Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS contributed to two coffee table photo books, Van Halen and Eddie Van Halen, both published by legendary rock photographer Neil Zlozower. The Van Halen News Desk has the exclusive on both quotes.
“Once upon a time, when it meant something to be a rock star and groupies prided themselves on whom they had spent the night with, I was invited to the Starwood Club in L.A. to see a band called The Boyz. I took Bebe Buell, she of Playboy/Liv Tyler/etc. fame, and sat next to Rodney Bingenheimer, king of the L.A. nightlife, and waited for the opening band to come on.
“Life is what happens to you when you least expect it. I saw Van Halen. I was stunned. They killed.
“Within two songs I was waiting for them backstage and immediately offered to sign them and take them into the studio. It seems there was a — I kid you not — yogurt manufacturer who was waiting to finance the band. I begged them not to do that. And, in a short time, I flew them to New York, signed them to my Man of 1,000 Faces production company and took them into Electric Ladyland Studios to do a thirteen-song demo. I also bought Dave some platform shoes and leather pants.
“I took the demo and showed it to the rest of the KISSers and Bill Aucoin, our then-manager. No one got it. I was shocked. I gave the demo back to the band, told them I had a tour to go on and afterward I would try to get them a record deal, but until then, I tore up our contract and set them free. It didn’t take them long to get on Warner Bros.
“Did I discover Van Halen? Nah . . . I was there. I saw. I knew. I am a fan.”
— Gene Simmons
“Lita Ford and I went to see Ed play with Van Halen one night at the Starwood in 1977, and I was blown away and brought Gene with me the next night. Their charisma, stage presence, and take-no-prisoners attitude coupled with great songs, killer arrangements, and airtight playing made them undeniable. Everything about Edward, from his groundbreaking technique to his hacked-up Frankenstein guitar, made him the heart of the band, and clearly someone who was playing on all levels, by his own rules.
“So many have tried to copy his style, but it’s always just made it more obvious that although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it pales next to the real deal.”
The Gene Simmons quote is from the hardcover photo book, Van Halen. Paul Stanley’s appears in the upcoming hardcover photo book, Eddie Van Halen. For more info or to order Autographed copies, visit Van Halen Store.