Paul Stanley On How He Saved KISS By Keeping Gene Simmons Away From Van Halen
In Eddie Van Halen’s upcoming biography ‘Eruption/Unchained,’ Paul Stanley admitted that he and KISS’ manager Bill Aucoin decided not to take on Van Halen because they were trying to keep Gene Simmons on track.
Eddie Van Halen passed away in October 2020 from cancer, and that tragic event brought the end of Van Halen. Eddie’s contribution and life are now detailed in his biography named ‘Eruption’ in the UK and ‘Unchained’ in the US, and will be released on September 23. The book was written by the biographer Paul Brannigan, and it includes a lot of stories and interviews that weren’t made public before.
In an interview for the book, Paul Stanley from KISS admitted that he and Gene Simmons went to see Van Halen in Los Angeles in 1976. At that time, Van Halen wasn’t signed into any label and was just starting their long and successful career. As soon as Simmons saw Van Halen on stage, he couldn’t believe his eyes and ears and stated his admiration towards Eddie.
Here is what he thought when he first saw Van Halen:
“I was thinking, ‘My fucking God, listen to these guys.’ As soon as Eddie started playing, the thing that struck me right away was that the guy was amazingly fast and light on touch. Eddie was just swimming over that fretboard, and I couldn’t believe the control he had. Everybody’s head just turned around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist: ‘What is that?'”
Simmons wanted to take on Van Halen, and as soon as he met the band, he offered them to sign them with KISS’ management label and booked meetings and flight tickets to get them to New York. However, Paul Stanley and Bill Aucoin told Simmons that they didn’t hear anything special about the band. Simmons cared about their opinion, so unwillingly, he dropped Van Halen.
Paul Stanley revealed in Eddie’s biography that it had nothing to do with Van Halen, but if Simmons were to concentrate on another band, it would hurt KISS. He described Simmons’ personality as a man who focuses on himself, and it wouldn’t advantage the band if he shifted his focus on another band.
Here are Stanley’s words:
“We didn’t want to take Van Halen on because we were trying to hold Gene in check. Gene is often more concerned – and this is just part of his personality – with Gene, and it wasn’t going to be to our benefit for him to run off and get involved with something else. Was Van Halen undeniable? Absolutely. Were they fabulous? Yeah. Did they have what it took? Absolutely. But we had to take care of KISS, and the way to protect KISS at that time was to pull the reins in on Gene, it’s that simple.”
Maybe Van Halen would have become famous way before if Simmons had proceeded with his plans to get them signed. However, at least the fans now know that Stanley didn’t have anything against the band. On the contrary, he thought they were amazing but had to sacrifice them to handle KISS’s future.