Jamie Lees | Riverfront Times
Gene Simmons Came to St. Louis and Charmed Us One-on-One
Posted By Jaime Lees on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 8:00 am
Who goes to a Gene Simmons event that costs $2,000 to attend? Are they weird rich guys? Are they mega fans? Are they average rockers just looking for some fun? There was only one way to find out.
Best-known as the flamboyant co-founder and bassist of classic rock mega-machine Kiss, Gene Simmons is also an unstoppable entrepreneur. He will proudly brand and sell any item, once famously licensing and releasing the Kiss Kasket.
His latest moneymaker is the Gene Simmons Vault Experience. Simmons is selling a mega box set that looks like a combination between a safe and a road case. It weighs 40 pounds and it contains hours of unreleased recordings. It also includes a little Simmons action figure and a massive book, among other things.
The event in St. Louis was hosted by Music Record Shop and held in the .ZACK building, where the shop is now located. Instead of taking place at the store, however, the Vault Experience was hosted at the shop’s luxury green room/event space, 303.
The day would include an extended town hall-style Q&A, a break for some fragrant Pappy’s Smokehouse barbecue and then an acoustic set where Simmons was joined by Ace Frehley. All throughout the day, Simmons served himself up for private meet-and-greets with fans, autographing their Kiss memorabilia.
But the good times started at the front door, where the friendliest staff you’ve ever met welcomed all 120 guests inside one by one, making each person feel special. They also happily answered every little question, keeping the energy high and the people excited. These kind of long events can easily slip into tedium, but the staff was not about to let that happen.
Upon arrival, guests were asked to sign a photo release form and were given what looked like a tour laminate. Then they all hung out together in the lobby, speaking enthusiastically about their love for Simmons and about Kiss Kruises and other fan events that they’ve attended. (Did you know the Kiss Kruise has a waiting list?)
It was here, at the very beginning, that it became clear who had shown up for the event. Yep, it was the Kiss Army. And they were in full unifo Continue reading
VACAVILLE — Paul Stanley, rhythm guitarist/singer/songwriter for the rock band KISS, made an appearance Tuesday in Vacaville at Rock & Brews, the chain of restaurants he, along with bandmate Gene Simmons and others, founded.
The purpose of Stanley’s appearance was twofold: to promote the rock-themed restaurant and to honor military members, 200 of whom were treated to a free luncheon.
Stanley’s career with KISS goes back more than four decades and includes selling more than 75 million records worldwide. In addition to his time spent touring while wearing the band’s iconic makeup and recording both band and solo albums, Stanley has indulged in other interests.
They include writing a memoir, performing on Broadway in the title role of “The Phantom of the Opera,” touring with Paul Stanley’s Soul Station, which plays classic Motown and other R & B hits, creating fine art paintings and working with an organization called About Face that helps children born with facial differences.
Stanley answered a few questions for the Daily Republic before the military luncheon Tuesday.
Q: Do you have any stories about how your music helped fans?
A: The stories are so numerous, it’s hard to pick one. I’m thankful the music can be an inspiration to them and something for them to hold on to. It’s great to hear people say I helped get through tough times – getting through school or through a death in the family. It’s always great to know you are an inspiration to people.
Q: Is there a song that you had a difficult time with, going from the original idea to finished song?
A: I don’t think most of my songs are that tough to create once I know what I want to do. Like in the case of “Rock and Roll All Nite” somebody brought up the idea that we should have an anthem. Once it was explained to me that it would be something that people could rally around and get behind, I went back to my hotel and came up with “I want to rock and roll all nite and party every day.” It kind of summed up what the band was about and what the fan experience was. I don’t labor over songs. I don’t just spit them out, either, but I don’t work them into the ground.
Q: How did you get involved with About Face?
A: I was born with virtually no ear on my right side and was on that side. I had it corrected in my 30s. I support any organization that helps people deal with facial differences. Whenever I meet children with difficulties, it’s always good to tell them that I may not walk in their shoes, but I’ve had similar dealings. It’s important to be realistic with children. Some parents sometimes think it’s better to tell a child they are just like everybody else, but they are not just like everybody else. So better to say life is tougher for some people than others, but it can have a really happy ending. You just have to struggle and you are not alone.
Q: What do you think about television music contest shows or YouTube sensations compared to how Kiss created an audience?
Kiss have sparked retirement speculation after it was revealed they had launched an attempt to trademark the phrase “The End of the Road.”
As seen below, the United States Patent and Trademark Office received an application for the word mark on February 8. If successful, would mean only Kiss could use it in connection with “live performances by a musical band.”
The band have not confirmed any farewell tour plans, nor commented on this trademark attempt.
Kiss staged a farewell tour in 2000 after frontman Paul Stanley and bassist Gene Simmonsran out of patience with guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. Stanley said in his 2014 book Face The Music: A Life Exposed: “I was angry at Peter and Ace for being disrespectful toward everything we had accomplished and everything the fans were giving us. I bought into the idea that this really was it. The end of Kiss. There was no place to go.” That situation was resolved when Stanley and Simmons created a new lineup featuring guitarist Tommy Thayer and returning non-makeup era drummer Eric Singer to continue.
