What Gene Simmons And Paul Stanley Copied From Jimi Hendrix, Jay Jay French Explains
Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French recalled when he auditioned to be the KISS’ guitarist and revealed how Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were inspired by legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix during his recent interview with Talk Toomey.
As you may know, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were playing in a band named Wicked Lester before they founded KISS. However, they decided to leave the band due to creative differences and found KISS in 1973. A short time later, they recruited Peter Criss as the drummer and Ace Frehley as the guitarist thanks to their remarkable performance during the auditions.
Jay Jay French was one of the guitarists who joined KISS’ auditions but he admitted that he wasn’t as ready as Ace Frehley. French stated that the band left their pop-oriented style and began to combine metal and rock while producing their new works as KISS. After he went to see one of their live performances, he also noticed that they were using different equipment.
French explained the difference between KISS and the other American rock bands saying that most of them were using Fenders and MusicMan as amplifiers but KISS chose to use Marshall amplifiers. He claimed that KISS members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons copied this way of playing from English heavy metal band Slade and Jimi Hendrix whose style influenced almost every musician in the world.
French said in his interview that:
“Then I got an audition for Wicked Lester, which became KISS, which wasn’t particularly interesting – I wasn’t ready, Ace Frehley was. Also, to be fair, there were a lot of guitar players who auditioned for them – I don’t know who else they spoke to, but I’m sure it wasn’t just me and they picked Ace.
When they picked Ace, they invited me down to hear the songs transferred from Wicked Lester’s poppy rock thing that sounded like the band Looking Glass, they sounded like that. All of a sudden, they had a vision, metal was the vision. They could see it. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are smart, and they had a vision.”
“There was no way to know where it was ultimately going to go, but they already had an idea that they were going to have Marshall amplifiers and be very heavy. In those days, American bands did not play through Marshall amplifiers, we played through Fenders and MusicMan.
Gene and Paul were impressed by Slade, which was a super-heavy band in England, and of course, Jimi Hendrix, and those bands all had Marshalls, so I think that they realized it. When I went down to see them in September of ’72 as KISS, they had just changed their name to KISS, the first backdrop was a bed sheet that goes up, and they were great.”
It can be said that even though Jimi Hendrix passed away 50 years ago at a very young age, he inspired and will continue to inspire both his contemporaries and many young generation guitarists with his iconic guitar playing and songs.