Saturday, March 15, 2014

Controversy over Eddie Van Halen asking to join KISS continues

The ongoing question over whether or not Eddie Van Halen asked Gene Simmons if he could join KISS in 1982 has been revived with a new series of headlines.

Simmons speaks about the issue in the April edition of Guitar World, which features an extensive cover story on KISS as they get set to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next month.

As for Van Halen’s request, Simmons tells Guitar World, “That is true. And he was very serious. He was so unhappy about how he and [David Lee] Roth were—or weren’t—getting along. He couldn’t stand him. And drugs were rampant. And so he took me to lunch, to a diner right across the street from the Record Plant. Vinnie Vincent, who was not yet in Kiss, tagged along, too. Sneaky guy. And Eddie said, ‘I want to join Kiss. I don’t want to fight anymore with Roth. I’m sick and tired of it.’ But I told him, ‘Eddie, there’s not enough room. You need to be in a band where you can direct the music. You’re not going to be happy in Kiss.’ I talked him out of it. It didn’t fit.”

The story was news to Paul Stanley, who was asked about it in a separate interview for the magazine.

“I never heard that,” said Stanley. “Eddie did come down to the studio during Creatures, and he spoke to me on the phone during that period. There was real dissension in the band at that time, that much was clear. But as far as I’m wanting to join Kiss? No, not that I know about. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but I never heard it. But you have two interviews here.”

By 1982, Simmons and Van Halen had a long, shared history. Gene had financed the band’s original 1976 demo tape and unsuccessfully tried to secure a record deal for the group. In his 1997 book, “Crazy From The Heat”, David Lee Roth wrote that, at the time, he suspected Simmons was trying to steal Eddie away for KISS or some other purpose before he was signed, which was backed up by Eddie’s friend Wally Olney in an interview with VH fanzine The Inside.

Sometime in late ‘76 or early 1977, Simmons recruited Eddie and Alex Van Halen to play on demos of three songs – “Christine Sixteen”, “Got Love For Sale” and “Tunnel Of Love” – the first two ended up on KISS’ 1977 album, “Love Gun” (recorded in May of ’77), while “Tunnel” landed on Simmons’ self-titled 1978 solo record. In the 1995 book “KISStory”, Simmons said he liked Eddie’s solo on “Christine” so much that guitarist Ace Frehley replicated it for the final KISS version.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Eddie had never spoken on the record about the alleged 1982 meeting with Simmons and request to join KISS.

This week, the Van Halen News Desk dug up a rare 1995 interview where the guitar icon was, in fact, asked about the incident.

While promoting the “Balance” album and tour, Alan K. Stout of The Times Leader did a phone interview with Van Halen and popped the question; here’s a transcript of the chat courtesy of the VHND…with audio posted below (the KISS portion starts at the 15:45 mark).

Interviewer: I have this book [Kiss's coffee table book] KISSTORY, and there is a passage in there about you.

Eddie: Wow!

It said back around ’82, you had dinner or lunch with Gene and Paul in L.A., and Ace [Frehley] had just quit, and you weren’t happy, and they talked about bringing you into the band. Is that true?

Eddie: Not that I know of.

[Laughs] I didn’t think it was!

Eddie: Unless I was so f***ed up I don’t remember…? They might have asked me…?

I thought that’s a fascinating Eddie Van Halen story that I don’t think anybody knows.

Eddie: Not even me! Wow. No, I don’t have a clue. They might have just asked me in passing, and I just kind of laughed it off, probably.

[Laughs] Yeah! I didn’t think it was something that was being seriously talked about.

Eddie: If it happened I’m sure I would have remembered.

[Laughs] Funny story.

Eddie: That’s hilarious. Maybe they did ask me and I just thought they were joking…?

Simmons confirmed to hennemusic Friday via Twitter that Eddie did, in fact, ask to join KISS during the 1982 lunch meeting at the diner, and he reconfirmed that guitarist Vinnie Vincent was present, as well.

See also:

KISS: Original 1973 Peter Criss drum set going up for auction
KISS: Paul Stanley previews audiobook of upcoming memoir
VIDEO: Gene Simmons guest stars on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
KISS and Def Leppard to announce summer tour
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