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TEARS OF JOY: This gold-certified copy of Alice Cooper’s 1976 hit single, ‘I Never Cry,’ was an unexpected surprise from my friend Robert Wagner.

By Metal Dave

One night during the mid-1980s, I walked into one of those apartment complex keg parties where a bunch of hopped-up teens and barely legal headbangers were pissing away the deposit on a rented poolside clubhouse. This being San Antonio, a popular local band called AZIZ was blasting Saxon’s “Power & the Glory” to the dismay of surrounding tenants. It was basically a heavy metal version of “Animal House,” which is to say it was friggin’ awesome!

Suddenly – and to the surprise of no one – the cops arrived in a blinding buzzkill of flashing blue and red. We scrambled like rats from a flood until I found myself in the backseat of a random getaway car. As we sped away, my newfound accomplices decided to keep the party going at some dude’s apartment. Who was I to argue? Let’s roll.

The first thing I saw when I entered the place was a framed, gold-certified copy of Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to my Nightmare” album. Whoa! At that point in my life, I had never beheld such a crowning rock-n-roll jewel. Where am I? And who owns this sparkling beauty? “It’s mine,” said a voice from across the room. “My dad played guitar on that album.” Get outta here! Really? Hey, wait a minute, aren’t you the singer for AZIZ? “Yeah, my name’s Robert. Welcome to my pad. We split as fast as we could after the cops showed up.” Dude, nice to meet you!

And that was it. I’m not sure Robert and I bumped into each other again until some 20 years later in a 7-11 parking lot in deep south Austin. I was walking out and he was sitting on his motorcycle. We gave each other that familiar stare. Dude, is that you? Wow! How ya been? You live here now? Me, too. And so we reconnected.

Years later, we connected again on Facebook. When I posted some pictures of my new home being built, Robert offered a congratulatory comment about my future digs. Being a smart ass, I mentioned how much nicer my new home would be with a framed, gold-certified “Welcome to my Nightmare” album hanging on the wall. Robert sent me his address and told me to pay him a visit. He had something for me. Could it be? No way! I was giddy with anticipation.

When I got to his place, Robert said he didn’t have a spare “Welcome to my Nightmare” album (who does?), but would gladly give me the next best thing: a framed, gold-certified single of Alice Cooper’s 1976 hit, “I Never Cry,” co-written and performed by Robert’s father, guitarist Dick Wagner, who also had worked with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and KISS, among others. “I Never Cry” nearly made me cry.

In a house filled with a lifetime of rock-n-roll memorabilia, few things are cooler than Robert’s one-of-a-kind gift, which today hangs smack in the middle of my living room for all my guests to admire. Sadly, Dick “Maestro” Wagner passed away about a year after “moving into” my home.

Thank you, Robert, for your generosity and friendship. Telling the story of you and your Dad makes me humble and proud. I’ll never hear this song the same way again.

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ASTRO ZOMBIE: After years of legal wrangling, Misfits bassist Jerry Only won the rights to the band name and continues to record and perform under the legendary moniker.

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GHOULS, GHOULS, GHOULS: An early Misfits lineup featuring Only, drummer Arthur Googy, singer Glenn Danzig and guitarist Doyle.

By Metal Dave

My introduction to the Misfits came courtesy of Metallica. Until I saw the pimply-faced Metallicats wearing Misfits shirts in magazine photos, I had no clue about the greaser-ghoul punks from New Jersey. It was circa 1984 and if the Misfits were good enough for Metallica, then I owed it to myself to start digging.

Given the Misfits’ cult status and short-lived lifespan, there wasn’t much to find. The only semi-readily available albums were “Earth A.D.” and “Walk Among Us.” I’d later add the horrible-sounding, low(er)-budget “Evilive” and two other post-breakup compilations, “Legacy of Brutality” and “Misfits” (which arguably were all made available following Metallica’s very public endorsement). All the albums were crap-budget productions, but that only added to the Misfits’ raw sound and underground, horror-comic shtick. No wonder Metallica loved them!

XXX: My copy of 'Walk Among Us' signed by Glenn Danzig.

DAN-SIG: My well-worn copy of ‘Walk Among Us’ signed by Glenn Danzig.

Sharing my love for the Misfits was my lifelong friend Al Kelly who prided himself on listening almost exclusively to the hardest-thrashing metal and breakneck punk bands. As far as Al was concerned, Judas Priest was for wussies. He favored Kreator, Voivod and, of course, the Misfits. One of our favorite rituals was to sit in his broken-down, black Dodge Maverick and slur along to “Where Eagles Dare,” “Bullet” and “Teenagers from Mars.” It was sloppy, good fun.

The Misfits were history by the time Al and I fully discovered them, but they’d eventually reform (for better or worse) giving me the opportunity to interview bassist Jerry Only in 1997 for the San Antonio Express-News.

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THE ONE & ONLY: An early action shot of Jerry Only wearing his Sunday best.

