Gene Simmons Recalls The Day He Discovered AC/DC And Gave Them A Chance Tour With KISS
KISS co-founder and bassist Gene Simmons recently gave an interview to Australia’s Triple M radio station, during which he talked about the first time he listened to AC/DC live and how the band ended up opening for KISS in the late ’70s.
As you may recall, some days ago we’d told the story of how Gene Simmons discovered Van Halen, and today, we’ll be revealing the story of how he came across AC/DC and helped them achieve mainstream success by giving them an amazing chance.
As you know, KISS was formed in 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. The band achieved mainstream success just a couple of years later which corresponded with the time that AC/DC was trying to make it in the metal scene.
In order to stress how short AC/DC was on cash, Simmons said that Angus didn’t have his front teeth but couldn’t do anything about it as he couldn’t afford it. So, one night, Simmons heard them play in a small club, and the person that caught his eye as a ‘real’ rock and roll guy was Angus Young.
He went up to him after the show and invited Angus to have dinner with him at Mel’s Diner ‘which is in some parts of the world real famous.’ Simmons remembered that Angus ordered a frankfurter which came as a shock to the waitress who would have expected a hot dog.
After they had a couple of bites, Simmons turned to Angus and told him that he thinks they’re great and that he’s going to make a couple of calls so that they can start touring with KISS. And that’s the story of how AC/DC ended up supporting KISS in the late 1977 and early 1978.
Here’s what Gene Simmons said during the interview:
“I saw them playing this really small club in L.A. I happened to be there. And all I remember is being close to the stage, ’cause I love that – I wanna feel it; I wanna feel the chest kind of cave in when the bass and the kick drum hits it. I don’t wanna be at a safe distance. If it’s too loud, you’re too old. So I’m in the front. And even after the blackouts between songs, there’s Angus just running around on stage, not posing – just kind of feeling it, like somebody in a trance or something. I said, ‘That guy is rock and roll. That guy is real.’ So after the show, I went backstage.
And he came up to me and said, ‘Oh, Gene Simmons.’ I’m doing a bad Ozzie accent. ‘Oh, Gene Simmons. Yeah. All right.’ I said, ‘You’re the guy. What’s your name?’ ‘Angus.’ And then he smiled. And I’ll never forget it, he didn’t have front teeth. I guess at that point they couldn’t afford it. So I said, ‘Let me take you a few blocks away. I wanna sit down and talk with you.’ So he did.”
He went on to say:
“I’ll never forget it, we went to a place called Mel’s Diner, which is in some parts of the world real famous. And there we are at 1 a.m. in the morning. To some people, I’m kind of a big deal, so all the waitresses and everybody gathered around the table. And at that point, they had yet to know who Angus and the boys were, but it was just Angus and myself. ‘What would you like, Mr. Simmons?’ All that kind of stuff. I said, ‘Ask my friend first.’
I’ll never forget it, Angus asked for a frankfurter – instead of a hot dog – and beets. And they looked at each other, and I said, ‘Get the man what he wants.’ So they did. They brought it back. And I’ll never forget, Angus picked up the hot dog without the bun and started biting into it on the sides of his mouth because the two front teeth were missing. And I said to him — I can still remember most of the conversation — ‘You guys are great. I’m gonna make some calls. You’re going out on tour with us.”