Friday, March 28, 2014

(click image to enlarge)
 Some final thoughts on KISS and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


This is my third and final blog entry that will discuss KISS and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not that I’m tired of writing about KISS. I could probably do that every day. But over the past month, I’ve already done two music blogs on the Hall of Fame topic - which are linked below - and so with this, I am offering some final thoughts which I haven’t yet shared …

When I first heard that KISS had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about four months ago, it never occurred to me that the band would perform with the original lineup, in full makeup, at the induction ceremony. And the reason for that is that I honestly thought it would prohibit them from doing anything else that night. If KISS were going to come to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 10 with all of the makeup and the pyro - even if it were just for a few songs - then performing would probably be all they’d be able to do.

Sit with their wives and kids at the ceremonies and enjoy the festivities? Not happening.

Enjoy the performances of the other artists being enshrined? Not happening.

Be able to hang out all night and simply enjoy the fact that they were being honored and shake some hands with those offering congratulations? Not happening.

When KISS plays in full makeup and brings all of the pomp and the flash, it takes hours of preparation. And so, if that’s what they chose to do at the Hall of Fame induction, they’d be back in the dressing room most of the night, slapping on the garb and finalizing the logistics of the performance. And as a fan, that’s not what I really wanted for them. After 40 years of tremendous ass-kicking and great rock albums, I wanted them to be able to sit with their wives and kids at the ceremonies and enjoy the night. I wanted them to be able to enjoy the performances of the other artists being enshrined and just be able to hang out, like any other musician, and enjoy the fact that they were being honored. My thought: No need to be huddled up backstage all night getting ready to do the big KISS thing. You’ve been doing that forever. That’s why you're there. On that night, just enjoy the camaraderie of one another and the company of the other great artists in attendance.

If KISS did perform at the ceremony, which some Hall of Fame artists do, I always imagined it would be more like their performance at “MTV Unplugged.” Not that they’d have to be seated on stools and semi-acoustic – they could rock it, and that would be better – but I assumed they’d wear some cool rock-style clothes and when it was their turn to play, they’d get up and play. And so the fact that some KISS fans were disappointed to learn that the original lineup wasn’t going to slap on the greasepaint and try to blow the roof off the place seemed odd to me. Again, the thought of that happening had never even occurred to me, and not just because Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley haven’t played together in more than a dozen years and most of them don’t even like each other. I really thought the guys would enjoy the night more if they performed without their getups, and of course, back in December, I didn’t know that a reunion of the original four, even for just a few songs, was not something that Gene and Paul were interested in. But now that we all know that, and we know there will be no originals-only reunion, particularly in the makeup, I again say, ‘Who cares?’ In fact, by not appearing in the makeup and bringing the explosive arsenal, it opens up the opportunity for some much more cooler things to happen, should there be a last minute change of heart about not performing at all …

Seeing KISS in makeup tear through “Rock and Roll All Nite” amid an array of fireworks and confetti is always fun. But we’ve seen it many, many times on TV. We’ve seen it at the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the MTV Video Music Awards and every late night talk show.

What haven’t we seen?

A cool, totally-plugged, non-makeup performance of the original KISS lineup. I’ve never seen Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, fully plugged in, perform like that on stage. Nobody has. And even though it won’t happen quite like that, because Gene and Paul have clearly stated they won’t perform with just the original four in any capacity, that doesn’t mean that they still can't perform together in some way. How about if the original four play with current KISS members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer? That’s what Gene and Paul wanted to do anyway. Apparently they were actually willing to perform in makeup and costume with the current band, and then bring Peter and Ace out for a tune or two. But apparently most everyone later agreed that would be very odd for Peter and Ace, simply because only the original four are being enshrined in the Hall of Fame and because Thayer and Singer wear the same makeup styles that Peter and Ace helped make famous. But if you take the makeup and garb out of the mix, there’s nothing odd about it at all. It’s very similar to what they did for some of the “MTV Unplugged” show, though Bruce Kulick was the guitarist at the time. And if you do it again, you better invite Kulick, who played with the band for over a decade and remains a close friend. And maybe even invite former guitarist Vinnie Vincent, who helped write three great albums.

Now we’re talking about something special. Now we’re talking about something we’ve never seen before. And it would satisfy everyone.
Think about it:

1) The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at this point, would probably just be happy with a KISS performance of any kind, and the four guys they’re choosing to honor would indeed be performing together.