MISFITS RETURN FROM THE GRAVE WITH NEW SINGER
By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News; Wednesday 8/27/1997

When the Misfits called it quits following a Halloween gig in 1983, they left behind a legacy of ghoulish makeup, guitars that looked like weapons and ultra-fast punk-rock songs that celebrated alien invasions, demonic possession, dismemberment and cannibalism.

“We call it a disease and we try to infect anyone we can, ” said bassist Jerry Only, laughing as he discussed the Misfits’ obsession with the macabre. “It goes back to when we were kids watching ‘Chiller Theater.'”

After a prolonged legal battle with former singer Glenn Danzig over the use of the Misfits name, punk rock’s musclebound zombie squad is back from the grave with a new album and lineup. Hailing from Lodi, N.J., the Misfits descend on the Sunken Garden Theater on Thursday. Second-billed behind headliner Megadeth, the band will rip through 26 songs during a frenzied 50-minute set. “We got it down to a science, ” Only said.

DIGGING UP GRAVES: The 'American Psycho' lineup was, left to right, Only, new singer Michale Graves, guitarist Doyle and drummer Dr. Chud.

DIGGING UP GRAVES: The ‘American Psycho’ lineup was, clockwise from left, guitarist Doyle, drummer Dr. Chud, Only and new singer Michale Graves.

Corrosion of Conformity and Machine Head also are on the bill. Tickets are $22.50 through Ticketmaster.

As the band’s founding member, Only asked Danzig to rejoin the Misfits and bury the hatchet after years of bickering.

“We won our (legal) battle and I thought I could be on a real power trip or I could do the cool thing on behalf of the fans and ask him to join,” Only said, his Jersey voice quickening to hyperspeed. “He had us thrown out of his hotel so we took that as a ‘no.'”

Taking over lead vocals is 22-year-old Michale Graves, whose voice at times can recall Danzig’s evil-Elvis impersonation. The band is completed by Only’s younger brother and longtime Misfits guitarist, Doyle, and new drummer Dr. Chud. Besides playing music together, the fearsome foursome also lifts weights together.

“Everyone works really hard,” the 38-year-old Only said. “Michale likes to sleep late, that little son-of- a-gun, but he’s a kid. He’s supposed to be wild and crazy.”

RARE BEWARE: This rare, early Misfits release has been known to fetch top bones.

RARE BEWARE: This rare, early Misfits release has been known to fetch top bones.

Since the band’s demise, the Misfits have become one of the most-collected rock groups ever. The band’s leering Crimson Ghost logo is legendary, and its early recordings are treasured by members of the Misfits fan club (a.k.a. Fiend Club). The mighty Metallica cited the Misfits as a major influence, recorded a cover of “Last Caress/Green Hell” and subsequently introduced the band to legions of new fans. A recent tribute album, “Violent World,” has many of today’s top punk bands covering favorite Misfits tunes.

“The collectibility is out of control,” Only said, acknowledging that Metallica kept the band’s name alive. “Our original records go for more than Elvis’ original records. To me that’s absurd. Of course we had less volume than Elvis. We have one record called ‘Beware’ with ‘Last Caress’ on it that’s an import from England which sells between $500 and $1,000. I don’t condone that. I gotta say I’m very proud of the fact that someone thinks that highly of one of our original records, but if I got a 15-year-old kid who’s working all summer mowing lawns, I don’t want him subjected to (paying top dollar).”

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UNDEAD: In 1997, the Misfits released the comeback album, ‘American Psycho.’ It’s actually very good.

“American Psycho,” the Misfits new album on Geffen Records, is a much more affordable option. As expected, it’s a fist-pumping, shout-along album chock-full of guts, gore and the band’s “fattest, meanest, rippingest” sound to date, Only said.

But what will diehard fans think of their underground favorites signing to a major label and releasing a properly produced album? Will the band’s mystique be damaged?

“You want the truth?” Only asked, before concluding the interview so he could take his son to football practice. “Yes, it would definitely damage us if we stunk. I think our album’s great.”

Sidebar
From 1978 through 1983, the Misfits released numerous singles, EPs, a live album (“EviLive”) and two full-length Lps (“Walk Among Us” and “Earth A.D.”). The full-length releases are fairly common, as are subsequent compilations (“Legacy of Brutality,” “Misfits Collection 1 and 2,” and a coffin-shaped box set), but many of the band’s original, early releases on the Plan 9 label are considered rarities. – David Glessner

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JUST STAY HERE AND DRINK: A vintage shot of Merle Haggard doing what he does best.

By Metal Dave

Like all good fathers, my Daddy taught me well. From throwing a spiral and standing my ground to opening doors and respecting our soldiers, Dad handed down the skills and wisdom that got me from boy to man.

He also influenced me in subtler ways like playing the greats of country western music when I was but a wee lad. Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and George Jones shared our 1970s living room speakers (remember those?) with Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. Dad would be the first to admit a Telecaster might be a fishing pole, but his casual music preferences left an indelible impression on his future rock-n-roll journalist.

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PAYBACK: Nearly three decades after I was born, I took Dad to see ‘The Hag.’

