KISS turn 40 in 2013. They played their first show in January 1973 in Queens, New York. Since then KISS have become adored and derided in equal measure, but their influence on a generation of guitar rockers has been huge, and they have proved themselves time and time again to be masters of marketing and self-mythology.
1. Before changing their name to KISS, the quartet were called Wicked Lester. As Wicked Lester, they even recorded an album’s worth of demos for Epic Records in 1971-‘72 that never got released. Some of these songs would show up on later KISS albums. Drummer Peter Criss joined around April 1972 and Ace Frehley followed in January ’73. Two weeks later, they debuted as KISS.
2. Before they decided on KISS, they also considered the names Albatross, Rainbow (before Ritchie Blackmore’s post-Deep Purple band of the same name), and Crimson Harpoon. Gene Simmons was once quoted as saying that he wanted to call the band F***, but he was joking. Simmons is smart enough to know that would be uncommercial.
3. In the 1970s, some anti-rock preachers suggested KISS stood for Knights in Satan’s Service – that’s not true.
4. The Rainbow connection doesn’t end there. Ken Kelly, the artist who painted both the Destroyer and Love Gun album covers also painted album covers for Blackmore’s Rainbow.
5. Former Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French auditioned for lead guitarist of Kiss in late 1972/early ‘73, when they were still called Wicked Lester. But Ace got the gig. Even though Ace auditioned wearing mismatching sneakers, one red and one orange.
6. Their fervent fans are known as the KISS Army, and started in Indiana when a local radio station refused to play any KISS songs in the early ‘70s. Protesting fans marched outside of the radio station and referred to themselves as the KISS Army.
7. Original pressings of debut album KISS did not include "Kissin' Time". The album was reissued in July ‘74 to include the cover, "Kissin' Time," originally a hit for Bobby Rydell.
8. For the cover of KISS, the band wanted their debut LP to resemble Meet The Beatles. Oh, and Warner Bros. Records initially threatened to end the band’s deal if they did not remove their makeup.
9. To get the silver “Spaceman” look for his hair on the KISS artwork, Ace Frehley applied commercial spray-paint that he assumed would wash right out afterwards. Ace was wrong.
10. Ace began using blue eyeshadow in the late ‘70s – he also developed allergic reactions to his silver makeup.
11. “Dimebag” Darrell (Pantera/Damageplan) was buried in a “KISS Kasket”, as he had requested in his will. Gene Simmons said, “There were a limited number made and I sent mine to the family of ’Dimebag’ Darrell. He requested in his will to be buried in a KISS Kasket, as he sort of learned his rock’n’roll roots by listening to us for some strange reason.” For those who favor cremation, KISS urns are also available.
12. In the early 70's Peter Criss flew to England to audition for Elton John's backing band. He failed the audition.
13. Ace Frehley was once known for liking a drink, but his classic “Cold Gin” wasn’t based on his preferred adult beverage. “I didn't drink gin: didn't drink liquor of any kind very often,” he writes in his No Regrets memoir. “I was a beer man then, and not even a connoisseur. Gimme a can of whatever you had in the fridge! I was happy. I wanted to write a drinking song, and "Cold Gin" sounded like a great title.”
14. KISS were offered the part of the Future Villain Band in the 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band declined, as they were afraid of damaging their image. The role was taken by Aerosmith.
15. The hand on the cover of Music From The Elder is not that of Paul Stanley, as some fans presume. It’s that of a hand model, according to ex-manager Bill Aucoin.
16. The door pictured on the cover of …The Elder is the door for a Methodist church on Park Avenue in New York City.
17. Gene Simmons is one of the world’s top fire breathers. The bassist’s fire-spitting is a KISS stunt, but Simmons is actually good at it. He’s reached 15ft. Not as good as the 2011 world record held by American Antonio Restivo of 8.05m (26 ft 5 in) but impressive nonetheless in what can only be described a “minority” pursuit.
18. Ace Frehley sings horizontally! He says, “Every time I ever record a lead vocal, I've had to do it on my back. If I stand up and try to sing, I can't hit the notes sometimes.”
19. Paul Stanley wrote a number of early Kiss songs, including "Firehouse" and "Let Me Know" while in high school.
20. Stanley was later an art major at the Bronx Community College, before devoting his time to KISS. But he still paints - see Paul Stanley paintings.
21. Kiss have never had a U.S. number one single. But "I Was Made for Lovin' You" hit Number 1 in Canada and Holland.
22. KISS’s late drummer Eric Carr’s collar on his 1980 “fox” costume was made out of real fox fur.
23. Most of the songs featured on Peter Criss's 1978 solo album were originally written in 1972 for an album by his then-band, called Lips.
