The end was nigh, then enters The Donald
The year is 2014 and the members of Kiss are not getting along.
The current state of dysfunction between the guys can be traced back nearly 2 years – June 15th, 2012 to be exact – when guitarist Paul Stanley appeared on CNN, where he was asked in an interview if he and Gene Simmons were ”friends.”
Stanley paused as if this was a difficult question to answer and then passive aggressively claimed he and Gene were “like family.” But instead of leaving it at that, he went on to describe how he and Simmons lived in the same neighborhood, adding “I can see his ego from my house.”
It was quite the zinger for a member of Kiss – so understandably, the clip got replayed throughout the internet and Stanley was quoted in newspapers around the world.
But there were other things for the general public to think about in June of 2012. It seemed as if Europe was going broke, unemployment had become an epidemic in North America, and depending on where you lived, house prices were either too high or too low. These were distressing, fearful times. The Kiss story fell short of a scandal and disappeared from Twitter and Facebook within a few days.
In fact, it was all but forgotten until September of 2012 when Gene Simmons was making a public appearance at a shopping mall in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he was scheduled to announce a new line of Kiss themed pet-care products.
A reporter reminded him of Paul Stanley’s quote about being able to see his ego from his house. Simmons fired back “Well….I can hear him plucking his eyebrows from my house.”
The gloves were apparently off.
Later that day, after a barrage of requests for a statement by reporters, Paul Stanley’s publicity office released a statement saying their client had no comment.
The band was set to perform together three nights later in Washington as part of the week long inaugural celebration of U.S. President Mitt Romney. It was onstage that night that tensions between Simmons and Stanley became apparent. During Simmon’s famous fire breathing display he seemed to aim the flame directly at Stanley’s platform boots. For his part, Paul Stanley glared at Simmons, and appeared angry and distracted during the concert. The local critics took notice and in reviews the next morning accused him of only giving 109% to the fans.
The band would not work together again until the next year, embarking on a tour which would circle the globe and take them 18 months to complete. And while the shows would go on with machine-like precision, the cracks appeared to be showing. Rumours of violent arguments backstage began to circulate around the music industry and when the tour wrapped up just before Christmas in 2014 it seemed to many rock fans that the members of Kiss would never work together again.
Retiring the band wasn’t out of the question. After all, earlier in the summer of 2014 Gene Simmons had celebrated his 65th birthday. Paul Stanley wasn’t far behind at 62.
Money would not be a problem. Years of touring had made them both wealthier than they could have ever imagined back when they were young hopeful musicians in 1974, the year they first donned the Kiss makeup and released their debut album.
Stepping away wouldn’t be easy though. They had worn that makeup for too long to shed the characters they had inhabited for all those years. “The Demon” (Simmons) and “Starchild” (Stanley) had become a part of them.
Also to be considered were the other members of the band. Though the other founding members of Kiss had long since left by this time, both Simmons and Stanley felt a responsibility to the staff of musicians currently on their payroll. Plus there was the question of severance.
One bright spot was their lead guitarist, who Simmons had recently met while he was employed as a builder doing renovations on Simmon’s Los Angeles mansion. He soon began doing other odd jobs and running errands for the entire Simmons family until finally working his way up to the lead guitarist position.
Luckily, Simmons would now have much more work for him to do around his house, especially since he was an expert tiler and Simmons was planning a huge home renovation which would provide much of the story arch for the upcoming season of his ongoing reality series “Family Jewels.”
Paul Stanley was also planning to remain busy, about to sign on as the lead in the touring company of the musical “Rock Of Ages” which would be embarking on an extended run in Boca Florida.
So it seemed that the end of an era was upon the world of rock. Kiss was leaving the stage after raising the bar of onstage spectacle so high it seemed that that no other act in show business could ever come close to matching it.
It was a chilling thought for most rock fans…and for one Kiss fan in particular. The idea of never seeing Kiss perform again was just too much for real estate mogul Donald Trump who hatched a plan to lock himself in a room with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley until they could reach some kind of compromise and keep Kiss alive.
If it was anybody else, Simmons and Stanley would have simply refused, but this was “The Donald.” They agreed to meet, and soon found themselves in the boardroom. The hours ticked by. Not even Trump’s children – nor Arsenio Hall – were allowed to enter.
Finally the three emerged. All were silent until Trump broke through the tension with a sly smile, announcing that Kiss had just been signed to 5 year contract to be the exclusive entertainment at a new multi-million dollar theatre Trump was having built inside his Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
It was three days before Christmas, 2014. Rock and Roll was saved that day.
- post by Marty Strong