Nita Strauss’ phone buzzed overnight somewhere in Europe while she was asleep on the Alice Cooper tour bus, traveling from city to city during the band’s early 2022 tour. Strauss, fifth on Guitar Lobby’s list of greatest female guitarists of all time, woke up in the morning, saw the note and bubbled with excitement.
The message she hoped for in the weeks after the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl LVI victory had arrived. It was a text from Sarah Schuler, the Rams senior director of game presentation and brand experience. She asked a simple question: What’s your ring size?
Strauss immediately texted her boyfriend/manager, Josh Villalta. The ring in question was something few, if any, rockers other than Strauss have: A Super Bowl ring.
“Ran around showing everybody that would look at my phone,” Strauss said. “Look at this text I just got, told you guys.”
So how does a rocker end up with a Super Bowl ring? Strauss earned it — she’s part of the Rams.
Strauss, a die-hard fan, has been the in-house guitarist for Rams games since the team moved to SoFi Stadium in 2020. Her affiliation with the Rams began at L.A.Memorial Coliseum, where Strauss played “America the Beautiful” during a Salute to Service game. The next year, she performed the Sunday Night Football theme on her guitar.
Since then, she has been part of the Rams’ ecosystem, playing to an empty SoFi other than players and coaches during the pandemic, and then packed houses last season all while wearing a No. 86 Rams jersey == her birth year and the number her father, James, wore when he played football.
“There’s nothing like playing to a stadium full of fans, no matter if you’re playing a rock concert, if you’re playing a sports event or whatever it is,” Strauss said. “Just having the energy of having tens of thousands of people is so different to just doing it alone in there or playing to the coaching staff and the team and the players.”
She performs over team introductions, on select second and third downs and the fan-selected song of the game. She plays the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hit “Can’t Stop” during the team’s “Rampede,” which provided a surreal moment the band’s lead singer Anthony Kiedis was shown on screen at SoFi rocking out to Strauss.
Last season, in particular, was tricky. Cooper was touring, but his tours often took Sundays off. Saturday nights, Strauss played the Cooper show and instead of going on the tour bus, she stayed in an airport hotel and took an early Sunday flight to Los Angeles. She landed at Los Angeles International Airport, took an Uber to the stadium, played the game, took an Uber back to the airport and flew to Monday’s tour stop.
It was an exhausting schedule, one Strauss called “a labor of love,” but she didn’t want to miss any games. The one Rams game she didn’t play? The Super Bowl. She asked, but the NFL declined.
Instead, Strauss found herself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the Monsters of Rock cruise. She wore her blue Rams jersey — she’s given one of every iteration for Rams games with “Hurricane,” her nickname, on the back — and fielded questions about whether she’d get a ring if they won.
She watched the Super Bowl with Cooper, a Detroit native and Lions fan who Strauss said pulled for the Rams because of Matthew Stafford, and the band. If someone in Cooper’s suite cheered for the Cincinnati Bengals, she joked “you don’t want me to get my ring,” even though she had no idea if she would get one.
When the Rams won, Strauss described it as “pandemonium.”
Getting the ring was trickier. In Strauss’ offseason, she made her own change, taking a gig on Demi Lovato’s current world tour which meant a couple of things. First, she’d miss the ring ceremony because of rehearsals. Second, she wouldn’t be able to play Rams games until Nov. 13.
“It’s really a unique part of our show,” Schuler said. “And frankly, we miss her so much right now cause she’s on tour.”
ust before the tour started, Strauss drove to Schuler’s house to pick up what she considers, along with her first signature guitar, one of her prized possessions: the Super Bowl ring.
She drove home, where Villalta paced in anticipation. Together, they opened it and flipped a light switch in the back of the box that created a glow from the ring’s shininess.
Then they went to dinner at Katana, a Japanese restaurant, massive rock on Strauss’ finger.
“It was really funny,” Strauss said. “Because the waitress thought Josh proposed with this gigantic sparkling diamond ring.”
But this ring was bigger than most engagement rings.
“You have these goals and dreams and aspirations in your life,” Strauss said. “And then sometimes as your career goes on you’re fortunate enough to achieve things that weren’t even a part of those aspirations because those things didn’t even exist before.
“I would have never dreamed of getting a Super Bowl ring because it never would have occurred to me that a guitar player would get one. So now here it is.”