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Thanks to the release to DVD of The Runaways film about the all-girl rock band, a new audience is being introduced its executive producer and the band’s co-founding member Joan Jett. Jett is a rock n’ roll icon that has influenced the music business, fashion and sound since the mid-1970s and continues to stay fresh and culturally relevant in rock n’ roll.

Jett started rockin’ early; she started playing guitar at the age of 13, “My parents got me a Sears Silvertone for Christmas.” Jett recalls, “The first records I remember really inspiring me to play guitar were T. Rex ‘Bang a Gong’ and Black Sabbath ‘Iron Man’ and the first New York Dolls’ record.1” From that point on, Jett started perfecting her original approach to playing the electric guitar which portrays a hard-edged, down-stroke rhythm. In the movie adaptation of band-mate Cherie Currie’s book, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, not only is Jett’s passion for rock n’ roll music depicted by actress Kristen Stewart (from the mega-hit Twilight series), Stewart is stylized in Jett’s still trendy punk look. Jett was still a teenager when she co-founded the band and she continued to develop her style. The Runaways was short lived, lasting from 1975 to 1979. Even with the band’s success, Jett continually faced hardcore skepticism because in the 1970s, there were very few hard-rockin’ females. Despite all this negative hype, now in 2010, The Runaways best-known songs “Cherry Bomb,” “Queens of Noise,” “Rock n’ Roll,” “Neon Angels (On the Road to Ruin)” and “Born to Be Bad” are still being played on the airwaves and are now documented on film and DVD.

Jett overcame the skepticism of the 1970s. However, it was not her tight sexy clothing that kept her successful. Her success is due to her music, her playing style and the tone of her electric guitar; a sound so unique that Gibson released the second edition of Jett’s signature guitar, a black Melody Maker. According to Gibson, Jett says, “I got my Melody Maker in 1977.” In the late 1970s and early 80s, Jett played a white Melody Maker and in time, it was covered with stickers, “It was light and it sounded great. It was the guitar I had in The Runaways, and then played on all my hits, like ‘I Love Rock N’ Roll’ and ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me.’ It’s my baby. ” Gibson even has a model with simulated rock n’ roll gashes, however you’ll have to supply your stickers.

With her signature Melody Makers, Jett has won recognition for her astonishing guitar playing. In 2008, Jett was named by ELLE magazine to be one of the12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists; in 2006, she was inducted into The Long Island Music Hall of Fame and in 2003, Jett was listing amongst Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Jett formed Blackheart Records with producer Kenny Laguna in the 1980s and has continued to churned out hit after hit with her hard-rockin’ style, hits including “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “Crimson and Clover” and “ACDC.” She has perfected her electric guitar style and continues to tour and record with her band the Blackhearts.

Jett has been revolutionizing music for decades: from co-founding The Runaways, the premier all-girl punk band, to her sexy punk clothing that never goes out of fashion. Jett has proven time and again to be highly influential to rock n’ roll and has changed the music business for the female rock musician. But most important, her electric guitar playing remains fresh and culturally relevant and will always stimulate the core rock n’ roll senses.


Photos by: Z. McCarthy, from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Florida, 2010


Rock N Roll Ribs in Coral Springs Rocks Fans with RiFF RaFF, War Pigs and McBrain Damage

At Nicko McBrain’s Rock N Roll Ribs Restaurant, Nicko celebrated with fans, friends and family. He will soon depart on the 2010 tour with his band Iron Maiden. Helping rock the crowd of thousands of people throughout the day on Sunday, May 30, was South Florida cover band RiFF RaFF with Gorilla Koppisch (bass, vocals), Tim Smith, (guitar, vocals) and Steve Dewey (Drums). After RiFF RaFF, War Pigs, a Black Sabbath tribute band featuring Dave the Beast Spitz played it loud! Tim Smith also does vocals with this band, singing pretty close to sounds of Ozzy and Dio. Also, there was a special tribute to Dio. He was talked about frequently by friends and fans and his music was played throughout the day.

Ribs, sandwiches, bbq beans… tons of food was served all day long, the staff worked their asses off. They were great and pleasure to be around!

Nicko McBrain arrived a little late, after a long day of rehearsal and a photo-shoot with Iron Maiden. His band McBrain Damage ended the show with a great set of music. McBrain Damage features Nicko (of course on drums), Rick Baum (guitar), Dave the Beast Spitz (bass) and once again Tim Brown on vocal.

Nicko hung out after the show with patient fans. A rockin’ time was had by all.


“We’re a ship without a storm, cold without the warm, light inside the darkness that it needs. We’re the laugh without the tear, hope without the fear. We are coming home.”

Ronnie James Dio, born Ronaldo Giovanni Padovan July 10th, 1942, died May 16, 2010 at the age of 67. He began his music career in the late 1950s and went on to be the permiere rock n’ roll vocalist, song writer and musician. Dio rose to fame fronting the heavy rock band Rainbow before leaving in 1979 when replaced Ozzy Osbourne as Black Sabbath’s lead vocalist from 1979 to 1982 and then again in 1991-1992. He also recorded three new songs for Black Sabbath: The Dio Years in 2006.

Dio released several albums with Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules and Live Evil. Dio continued to rock us until he could no longer perform due to his failing health.

He has influenced all of rock n’ roll and will be very missed.

Rock in Peace


Most musicians, whether a bass player, violin player or piano player, want something…. a new instrument. But good instruments hard to come by. Hard to come because music stores no longer stock every instrument and, once the perfect one is found, it is challenge to find the must extra money to buy it. Gorilla Koppisch, bass player for the South Florida cover band RiFF RaFF and international heavy metal band PREMONITION, discovered these issues when he began his search for a new bass guitar.

Over the past year, Gorilla visited music stores in West and South Florida, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey looking for that perfect new bass. But he didn’t find what he was looking for hanging on the walls. Since he had successfully purchased instruments on-line before, he headed back to the internet. And after reading surveys, blogs and manufacturers’ descriptions about many different basses, Gorilla decided to further investigate the limited edition Epiphone Korina Explorer bass since he had been a fan of the Explorer body style for many years. Being sold in limited numbers, no music stores in Gorilla’s area had the Epiphone Eplorer bass in stock. So his decision to want this bass was made mostly on what he read on-line (see the Gorilla Review of this bass below). But once Gorilla decided that this bass was the best instrument for him, there was the hurdle of coming up with money for it. The price of the bass on all the web-stores was $399 (Musician’s Friend lists the MSRP: $665.00); this is not extremely expensive for a bass of this caliper, but not cheap either, and coming up with extra cash was difficult since there were more urgent items in his life that needed financial attention. But music is a family business, and Gorilla’s family knew that he wanted this guitar and that he deserved a new tool-of-the-trade. And with his birthday was coming soon, Gorilla’s wife Patzy began the rock-n-roll plot to surprise him with a new bass.

Gorilla's New Bass on the Wall at Rock N Roll Ribs

Going by what Gorilla had discovered on the internet, Patzy started her own internet research, locating the bass guitar in stock on the Guitar Center’s website. But when she called nearest Guitar Center store, they still didn’t have the item in stock. Patzy told the salesperson, “It’s still odd to me, buying something like this without actully touching it.” But the store’s salesperson assured her that the bass could be returned with 30 days if Gorilla was unhappy, and he proceeded to handle all of her internet transactions over the phone. The bass delivered directly to their home within 5 days.

After the huge box was delivered, Patzy called RiFF RaFF’s guitar player, Tim and asked, “Can you hide this thing?” Tim was happy to be involved in the rock n’ roll plot. They secretly met at a gas station to make the exchange where they dicussed giving the bass to Gorilla at a dinner party with friends and family planned for Rock N’ Roll Ribs, a new hotspot co-owned by Rick Baum (guitar player for War Pigs and McBrain Damage) and Iron Maiden drummer, Nicko McBrain. It’s walls are adorned with collector guitars, rock n’ roll paraphernalia and Mr. McBrain’s world-wide awards. What better place to surprise a rock musican with a new bass guitar.

Rock N Roll Ribs, Coral Springs

Rock N Roll Ribs, Coral Springs

Rock N Roll Ribs was crowded that Friday night. Musicians, motorcycle builders, photographers and artists as well as Iron Maiden fans and their families travel from miles away to enjoy the rock n’ roll atmostpher and great food. Tim and RiFF RaFF drummer, Steve arrived before the other party guests and plotted with owner/manager Rick. They took a collector guitar off the wall and put up Gorilla’s surprise Epiphone bass guitar amoung all the Iron Maiden plaques. Other guests arrive including bass-player Dave Spitz (Black Sabbath, War Pigs, McBrain Damage) and joined in the plot. Everyone except Gorilla knew that the Epiphone Korina Bass placed the right over the tables where they would be sitting, was his rock n roll surprise.

After the party had been seated, Gorilla looked up on the wall and noticed the bass on the wall, “Oh man, that’s the bass I want. I can’t believe it. It’s hanging on the wall in front of me!” He tried to change his seat so he would not have to look at it, but no one would let him move. “Would you like to play it?” His wife asked. But when she started to remove the bass guitar off the wall, Gorilla became concerned and shouted, “Hey, you can’t do that, you can’t just take Rick’s guitar off the wall, we’re going to get thrown out of here!!!” The party guests giggled and laughed and Gorilla’s son Thor told him, “It’s your guitar dad!” But Gorilla didn’t believe him. After the bass was placed in his hands, he began to play, and hold back the tear, “Wow, I don’t believe you did this for me.” But his wife explained, “Great musicians deserve great guitars!”


About me-
Let me introduce myself, my name is Robert Koppisch, however just about everyone who knows me calls me Gorilla. Gorilla is a name I was branded with while being a member of a motorcycle club and has followed me for some 20 some odd years.

That out of the way, I have been playing guitar and bass since the age of 10. At age 15, and in a band with much older guys, I started doing gigs in bars. Several years of singer problems forced me up to the microphone as well. I have worked very hard at always having the best tone I can. If it means going through a multitude of heads, cabinets, guitars and even strings, I am committed to finding the sound I am looking for.

Subject: Epiphone Korina Limited Edition Explorer Bass

Gorilla Koppisch Bass Player at Cheers/Ft. Lauderdale

I am an Explorer nut! So I have been looking at the newly released line of Epiphone Explorer basses for about a year. However, being jaded by owning several Gibsons over the years and never finding an Epiphone that I felt comfortable with, I didn’t expect it to be one of my main Guitars.

Having my birthday dinner with a group of friends at the world famous Rock n Roll Ribs, I was surprised by my wife by having the Explorer hanging on the wall with several of Ricks Guitars when we sat down was Incredible!
Wow! There it was even the color I wanted, Alpine white. Having a gig at a club called Cheers the next night, I knew I wouldn’t have time to have it set up, tweaked and change strings in time to use it much or maybe at all.

First thing I did was look at the inspection paperwork. I was amazed to find out that they took the time to set it up before shipping and even gave a detailed description of the action, intonation and fret buzz. I plugged it in for a test drive!

Expecting it to sound like pure mud, like the hundreds of Epiphone Thunderbirds I have been trying out for years, I was almost shocked to find that the pickups not only didn’t need to be changed, but actually had a nice clean beautiful tone.
1) The front pickup (neck position) is low and thunderous without being muddy.
2) The back pickup (bridge position) is punchy without being twangy, Perfect!
3) The toggle switch gives me the choice to go back and forth as I need to.
4) The center position of the toggle gives you both pickups on together which can be blended by using the 2 volume knobs.

I have found that guitar necks are a matter of individual taste. Personally, I prefer the slim yet wide neck. Gibson refers to this as the slim taper neck, so for me this is the perfect neck for me, Not to fat and not to thin. I have walked away from Hammer Explorers over the years because of the necks (ie: Louisville Slugger). The Alpine white paint is striking; however, I am not personally a fan of gold hardware, but I’m ok with it. I think it would look sharp with black hardware myself, but I don’t see myself changing the bridge and tuners any time soon.

So far I was so impressed that I packed it up for my next gig. But would it pass this test?

The Big Test!

Cheers of Fort Lauderdale is one gig we call the marathon. RiFF RaFF played five sets from 10pm till 4am, and being a 3 piece band, I can’t have a bass that I have to struggle with while I’m singing, or one that I have to constantly tune.

The overall construction of this Epiphone guitar is just like playing a Gibson. I especially like the set neck. To me this sets this Guitar miles above the average bolt on neck in Quality. I also have a Dean Explorer with a bolt on neck and even though I’m fond of it, it just can’t compare to the Epiphone.

I play in Hard Rock/Heavy Metal bands so I do play hard and bend the hell out of my strings, so it’s important that I’m in tune all the time. In a 3-piece band, RiFF RaFF, there is no second guitarist to cover anything up. After, five sets of banging on this thing, I checked my tuning about every 2 or 3 songs (quickly)! This guitar passed staying in tune test with flying colors, I didn’t even have to tweak anything until the end of the second set. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Only my custom American Fender P Bass stays in tune like that.

This brings us to the balance section of this review. Unfortunately, most of the guitars I favor are a little neck heavy: Explorers, Mockingbirds, Thunderbirds even the Ibanez Iceman 6 strings that I had growing up. Yes this Epiphone bass, sporting a 2 octave neck is no different. Growing up a huge Paul Stanley fan, I believe your guitar should be worn somewhere between your hip and knees! Of course, this is a matter of personal preference, but most pointy guitars and basses with pointy head stocks have no long top horn for balance. I found the Epiphone Explorer not so neck heavy as a B.C. Rich Mockingbird or even a Thunderbird. As for me, it’s no struggle at all. My advice for you would be, if it bothers you, buy a Jazz bass!

Gorilla Koppisch Gear

My Rig is a Hartke LH1000 head and a Hartke Vx 8×10 cabinet. I also use Hartke transient Attack strings. I change my strings after every gig so I always have that bright fresh string sound and the Hatrke strings are affordable enough to do that. I also use Dean Markley Blue Steels when I can afford them and they will last for 2 gigs.

I hope this review was helpful to you.

My next review will be on the Ibanez Aeb5 acoustic 4 string bass.

Until next time, Play it Loud!



MAY 1, 2010