Of them all, Merle Haggard was my favorite. Sure, the songs were memorable enough, but it was the cautionary, and sometimes confrontational, drawl of the lyrics that let you know Merle had been there, drank too much, served his time and learned his lessons the hard way. Or maybe not at all.

There was also the simple, yet elegant sadness that cracked his hard-boiled exterior to reveal a man who was just a man. Merle sang of emotions we all know and hate, but could never put into words. At least not in that crusty, poetic way that puts a lump in the most hardened of throats and drains another shot glass.

To list all of Merle’s great songs is like mailing wedding invitations. Try as you might, someone will be forgotten — your best intentions be damned.

When Merle died on his 79th birthday earlier this week, a piece of my childhood passed with him. Thanks for the music and memories, Merle. And thank you, Dad, for introducing me to the outlaw, barstool genius we lovingly call “The Hag.”

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: The last autograph of the night and it was free. I dare say it could’t have gone to a more worthy fan. Thanks, Ace.

By Metal Dave

I didn’t pay an arm and a leg to get Ace Frehley’s autograph, but I still nearly lost a limb.

The gig was at Fitzgerald’s in San Antonio on Feb. 27, 2016. My pal “Ginchy” offered to drive, so we hit the road to see the legendary KISS guitarist play the songs of my youth in a club.

Ginchy also happens to play guitar for punk-rock legend Cheetah Chrome of Dead Boys fame who happens to know Ace Frehley guitarist Richie Scarlet. It’s classic “I know a guy who knows a guy,” so we clung to a sliver of hope that we may get to meet Ace. Maybe. As in, probably not.

We get to the venue (we’d never been before) and see cars parked for blocks on every side. We decide to leave our KISS albums in the car while we get a sense of the venue’s layout and figure out what credentials may be waiting at the door for Ginchy. No sooner do we cross the street and approach the venue when an SUV rolls up and deposits Ace on the steps of a waiting tour bus. Damn! He. Was. Right. There! And we were empty-handed. Ugh!

Next comes Richie Scarlet. Ginchy walks up and introduces himself as Cheetah Chrome’s guitarist and thanks Scarlet for the guest list spot (Scarlet tells me I look like Bobby Steele from the Misfits. Um, OK). Ginchy asks if there is ANY mathematical possibility we might get Ace to autograph some albums. “Man, Ace does these meet-and-greets, and people pay hundreds of dollars to meet him,” Scarlet says. “I’m sorry, dude, but …” We get it. No hard feelings. Just thought we’d ask.

Resigned to the fact we won’t meet Ace, we decide to abort the mission. We then learn Ace is doing the paid meet-and-greet before his set rather than after, which tells me he’ll be “free” (and racing to escape) when he leaves the stage. Hmmm. Plan B starts to percolate.

Now familiar with the venue and Ace’s pick-up/drop-off point, I decide I’ll skip the last two or three songs of his set, run back to the car, get the albums and try to position myself between him and his getaway car when he exits the building. As I return, the security goons start eyeing me and getting into position. An SUV pulls up and tries to strategically park in such a way that Ace can immediately jump in the vehicle before being accosted. The driver is getting it all wrong so a security guy is barking at him until he gets the SUV squeezed in without an inch to allow for intruders. Except me. 

Ace exits the building hiding beneath a towel and sunglasses. He jumps into the SUV and slams the door before I get to him. I stand there motioning through the window holding his 1978 solo album and a silver Sharpie. The towel is obscuring his vision (more likely, he’s blowing me off?). Meanwhile, the back door on the opposite side of the SUV is open and a guy is leaning in with a poster. Ace leans toward him and signs it. Frantically hopeful, I run around to the other side of the vehicle as “poster boy” backs out of the open door. Before I can take his place, a security dude jumps in the SUV between me and Ace and starts trying to close the door. “HE’S DONE! HE’S DONE!” the guy screams in my face. “ACE!” I yell, ignoring the scowling monster. “HE’S DONE!!!!”

Suddenly, Ace reaches for my album. “DUDE, HE’S REACHING FOR IT!” I plead. “HE’S DONE!”/”HE’S REACHING FOR IT!” Ace grabs my album and marker, signs it, hands it back and I barely escape with my arm as the goon slams the door and the SUV peels out. Sure, it wasn’t the most personable autograph, but Ace was cool enough to do it, which started me shouting out loud.

If my persistence sounds extreme, you have to realize I’m pushing 50 years old and still have KISS posters hanging in my house. KISS is the band that turned me into a rock-n-roller. KISS has been in my life since I was 12 years old. KISS was not a phase.

Unless the security goon threatened violence (and he was probably close), I wasn’t going away quietly when Ace was sitting five feet away from me. Not a chance. I’ve waited my whole life for this opportunity and it will NEVER present itself again (unless I bring along an extra $300-$500). I did what I had to do and shamelessly persisted. As Ace himself would say, “No Regrets.”

