Rick ‘n’ Roll
Rick Friedman on his hair metal and Punk’d past
Published in 2019 Virginia Super Lawyers magazine
on April 18, 2019
Updated on May 23, 2019
From the time I was 9 years old, I was playing guitar. I may have taken a total of 10 lessons. My younger brother, Brian, started playing drums around that time.
In high school, I was sneaking off to the teacher’s lounge to use the telephone and booking my band, Triple-X. Many times when an act on a big label came anywhere on the East Coast, we found a way to meet with the artist. By 1988, we were opening up for a lot of Southern rock acts, like Foghat and The Outlaws.
We played in the vein of Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe. The way we dressed and the music we played did not fit with the acts we were playing with. I don’t know how we didn’t get beaten [up]; my hair was probably down to my waist. It was ridiculous.
My brother took off from school one day and drove about an hour and a half to the Hampton Coliseum, where Bon Jovi was playing with Ratt. He got there in the afternoon and walked straight in the back, and met a guy named Tony Bongiovi—Jon’s brother. They ended up hitting it off. We also randomly met a guy that lived in Richmond who was a tour manager for Mötley Crüe and Van Halen, and he introduced us to a lot of people.
By the time I graduated high school, we had made a lot of contacts in the music business, and we started spending time in Philadelphia at Studio 4. There [in the early ’90s], we were working with top-of-the-line producers. While we were recording our album, Kris Kross was in the studio recording their hit song “Jump;” the Fugees were in the studio.
Right when we were about to take off, Nirvana came out and totally destroyed the pop metal music scene. It was a blessing but, at that time, it felt wrong.
I maintained all of those contacts, and at some point, my brother and I decided we were going to pursue music at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. We had a little apartment with all of our music equipment in there, and we were writing jingles. We wrote one for Jabra, a headset company.
My plan, ultimately, was to move to Los Angeles to be an entertainment attorney and manage artists. When I got there, in ’96, I continued to write music. My brother then graduated and became music supervisor for MTV’s Real World. As a result, whenever there was a need for music, MTV would contact us.
We composed music for a movie with DMX and Steven Seagal, called Exit Wounds. And we wrote the theme song for Punk’d on MTV. At one point, when MTV had moved over to having half-hour shows, we had written the theme songs and composed music for 40 of 48 of them.
I ultimately moved back to Richmond. When I was studying for the bar exam, I got a phone call from an engineer at Capitol Records, asking me what settings I had used on a microphone for recording Ashton Kutcher. When I had just started practicing as an entertainment attorney in 2004, my brother and I had won a BMI award for the Punk’d theme song: It was the most-aired theme song on cable television. Just a very weird mix of worlds.
Soon after, I was asked by one of my law partners if I would help someone with a divorce case. My first response was, “Why would I do that?” But I really connected with the client, and I realized there are a lot of similarities between the entertainment world and divorce cases. Trial is a lot like the songwriting I used to do: You’ve got to have a chorus, and you have to repeat it over and over so it sticks into the judge or jury’s mind.
In the industry now, I help people make the contacts they need without my full involvement. This is one of the few times in my life that I’m 100 percent running a law firm and representing clients. And while it’s cool to go to a movie theater or turn on a television and hear your music playing, that only affects people a little bit. In family law, you can’t affect as many people, but you can have an enormous role in their lives.
Blizzard of Ozz
“When I was 18, a music manager flew my brother and I out to Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to spend the day with Sharon Osbourne and a couple of hours with Ozzy. Ozzy wasn’t at the house when we got there. We’re in there hanging out. Sharon is probably the nicest woman in the world. Apparently, Ozzy was at a bar in the area. When he was done, he got a stranger to drive him home.
He walks in and he looks at Sharon, and goes, “Sharon, why is it so fucking dark in here?” And she says, “Ozzy, take off your glasses.”