"Josh Karickhoff, founding member/frontman of SACRED 13 and an award-winning musician, has earned the reputation of being one of the worldâs top guitarists by many critics, including Guitar Player Magazine and guitar legends such as Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Richie Kotzen, and many others. Josh began with a serious passion and a tuned ear for music; and at an extremely young age as well. His family realized this early on, and as time went by it became even more apparent as Josh would hear noises like the vacuum sweeper, an engine or a power tool, know the pitch and begin harmonizing with it vocally. After much turmoil within the family during the mid 90's, the Karickhoff's began attending a local church. It was there, after Josh (at the young age of 6) studied the church band and was amazed by their musicianship and presence onstage, that the desire to become a musician was born. Josh's parents were willing to purchase a guitar for him, but insisted that he take lessons and be serious.
At the age of 8, Josh got his first guitar and immediately began lessons. Josh's first instructor insisted his youth was a problem and he didn't have what it took to play the instrument. Shortly thereafter, his parents began searching for another instructor. After finding Preston Lindey in the local phonebook, he also implied that Josh's youth could be a problem, but he agreed to begin teaching him. After 6 months of instruction, Josh was indeed progressing, and even at a young age, was aggressive and wanted to learn music. After getting picked on and teased in school, his parents took him out of school and began homeschooling him. When his school work concluded, Josh practiced guitar until bedtime nearly every day. His cousin, bassist, and lifelong best friend Gus Ward began taking guitar lessons after watching Josh's development over the first year, it was later that he switched to bass and the chemistry fell into place for the band.
Once Gus began playing bass, the two starting attending lessons in the same manner as they approached everything else in their lives; as a team. Josh was 9, Gus was 11, and every Saturday and Tuesday they would have a 90-minute team lesson. When the idea to form a band came about, it was originally just the two of them and was given the name "Blue Fire & Red Demon", later shortened to "Blue Fire". In March of 2002, Blue Fire found its first drummer and played its first show as a trio (with Josh on lead vocals) on May 25th at the Pepsi Amphitheater in Erie PA with hundreds in attendance. Josh knew, as well as the rest of the group, that there now was no question as to their futures as musicians. After playing many gigs, recording demos with several studios including Art Of The Groove Studios with engineer John Trevethan (Trent Reznor & Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails), Dolly Parton, Robert Fripp of King Crimson, and Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck), and continuing instruction, at the age of 12, Josh and the band experienced their first bit of adversity in September of 2003; letting go of their first drummer and good friend. It was very difficult, but less than two months after (November 2003), the band was on its way to Nashville TN to perform at the Star Dust Theatre!
After receiving two standing ovations at the Star Dust Theatre, Blue Fire was indeed a crowd favorite! In a very short time (April 2004), they were once again on the road headed this time to New York City for the New York International Music Festival where they were crowned as 2004's "Best Teen Band". Throughout that year, Blue Fire was asked to perform at Erie's "Eight Great Tuesday's", and "Celebrate Erie" festivals, with thousands in attendance. They were making quite a name for themselves!
The very next year, Josh entered his first guitar competition at Guitar Center's Guitarmaggedon contest and took first place at the Mayfield Heights Store. This was Josh's first time branching out of the band to make a name for himself as a guitarist. That year, Blue Fire wrote their first full length album and in January of 2006, began recording it at Lava Room Recording Studios in Cleveland Ohio (famous for recording artists such as Alter Bridge, Fear Factory, etc). At the studio, Josh was introduced to Warrant/Quiet Riot guitarist Billy Morris. As they became friends, the band began playing at his night club, the Hi-Fi, in Lakewood Ohio; building a following now in the Cleveland area. Later that year, Blue Fire was picked up by the Alpha Music Group and signed to a management contract. At this point, with the band's schedule picking up, after 7 years Josh and Gus decided to stop their instruction with Lindey.
The band opened for Bad Company in September of 2006 at Club Infinity in Buffalo NY, and the next morning caught a flight to San Francisco where Josh was chosen out of over 3,000 guitarists worldwide, as a top ten finalist by Guitar Player Magazine to perform for Joe Satriani (solo artist/Chickenfoot), Steve Lukather (ToTo/Michael Jackson), Richie Kotzen (Poison/Mr. Big/The Winery Dogs), and others... Joshâs song went over very well and he was told by Satriani and Lukather that "he would be a rockstar" and to "never quit". Josh soon became friends with Jude Gold (writer for Guitar Player Magazine, guitarist for BX3 featuring Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, and Jeff Berlin) as Jude played rhythm guitar for Josh at the event. Comments from Jude on Josh's performance were:
"Josh is hardcore, y'all. He really throws down and impressed the heck out of the crowd and judges alike at this year's GUITAR HERO competition [a Guitar Player magazine event]. He didn't ASK me to post this, but it is a story that needed to be told: JOSH ROCKED IT! He was born ready!"
Throughout 2007 the band underwent some major changes; losing their drummer yet again, losing their manager, and questioning the name of their band. On May 14th, Josh and Gus' Grandparents' home (that the two grew up with and was next door to their homes) burned to the ground and completely devastated the entire family, especially with their Grandparents being in their late 80's at the time. It was an extremely difficult time for the two as the band was already starting to struggle. So, thanks to their Grandmother, they began a new hobby to (for the time being) take their minds away from the band's and the family's devastation; Powerlifting. The two began attending Joe's Gym in Erie PA, where they became members of the A.D.A.U and went on to win several national championships and be featured in Powerlifting USA Magazine. Josh, at the age of 17, broke the American Deadlift Record with a 510lbs deadlift.