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KINGS OF METAL: Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante step outside the thrash zone on ‘For All Kings’ and come up with a winner. The album drops Feb. 26.

By Metal Dave

Knowingly or NOT!, Anthrax throws down the gauntlet with new album, “For All Kings.”

Adventurous in its vast melodic scope and high harmonies, “For All Kings” – the follow-up to 2011’s widely (and rightly) praised “Worship Music” – finds Anthrax reining in its thrash-metal tendencies rather than fueling them as a driving force. It’s not “LuLu” or “Slayer-Meets-Megadeth Unplugged,” but it’s beyond the core sound of Big 4 thrash and will certainly divide opinions.

“Breathing Lightning” – arguably the most radio-friendly Anthrax song ever — soars over a bed of keyboards(!) reminiscent of  Iron Maiden circa “Somewhere in Time/Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” It’s a bold move, but ultimately irresistible as singer Joey Belladonna channels Bruce Dickinson (which he does through most of the album) while the band pilots the song’s bullet-train velocity.

Echoes of Maiden also can be heard when the hard-snapping “Impaled/You Gotta Believe” downshifts into a trippy middle break that sounds like Tool tweaking “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”  

Brooding with menace, “Monster in the End” is the sound of a high-seas storm, while “Suzerain” alternates between chorale beauty and roiling, metallic churn. The title track is a galloping beast and “Defend Avenge” is a pit-ready stomper complete with barking gang vocals.

At seven-plus minutes, “Blood Eagle Wings” is the album’s showpiece. Opening with a spidery guitar lick, the track builds into a towering piece of powerful music that crushes with majestic grandeur. Epic is an overused word, but here it applies.

“This Battle Chose Us” and “All of Them Thieves” boil to thrashing climaxes, and the old-school need for speed comes ripping through on “Evil Twin” and “Zero Tolerance.”

Fans who appreciated the musical growth of “Worship Music” will find plenty to like on “For All Kings.” While it’s undoubtedly well-played, heavy and memorable, the album leans more toward classic heavy metal (with hints of prog and power metal) than traditional full-bore thrash. That said, it’s hard to deny Anthrax the indulgence of artistic progression and repeated listens – especially when it’s still metal and done this well.

If “For All Kings” is a challenge, consider it a challenge accepted.

* Overall Grade: B
* Favorite Tracks: “Blood Eagle Wings,” “Defend Avenge,” “Zero Tolerance” and the title track
* Secret Weapons: The not-so-secret precision of drummer Charlie Benante; the surprisingly well-aged voice of Joey Belladonna; ripping solos from newcomer guitarist Jon Donais (formerly of Shadows Fall); and the big sound of returning producer Jason Rusk (“Worship Music”)
* For Fans of: Proggy Iron Maiden, dynamic song structures, double-kick drumming

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LET’S BOOGIE: Left to right, Dr. Boogie is bassist Jeff Turpin, singer/guitarist Chris P., drummer Luis Herrera and guitarist Dustin James. Their debut album is best served with a drink and a strut.

By Metal Dave

Like a lot of great rock bands, Dr. Boogie owes a nod and a wink to the sozzled swagger of Rod Stewart’s Faces and the slinky sting of Rolling Stones guitars.

Born in Los Angeles (but apparently ready to escape to New York), Dr. Boogie’s debut album, “Gotta Get Back to New York City,” swizzles a boozy blend of barroom guitars, swelling brass and hurricane harmonica with killer keys and tambourine hip-shake. 

“Down This Road” and “Life on the Breadline” recall Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, while “Together” sounds like something the Stones left behind when they wrapped up 1978’s “Some Girls.” Yeah, it’s that good.

“Queen of the Streets” has a hint of unplugged Guns N’ Roses melancholy and “Personal Matter” is more Toxic than Glimmer Twins. The revved-up title track is the album’s shout-along punk rocker (complete with a telling reference to the Flaming Groovies) while “Cut at the Knees” incorporates ominous undertones perfectly suited to its night-prowler lyrics. As implied by its title, “Really Good Feeling” absolutely beams with grit-pop shimmy.

At only eight songs, “Gotta Get Back to New York City” is also a vintage case of leave ’em wanting more — which is much better than being bludgeoned into boredom, no matter how good the band.

With bands like the Biters, Prima Donna and Smash Fashion revisiting the garage-glam boogie and hard-pop heyday of the late-1960s through ’70s, rock-n-roll is taking a turn for the better. In the shaky, but capable hands of Dr. Boogie, it’s taking a turn for the best.

* Overall Grade: A+
* Favorite Tracks: “Together,” “Life on the Breadline” and the title track
* Secret Weapons: Singer Chris P’s nicotine rasp, which is equal measures of Rod Stewart and Izzy Stradlin with a dab of Steve Marriott; well-placed Hammond B3
* For Fans of: All the aforementioned influences, plus the Quireboys, Dogs D’Amour, River City Rebels and leopard-print neckties

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PULL MY FINGER: Paul invites a front-row groupie to smell the magic.

