.


RICHIE KOTZEN: And I wrote this letter just talking about Michael Richards and about the double standard in society when it comes to race, and what’s acceptable, what isn’t, and how people think.

I must have wrote this letter really well, because I’m listening to this show in my kitchen, and I was actually soldering. I was working on some electronic gear, and I always would listen to him, and he started talking about Michael Richards, and he read my letter on the air.


RICHIE KOTZEN: And then I tried to call him, and I couldn’t get through. He read my letter. I have it in my computer somewhere. I’ll show it to you next time I see you.

But it was just interesting, the whole turn of events, and how it went down.

DEAN DELRAY: Yeah. It’s really a weird shit storm of two weeks for him, you know.

RICHIE KOTZEN: For him, yeah. I don’t believe he’s a racist at all actually. To be honest with you, I just think that he doesn’t… he has an issue controlling his temper, and he doesn’t know his skill set.

DEAN DELRAY: Right… Of stand-up comedy…

RICHIE KOTZEN: That’s what I’m trying… It’s like me suddenly trying to go out and play flamenco. It would be a disaster. And getting mad because people say: “Hey, you don’t know how to play flamenco.”

DEAN DELRAY: It really kind of labelled him forever.

RICHIE KOTZEN: But he has a TV show now, doesn’t he?

DEAN DELRAY: Yeah, but I don’t think it did any good. It was the one with what’s her name from Cheers. Kirstie Alley.

I don’t know. It’s an interesting thing, and we were both there, and it was wild.

RICHIE KOTZEN: Yeah. A lot of people don’t know that story.


At this point, the conversation veered back on track and Dean and Richie continued talking about music, guitars and comedy.

Dean doesn’t only interview musicians, so check out his podcasts if you like music, comedy, acting, motorcycles, or just having a laugh.

Follow Dean on Twitter @deandelray




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