Richie Onori’s “Moment of Truth”

Written by on November 17, 2011 in Cover Story, Interviews, November 17, 2011 - 4 Comments

An Exclusive All Access Magazine Interview


Richie Onori

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Richie OnoriRichie Ononri, a well-known, world-class drummer, has devoted this last decade to extending his abilities by preparing himself as a vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Onori knew he had found his calling when he started to write songs which communicated his beliefs about societal issues that were not being addressed by other artists. He believes music is a vehicle that can be used to communicate truth and awareness, as well as to promote change, which has been the case for many influential artists in our most recent history. He has recently completed his first full-length concept CD, which evokes messages and visions that he believes are important to communicate. Through his music, Onori exposes the root causes of mankind’s downward spiral. His work is titled “Moment Of Truth.”

Inspired by the groups of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s whose messages helped to transform the world, Onori believes that artists can once again rise to the occasion and help shape our world and realities with real vision, truth, and leadership.

ALL ACCESS MAGAZINE recently sat down for an interview with Richie.

AAM: Who is Richie Onori?

RO: That’s a good question, sometimes I wonder myself. I guess you could say I am somewhat multi-dimensional. First, I have a drumming career and currently with the likes of “the Sweet” and “Heaven and Earth” as well as doing quite a lot of session work. Second, I am a Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter with a lot to say and I can draw upon my many life experiences and personal points of view. Finally, I am an international businessman running two companies as well as owning the Wine Cellar Recording Studio. Many of my friends say that my name …ONORI … is quickly becoming a kind of “brand name” in the music business. I am not sure if that is correct or not, however if that is so, well I can only be proud of that as Onori “the so-called brand name”, just like Richie Onori, is all about music and that can only be a good thing!

AAM: When did you first start playing music, and with whom?

Richie OnoriRO: I was hanging out with Beethoven (just kidding maybe … laugh). I started when I was 11 years old and haven’t stopped making music since. As a kid I played with anybody that I thought was good. I got my first break when I was 16 playing with the group “? and the Mysterians” (who had the hit song “96 Tears”) and then I joined a group called “Satyr” with a cast of amazing musicians and we had the great experience to open shows in Canada for Alice Cooper as well as Aerosmith.

AAM: Wow, that is interesting, so you got into performing at a very early age and in at “the deep end” so to speak. Who were your early musical influences?

RO: I have so many influences but my # 1 has to be Jimi Hendrix because he had it all. Last year I did a California tour with Uli Jon Roth and we did primarily Hendrix tunes with a few Scorpion songs sprinkled in. Uli really nails the Hendrix tunes. As for myself as a guitarist I really am influenced by the Blues. As far as drums go I was influenced by Buddy Rich to Clive Bunker (of Jethro Tull fame), Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell.

AAM: Now, an interesting change in music for you. You are an accomplished world-class drummer, yet you have decided to play guitar and sing on your new project … why the change?

RO: I love the drums and I will always get pleasure from drumming at the highest levels in music. However, expressing myself vocally with my guitar in my hand is the ultimate in terms of creativity, relaying stories, messages and emotions. I love laying down my drum track and then building, expressing and presenting the song with my guitar and vocals. It is me … all the way, and I love that freedom to build, develop, perform and my express music this way!

AAM: Tell us about your most recent solo project, and discuss some of the songs on it.

Richie OnoriRO: Well, myself and my good friend and President of the label that I am signed to, Gerry Gallagher (SOLA LABEL have decided to release two CD Albums somewhat simultaneously as well as three or four well-produced videos. One CD will be less controversial and a fun musical venture. The other one will either be called “Moment Of Truth” or “American Fighters” (we haven’t decided on the title 100% yet) and that will be more of, I guess you could say, rock protest songs that will give me the chance to address and express my “musical views and concerns” on the current state of affairs in the USA and the world for that matter! I see a lot of finger pointing going on and it is my goal as an artist to point out who are the culprits behind the curtain that are causing our people undue harm for the sake of their own financial and control interests. In another (more philosophical direction) I have a song called “Buffalo Nation” which is about the “White Buffalo Prophecy.” I think our society has far too many rules. We also have far too many so-called leaders that are simply power brokers influenced by greed or self-achievement! We need to go back to a simpler way of life in terms of the environment and how we treat our brothers and sisters and at the same time ousting those who dwell on power and forget that leadership is to service not domineer!

