Richard Hatcher was on stage in front of thousands of fans, lighting up the bass guitar in his usual trench coat and long, wavy hair, when a stagehand threw a bucket of water on his head. Hatcher was literally on fire.
Hatcher played bass for McQueen Street, a hard rock hair band at the peak of its fame in the early 1990s. On this night, the pyrotechnic cannon on stage fell over. What was supposed to be a fountain of fire and sparks in the air shot directly at Hatcher’s back.
Lost in the adrenaline of being on stage, Hatcher was unaware of just how hot his performance was. His sequined trench coat and flowing locks saved him from serious injury. Fortunately, he wasn’t wearing flammable hairspray.
“That was when we got rid of our pyro,” Hatcher says.
Over the years, Hatcher’s bands toured with everyone from Alice in Chains to Dave Matthews Band, but it was his work with McQueen Street that brought him the most acclaim. The band’s music videos appeared on MTV’s “Headbangers Ball.”
Hatcher met his bandmates at Auburn University, where they played covers throughout the southeast with the name KLASS. The band was made up of Derek Welsh on lead vocals, Hatcher on bass, Michael Powers on guitar and Derek’s brother Chris Welsh on drums. In between Guns N’ Roses and Pink Floyd covers, they would sneak in some of their original songs without telling the audience.
Eventually, record companies took notice. After one performance, a representative from SBK Records approached the band about a deal.
At first, band members thought it was a joke. When the music representative followed up, they knew this was it. They signed onto SBK and renamed the band McQueen Street, the name of the Montgomery, Alabama street where they recorded.
The band began touring with Alice in Chains, Weezer and more. Whatever you would expect to happen on a rock tour probably did, with drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll dominating the schedule in that order, Hatcher says.
“You are young and are given just about everything you want,” he says. “It can get the best of people. I never imagined getting past 30 or 35 years old. It never crossed my mind.”
Fortunately, Hatcher says, he was more of an observer of the antics than a participant. He avoided most of the debilitating drug use that plagued so many bands of that era.
“The high you get on stage, that adrenaline, you can’t get anywhere else,” Hatcher says. “The record label says, ‘Go home and sit for three months.’ And you have to have that rush. You turn to drugs and alcohol searching for what you get on stage.”
On the eve of McQueen Street’s second album in the 1990s, a Seattle group called Nirvana came on the scene and changed music forever. Hatcher didn’t think much of grunge at first, but it grew on him. The hard-rocking hair bands quickly began to look outdated.
“We were selling out arenas and then couldn’t sell out a night club overnight.”
The record label tried to get the band to change with the times, but after working so hard on their second album, they resisted, eventually leaving the label and the name McQueen Street with it. “We were pointing the finger at everyone else. I can say now that we blamed the wrong people,” he says. “It was us.”
Despite the heartache of losing McQueen Street, Hatcher forged ahead, forming a band called The Rat Race, an alternative rock band that toured with Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic until 2000.
Over the years, Hatcher has stayed busy. He worked on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, where he played one hour a night and then had the run of the ship the rest of the day. He was a successful car salesman, which brought him to Dallas in 2012.
Years later, he is still here.
Hatcher also started a home repair and contracting business. The Highland on the Creek resident is remodeling a house in Casa Linda, which will have a full studio as well as room for his wife’s cake pop business. He hopes the studio will be a place for Dallas musicians to record and collaborate. While at work on an “Alice in Wonderland” musical called “Through the Eyes of Alice,” he is also recording an album with the Dallas band Planet Blue.
Hatcher has found a way to keep playing bass, reinventing himself and making music across several genres. He still has the trademark brown mane that helped make him famous.
“It’s like Samson,” he says. “I have to have my hair.”
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