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C’MON AND LOVE ME: This late-1970s poster played right into Paul’s image as a rock-n-roll Romeo.

By Metal Dave

In 2004, I took my wife to her first KISS concert. By then, of course, she had been subjected to the KISS albums, my off-limits collection of memorabilia and the ceaseless, to-the-grave blathering about the band’s indelible influence on my life.

She listened and nodded at her oh-so-cute manchild, but I knew she didn’t fully appreciate my fandom. How could she? This level of ridiculous could only come from Y chromosomes of a certain vintage.

On this night, however, she “got it.” As always, the on-stage spectacle was so over-the-top it made all other concerts look like comatose tea parties. She even called it the best concert she’d ever seen. It didn’t hurt that Rikki Rockett and C.C. DeVille from opening act, Poison, invited us to watch from the soundboard where we three boys played air guitar and shouted out loud to the soundtrack of our teens. It was a great night. Even my wife agreed.

(The following originally published in the San Antonio Express-News)

By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News
June 4, 2004

A Kiss laced with Poison blows into the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Thursday and it promises to pack plenty of tongue. You wanted the best, you got the best …

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NEW ROMANTIC: During the early ’80s, KISS cut their hair to keep up with the times. Most would agree it didn’t quite work.

Kiss, the longstanding kings of kabuki-face hard rock, are teamed with veteran proteges Poison, proclaimed by VH-1 to be the greatest glam-rock band of all-time. Expect lots of tongue wagging, blood, sweat and cheers as both bands bring their fireworks and power-to-the-people stage show to the adoring masses.

“People know when they pay to see Kiss they’re going to get something to see,” says soft-spoken, starry-eyed front man Paul Stanley, calling from Tokyo and battling a vicious, hacking cough. “When Kiss first came on the scene, I think we were a wake-up call to audiences that they were getting cheated. The idea of us coming out and sitting on stools on a Persian carpet or something isn’t gonna happen. Kiss remains Kiss. It’s walls of amplifiers, video screens built into the amps. New Kiss is about as necessary as new Coke. It’s still Kiss, but the blade’s been sharpened.”

Still waving goodbye on a never-ending reunion tour that began in 1996, the latest Kiss trek is more about fine-tuning than farewell. The band, which ranks alongside the Beatles and Elvis in terms of record sales, is digging deep into the platinum catalog to unearth long-hidden gems.

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FACE OFF: Paul’s mugshot minus makeup. During the 1980s Hollywood hair-metal explosion, Paul was in the running to produce albums by Jetboy, Poison and Guns N’ Roses. None ever happened.

“Not only did we shake up the set list, but we also did two small shows (in Australia recently) in theaters where we virtually played a slew of songs that either never have been played or haven’t been played in 25 years,” Stanley says. “We did a two-hour set without the benefit of special effects or pyro that consisted of ‘C’mon and Love Me, ‘ ‘Goin’ Blind, ‘ ‘Makin’ Love, ‘ ‘All the Way, ‘ ‘Got to Choose, ‘ ‘Hotter than Hell, ‘ you name it. We’re really fired up, because at this point on any given night we can throw in whatever we feel like playing.”

On behalf of San Antonio, this writer requested “Love Her All I Can,” from Kiss’ 1975 album, “Dressed to Kill.” Keep your fingers crossed for the obscure song, but don’t expect to see original guitarist Ace Frehley or on-again/off-again drummer Peter Criss. They are replaced by guitarist Tommy Thayer and veteran drummer Eric Singer. Stanley chooses his words carefully when explaining.

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LOOKIN’ FOR A KISS: Ace, Paul, Gene and Peter circa 1971 looked more like the New York Dolls than the larger-than-life superheroes they would soon become.

“We created some great things together and I’d rather think about the positive things we did than start airing dirty laundry,” he says. “The fact is, it’s easy for somebody to portray themselves as a victim when they don’t want to take responsibility for their position. For all the good we accomplished, I will always wish Peter well. It wasn’t working any more for a lot of reasons and it was best for the band and the audience to bring Eric back.”

As for Frehley, Stanley says, “Ace, for years, had an ambivalence, to put it mildly, about being in the band because he felt it was keeping him from his solo project. Ultimately, Ace opted out. The door doesn’t swing both ways. At some point, you can only walk through that door so many times and then the lock gets changed. This is hallowed ground and you’re expected to give a hundred percent. If you don’t, I have a problem with that.”

Asked what keeps himself and blood-spewing, fire-breathing bassist Gene Simmons together after 30 years, Stanley answers, “A common love of Kiss. A common appreciation, dedication and reverence for something we created a long time ago as young fans of rock who had a dream.

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PRE-STARDOM: Before he settled on his trademark black star makeup, Paul wore a silver lining.

“I saw a lot of bands and either I saw bands that looked great and sounded awful or sounded great and looked awful. Basically, I’m the kid in the audience who got on stage and said, ‘Let me show you how it should be done.’ That was purely from a fan’s perspective. It was to create the band that we had never seen.”