AAM: You mentioned him so I will ask this question. Am I correct that you are being managed by long time well-known music industry producer/entrepreneur, Gerry Gallagher… that sounds like a really exciting musical collaboration … How did that come to be?

RO: Well actually Gerry is the head of the label that I am signed to … SOLA LABEL. Regardless, Gerry was producing a project some years ago using my studio and we just kinda hit it off as we are so musically in tune. Gerry has 35 years in this business and has worked with the proverbial “A to Z of the biz” … “Abba to Zeppelin” and “AC/DC to ZZ Top” and so many others (in one way or another) so we had many great stories, laughs and experiences to share! Gerry lives just over the hill from me in Calabasas, CA and since then we have become very good friends and it has evolved into a powerful business relationship that is working very well for both of us.

AAM: You also have a successful line of guitar straps under the ONORI name, right?

Richie OnoriRO: I thought it would be cool to get into fashion for musicians and have a fashion line. I launched Onori Guitar Straps in 2005 and now we are in 20 countries! I also supply over 1500 stores in the U.S. so Onori straps is getting exciting! I just branched out with a new line of guitar and bass amplifiers. They are all tube, solid state amplifiers called Albion Amplification. Steve Grindrod (who designed all the Marshall amps from 1973 to 2000) is the brains and owner of Albion. I have taken on this most recent challenge … as if I didn’t have enough on my plate … (laughs). As I said previously … music (in one form or another) is my life … literally!

AAM: As a long-time rock ‘n’ roller, we’re sure you have some juicy tales to tell. Share one (or more).

RO: Oh my … quite a question. There is never a dull moment on the road. Most of my juicy stories I simply don’t remember accurately enough to share …(laughs) … because they usually happen after a show and by that time I’m under the influence of some high-grade tequila … (laughs). See how I evaded that question … (laughs again).

AAM: How did you hook up to become the current drummer in the rock group, Sweet?

RO: Stuart Smith and I did a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert back in 2005. That night I was pretty much the drummer for all the artists and acts which included Slash, Steve Lukather, and Keith Emerson. Steve Priest the original bass player for “The Sweet” came up and we did “Fox On The Run” and several other Sweet hits. It was like magic and years later when Steve got the itch to rock again it was a no-brainer to work with one another. Ever since then, it’s been a blast and a great experience. This year for instance, we did the South American leg of the Journey tour as well as other dates in Europe, Canada and the U.S.A.

AAM: Where can people find you at the 2012 NAMM Conference?

RO: Look for Onori Entertainment in the NAMM guide

AAM: What do you see Richie Onori’s career five years from now?

Richie OnoriRO: It’s my intention to be an artist that has something to say that can make a difference and at the same time be entertaining with KICK-ASS shows. With that being said, I plan on being on top of the world in five years, playing, enjoying and loving music as I do now!

AAM: Finally, care to share something about Richie Onori that you’ve never told any other rock publication before?

RO: I am sure any musician can attest that it is not an easy road or life. But for me life means “it’s all about the music” that comes first. Music is the vehicle that can deliver poignant messages or put a smile or a tear on someone’s face. Without music and artists, our life on this planet would be pretty dull and have little meaning. I am personally all about using my talent and notoriety to entertain and possibly enlighten someone out there, or at least convey with my music that there is a answer to the many problems out there … and in my own little away, contributing to mankind having a happier future … It can be done! Prepare To Rock!!!