you get the name Rocket?" people always ask.
Explosive, rip, fuse, torpedo, flare….
one of those words can be used to describe his technique.
The nickname has been with him since the late 70's when he
was working in one of his first sessions (fusion was big at
that time), and it called for some fast guitar work. The keyboard
player listened to him play and immediately nicknamed him
'Rocket". The name was self-apparent and it stuck. His
family name, Ritchotte (pronounced Ri-shot) is French-Canadian
Indian, descendants of the Cree Indians.
Rocket was born in Temple, Texas and grew up in Attleboro,
a small town in Massachusetts. His father, a country guitarist
going by the name Rick Rayle, had young Rocket appear with
him on stage at the Grand Ol' Opry. Rayle played with many
greats from Johnny Cash to Minnie Pearl.
Rocket traded in his Mickey Mouse guitar (literally) and started
guitar lessons with his father at age 11. Five years later,
he was playing clubs all over Boston and Providence (they
were a little more lax on ID's back then).
At 18, Rocket left home to try his talent in Los Angeles and
it proved to be a great move. He met a guitar enthusiast named
Doug Parry who introduced him to the band
members of Iron Butterfly. While jamming with his new friends,
he was noticed by KISS member Gene Simmons
who touted him to Cher. Cher was looking for a guitarist for
her Vegas act and she quickly hired Rocket to tour with her
from Atlantic City to Monaco. When Cher decided
to start a rock band, she called on Rocket to play for "Black
Rose". Black Rose made one record with Casablanca and
toured as openers for Hall & Oates.
Later, Rocket segued to another rock diva, Rickie Lee Jones
for her successful "Chuck E" tour. Soon, John
Kay asked Rocket to bring his searing guitar and
join his band Steppenwolf. During his tours, Rocket co-wrote
and co-produced several albums with John and become a renowned
member of the 'Wolf Pack".
Rocket's hard-hitting, tasty guitar playing gave him the reputation
of one of the best guitarists in LA. It came as no surprise
that when David Lee Roth needed someone for
his band, Rocket was the man to get. The other band members
were Brett Tuggle, Gregg Bissonette
and Matt Bissonette, all of whom would become
best friends for the next decade and help to make "Salute"
as fine a CD as it is.
Other tours and albums include Rick Springfield,
Gino Vanelli, Celio & Kapono, Udo Lindenberg, Grand Master
Flash and Steve Miller, who included a song
on his album co-written by Rocket and Les Dudek called "Blue
In between tours, Rocket lives with his family in Los Angeles,
and does session work. For the past eight years, Rocket has
been heard playing on the "stings" for the t.v.
show "Friends". Michael Skloff,
the show's music director, re-hired Rocket for Jason Alexander's
series when he spun off from "Seinfeld".
Rocket also worked on the series "Promised Land"
and a scored a movie of the week for cable.
Rocket's guitar work can also be heard in over twenty commercials.
More recently, his own music can be heard in the film "Black
Cadillac" which came out this year.
In 2002, Eichiki Yazawa (the Mick Jagger
of Japan) hired Rocket for his huge "One Man" tour
through Japan where they played to sold out stadiums like
the Budokan and the 50,000-seat Tokyo Stadium. This spectacular
concert is currently out on DVD in the U.S. and Japan.
Upon his return to the States, Lou Gramm
snagged him to tour the U.S. and Canada in 2003.
Despite a full schedule, Rocket managed to write all the music
for his "Salute" CD, which he first recorded in
his home studio. When Rocket played the demo for his friend
Doug Parry, Doug was so knocked out by the music that he offered
to produce the CD at Andora, one of the most sought after
studios in Hollywood. Using some of the best talent in L.A.,
coupled with Doug's impeccable recording skills, they made
a great CD stellar.
Rocket's keen ability and varied styles glisten in the country
roots of his steel guitar, the stinging licks
of his rock and roll, the sultry lure of his blues,
and his heartfelt acoustic ballads. This range of musicianship
has given Rocket an enviable reputation among LA's best and
an international fan base . Later this year, Rocket will be
working with his good friend and mega-talented guitarist,
Michael Thompson, on a DVD for yet another
The name for this CD, "Salute", came from rocket's
desire to pay tribute to all the influences that have made
him the amazing guitarist he is today.
Rocket is currently spending some hard-earned time with his
wife, Kristi, a screenwriter, and his son Kane Ritchotte,
a musician and actor.
Ritchotte can be seen on the hit show "Monk",
for his second season as "Benjy", the son of Monk's
partner, Sharona. He has also guest starred on "Yes,
Dear" and "Judging Amy".
Kane is also an outstanding drummer (who owes a lot to his
"Uncle" Gregg Bisonette) his mentor.
Kane has been drumming since 1 ½ years of age. He performed
at a drum clinic with Gregg at age 4 and is the youngest member
of the Valley Arts Drum Clinic whose other members are Gregg
Bissonette, Terry Bozio, and Doane Perry.
When Lou Gramm played at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas
last year, Kane (age 11) played a drum solo. The 5,000 people
watching went crazy and the rave reviews were posted on the
Foreigner Files website.
Kane is currently in his own LA band, "Probation",
which is the youngest band to have played the famous Troubadour
and will be playing at the Roxy on September 17, 2004. Kane
also plays guitar and has a fantastic teacher, his dad. Obviously
the acorn hasn't fallen too far from the tree.
BUY THE ALBUM HERE