Thursday, March 24, 2011
Van Halen Gets Kissed
It's no secret that Gene Simmons discovered Van Halen. However, the details of when and how it happened are a bit sketchy. Different sources have different dates and different places as to when and where Gene first caught the band. The most logical one comes from Michael White. At the time, he was the vocalist for a band called "Boyz" which included future Dokken members George Lynch and Mick Brown. According to Michael, the "Boyz" were playing a Halloween show at Gazzarris on the Sunset Strip. The club was packed and most of the kids who came to the show that night were dressed up in KISS makeup. At the club were Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Gene said that their label, Casablanca, was looking to sign some new bands. He asked where they were playing next so he could bring the record company big wigs out to see them. As luck would have it, the band had a gig the following week at the Starwood, another infamous club in Hollywood. They would be sharing the bill with another band called Van Halen. Gene showed up with the record company, but "Boyz" had an off night and weren't as good as they usually were. On the other hand, Van Halen had a great set. They impressed Gene so much that he flew them to NY to record some demos. Casablanca didn't sign Van Halen, but it wasn't long afterwards that some execs from Warner Bros saw the band (supposedly at the same club that Gene had seen them) and the rest is history. And from those early beginnings until their groundbreaking release, "1984", they were, quite simply, one of the greatest rock bands in the history of music. They were an unstoppable powerhouse. It's a true American success story. (I personally don't care for any of the material they did after 1984 - but that's just my humble opinion). Here is that demo produced and backed by Gene Simmons back in 1976. Here is "Van Halen Zero". Enjoy!