2) Gene and Paul seem intent on not slighting Thayer and Singer, who have done some fine work with the band for many years. This would take care of that. Though not inducted, they’d also be a part of the KISS/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebration. Gene and Paul have also talked about how other former members of KISS, particularly Kulick and the late Eric Carr, should also have been inducted. Well, the Hall of Fame doesn’t seem to listening, but a performance such as the one I’ve described would get Kulick into the celebration as well.

3)  Frehley and Criss have said they refuse to perform with current KISS members wearing "their" makeup. Well, that wouldn’t be happening. But if they really wanted to play for the fans, that would be happening.

So there you have it. One of the coolest KISS appearances ever, which gets the original four on stage together for one last time yet doesn’t slight anyone. And since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is supposedly all about music, KISS could put the music first, just like they did at “MTV Unplugged” almost 20 years ago.

The songs would be at the forefront. 

But wait, there’s more …

By playing sans makeup and costume and just bringing their guitars, it also allows KISS a much better opportunity to be a part of any type of all-star jam that might take place at the end of the ceremonies. Let’s face it: If the band was on stage in full regalia and its seven-inch platform boots and towering over Daryl Hall and John Oates, that would look pretty weird. But by leaving the boots at home, there is potential for a very epic all-star jam at this event. And that’s because in addition to KISS, Nirvana, Hall & Oates and Cat Stevens, the mighty E Street Band is also being enshrined. And that means Bruce Springsteen might show up. And if Bruce Springsteen shows up, Bruce Springsteen is going to play. Imagine the show ending with KISS and The E Street Band on stage, and all of the other present inductees, with Dave Grohl bashing some drums while Paul Stanley and Bruce trade off verses of “Born to Run” or “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Imagine KISS, who have finally been asked to join a fraternity that they should have been asked to join 15 years ago, having a great time playing with someone like The Boss. Bruce loves that kind of stuff. We’ve all seen him do it at these Hall of Fame ceremonies before and at the big charity shows. He loves to have fun with other musicians, and if you saw the clips of him covering everything from AC/DC to The Bee Gees on his recent tour of Australia, you know his musical tastes are varied.

That would make for a very special night. A KISS performance with all past and current living members of the band, sans makeup, which properly showcases a few of their great songs. And then, perhaps a little fun at the end of the night with Bruce, Little Steven, Nils, Max and company. I’m sure - even for Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter -  that would be pretty damn cool.

Of course, none of this will probably happen. But I still hope, despite all of the tensions that seem to have arisen over all of this within the KISS camp over the past few months, that they still find away to enjoy themselves on April 10 in Brooklyn.

They do deserve it.

And that, as I said at the top, is all that really matters to me.

Other recent KISS-related blogs:

 1. KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Much Ado About Nothing:

2. KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Who should give the speech?

3. A link to the three-hour radio special I hosted on KISS can also be found here:


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eddie Van Halen and KISS, circa 1982


March 19, 2014

It seems an old interview I did with Eddie Van Halen back in 1995 is making the rounds on the Internet, and since I’ve gotten some inquires about it, I’ll provide a little of the back story …

About three years ago, I posted the actual audio recordings of a bunch of my old newspaper interviews on YouTube, just for fun. Some of them are pretty cool, and I thought some people might enjoy listening to my conversations with people such as Billy Joel, David Bowie, Steven Tyler, Brian Johnson, Alice Cooper, Jon Bon Jovi, Ray Charles and a few others. They’re all still out there in YouTube land, including an interview I did with Eddie Van Halen. And at the very end that interview, from 1995, I asked Eddie about a passage that could be found in what was then a newly published book called “KISSTORY,” in which Gene Simmons talked about how Eddie, circa 1982, had once expressed an interest in joining KISS. Being a huge KISS fan (why else would I have just bought the $150 "KISSTORY" coffee table book?) and also a pretty big Van Halen fan, I figured I’d ask Eddie about it.

Well, that was almost 20 years ago, and though I’d pretty much forgotten about it, I guess the old “Eddie joining KISS” story has somehow found new life on the web, and thus my old interview recently found its way onto a few KISS and Van Halen fan sites, as well as Eddie Trunk's website and the Blabbermouth website. I’m cool with that. You put something on the web, you never know where it can wind up. And though I’ve tried to reply to everyone that has asked me about the interview, I think in order to save some time and make things perfectly clear, it’s best that I just share my response right here:


Hello, and thanks for writing,

I do clearly remember asking Eddie Van Halen about this. The “KISSTORY” book had literally just come out right around the time I did the interview. I was/am a big KISS fan and am also a Van Halen fan. And while I found the whole “Eddie joining KISS” story to be interesting, it really didn’t make any sense. In 1982, KISS was a band going through a strange time. They’d just come off the “Music From The Elder” concept album, which was a commercial failure. I’ve always really liked the record, but it was a new decade, the musical climate was changing, and KISS had briefly lost its way. Hard-rock was certainly alive and well in 1982 with AC/DC and Van Halen, and Rush was also huge, but KISS, with “The Elder,” took on a new challenge and it didn’t work. And that’s OK. Any band that’s been around for 40 years will hit a few bumps in the road, and that’s where KISS was at that time. This was also the exact same time that Ace Frehley was leaving the band, which put KISS in an even tougher place. Were they looking for a new guitarist around that time? Yes. But why would Eddie Van Halen, who had just come off the magnificent “Fair Warning” album, want to join KISS? This was only four years after Van Halen first arrived on the national music scene, but he was already nearing iconic status because of his innovative playing. Plus, he was in a band that had his name on it and a band that was still very much on the rise. I’m sure Roth was driving Eddie nuts, but not enough, at least at that point, to part ways.

Another reason this made no sense was because this would have happened a year before KISS “unmasked” for the “Lick It Up” album. The band still had that element of mystery to them, and now they were going to put a very recognizable superstar in the band? Sure, Gene had helped VH out in the beginning and had produced their early demos, and Eddie supposedly played on a few of Simmons' demos for KISS around the time of "Love Gun," so there was a friendship there. But Eddie joining KISS in 1982, or ever? Just can’t see it.

Again, I had literally just read “KISSTORY” when I did that interview, so I asked Eddie about it at the end of our conversation. I didn’t tell him it was “off the record,” as a post on the Van Halen fan site indicates. I did tell him that it wasn’t for the story, because I was writing a story about the “Balance” tour coming to Philly, and it just didn’t fit. It was really just for my own curiosity. And thus it was never included in the article that ran in the newspaper. If you listen to the interview, you can hear that the question was really just an afterthought. “KISSTORY” was a $150 coffee table book marketed just to the KISS diehards, not a New York Times best-seller, and the Van Halen story was about three sentences in the book, so I really didn’t see it as a big story.

The reason you hear me chuckling a little, which is noted on the Van Halen fan website, was simply because of Eddie’s reaction to the question, which was one of bewilderment. I certainly didn’t think Eddie was too good for KISS, or vice-versa. If the rumor/story had been just the opposite, and the story went that in 1978 Paul Stanley once considered quitting KISS to join the up-and-coming Van Halen, I also probably would have been chuckling if I had the chance to ask Paul about it, especially if he had the same reaction as Eddie. I am still a big fan of both bands and I do think that some sort of conversation probably happened bewteen Eddie and Gene, though both were also probably a bit foggy on the details in 1995, which was 13 years after the conversation took place. Gene is a very smart guy. When he put that story out there, he had to have known that at some point, somebody was going to ask Eddie about it, and I guess the only person that has ever done that is me, and it took almost 20 years for anyone to notice. If nothing about Eddie joining KISS was ever said, even jokingly, I don't think Gene would have put it in "KISSTORY." And Eddie admits he was really hitting the sauce at the time. All I know is that, for the record, I’d have been the first in line to buy any record that had Paul Stanley, Eddie Van Halen, Gene Simmons and Eric Carr playing on it.

Gotta love the internet. An interview I did almost 20 years ago still has life and can become a topic of discussion.

Rock on .... 



So that has been by standard reply to questions about my 1995 interview with Eddie Van Halen. He was, on the two occasions when I interviewed him, a pleasure to talk to. I am still a fan, and as my readers know, I am still an even bigger KISS fan and have been blogging about them quite a bit this month regarding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you missed those blogs, they're linked here:

1. KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Much Ado About Nothing:

2. KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Who should give the speech?

3. A link to the three-hour radio special I hosted on KISS can also be found here:

Thanks, as always, for reading and listening.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

KISS and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Who should give the induction speech?

March 5, 2014

Last week, I blogged some of my thoughts on KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The commentary was reposted on KISS’ official website and was also shared on KISS’ official Facebook page, which has more than 11 million followers. Obviously, the feedback has been amazing. Thank you, everyone, for sharing your thoughts. If you missed that blog, you can read it here:

Now that I’ve covered that, I’ve also enjoyed having some conversations with some friends about who should be the person at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony to give the speech prior to KISS' induction and officially introduce them as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. If you’ve watched any of these ceremonies in the past, this is usually a pretty cool moment. Bono introducing Bruce Springsteen, to me, is one that really stands out. His speech was tremendous. And I also enjoyed Springsteen’s speech when he introduced Creedence.

