JENNINGS: Stephen Pearcy, Ratt still going strong

Stephen Pearcy, center, performs with Ratt. The band is coming to Buffalo next Friday. (Courtesy of The Ratt

Stephen Pearcy, the Voice of Ratt, returns to the area on Friday, Dec. 3, for a performance at The Showplace Theater in Buffalo. Ratt is best known for the massive radio hits "Round and Round" and "Lay It Down."

A career in music was not Pearcy’s first choice. After a hit-and-run accident while Pearcy was riding his bicycle resulted in major injuries, Pearcy set aside his dream to be a professional driver and took up guitar to pass the time while he recovered.

“I started playing guitar and writing. I went to audition for a friend’s band as a guitarist and they said they already had a guitarist so they said I looked cool and had long hair and asked me if I could sing,” Pearcy noted during a recent phone interview.

After seeing Van Halen perform at the Whiskey a Go Go, Pearcy relocated to Los Angeles from San Diego with his band Mickey Ratt. The group shortened its name to Ratt, and within a few years the group released the multi-platinum selling “Out of the Cellar.”

“Nowadays I look at the accident and at how it led me to create this beast called Ratt, it’s a blessing and a curse because all of a sudden you are dealing with people and things and sometimes mutiny from your own band members. The business is crazy,” Pearcy noted.

“In the racing world it’s different, they are more of a family. They aren’t trying to flatten your tires, and in Rock and Roll even your own band members can turn on you.”

Pearcy may sound jaded by the music business, but during the lengthy interview he is candid and introspective, and appreciative of all that he has learned over the tumultuous years with Ratt.

“I enjoy it now more than I did back then, and I have other business interests so I don’t have to do this. I really enjoy meeting our friends, and I don’t use the term ‘fan’ because that implies they are fanatics. They really are our friends. I really appreciate and really enjoy meeting people more than I ever did.”

Pearcy also has a unique perspective on the ongoing narrative that grunge destroyed the careers of hair metal bands that arose in the 1980s.

“It had nothing to do with grunge. It was a sign of the times. Most bands imploded, and as for terms like hair metal, you either embrace the label or you fail. You can call me hair metal, I don’t care. I am just happy to still have the opportunity to still be performing. You have to respect it. Nobody killed it — the music is out there and as strong as ever. It’s all about longevity.”

In addition to all the challenges associated with Ratt, Pearcy has been dealing with his own personal health issues, including a cancer diagnosis.

“I kept my health information private, I didn’t want to have to explain anything but I decided that with all my friends that are dying of cancer, that I needed to get it out there and remind people to get screened.”

“I live every three months with scans and MRIs, but things are good and I have it a lot better than most people. As long as discussing it is doing some good, I have done my job.”

General admission tickets for the show start at $30 and are available through Ticketweb. Hair Nation and After Affect are the openers.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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