Today, Kiss remains unlike any band fans have ever seen. From platform boots to amazing pyrotechnics, a Kiss show is a spectacle of epic proportions. So where does it go from here?

“All bets are off as far as where it goes and when it ends, “Stanley says. “It will go until it stops and right now it’s going full-speed, and anyone that’s in the way is gonna get creamed.”

Kiss/Poison
Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 16765 Lookout Road, Selma; When: 7 p.m. Thursday; gates open at 6; For openers: Spin 66; Tickets: $29.50-$85.50 at Ticketmaster outlets

FAB FOUR: Not to be confused with the Beatles' 'Let it Be,' 'Love Gun' is nonetheless a KISS classic.

FAB FOUR: Not to be confused with the Beatles’ ‘Let it Be,’ ‘Love Gun’ is nonetheless a KISS classic.

KISS AND TELL

While Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons put the finishing touches on their respective solo albums, a new Kiss album may be a long time coming. How long?

“That’s a tough one,” Stanley says. “I get asked that almost every day and my problem or issue with that is that if I wrote (The Beatles’) ‘Let It Be’ people would still want to hear ‘Love Gun.’ What happens over the course of time is songs become more than songs. They become a snapshot of your life.

“When you’re up against songs that are a moment in your life as opposed to a melody, it’s pretty hard to compete with. So ‘Love Gun’ or ‘Detroit Rock City’ is not just a song, it’s a girl you were sleeping with or the guys you were out at the diner with. So anything we would do today wouldn’t have that history tied to it.”

R.I.P. Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister: 1945-Eternity

Posted: 29th December 2015 by admin in Rewind
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BIRTHDAY PAR-TAY!!!: Backstage with Lemmy on my 35th birthday in Austin, Texas.

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FROM SHOWER TO SOUNDCHECK: A chance afternoon meeting with Lemmy outside the Back Room in Austin.

By Metal Dave

Armed with a Rickenbacker, Jack and smokes, Lemmy blasted through life louder than everyone else. He was defiant, smart and witty enough to crack up a statue. Lemmy was my Keith Richards. 

News of his death last night was not surprising, but that didn’t make it any less saddening. The lovable outlaw was as well-known for his vices as for his punishing Motorhead music. Let’s face it: In Motorhead years, 70 was probably 250.

As someone who’s interviewed countless rock stars, I always get asked to name my favorite. Lemmy always tops the list for his raw humor and sheer quotability.

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TOTALLY MENTAL: “To Metal (Mental?) Dave — Lemmy Kilmister”

“It wasn’t much of a competition,” he laughed when I asked him about losing a Grammy Award to Metallica. “The thing I couldn’t believe was everyone showed up dressed like record company people. Queensryche was wearing rented tuxedoes for Christ’s sake! Talk about becoming what you’re supposed to be fighting against!”

A personal favorite of mine was his response to my question about being the quintessential underdog. “I’ve seen what too much money does to people. You get six houses in the country and a yacht, and spend the rest of your life worrying about it all.” That quote comes back to me time and again when I feel life should have more to offer.

The first time Lemmy called me was in 1997. In an age before cell phones, I spent the assigned interview day hovering over my living room land line waiting for it to ring. I waited. And waited. And then? I waited some more.

Four hours later, he finally called. He offered some excuse and tried to apologize, but I wouldn’t hear it. I was finally talking to God and that’s all that mattered.

THE BIRTHDAY PAR-TAY! My 35th birthday Motorhead pass.

AFTERSHOCK My 35th birthday Motorhead pass.

A few years later, Motorhead arrived at the Back Room in Austin. It was a Saturday night gig. Perfect in every way. Before the night was over, I was backstage drinking Motorhead’s beer while collecting autographs and taking photos with Lemmy. It was also my 35th birthday. Not bad.

There was another time I spotted Motorhead’s tour bus in the Back Room parking lot on my way home from work. My apartment was nearby so I raced home to collect some memorabilia, took a quick shower and returned to the venue in hopes of saying hello at sound check. I was still dripping wet and barely out of my car when Lemmy popped out of the venue with his usual Jack and Coke in hand. It was so potent, the smell nearly knocked me down. The sun was still out. It was classic Lemmy.

There was another Back Room gig (or was it the same night?) when I got to stay behind after security cleared the venue and sit at the bar with Lemmy while he played video trivia games. I remember being impressed with his masterful knowledge of American history (he’s a Brit, ya know?).

I don’t know what else to say except, “thank you, Lemmy” for your music, hospitality and brilliant way with words (both lyrically and in conversation). You were — and always will be — the baddest, most lovable, hardest-living, dedicated-beyond-question, rock-n-roller to ever ravage our collective hearing.
You were Motorhead. And you played rock-n-roll!
****
For more of my interviews with Lemmy, go here and here.

KISS XXXXXX: This special edition San Antonio Express-News rack card was featured at the the Alamodome to promote my Gene Simmons interview which was on sale as a souvenir at the Alamodome concert.