Both leading members have previously discussed the possibility of Kiss continuing into a new generation without any of the founders aboard. Last month Stanley said: “The thought of me not being involved certainly comes to mind. I’m not sure about the idea of Kiss coming to an end. We’ve built something that’s so iconic, and I think it transcends any of the members so I can certainly see me not being there, seriously.” He said of his reasons for wanting to bow out: “I don’t want to go leave home. I have a family and I have children and, honestly, I think my primary responsibility is to be a dad, and I don’t want to miss out on that. And certainly, as we got older, we know that life is finite and I pick and choose what I want to do at this point.”
Paul Stanley has disputed Gene Simmons‘s explanation of how the song “It’s My Life” came together, insisting that he “wrote the title, chorus, chords, melody and lyric” to the track before Gene got involved and “wrote the rest.”
“It’s My Life” was originally demoed for KISS‘s 1982 album, “Creatures Of The Night”, but it did not make the final record. It was later re-recorded for 1998’s “Psycho Circus”, but once again found itself excluded from a KISS album for which it was recorded.
Gene‘s original demo version of “It’s My Life” is one of the tracks featured on his recently released, massive collection “Gene Simmons – The Vault Experience: 1966-2016”, which celebrates the KISS co-founder’s 50 years in music.
A different version of “It’s My Life” was included on “WOW”, the debut solo studio album by THE PLASMATICS singer Wendy O. Williams, which was produced by Simmons and released in 1984 by Passport Records.
While promoting “The Vault” box set, Simmons told the story of how “It’s My Life” came to be recorded by Williams. He said: “KISS had taken out THE PLASMATICS, featuring Wendy O. Williams on lead vocals. During one of the shows, Wendy came up and said that she wanted to do a solo record and would I like to produce her. And I said, ‘Sure. I think it’d be a great idea. But if I’m gonna produce you, I’m gonna decide everything. I’m gonna decide which songs you record, and if you don’t have the songwriting talent within the band, then I’ll get you the songs, or I’ll write some stuff for you. But the songs have to be first and foremost.'”
They say music is subjective, right? There is no right or wrong, just preferences. Don’t tell that to Kiss fans. With an obsessiveness rivaled only by Trekkies, soldiers of the Kiss Army have been known to spend countless hours arguing over the most minute of details. Old-school purists will sing the praises of 70’s staples like “Parasite” or “Shock Me”, while latter-day fans will strongly espouse the merits of “Hide Your Heart” or “Unholy”. Certainly there must be a way of once-and-for all settling the notion that not all Kiss songs are created equal?
That’s exactly what listeners of Pod of Thunder, the long-running Kiss related podcast are doing. For the next few months, diehard fans (affectionately known as “POTheads”) will be voting via Facebook on their favorite Kiss songs. They will be pitted against one another in a March Madness style single-elimination tournament until one song is crowned the all-time “Stone Kold Kiss Klassic” (SKKK).
Over the course of its 200-plus episode run, Pod of Thunder’s three hosts – Nick Jones, Andy Jones and Chris Lathrop – have hilariously critiqued and analyzed every song in the extensive Kiss catalog. Some have been declared real stinkers, but many have been elevated to the lofty status of SKKK. It’s these best-of-the-best songs that are competing against one another in a tournament dubbed “The SKKK Tournament of Champions”.
Mark Strigl | Talking Rock
On a recent episode of the 3 Sides of the Coin show, former Kiss producer Michael James Jackson was asked about Ace Frehely’s involvement on both the Killers and the Creatures of the Night albums. He said “Ace did play. I don’t remember; It was along time ago, I don’t remember what he played on. We recorded him in New York.”
When asked if this was for the Killers, Creatures of the Night or both? His response was “I honestly don’t remember. It was a very long time ago.”
He is then asked if it is possible that Ace’s guitar playing may be part of the basic rhythm guitar parts on the Creatures Of the Night album to which he responds “yeah, yeah., I remember we recorded him at Electric Lady. I don’t remember whether it was on a track or several tracks for Killers or on Creatures.”
In the 2003 official Kiss book Behind the Mask, Michael James Jackson is quoted as saying Ace was not on the Creatures of the Night record. In the same book, Vinnie Vincent talks about meeting Ace at this time. Could this meeting have taken place in the studio while they were recording Creatures? Ace Frehley, of course, went on to appear on the album cover, in the promotional music video for the track “I Love It Loud” and also did some press for the record. Around this time Ace claims that Kiss was encouraging him to go and do solo records but also to stay on as a member of the band.
Why has Michael James Jackson’s recollection of Ace’s involvement with a Kiss at this time in history changed? Again, in the 2003 book, he says Ace was not on the Creatures record and now in 2018 he claims he did record guitar sessions with him for either Killers or Creatures. Could his account had been altered for the “official” Kiss book in 2003 or is he now remembering things differently? Thoughts? Let us known the comment section.