24. In 1986, Paul Stanley was close to getting the producer's job for Guns N’ Roses' Appetite for Destruction album. But Stanley eventually changed his mind, and declined.
25. For his solo album of 1978, Gene Simmons wanted guest appearances by Sammy Davis Jr., Dinah Shore, Chaka Khan and Liberace. Other obligations meant they couldn’t take part. Simmons also asked Paul McCartney. “Scheduling problems” also stopped that happening.
26. According to Peter Criss, Ace Frehley played bass on a lot of early Kiss songs.
27. Early in their careers, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss all recorded vocals on commercial jingles, including some for AMC trucks.
28. Sammy Hagar was thrown off as the opening act of a Kiss tour during the late ‘70s due to using foul language on stage.
29. The “newscast” heard at the beginning of "Detroit Rock City" on the Destroyer album was read by producer Bob Ezrin.
30. Immediately after leaving Kiss in 1982, Ace Frehley flew out to Los Angeles to produce the first demo tapes for W.A.S.P.
31. Despite Stanley being the serious art student, Ace Frehley designed the KISS logo.
32. When Eric Carr recorded his vocal for the re-recording of "Beth" in 1988, he sat on the same drum stool that Peter Criss used during the original recording of the song in 1976.
33. In his early years, Gene Simmons entered a Jewish Rabbinical school with the intention of becoming a Rabbi.
34. Ace Frehley was a drum roadie for Mitch Mitchell during Jimi Hendrix's final Band of Gypsys New York performance in 1970.
35. All instruments on the song "Little Caesar" off the Hot in the Shade album were played by Bruce Kulick (all guitars) and Eric Carr (drums and bass).
36. Immediately before joining KISS in 1982, Vinnie Vincent was a staff songwriter for the TV program Happy Days – he reportedly wrote all the songs that characters Joanie and Chachi sang on the show. (We so hope this is true!)
37. The guitar solos on the songs "All American Man" and "Exciter" were played by Rick Derringer (of "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" fame.)
38. In 1977, Kiss became the first band since The Beatles to have four albums on the Billboard Hot 100 album chart. Alive, Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over, and The Originals were all in the Top 40 at the same time.
39. In 1983, Gene Simmons says he turned down the romantic male-lead role in the movie Flashdance, for fear of hurting his image. Apparently.
40. In the early ‘90s, Gene Simmons claimed to have written a song with Bob Dylan. It has yet to surface.
As is always the way with KISS, some of the above “facts” may be more true than others. Thanks to all the fine KISS fansites, biographies and member autobiographies for their own version of some krazy events…
John Fogerty’s forthcoming new album, Wrote a Song for Everyone, offers up re-tooled versions of Creedence Clearwater Revival classics.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, however, mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain says the album looks more forward than backward. “It’s no nostalgia fest,” he said. “It’s like they’re new songs.”
Fogerty recorded the album with a host of guest artists, including Kid Rock, Foo Fighters and Bob Seger, among others. The former CCR frontman was adamant about working face-to-face with his high-profile collaborators. "I didn't want to just mail people tracks," he said, "because then everyone would just do 'Proud Mary' like the old record." Fogerty added that the turmoil resulting from past legal tussles over publishing rights to the CCR back catalog is far behind him. “There was a long time when a lot of stuff was painful, but that doesn't exist anymore," he said. "I wrote all these songs. They're back home with Daddy, like they should be." Wrote a Song for Everyone is slated for release sometime this fall.
The Rolling Stones are likely not finished with their run of live shows, says Mick Jagger. Speaking with New Musical Express, the Stones frontman said, “Well, I'm just looking at what offers are coming in for this year and sorting them out. I hate announcing things when they're not booked. People are always like, 'Yakety yak, you didn't do that in the end', and I say, 'Well, yeah, we never really announced it!'"
Jagger declined to offer specifics, but when asked if the band might appear at this year’s Glastonbury Festival in England, he didn’t rule out the possibility. “There are other things in the world, you know, apart from Glastonbury,” he said. “But then again, Glastonbury is very important. It seems to be very important to my children -- highlight of their year!” Later Jagger returned to the topic of Glastonbury, and seemed to drop a broader hint. “Is it going to be rainy on the Sunday [of the festival]?” he asked. “Isn’t it nearly always rainy on the Sunday?” The Glastonbury Festival is held annually in Pilton, England. This year the event runs from Wednesday, June 26, through Sunday, June 30.
