When Rochester native Roxy Petrucci started playing drums in her early teens, she had no idea her new interest would lead to a lifelong path of rock 'n roll that would take her around the world and back home again.
If you listened to glam metal in the 1980s and 1990s, you probably heard Petrucci with her band, Vixen. The all-girl band was in regular rotation on MTV, and their debut album, "Vixen," has been named by Rolling Stone as one of the “50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums of All Time.” But Petrucci, who plays and tours with Vixen, as well as other projects, didn't start her musical path behind the drums.
"My dad encouraged us all to pick up an instrument. It wasn't 'if' you want to play an instrument, it was 'what' instrument do you want to play," Petrucci said, explaining the beginnings of her musical education. "I started playing clarinet, and I loved it."
But then something happened. Her brother introduced her to rock 'n roll, and Petrucci heard the beginnings of heavy metal, along with legendary drummers like John Bonham and Keith Moon. Developing what she referred to as "dual musical personalities," she split her time in high school between holding down the first chair clarinet position in band, and a rock band with her sister, Maxine.
"My brother introduced me to rock n' roll, and it was over. Once I listened to Black Sabbath, I never looked back," she said. "My sister played guitar and we started jamming together. We started playing clubs at night."
The sisters later formed Madam X, which would eventually be signed to a record deal. While she had started classes at Oakland University, Petrucci eventually decided to put her energy into music.
Hearing that record companies regularly scouted The Troubadour in West Hollywood, the band knew if they played the club, they might have a chance at a record. Eventually, that's exactly what happened, with record agent Don Arden signing them to his Jet Records.
"We were driven and focused,” Petrucci said. "There was nothing that could have changed our minds. We were hell-bent on getting a record deal."
After touring for about four years, Madam X broke up and Petrucci went on to join Vixen, with the original line up of members releasing two studio albums and touring with bands such as Ozzy Ozbourne, The Scorpions, Bon Jovi and others. While the initial Vixen line up broke up in 1991, Petrucci has participated in some reunions. In 2013, the original members got back together to honor the band's original guitarist and founder.
Today, Petrucci continues to play with Vixen, as well as with her sister with a revamped Madam X. The bands have toured across the globe, with Petrucci spending much of her down time back in the Rochester area. In February, both the bands played in the annual Monsters of Rock cruise, a high seas voyage from Florida and around the Caribbean with shows by other headliners such as Tesla, Queensryche, Lita Ford, Winger and LA Guns.
Looking back, Petrucci said her greatest influences were her early band teachers and instructors. Today, she said her focus goes beyond the music into other aspects of the business.
"We did get burned. We all got burned. You make mistakes and almost want to quit," she said. “I was happy to just be a drummer. I didn't worry about the business. Now, not so much. You have to be in control of your destiny."
Photo: Laurie Tennent