EXTRA! EXTRA!: This special edition San Antonio Express-News rack card was posted around the Alamodome on Friday March 31, 2000 announcing my Gene Simmons interview was on sale as a souvenir inside the concert arena.

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ROCK-N-ROLL WEEKEND: The cover of the special edition containing my interview with Gene.

By Metal Dave
(The following is dedicated with love to my Nana and Aunt Linda who bought me more KISS merch than my parents could stand)

In March of 2000, I had one foot out the door when the phone rang.

As part of the ongoing KISS farewell tour, I requested an interview with Gene Simmons on behalf of the San Antonio Express-News, but was told my childhood hero wasn’t scheduling press. Instead, I was told, he would carry my phone number with him and (maybe) call if and when the mood struck. Naturally, I jumped every time the damn phone rang.

As my landline reached its third or fourth ring, I slammed the door behind me and ran back inside to answer. Hello? “Hi, it’s Gene Simmons calling for Dave.” Gene! “Is this a good time?” Never better. Thanks for calling.

And so goes my first of five interviews with KISS, the band that turned my world upside down.

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DRESSED TO KILL: Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley circa 1974.

KISS ‘EM GOODBYE

By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News
March 31, 2000

Since joining forces in the early ’70s, the four painted faces of Kiss have become more widely recognized than the faces of Mount Rushmore.

Boasting album sales of more than 80 million and a succession of gold and platinum awards second only to the Beatles, Kiss is as globally recognized as McDonald’s, Nike and Budweiser. So why pucker up and bid farewell at the Alamodome tonight?

“We’ve accomplished everything a band could hope to do,” said bassist Gene Simmons during a surprise phone call. “It’s time to hang up the platform heels and go out with some dignity. And if we’re going to stop, we’ve got to say thank you to the bosses – the fans. Kiss will continue in other ways. Everybody’s got a lot of projects, but we’re trying not to talk about them now, because we don’t want to dilute what we’re doing at the moment.”

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GOT BLOOD?: Gene as he appeared on the cover of 1977’s “KISS Alive II” album.

A childhood hero to millions, Simmons is the eternal king of the rock-star hierarchy. About the time Marilyn Manson quit spitting up on his mommy, Simmons became universally notorious as a leering, oversexed Antichrist who spit blood and fire between lashes of his world-famous tongue.

“The stage is a holy place,” Simmons said. “The stage is for the stars and the stars better be bright. Rock ‘n’ roll is in a sad place right now because Seattle killed it. Why get on stage looking like the pizza delivery guy when you can dress up to go to the party?”

Kiss’ party began humbly enough in New York under the moniker Wicked Lester. By 1973, bassist/vocalist Simmons and guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley had recruited lead guitarist Paul “Ace” Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. Performing in makeup and androgynous costumes, Kiss was critically panned and publicly laughed at, but starry-eyed enough to keep chasing the dream.

“We’ve always been the quintessential American band, critics be damned,” Simmons said. “The critics tell you frog legs are cuisine, but I’d rather have a good, juicy Whopper. Kiss has always been out of fashion. We’re out of fashion now, we were out of fashion yesterday and we’ll be out of fashion tomorrow.”

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UNMASKED: The 1983 “Lick It Up” lineup featuring Eric Carr, left, and Vinnie Vincent, lower center.

After ruling music in the ’70s, Kiss found itself without Criss and Frehley by the early ’80s. Drugs and booze had consumed the drummer and guitarist, and the substance-free Stanley and Simmons bounced them out of the band. With drummer Eric Carr (who died tragically of cancer in 1991) and guitarist Vinnie Vincent added to the lineup, Kiss publicly unmasked for the first time ever and started a makeup/costume-free second career phase with the 1983 release, “Lick it Up.”

“It was very strange,” Simmons said, regarding the no-makeup adjustment. “We were going through a period of self-analysis. We were asking ourselves if makeup and bombs was all we were. We probably should have left it alone. It’s like Clark Kent and Superman. Both are just as strong as the other, but let’s face it, Superman is cooler.”

MIRROR, MIRROR: Backstage applying the trademark makeup

MIRROR, MIRROR: Backstage applying the trademark makeup

Kiss managed to do big business in the ’80s, but the mystique and hard-core fans were gone – until a clean and sober Frehley and Criss agreed to a full-blown, dust-off-the-costumes, put-on-the-makeup reunion tour that became the highest-grossing tour of 1996-97. Considering the band’s immeasurable riches, you’d think a makeup artist would be on staff.

“We (applied the makeup) the first time and we’ll do it the last time,” Simmons said. “I once put it on in under an hour, but we usually close the doors, take our time, talk about what’s going on. Incidentally, that last time will be a heart-wrenching experience.”

Kiss’ Farewell Tour
Where: Alamodome, Interstate 37 downtown When: 7 tonight For openers: Ted Nugent, Skid Row Tickets: $35-$50

XXX: The 1974 debut album.

FIRST KISS: The 1974 debut album.

KISS DISCS
Kiss has its share of latter-day stinkers, but the classics are mandatory.

