Gene Simmons recalls giving Van Halen some business advice and thinks they owe him nothing

Gene Simmons recalls giving Van Halen some business advice and thinks they owe him nothing

KISS bassist Gene Simmons was recently interviewed by Lyndsey Parker for Yahoo! Entertainment. The bassist was promoting his new G² line of Gibson guitars and basses. The conversation eventually turned to when Simmons first “discovered” Van Halen prior to band getting signed by Warners Brothers back in the ’70s.

Simmons indicated: “This whole [false] idea of ‘you discovered Van Halen’ … the people who literally discovered the Van Halen brothers were their mom and dad. After that, the two brothers made themselves. Nobody handed them anything. They worked hard for it. They put the years in, paying their dues.”

“I was invited in the ’70s… to go to a place called the Starwood. My date that night was a young lady named Bebe Buell, who would then go on to have a child with [Aerosmith’s] Steven [Tyler], Liv Tyler. And I was busy upstairs in the ‘ass**** section,’ the whole ‘who do you think you are?’ thing, looking down on everybody else.”

“One guy [frontman David Lee Roth] had his shirt off, defying gravity, jumping up and down. [Alex Van Halen had] giant drums, playing double-kick. The bass player [Michael Anthony] had the highest voice I ever heard, real pure, like a banshee. And then the guitar player — I didn’t know their names or anything — he steps up and starts doing this stuff and tapping, which I’d never seen before. … I’d never heard a guitarist, certainly a rock guitar player, do that. And he was playing not only fast and furious, but sometimes in harmony on the tapping. I just was so astonished. I was waiting backstage by the third song.”

After approaching the Van Halen band members backstage after their set, Simmons recalls them telling him: ‘Oh, we got a guy outside. He’s a yogurt manufacturer, and he’s going to invest in the band.’ Simmons then stated: “And I begged them, ‘Please don’t do that, please don’t do that. Don’t give away any percentages of the band at the outset. That might be the only profit margins you’ll ever see — which is to say, you’ll take a dollar now, and like anything, later on in life you’re not going to see a profit and somebody else is going to have a say in what you can do.’ So, the short story is I offered to fly them to New York, put them up in a hotel, and take them to Electric Lady studios [to] produce a 24-track demo. And that’s what I did. I signed them to my company, Man of 1,000 Faces.’”

Simmons ended up cutting ties with Van Halen when no one else in the KISS camp was excited about the group. Later on, Eddie and Alex Van Halen ended up playing on some demos with Simmons, which ended up getting released on the bassist’s massive box set The Vault. Simmons recalled:

“They kind of paid me back, because when [KISS] went to Japan on that tour, we came back to L.A. and I’d written a few songs, new songs, ‘Christine Sixteen’ and two others, and I was going to go into the studio. I had this habit of going in at night where the phones didn’t ring, nobody cared, none of the chicks were around.”

“And what happened was, I didn’t have enough time to do all the instruments, because usually I’d go in there, play some drums and guitar and stuff, and then do it all. I called either Alex or Edward, and I said, ‘I’m going to the studio, I’ve got some songs. I don’t know what you’re doing tonight. Wanna come in and help me?’ And they did, both Alex and Eddie, and the ‘power trio’ was there and we recorded.” Simmons continued: “It was on my vault, Gene Simmons’s Vault, the largest boxed set of all time — you can hear the trio doing that. In fact, I forced [KISS guitarist] Ace Frehley, when we finally did [the KISS studio version of] ‘Christine Sixteen,’ to copy Edward’s solo note-for-note — which of course he wasn’t thrilled about! That’s how good that [Eddie] solo was. One take.”

You can read other excerpts from the interview with Gene Simmons at Yahoo! Entertainment‘s website and/or listen to the interview below:

Gene Simmons‘ demo of song “Christine Sixteen” with Eddie and Alex Van Halen in 1976: