Richard Francis "Rikk" Agnew, Jr. (born December 9, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and visual artist.
Agnew's music career spans more than 40 years. He has previously been a member of some of the most influential bands of the Orange County hardcore punk genre, as well as the highly influential deathrock band Christian Death. During his years with the Adolescents, Agnew became known as one of the best guitarists in the Southern California hardcore punk scene.
Early life and education
Richard Francis Agnew, Jr. was born on December 9, 1958, in Newport Beach, California. He is half Irish and half Mexican-American and was raised in a blue-collar neighborhood in Fullerton, California. He attended Fullerton High School, where he graduated with a 4.2 GPA. He loathed high school, saying it "destroyed more than it taught socially" and describing it as a place where people going through the changes of puberty and angst being taught together to learn stuff for their lives. Because he was shy, Agnew gravitated toward music, and along with his younger brothers Frank and Alfie played various instruments that they found around the house.
With Casey Royer, Agnew played bass in Social Distortion from late 1978 to late 1979 and guitar in the Detours in 1979. He later played drums in the Social Distortion splinter group following his departure from Social Distortion. He joined the Adolescents in 1980, initially as a substitute drummer before becoming a guitarist. His guitar style and writing dominated the Adolescents' Blue Album, released in May 1981 on Frontier Records. Agnew left the band soon after the album's release due to personal and creative differences.
In 1981, Agnew attended a performance by Christian Death in Pomona, California. Attracted by their style and sound, he approached them after the show and asked if they needed another guitarist. Agnew joined Christian Death soon after leaving the Adolescents, writing and playing guitar on the seminal Only Theatre of Pain album, issued by Frontier in March 1982. He also performed on the band's Deathwish EP, recorded before the album during the sessions for the compilation Hell Comes to Your House but not released until 1984.
He joined D.I. in 1983, playing on their 1983 debut EP Team Goon (originally known simply as D.I.) as well as their first two albums (1985's Ancient Artifacts and 1986's Horse Bites Dog Cries) before deciding to leave the band in 1987.
When the Adolescents reunited in 1986, Agnew rejoined the band until its hiatus in 1989. He rejoined Royer and Tony Adolescent to record Where Were You? with ADZ in 1992.
1982–1992: solo career
In 1982, Agnew released his first solo album, All by Myself (Frontier), on which he played all the instruments. Agnew went on to release two more solo albums, Emotional Vomit (under the name Rikk Agnew's Yard Sale) in 1990 and 1992's Turtle, both on Triple X Records. About the album Emotional Vomit, Agnew said, "A lot of (the songs) I wrote while I was in a very bad state, a very lonely and self-abusing state. It was a way of letting it out".
In 2000, Agnew again regrouped with the Adolescents and continued to play with them until 2003.
Agnew toured with the reunited 45 Grave, in place of original guitarist Paul B. Cutler, in 2004 and 2005. He also played guitar in Poop (with Scott Hoogland, former frontman of the influential Orange County band The Mechanics) and the reunited Detours.
In 2013, Agnew was active playing in Wrong Beach, producing bands and recording solo work and various projects. He also rotated between guitar, drums and bass for Chaotic Stature. In 2015, Agnew was listed as active with the Detours and also had a touring band of his own, the Rikk Agnew Band. In Los Angeles he occasionally works on film soundtracks. He is also currently active in the Gitane Demone Quartet and Only Theatre of Pain (a band that performs the entire Christian Death album of the same name).
Agnew struggled with alcohol and drug use over much of his career, but in 2010, had a health crisis and started an effort to stay sober. Besides being a musician, Agnew is also a visual artist, working in painting and sculpture.
In 1990, Agnew was engaged to Karen Mountain, with whom he had a daughter named Polina (Polli). He became engaged to fellow former Christian Death member Gitane Demone on May 3, 2013. Each has a daughter from a previous relationship.
|Year of release||Album title||Label|
|1982||All by Myself||Frontier|
|1990||Emotional Vomit||Triple X|
- "Interview with Rikk Agnew (opening remarks)". Strange Reaction. May 28, 2010. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
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- "Rikk Agnew & Eric Blair part 2 His youth, Social Distortion and O.C. punk". The Blairing Out with Eric Blair Show. March 23, 2019. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
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