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Ask the ‘Creep: Who the Heck Is Joey Cristofanilli?

“Hello there, I liked your article on Ratt. I am or was a big fan back in the day when they first started out in California at the Roxy and such, when they were with Joe Cristofanilli on bass. I wondered why he ever left the band and what happened to him. Why don’t they ask him to play again?” –Patsy

Thanks for you letter Patsy. It seems like you were gnawing at the nest back before Ratt became a commercial entity and have followed them through feast and famine. Here are some facts that might help explain the extermination of Joey Cristofanilli from Ratt.

As you may well know, the band that evolved into Ratt started out in the late ’70s in San Diego as Mickey Ratt. Inspired by a Van Halen show frontman Stephen Pearcy saw on a trip to Los Angeles, he decided to move the band to L.A. And in 1981, fearing trouble with the litigation-happy executives at Disney, the band left Mickey in the cellar and shortened their name to Ratt.

At the time, the lineup featured Pearcy along with a rotating cast, including guitarists Jake E. Lee and Chris Hager, bassist Matt Thorne and drummer Dave Alford, who all bailed and wound up in Rough Cutt. Here’s where ex-Magic bassist Cristofanilli enters the picture. See, he was the original bassist for Rough Cutt and played on their 1981 demos for ‘A Little Kindness’ and ‘Used and Abused.’ Cristofanilli remained with the band until 1983.

Meanwhile, in 1982, Ratt put together their classic lineup: Pearcy, guitarists Warrren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby, bassist Juan Croucier and drummer Bobby Blotzer. Croucier had previously played in Dokken, and when he joined Ratt, he retained his allegiance to his other band and rocked with both groups until Dokken recorded 1983′s full-length debut, ‘Breaking the Chains.’

At one point — when Pearcy and pals were feeling like Croucier’s priorities were skewed — they hired bassist Joey Cristofanilli who played on the bonus track ‘You’re in Trouble’ from ‘The Ratt’ EP, which came out in 1983. He did, indeed, co-write ‘Wanted Man,’ which appeared on Ratt’s 1984 full-length debut ‘Out of the Cellar.’

However, Cristofanilli’s Ratt race ended in 1983 when Croucier dedicated himself full-time to Ratt and remained in the rodents’ den for the next decade. Cristofanilli never played with Ratt again, but he became a member of Jag Wire, which released the slick, syrupy ‘Made in Heaven’ in 1985. That was his last appearance on an album release.

Fast forward to the present day. Cristofanilli now lives in Buffalo, N.Y. and plays in the cover band Silver Xtreme. In addition to playing metal classics, the band’s repertoire includes songs by Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers, Creed, Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp and the Eagles. They also do a full-set tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Silver Xtreme were nominated for Buffalo’s Best Rock Band by the Buffalo Music Awards for seven years in a row, and in 2005 they finally won. Look for their upcoming gigs Jan. 23 in Seneca, N.Y. at Chuggers and Feb. 20 at Flattery’s. And on April 24 — around the time Ratt are releasing their new album ‘Infestation’ — Silver Xtreme will play the District 5 Athletic Association Beer Blast Fundraiser at the Knights of Columbus in Hamburg, N.Y.

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