Did Gene Simmons Beg Eddie Van Halen To Join Kiss?

Did Eddie really want to join Kiss? Or was it the other way around?

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has always boasted that in 1982, Edward Van Halen, while expressing his frustration over dealing with David Lee Roth, actually asked if he could join Kiss.

We’re thinking Gene is making a bigger deal out of it then it was. If Eddie really did ask to join Kiss, he probably woke up the next day with a brutal hangover and had a laugh about it with the rest of the band.

But now we have reason to believe that back in 1976 or 1977, it was the other way around – Gene wanted Eddie to join Kiss.

Back in 1995 before the Van Halen News Desk, we published the all Van Halen magazine, ‘The Inside.” While working on an article for the magazine, we inadvertently dug up some interesting info regarding this rumor. We were conducting an interview with Wally “Cartoon” Olney, who was a good friend of Van Halen’s back when they were starting to get big in Pasadena in the mid-seventies. Olney hung out with the band countless times at Eddie and Alex’s house and also attended many of the band’s rehearsals in Roth’s basement.

During our interview with Olney, he mentioned that Alex and Edward would constantly visit the music store where he was employed. One day in the store, the Van Halen brothers told him that Gene Simmons financed a demo tape of theirs, and then Olney mentions something interesting about Gene and Eddie. Here’s the excerpt from our interview:

Olney: Gene tried to recruit Eddie.

The Inside: For Kiss?

Olney: Well, for something. I mean, constantly. I was at Ed’s house several times and Gene had called there and Ed was going, “No, man, I don’t want to play with you.”

The Inside: Gene apparently has said that Ed had asked him if he could join Kiss.

Olney: Wrong. I sat in his bedroom in their old house in Pasadena. The rooms are fucking tight. There was a little bedroom set off the back. I can remember Ed picking up the phone going, “No I don’t want to play,” and telling me, “God, he calls me constantly, and won’t leave me the fuck alone.” He goes, “It was cool that he made that tape for us, but I don’t want to be in a band with him. I’ve got my own band.” I can remember going back to my friends, going, “Guess what? Gene Simmons called Ed!”

This excerpt is from an interview from issue #8 of ‘The Inside’ magazine. ‘The Inside’ was the ALL-VAN HALEN, full color, glossy magazine published by the staff of VHND from 1995 – 2000. It went on to become the band’s official magazine. Most of the 16 issues published are still available here. Watch for our entire interview with Wally Olney to be featured on VHND.com in the future.