BC Rich are an organization specialising in angular and extreme guitar shapes and styles best suited for rock, hard rock and heavy metal music. Bernardo Chavez Rico was the unlikely character to develop distinctive guitars. Bernardo Rico (aka “Bernie”) was an accomplished Flamenco acoustic player. From the early to mid 60s Bernie Rico exclusively constructed Flamenco guitars in Bernardo’s Guitar Shop in Los Angeles, Cal. Ex- executive Vice President, Mal Stich, comments, “When you walked into Bernardo’s shop the very first thing you saw was wall to wall electric guitars hanging from the ceiling like birthday party balloons. There was a glass counter with picks, strings, guitar components and accessories. Behind the counter was a window and you could actually watch the guys making electric guitars. And, the best thing was there were always Classical and Flamenco musicians jamming. I remember the Flamenco musicians firing at each other with riff-after-riff. Bernie’s dad, Bernardo Mason Rico, was always sitting in his chair next to the Coca Cola soda machine while friends and neighbors, even the postman, stood awestruck as they listened to the music.”
We’re recognizing BC Rich Guitar’s 40th Anniversary stamping 1969 as the year Bernie began on his first try to manufacture guitars and basses. It was recorded that ten basses influenced by the Gibson EB-3 electric bass as well as ten matching Les Paul influenced guitars were handcrafted. At present few of these instruments exist, and it’s said that fewer than the number above had been actually finished.
The time around 1972 was very propitious. The initial electric guitar design, the Seagull, was hand-crafted in Bernardo’s shop. True to future form, the Seagull was visually distinctive along with revolutionary. Its neck-through design (now a emblem of BC Rich Guitars) featuring a heel-less design – very uncommon for that point in time.
Bernie quickly employed several talented designers to compliment his extremely proficient craftsmen. Most of the distinct shapes that emerges from this expansion had become iconic shapes associated with electric guitars. Approximately around 1976 came the Mockingbird, and then the further improvement of the Seagull, the Eagle was born, and around 1978 came the Bich was introduced. A few of the most respected axemen immediately took to the new route of BC Rich.
With rising success, there was a need for a inexpensive mass-produced BC Rich guitars. Around 1978 Bernie developed the BC Rico trademark to designate guitars to be imported from Japan. The first try was not profitable when the Rico Reed Company filed a lawsuit over the use of the brand. Despite the outcome, the choice was already made to implement the BC Rich mark on imported guitars. Barely a handful, possibly 100 or so BC Rico guitars ever made it to the United States.
When the early 1980s came, the Warlock was born. Almost immediately the hair metal culture of the time took to the Warlock’s edgy and matchless contour. The Warlock, though nowhere near the latest style innovated, rounds out the primary 5 classic BC Rich shapes and styles.
The 90s and 2000s witnessed a new crop of nasty models even pointier than the 1980s models. These included the Ignitor, Draco, Zombie, Beast (brainstormed by Brian Hoffman, guitarists of death metal band Deicide), Warbeast (a combination of Beast and Warlock).
BC Rich are also recognized for their endorsement deals with a number of celebrated and revered hard rock and metal artists including Kerry King of Slayer (whose signature guitar is diabolic V-shaped axe and has extensive tribal graphic work over the body. He also has a signature guitar based mostly on the Warlock). The late Chuck Schuldiner of Death (when Schuldiner died of cancer in 2001 BC Rich released a tribute guitar based on his number one guitar, the BC Rich Stealth). Paul Stanley of KISS, and Paolo Gregoletto (bassist of Trivium) are also endorsed BC Rich players. If you’re like me, when you think of rock and metal… you think of legendary guitars such as BC Rich Guitars. They helped sculpt rock and roll.