Derek Moore and I actually talked about this on Monday, when the Kwame Harris story broke. Someone is bound to ask 49er players about gays in the locker room. We figured, as long as you’re smart, use good judgement and be a good human being… things would be fine. We were wrong. As for Chris Culliver, whose anti-gay comments have brought a 10,000 pound distraction that no team wants, what the hell were you thinking? The moment Artie Lange asked you “how many white women you plan to sleep with this week?”… did it occur to you for a moment, that this might not end well? You can believe whatever you want, but your insensitive comments, during the biggest football week in America…. brought shame to your team, to Jim Harbaugh, Jed York, your teammates and to your fan base. I hope your apology is sincere. Garrison Hearst, one of the greatest running backs to ever wear a 49ers uniform, made similar anti-gay comments once. That was TEN years ago, and he’s still remembered for it.
Mötley Crüe were one of the biggest and most prominent hair metal bands to come out of the ‘80s, churning out hit after hit of rebellious, freewheeling bliss. Now, over 30 years later, the guys are still kicking it, selling out arenas and touring with other heavyweights, like Kiss.
When lead singer Vince Neil isn’t rocking it with the Crüe, he hits the road with his solo band and gives fans a good, ol’ fashioned, stripped-down rock show. We caught up with Neil before one of his recent solo gigs to talk about his background playing guitar, writing Mötley Crüe hits and his Las Vegas tattoo parlor!
How long have you been playing guitar?
I would say about 20 years.
As a lead singer, do you think knowing how to play guitar helps you?
You know, I can play guitar, but I wouldn’t call myself a guitar player, so I don’t know if it really helps your singing, but it’s fun to do. I love it when I have a chance to play a song live and also play guitar on the song. It’s something different, and it’s a different look for fans watching the show.
Have any of Mötley Crüe’s hits been especially difficult to write?
There aren’t really any hard songs to write. It’s usually pretty easy, if it gets hard, it gets shuffled away and something else comes up, or it becomes something you can go back to it and use other parts with it to make it work better. Most of the hit songs have been easy to write, though!
How do you go about writing music with the Crüe?
It starts out with a guitar riff, and then we put it together with the other instruments and put a melody to it. After the melody and song structure are finished, we edit different parts in and out, and eventually, it all combines to become a song.
What inspired you to start your own tattoo parlor, Vince Neil Ink in Las Vegas?
Because I have a lot of tattoos! [Laughs] I decided a long time ago to have a tattoo parlor because it’s something I enjoy.
What do you look for in a good tattoo?
In my own stuff, I have different inspirations. I look for something that’s happened to me or is going on in my life, and I get a tattoo about it. I would avoid putting people’s names on them, though-- girlfriends, stuff like that! That usually never works!
Is there talk of a new Mötley Crüe album?
No- no new album. What I’m hearing is that maybe two or three or four more songs might come out to go with that song we released this year, but it will be something like an EP, not an album. Our schedule seems to have a lot of touring. If something did come out in the form of an EP, it would probably be in the beginning of 2014.
Eric Clapton is getting ready to release a new album. Old Sock will be released on March 12. It will be Clapton's 21st studio album, and his first since Clapton in 2010. The album is produced by Clapton, along with his sometimes touring guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, as well as Justin Stanley and Simon Climie. The release will feature two new original Clapton songs - “Every Little Thing” and “Gotta Get Over.”
Aside from the two new compositions, Old Sock is made up of some of Eric's favorite songs going all the way back to his childhood. Among others, Clapton interprets J.J. Cale and Leadbelly. The album also contains collaboration with Paul McCartney, who sings and plays bass on the track “All of Me.”
Two days after releasing Old Sock, Clapton embarks on a tour which will take him through both the US and Europe. In the middle of the tour, on April 12 and 13, Eric will be in New York's Madison Square Garden hosting the fourth installment of Crossroads Guitar Festival. The festival will include appearances by B.B. King, John Mayer, and Gary Clark Jr., to mention a few.
Rock biography writer Neil Daniels will release AC/DC: The Early Years with Bon Scott on February 22. The book charts the history of the band from their early days, beginning with their formation in Australia in 1973 and including their two Australian albums and five international studio albums. It also examines other releases featuring Bon Scott, who was also in the rock band Fraternity, which later featured Aussie vocalist Jimmy Barnes (Fun trivia: Barnes collaborated with Joe Bonamassa on a cover of his Aussie hit "Too Much Ain't Enough Love" on Joe's latest album, and played in the band Living Loud with Dixie Dreggs/Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse and Ozzy Osbourne's early rhythm section of Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake).
The book includes a forward from Uriah Heep's Mick Box (read our interview with Mick Box here), and it also includes a bonus chapter on Back In Black, the classic album the band used to introduce new vocalist Brian Johnson after Scott's 1980 drinking binge death.
Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler has given a rare interview at 2013’s NAMM (National Association Of Music Merchants) show at the Anaheim Convention Center, California, talking about the band’s forthcoming album.
Speaking to Frankie DiVita of Southern California's 96.7 KCAL Rocks, Butler says of guitarist Tony Iommi's cancer treatment: “Tony's responding really well. He's been having his treatment now for 14 months, and he's really responding well to it. So he'll be alright.. you can never stop Tony.”
And will the album be called 13? “Well, it was sort of a temporary name, that we had something to refer to the album as, and I think it kind of stuck. But I don't know if that's gonna be the final title or not. It was named partly because it's coming out in the year 2013 and, originally, we were gonna put 13 tracks on the album. We ended up doing 16 tracks, so I'm not sure what's gonna on the album and what isn't.”
Of the recording process, Butler says, “This is the first time we've done an album together sober; none of us have been drinking or doing drugs or anything, so it's been more professional in that way. And we've stuck to a schedule every day. We'd go in at one o'clock and finish at six, just to keep everything fresh. Five hours a day — that's it.
"It's sort of got the feel of the first three albums — back to the basic rawness. And the lyrics are very… They're just about life…. Life and death and doom and everything else. You get Prozac with every album!”
Rage Against The Machine’s Brad Wilk is on drums for the album after original member Bill Ward declined to be involved. Butler says Wilk was: “[producer] Rick Rubin's idea… He didn't want a typical heavy metal drummer on the album, 'cause it's not really a heavy metal album; it's more of a rock… heavy rock. And Rick Rubin suggested having Brad, 'cause he's more in the vein of [original drummer] Bill Ward. So we jammed with him and he sounded great with the stuff, so we went with that …
“It's sort of back to the way we used to be in the '70s; that's his feel — sort of a jazzy, bluesy feel to him, and that's the way the music is now. It was great working with him.”
The album – called 13 or not – is slated for a June 2013 release, and Sabbath will tour. Whether it will be Brad Wilk on drums is not clear. "We haven't decided yet," is all Butler would say.
1. Super Bowl 3, 1969. NY Jets 16 Baltimore Colts 7. Joe Namath predicted his AFL Jets would shock the NFL Colts, and Broadway Joe put down his cocktail(s) and fur coat long enough to pull it off. This alerted fans that the AFL had arrived. This was one of the biggest sports upsets ever.
2. Super Bowl 4, 1970. KC Chiefs 23 Minnesota 7. Just to drive the point home that the AFL was the equal to the NFL, The Chiefs throttled the heavily favored Vikings so badly that the leagues merged the following year. Until this win...and the Jets the previous year, The NFL viewed the AFL has a nuisance. There would now be one league, the NFL...broken into the AFC/NFC.
3. Super Bowl 18, 1984. L.A. Raiders 38 Washington 9. This was the first Super Bowl game i covered (Tampa). It established my opinion that the QB getting most pregame hype will be outperformed by his "lesser" rival. Jim Plunkett outdueled Joe Thiesmann (hyped) in a game that was over by halftime. The Raiders postgame locker room was as expected.. Matuszak and crew "holding court". Priceless.
4. Super Bowl 23, 1989. SF 49ers 20 Cincinnati 16. My first Super Bowl covering the 49ers (Miami) in a city i left just a year earlier. I got to see old friends and witness Cool Joe working his last minute magic. The Niners had it all going then, and they'd pound Denver the next year 55-10 to win it all. This offense was all Bill Walsh magic.
5. Super Bowl 36, 2002. New England 20 St. Louis 17. The Rams were "the greatest show on turf" and a 16 point pick over the Pats. This was the beginning of the great Pats run which continues. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won again in 2004 and 2005. They haven't won since..but they keep sniffing at it. If this run ends with three Super Bowl titles in four years, I'm good.
Those are my top five Super Bowl games. I've covered three..including Super Bowl 20 in New Orleans. What's your favorite Super Bowl game as we head to the Niners and Ravens on Sunday?!
For San Francisco fans, how does it get any better than this? We’re still high on the euphoria of the San Francisco Giants claiming their second World Series title within three seasons. Now, the trumpet summons us again. Well, it could be a giddy weekend is what I mean to say. But as Super Bowl Sunday approaches, I’ll worry about… everything. The flu bug, a practice injury, tripping over a gutter on Bourbon Street. I want to enjoy the week, but the butterflies are starting to flutter. Is the team ready to make history? Are they prepared? I sure as hell hope so. As they say in poker, “you don’t have to win every hand… just the last one.”