Bruce Kulick On Replacing Mark St. John In KISS After The ‘Test’

Rockers might often compete with one another to score a gig or to be recruited into a cult band. It seems like Bruce Kulick also had a ‘friendly competition’ with Mark St. John since KISS had to recruit one of the guitarists. Kulick recalled his time with KISS on SDR Podcast and shared how he earned his position as the lead guitarist of the cult band.

“We both go on the American leg, starting off in Allentown, Pennsylvania or something, at the end of ’84,” remembered Bruce Kulick as he revealed the story of his recruitment. “Mark was going to be tested; it’s a fascinating story. I’m the only one who tells it right, I believe. I looked at him like, ‘Okay, well, whatever. What am I supposed to do? I gotta play right. I’m not going to try to, you know, like those famous ice skaters, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. What am I going to do?’”

He continued, “So, we would actually jam backstage a little bit, and I remember he watched a few shows, and they let him do a half-show. Then, I came in, and it’s so weird. It’s so f*cking weird. Then the half of the show, I was ready, and then, they let him do a whole show and then the kicker, and of course, they sent him home.”

Then, Bruce was asked if the tensions between him and Mark were high during this period. He said, “I was in a great space where I have to earn this. He’s another musician; he had the gig before me. This is not my decision. ‘You want to jam more? Let’s practice.’ I was always cool with him. He was always cool with me.”

However, it wasn’t easy for John to impress Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. “I had the home team advantage. I toured with them for six weeks. Gene and Paul were happy; I knew that. So, unless he could do what I already was doing better, and when you’re coming in cold, that’s hard.”

Mark especially failed to impress Stanley when he did a stage stunt with his guitar. “But I think, one thing he did, and I’ll never forget Paul’s face, and I know those really well from touring and working with them, he decided to throw the guitar up and twirl it around and showboat a bit which, if it’s planned in a show is great. But Paul was just like, ‘No, not on my stage.’”

The rocker recalled several old memories while revealing the process of his recruitment to KISS. Kulick noted that he had to fill in for Mark St. John, who couldn’t play due to his swollen hand. He then toured with the band across Europe before John joined them on the American leg of the tour.

Even though there was no personal feud between Kulick and John, the two competed against one another since Bruce got the chance to impress Stanley and Simmons when Mark was taking some time off. Although it wasn’t exactly a ‘Tonya and Nancy situation,’ one guitarist had to go.