  1. “Kiss” (1974): Released without fanfare, this album introduced the world to the Fearsome Faces. Contains staples such as “Strutter,” “Firehouse,” “Cold Gin,” and “Black Diamond.”
  2. “Dressed to Kill” (1975): The cover features the band out of costume and dressed in suits. The music is all business, too. Contains the classics “Rock Bottom,” “C’mon and Love Me,” “She” and “Rock and Roll All Nite,” but is also recommended for sleepers such as “Room Service,” “Love Her All I Can” and “Getaway.”
  3. “Alive!” (1975): The one that burst the dam, saved Casablanca Records from bankruptcy and made the shouted “You wanted the best …” intro as immortal as “Freebird.” A life-altering album for future rock stars Kirk Hammett, Sebastian Bach, Dimebag Darrell and others too numerous to mention, this double live package of eye and ear candy is widely regarded as one of the greatest live albums of all time.
  4. “Destroyer” (1976): Considered Kiss’ greatest studio album, this monster featured Ken Kelly’s apocalyptic artwork and Kiss’ biggest hit, “Beth.” Add “Detroit Rock City,” “King of the Night Time World,” “God of Thunder” and “Shout it Out Loud,” and “Destroyer” is to heavy metal what the swimsuit issue is to Sports Illustrated. (Side note: the first album I ever bought with my own money.)
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    FANTASTIC FOUR: At the peak of their powers in 1976.

    “Rock and Roll Over” (1976): “Destroyer” will never be topped, but this potent shot was a top-shelf chaser. Contains “Calling Dr. Love,” “Ladies Room,” “Hard Luck Woman” and the overlooked killer, “Makin’ Love.”

  6. “Love Gun” (1977): Another amazing Ken Kelly painting finds our mighty heroes surrounded by a bevy of Vampira-like babes. Inside, Kiss cranks out the classic title track, “Christine Sixteen,” and “Shock Me.” The sleepers, “Got Love for Sale,” “Plaster Caster” and “I Stole Your Love,” are full-on headbangers.
  7. “Alive II” (1977): The second eye-popping, double-live package is a rock-solid collection of revved-up classics that found the marketing machine going full-tilt with inserts that included a color photo booklet and temporary tattoos. The gatefold sleeve features Kiss in all its blazing, on-stage glory.
  8. “Dynasty” (1979): A left turn for Kiss as it made concessions to the disco era. Still a rocker at heart, this one contained the hit “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” along with “Charisma,” “Sure Know Something” and “Hard Times.” Cover photo and inserted poster are Kiss classics.
  9. “Creatures of the Night” (1982): The last album and tour with makeup (it stopped at the HemisFair Arena with the Plasmatics replacing Riot as openers … my first concert!), “Creatures” marked a return to the band’s more sinister looking, harder-rocking roots. The title track, “I Love it Loud,” “Killer,” “War Machine” and “I Still Love You” brought long-time turncoats back to the Kiss Army.

Kiss-tory quiz
Kiss die-hards pride themselves on knowing the most obscure facts. See how you fare (answers follow questions).

  1. RADIOACTIVE: Gene's 1978 solo album was filled with guest stars, including an unknown vocalist named Katey Sagal who would later find fame as TV's Peg Bundy in "Married with Children" and Gemma on "Sons of Anarchy."

    RADIOACTIVE: Gene’s 1978 solo album was filled with guest stars, including an unknown vocalist named Katey Sagal who would later find fame as TV’s Peg Bundy in “Married with Children” and Gemma on “Sons of Anarchy.”

    Peter Criss is best known for singing the ballad “Beth,” but he was a prolific lead vocalist throughout his tenure with Kiss. Of the 10 songs he’s sung, name his two lead vocals on the “Hotter than Hell” album.

  2. Whose kids are speaking on walkie-talkies at the beginning of “God of Thunder”?
  3. Kiss current road manager is Tommy Thayer. What ’80s hair band did he play guitar in?
  4. What Motor City rock star contributed backup vocals to “Radioactive” and “Living in Sin” on Gene’s 1978 solo album?
  5. Two of the guest musicians on Ace’s solo album are now part of Paul Schaffer’s CBS orchestra (“Late Show” with David Letterman). Name them and their instruments.
  6. Who originally wrote “2,000 Man” from Kiss’ “Dynasty”?
  7. One Kiss album was released with two different covers featuring two different guitarists, neither of whom contributed to the record. What was the album and who was the actual guitarist?
  8. Who is the unlikely pop star that helped Gene write “War Machine”?
  9. What superstar rock band is Gene credited with discovering?
  10. Name the guitarist on “Animalize.”

Answers 1. “Mainline” and “Strange Ways.” 2. Producer Bob Ezrin’s 3. Black-n-Blue 4. Bob Seger 5. Drummer Anton Fig and bassist Will Lee 6. Mick Jagger/Keith Richards. 7. “Creatures of the Night” w/”invisible” guitarist Vinnie Vincent 8. Bryan Adams 9. Van Halen 10. Mark St. John