Gene Simmons touched on the one big mistake KISS made in their career during a recent Q&A that took place on KISS Kruise X. (And no, that mistake wasn’t Music From The Elder.)
The topic came up when a fan asked Paul Stanley if there was ever a piece of KISS merchandise Simmons pitched that he said “no” to, which is admittedly a very good question. Stanley didn’t name a specific item but did mention the band turned down a sponsorship deal of sorts with a cigarette company during some of the band’s lean years.
However, Simmons chimed in and said, “We made one big mistake — one. There was a band called Van Halen. They were signed to Man Of A Thousand Faces Inc. There was a 24-track demo. They were owned lock, stock and barrel and signed and happy and wanted to sign with us, and we said no.”
Stanley then jumped in and said, “Thank goodness. The reason we said no was because part of Gene’s joie de vivre, which means love of life, is he likes to look and do all different things. And sometimes that means reining him in, especially early on in the band’s career where getting involved in other projects was really going to hurt the band.”
He continued, “You couldn’t listen to Van Halen and not think they were great. [KISS manager] Bill [Aucoin] knew it. I was with Gene when he first saw Van Halen at the Starwood. But the idea of managing or producing bands when we really were still at the beginning of our career was something that was… The move is called self-preservation.”
Simmons would then quip, “It was a mistake, but he doesn’t remember,” which the crowd responded to with laughter.
The whole exchange can be viewed below beginning at the 41:58 mark.