Once the band sorted things out, came back with a new drummer and even a rhythm guitarist, they renamed themselves to SACRED 13 and invested in to their own recording studio, "Fastrax Music" and went in to record Sacred 13's debut album, "Remanence". With the album hitting the old BlueFire fans hard, and attracting many new fans, the band went on to tour the region throughout 2008. In late 2008, the band was asked to perform on the TV show "City Music" (which was a CATV production).
Footage from this performance can be seen on YouTube. In 2009, after being turned in to the PLCB and not being allowed to play Pennsylvania Clubs, Josh turned 18 and was finally of legal age to perform; right around the time Sacred 13's second album, "Tattered Memories" was hitting the shelves. Sacred 13 began to take off in their home town throughout the summer of 2009, and Josh went on to win the Erie Arts Festival's Guitar Competition.
As word spread, when the Erie Horror Film Festival brought in Alice Cooper for the Erie Horror Fest, President of the event- Greg Ropp recommended Sacred 13 as the "perfect" opening act to JNP Concerts for the Alice Cooper show. JNP Concerts agreed and on September 18th, the band performed at the legendary Warner Theatre in Erie PA to thousands, opening for Alice Cooper and shooting a professional live concert DVD which is now available on sacred13.com. After a successful evening, the band was then asked to return the following summer (2010) to support Alice Cooper on his Theatre Of Death tour. The band performed July 13th in Merrillville IN at the Star Plaza Theater, then again on July 18th in Kettering (Dayton) Ohio at the Fraze Pavilion. Shortly thereafter, on Friday the 13th of August, Sacred 13 released its third record entitled "Jagged Regrets". The band then signed a management deal with M4 Music Management out of Philadelphia PA, and was joined on the roster by guitarist Rob Balducci (Favored Nations recording artist), bassist Randy Covan, and others as well.. After touring the region with bands such as Stemm, Mushroomhead, Downslave, His Name Was Yesterday, and others, the band strengthened and grew its following.
In September of 2011, the band once again entered the studio to begin writing and recording what would turn into their fourth and most successful full-length album to date, âBlack Days Behind Usâ. After completing the record, the band immediately began press for the album; interviewing and promoting with many region radio stations, magazines, etc. The band released a track from the record, âNever Bow Downâ, March 6th 2012 to let their fans hear the new and improved, tight, heavy and edgy sound the band had developed. On March 28th, the band released another track, âWhisper In The Windâ, which even though did not end up as an official single on the record, it became arguably one of Sacred 13âs most successful songs of all time. Once the album became available for pre-order, the band reunited with friend and fellow touring-mate formerly of Stemm, Stephen Crowl, to film and direct the music video for the bandâs first single off of âBlack Days Behind Usâ, âScars And Bruisesâ. After filming and releasing the video, the band felt a close working chemistry with Steve, and ended up bringing him onboard to work with the band full-time; eventually forcing Sacred 13 to part ways with manager Mitchell Truen and getting released from M4âs roster. Since the release of the record, Sacred 13 has toured, sold many copies of the album, built its following even further, and is currently in the works with a few different companies on projects that will be announced soon.
Throughout the years, Josh continued his online studies in music theory through classes at the University of Lincoln, the University of Missouri, and even received an NNDS scholarship to Central Penn College where he studied Business Management, Marketing, and Human Resources and received a 4.00 GPA and was featured on the Deanâs List at age 17. He was (and still is) driven to conquer not only his guitar playing, but his abilities as a self-taught vocalist, a drummer, a bassist, and also a pianist. "My goal is an ongoing one, in that I constantly am striving to learn and broaden my abilities so that when I compose or am faced with a piece of music, Iâm not limited physically or mentally in such ways that would perhaps prevent me from delivering it. When I hear ideas, or I need to play something a certain way, I want to deliver it the way I hear it or the way it needs to be, without having any limitations that would compromise the quality of the music. I'm constantly learning new techniques and perfecting them, on different instruments as well, it's a never ending process as a musician. I am also a teacher, and when my students come to me, with every one of them being different and wanting to learn different things, I have to be able to play what is demanded of me. I have taught students from ages 8-55, from simple blues to complex progressive metal, to jazz/classical concepts, etc so I have to be on top of it all at all times. It's what drives me to become the best âmusicianâ that I can possibly be..."
Committed to the craft of the axe is an understatement
Josh Karickhoff....Wise and Talented beyond his years
What's Up Magazine
Sacred 13âs front man Josh Karickhoff not only offers insanely brutal finger
work on the Lead Guitar that is melodically reminiscent of his earlier work in
Blue Fire, but is also one of the best examples of what Hard Rock and Metal
Guitar playing should sound like.
Jenna Croyle (ERI Jams Magazine!)
Lead guitarist / lead vocalist Josh Karickhoff has a look that evokes memories of the late âDimebagâ Darrell Abbott â and the way he plays guitar will remind the listener of Dime even more!
Gene Natale, Jr. // Staff Writer (The Rock, Cleveland OH)
Absurdly young, but already going places
Josh K ... is indeed a shredder
Akron Beakon Journal
Three musicians havenât sounded this powerful and mystifying since the early years of Rush
NY Cool Magazine
Throbbing hard rock and tortured, prodigiously heavy metal with fast and precise melodic runs
Guitar Nine Records
One can only imagine the hours and hours of practice that has led the band to the point that they now reside â perhaps poised at the threshold of greatness?
Gene Natale, Jr. // Staff Writer (The Rock, Cleveland OH)
Karickhoffâs stage presence is simply fraught with a dynamic blending of
unbridled energy, irresistible charisma and frightening intensity that grabs
you and holds you effortlessly, while his versatile vocal delivery absolutely
blows you away every song.
Jenna Croyle (ERI Jams Magazine!)
Displaying beyond-their-years chops on challenging material
Their sound is richly-detailed, fast, sharp and mean.
One day they will play to sold-out stadiums...they were that good.
NY Cool Magazine