Rick Bartow was born a poor Armestian boy of New English descent. At birth he weighed an unprecedented nine pounds forty-seven ounces, had webbed arms and was blessed with twenty-seven teeth growing out of the back portion of his skull. The elderly Brazilian woman who delivered him called him.Shytikvally' (the nephew of the devil) and quickly joined a traveling freak show calling herself. Shytikvally un prosgonad' (the woman who delivered the nephew of the devil). She is now retired and living in Florida.
Growing up in a makeshift tree house, Bartow had a traditional Armestian childhood. Every night his mother Elizaphina would sing to him the sweet melodies of the Ancients and Rick would cry and cry until his father Bleckman would beat him unmercifully with a stretch arm strong doll until he passed out from the pain. Then in the cold dark silence of this old New England town Bartow would dream of a day when he could sing country songs about workin' at the Wiz. The seeds were planted. The melodies began.
When Bartow was nine years old, he discovered Styx. He grew out of that right away (which is good because he almost changed his name to Ryx) and soon became a contributing writer for Rolling Stone and went on to win four Assblast Awards for outstanding achievements in Rock and Roll journalism. The young Bartow astounded writers and Popes across the nation and the globe. But by the time Rick was ten and a half the lifestyle had caught up with him. Ten packets of Fun Dip, a dozen Capri Suns, two jumbo bags of M&M's, and three cheese doodle omelettes a day were too much for this young Andre the Giantesque prodigy, and soon he checked himself into rehab. Well, actually he went back to fifth grade but actually I've heard the two are quite similar.
There was no peace for young Bartow even in the salad days of his youth. For there were no croutons on Bartow's salad, and the dressing was tainted with blood. The blood of fish. For young Rick's father was a midshipman in the Armestian National Navy and Fish company. Despite a life at sea, he started rocking with local teen sensations. The Yarn Farmers' but could only find time to rock when the crew of the boat had shore leave. So the band broke up after winning critical acclaim and beating Challenger in a regional battle of the bands. On the lonely boat Bartow recorded his first solo album, "Rick Bartow's Great Catastrophe" and to get the ladies, played in an acoustic trio called E.M.B.
Consequently, Rick received the bulk of his public high school education from drunken nuns, leprechauns, R-rated comedies, and a man with a taste for frozen alcoholic beverages named Fred Michelson. Michelson lost his mouth when an overstuffed makeshift blender blew up in his face. (His angry wife Linda quipped, "that ought to wipe the smile off yer face," and oh lordy lord how it did). Rick and Fred learned to communicate with a series of percussive patterns. The two thumped, pounded, tapped, knocked, scratched, and thumped until Rick learned all that wise old mouthless Fred had to teach. This also imbedded in Rick, an unfathomable sense of rhythm. Now it was time for young Rick to move on, to become, a man.
So Rick did what every kid who graduated from high school did in those days, he went to college in Rhode Island. At college he learned the finer points of drug related extra curricular activities as well as what women looked like naked. He was part of the acoustic renaissance duo Flux, who sang candidly about the Gulf war and the effects of tornadoes on trailer parks. He got himself a copy of Frank Zappa's Sheik Yerbouti and rocked out to it every day. He stumbled along the rocky shores of knowledge and threw up on his friend's wall, and still now he really can't stand the sweet syrupy smell of the girly booze they call the Southern Comfort. Two years in Rhode Island is enough to drive any man into an early easy listening phase but Rick didn't want to listen to Kenny G so he moved on . . . to New Jersey. He would never be the same.
New Jersey . . . A New Hope
Back in New Jersey Bartow got a job at a movie theater working with his old high school chum, Matt Balzarini. There he learned the finer points of loafing, clock watching, and makin' a run for it when the manager turned his back. He also learned how run the movie projectors which earned him a ten-cent raise and the title, 'projectionist', which no doubt helped the young stallion Bartow procure many the soft white underbelly of young female snack bar attendants. Balzarini and Bartow then formed the short-lived hardcore rap band Copsucker and had minor success in Guadalupe but had to break up when Rick lost his cool Copsucker pants in the great pant fire of 92'. Bartow also made waves jamming with great Jersey shore legends like Man Alive and My Friend Monkey. The glory days of projectionism were fading fast as the new multiplex had cast its corporate shadow from down the road upon our tiny fledgling theater, and the old theater became a dying great grandma with no one to look after it. Smelly and sleepy. Well Bartow got out of there and now Grandma is a Target.
During this time Rick graduated from Monmouth University with a bachelor's degree in bass performance. This was one of the greatest frauds, if not the greatest, in the history of faking your way through college. But the focus was not on "academics" or learning how to "read" music or "attending" "class." The focus was on jamming and recording. It was during this time Rick developed and refined his writing style and recorded his rock opera "Toad verses the curse of Mediocrity" and the critically acclaimed "Superfriends" EP and Album. But it didn't seem enough.
The next year Rick had completed "Essence of Mitch" (another collection of songs about staying up late and having heart burn) but the quest for the ultimate band was consuming him. There was something stirring inside of Bartow (in the 1800's doctors would have said it was a nome or small tree frog living in his stomach but now we know differently . . . or do we . . . yes we do), maybe it was the memory of those songs Ma Bartow used to sing to him. Or maybe it was the secret percussion language he learned from Fred, either way when Rick looked up on his mantle and saw those Assblast Awards he knew there was more to life then this, and a star was born. That's right that very day that kid from Jerry Maguire was born, and the Angels wept.
Also on that day Bartow got a call to join the Zappa tribute band Project/Object as their new bass player and after weeks of contract negotiations were finalized he became a member. It was here that Rick met future Love Tester drummer Wes Paich and future Love Tester bassist Boxy. And the band rocked and it was good.
So the mid-nineties rocking continued with Project/Object as well as many other bands including but not limited to Drawn and Quartered, Chicks with Dicks, Bad Lands Vocal Contingent, The Guy with the Thing, and the ever irreverent P.I.C. But then in late 1999 a change took place, a change that would change the changes that had been changing Bartow ever since he started to change.
There was a cold, clean, breeze in the air, a fresh breeze that carried on its floating shoulders a message, a message of love, as well as a barbeque aroma that made Rick hungry. Hungry for music, and hot dogs. So after the major label release of his first solo album"Asstravaganza", Bartow set himself adrift in a sea of harmonic Kool Aid and picked up his old guitar. He dusted it off, plugged it in, turned it up and strummed. Unfortunately it hadn't been played in sometime so it was quite out of tune and then while trying to tune it Rick broke a string. But after buying new strings and putting them on and playing a little he knew it was time, time for a snack, but also time to find the arms and legs of his soon to be Voltron band, Love Tester. And this is that band.
God bless Fred, Ma Bartow, Pa Bartow, Frank Zappa and young Steve Bartow who repeatedly opened Rick's eyes while he was sleeping causing irreparable damage to Rick's psyche. And God bless LOVE TESTER.