This post was written by Mark Strigl Continue reading
Gary Graff | Billboard
We’re used to seeing Paul Stanley on the road playing new music. But this coming weekend he’s making a pair of Florida appearances for a different kind of art.
Stanley will be showing off his paintings and sculptures on Friday (Feb. 9) and Saturday (Feb. 10) at the Wentworth Gallery in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, respectively. He might not rock n’ roll all night at either locale, but Stanley feels like these events are their own kind of parties.
“I enjoy going to the galleries,” Stanley, who studied art as a youth and returned to active painting a decade ago, tells Billboard. “I enjoy meeting people. People acquire pieces and we get a chance to talk about those pieces and I’m interested in their take and what they’re getting out of the piece. I’m a big believer that people are intimidated by art and theater because critics have intimidated them. Nobody needs to be told what good art is; Good art is what you like and bad art is what you don’t like. I would love to get people to realize they don’t have to justify their opinions about anything and just find what makes them happy and embrace it. I hate when people preface what they’re going to say with, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about art.’ There’s nothing to know. You either like it or you don’t. End of story.”
Stanley’s Florida exhibitions will include a variety of works, ranging from paintings (including pieces of he and Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons on stage) to an acrylic guitar sculpture that represents some of his most recent artistic interests. “I like dealing with three dimensions,” explains Stanley. “You can only create what you’re capable of creating, as time goes on your skill level increases along with your ability to conceive. The better you are at your skill the more you can think further, beyond your comfort zone, so to be doing these plexiglass pieces is very, very interesting.”
Stanley, who also fronts a 13-piece R&B group called Soul Station, has more time for his visual art in what looks like a light year for Kiss. The group has a handful of festival and headlining dates during July in Spain and Portugal but will be spending most of the year off the road. And Stanley freely acknowledges that: “I don’t want to go leave home. I have a family and I have children and, honestly, I think my primary responsibility is to be a dad and I don’t want to miss out on that. And certainly as we got older we know that life is finite and I pick and choose what I want to do at this point.” That said, Stanley does expect that “there’s a world tour down the pike,” though he adds that he’s not sure how many more of those he’s up for.
Preorder the story of Big John Harte, protector of Rock Gods: Kiss, Iron Maiden, Billy Idol, Prince and more on Pledgemusic. Peter Criss, Kiss Original Drummer – Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee shared his thoughts about John, “Big John is a beloved character. I love him. He is a survivor, and the real deal. John just being there made a difference. We were only a few, but with John we were an Army!”
The now-classic images of this hulking wrestler-like mustachioed man with his giant hands shielding an unmasked Kiss member are indelibly etched into your brain. It’s symbolic of the important role Big John played throughout the years — from the heady, narcissistic 70s til today — creating a human barrier between the public and some of our favorite stars. It would be hard to think of the glory days of Rock and Heavy Metal without him.
You know the lore, now find out where and how it all began. Big John Harte decided to self-publish his autobiography so he could include all the stories he wanted and not be restricted by a publisher. Now you can be part of making this book happen. For this book release Big John Harte has partnered with PledgeMusic, the premiere platform for connecting with fans and making them part of the creative process. Throughout the pledge campaign Big John Harte will be sharing videos, photos and stories with everyone who pledges. You will get a early peek into the book.
All pledgers will get a EXCLUSIVE chapter NOT available in the book…. available only on PledgeMusic. Big John Harte has created some extremely cool and unique rewards for his campaign, including:
Signed Hand Written Passage
Signed “Rough Draft” of Big John Harte’s Book
Coffee Date with Big John Harte
Autographed Big John Harte RIAA Award
VIP Dinner Experience with Big John Harte
Original Ken Kelly Artwork for Book Cover, YES legendary artist Ken Kelly is designing the book cover and you can own the one of a kind artwork!
Gene Simmons has compared collaborating with Bob Dylan to winning the lottery.
The Kiss rocker and the legendary singer/songwriter penned the track ‘Waiting For The Morning Light’ in 1991, and it was later released on the ‘Crazy Nights’ hitmaker’s 2004 solo record ”A*****e’.
The 68-year-old shock rocker says that it was a matter of luck that he got to work with Dylan, 76, and recalled how after contacting his manager to ask to speak to the ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ hitmaker, he turned up outside his home two days later, and the rest is history.
Appearing on ‘The Pulse Of Radio’ recently, Simmons said: “Everybody buys lottery tickets.
“What are their chances of winning? Not much.
“So what? There is a chance you can win, and I’m like that. So I called his manager: ‘Can I speak with Bob?’ ‘What do you wanna talk to him about?’ ‘I … I wanna write a song with Bob.’
“[Laughs] And all of a sudden within two days, an unmarked van shows up at my house and Bob gets out with an acoustic guitar in his hand, and tells his driver, ‘I’ll see you at the end of the day,’ comes up and we start strumming. I mean it was just like that.”
Simmons released ‘Gene Simmons – The Vault Experience: 1966-2016’ last year, which includes a never-heard-before 15-minute clip of him in the studio with Dylan.
The ‘Lick It Up’ singer says getting to discuss how we writes music with the ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ star will forever be a career “highlight”.