So, who should introduce KISS?

Here are a few ideas:

First, we’ll start with those that are already members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Clearly, those that are peers of KISS, or someone that was one of their musical influences, would bring a nice touch of prestige to the induction.
1. Jimmy Page – Page seems to be a KISS fan. Paul Stanley has never hid his love for all-things-Zeppelin, and Page was photographed a few years ago hanging out backstage at a KISS show. There certainly seems to be some mutual admiration on both sides, and Page actually has a blurb on the back cover of Stanley’s forthcoming autobiography. And let’s face it: having Jimmy Page standing there saying great things about KISS would be very cool.

2. Joe Perry – Perry likes KISS. He played on Gene Simmons’ 1978 solo album and has never had anything but great things to say about the band. His appreciation for the group has been well-documented in several KISS books and he even got on stage and jammed with the band back in 2003 when KISS and Aerosmith toured together.

3. Alice Cooper – Alice has also always had great things to say about KISS. He knows that they took his ideas of combining rock with theatrics to the next level, but rather than resent it, he appreciates it. There seems to be a lot of mutual respect there and a nice friendship. This would be a case of the teacher proudly acknowledging the accomplishments of the students.

4. Geddy Lee – Rush and KISS toured together quite a bit in the early ‘70s and remain great friends. There’s practically a whole chapter about the friendship in the KISS book, “Nothin’ To Lose.” The two bands genuinely like each other as both performers and people, and Gene Simmons even appeared in the excellent Rush documentary, "Beyond The Lighted Stage,” and had some nice things to say about the band.

Next, we’ll throw out a few of KISS’ more accomplished disciples. These are artists that grew up as KISS fans, cite them as a major influence, and went on to have successful careers in music:

5. Nikki Sixx – The KISS influence on Motley Crue, both musically and visually, is obvious. Both bands toured together in 1983 and again, 30 years later, in 2013. Sixx is an excellent speaker and would do a great job with the induction speech. He recently posted on Facebook about how much he's enjoying Paul's new book and he would speak eloquently at the ceremony.  

      6. Sebastian Bach – Sebastian is a huge KISS fan and has talked about it on many occasions. He is actually a KISS collector and did a great job on Skid Row’s cover of the KISS classic, ‘C’mon and Love Me.” His speech  would be passionate and energetic, though probably not as polished as Sixx’s. He would also be the one that would most likely tell the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to f-off for taking 15 years to induct KISS. That could make for an awkward moment, but also one KISS fans would enjoy.
7. Brett Michaels – Like Sixx, Michaels would speak well. He’s another member of the many ‘80s rock bands that have cited KISS as a major influence. Poison once recorded a fun cover of “Rock and Roll All Nite” and often play it in concert. They have also toured with KISS.

8. Dave Grohl – Many members of bands from the ‘90s have also made it clear that KISS had a huge impact on their lives. They were just kids back in the ‘70s when KISS first burst onto the scene, and for many, it was their first exposure to rock and roll. Grohl, now with The Foo Fighters, has been photographed wearing KISS t-shirts and his former band, Nirvana, recorded a few KISS covers. He’s also great at speaking about other bands that have had an influence on him, as was evident at the recent CBS special noting the 50th anniversary of The Beatles arrival in America. Plus, he'll already be at the event, as Nirvana is being inducted the same night.

9. Mike McCready – The founding member of Pearl Jam says KISS is the reason he picked up a guitar and pursued a career in music. He sports KISS tattoos and, while appearing on VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” last year, he was outspoken about his feelings on KISS not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

10. Tom Morello – Morello, of Rage Against The Machine fame, has been making waves of late due to his collaborations with Bruce Springsteen. He is a huge KISS fan who names them as a major influence. He also appeared on the 1994 KISS tribute album, “KISS My Ass.” And since the E Street Band is being inducted the same night, and he's worked so much with them in recent months, he'll probably be in the house. 

So there you have it. Ten guys that all would be a nice fit to help induct KISS into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

If you could pick one, who would it be? Or, do you have any other ideas? Elton John? He also seems to be a fan of the group. One of the guys from Metallica? Lenny Kravitz? They're all big fans ...
Who should give THE speech?

Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. He currently contributes stories to The Weekender, the region's #1 arts and entertainment newspaper, and his weekly radio show, "Music On The Menu," can be heard every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River (104.9-FM) in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. To view all of his articles on KISS, visit

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