You heard that right, back in 1982 Gene Simmons actually talked Eddie Van Halen out of joining the band KISS
“You’re not going to be happy in Kiss,” – Gene Simmons told Eddie Van Halen
Gene Simmons had to talk Eddie Van Halen out of leaving his namesake band Van Halen and joining up with Kiss, potentially altering the course of rock n’ roll history. In an interview with Guitar World, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee confirmed this around the time of “Creatures of the Night”, the 1982 KISS album. The virtuoso guitarist was “very serious” about playing guitar for KISS.
“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,” Simmons said. According to the Kiss founder, Van Halen took him out to lunch at a diner across the street from New York’s record plant studio, with Vinnie Vincent (who ended up joining the band shortly afterwards) tagging along. “Eddie said, ‘I want to join KISS. I don’t want to fight anymore with Roth. I’m sick and tired of it,’” Simmons recalled. “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.” (source)
Simmons also admitted that he was going through his own identity crisis with the band back then, and that Paul Stanley was left to take on a lot of the heavy lifting in Kiss as Simmons pursued an acting career in Hollywood.
“It was starting to affect the band. It was not rock and roll,” he said, noting that former guitarist Ace Frehley was among the bandmates rightfully complaining about his extracurricular ambitions. “But maybe I just wanted to be appreciated outside of KISS. My life in Kiss is like being a girl with huge tits. All anyone talks about is the makeup, or ‘Let me see your tongue.’ Sometimes you want to say, ‘Can’t you just focus your eyes up here so that we can have a conversation?’”
Paul Stanley told the same publication that his decision to reinvent KISS by removing their makeup ended up hurting the band. But Gene Simmons says that previously unthinkable move actually saved them. “When we did it, if it worked – and it did work – it was because of Paul. People really liked Lick It Up. The arenas filled up again. Then came Asylum, Animalize. Multi-Platinum albums. Even with all the different guitar players – Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick – it just didn’t seem to matter to the fans. We continued to chug along.”
“Mostly it matters because it matters to the fans,” he said. “Because every step along the way we were lambasted – by critics, by people who never did anything – but not by them. And this room [motions with his hand to his home office, which is crammed full of 40 years’ worth of Kiss memorabilia], yeah, it’s self-worship, but it’s also a reminder that everything Kiss achieved had to be clawed and scratched and fought for. Nothing was handed to us. The mountain did not come to Mohammed. We had to go to the mountain.”
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was a songwriter, producer, and inventor. He was the main songwriter for Van Halen, which he co-founded in 1972.
Eddie Van Halen invented or helped invent an adjustable string tension control allowing more precise adjustments than a whammy bar, a humbucking pickup, and ornamental designs for guitar pegheads and pickups.
Sadly, the legendary guitarist died after a long battle with cancer.
Born: January 26, 1955, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: October 6, 2020, Santa Monica, CA