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PAUL STANLEY Says They Rejected VAN HALEN in 1976 To Protect KISS

Paul Stanley says he and Kiss manager Bill Aucoin turned down working with Van Halen ‘to keep KISS alive.

KISS frontman Paul Stanley has admitted that he and band manager Bill Aucoin rejected the chance to work with VAN HALEN back in 1976 in order to protect KISS. The story is shared by Paul Stanley in the forthcoming Eddie Van Halen biography ‘Unchained’ (US).

While KISS was in Los Angeles in October of 1976 taping a three song performance for ABC’s ‘The Paul Lynde Halloween Special’, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons decided to hang out in L.A. for awhile and check out the scene. On November 2, at the invitation of notorious radio DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, the two hung out at the Starwood club to check out two local bands, THE BOYZ and VAN HALEN.

“I was thinking, ‘My fucking God, listen to these guys’,” Simmons later told the LA Times about first hearing VAN HALEN. ‘As soon as Eddie started playing, the thing that struck me right away was that the guy was amazingly fast and light on touch… Eddie was just swimming over that fretboard, and I couldn’t believe the control he had. Everybody’s head just turned around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist: what is that?”

After the show, Bingenheimer took Simmons backstage to meet VAN HALEN, and Gene immediately expressed a strong desire to work with the band. Offering to sign them to his management label, ‘Man Of 1000 Faces’, and to produce a demo for them, Gene brought the unsigned band into Village Recorders in Santa Monica the very next day, and then paid for the David Lee Roth fronted group to fly to New York to finish the tape at Electric Lady Studios.

Upon sharing said demos with manager Bill Aucoin and other music luminaries, they seemed to not make that much of an impression. “Everybody shrugged their shoulders and went, ‘So what?’” Simmons recalls to writer Paul Brannigan. “And I’m going, You’re killing me! Whaddya mean, ‘So what?’ Listen to that!”

“I tore up the contract and said, You guys are free’,” Simmons tells Brannigan. “I said, We’re going out on tour, and when I get back, if you don’t have a deal, I’ll come back and I’ll try to help you. But right now, I don’t feel ethical in shopping your tape because the rest of the guys don’t get it.”

This assessment, Paul Stanley admits to Brannigan, was nothing to do with VAN HALEN and more to keeping KISS together and active as a band.

“We didn’t want to take Van Halen on because we were trying to hold Gene in check,” Stanley says. ‘Gene is often more concerned – and this is just part of his personality – with Gene, and it wasn’t going to be to our benefit for him to run off and get involved with something else. Were Van Halen undeniable? Absolutely. Were they fabulous? Yeah. Did they have what it took? Absolutely. But we had to take care of Kiss, and the way to protect Kiss at that time was to pull the reins in on Gene, it’s that simple.”

Van Halen would sign to Warner just four months later.

The new Eddie Van Halen biography, titled ‘Eruption’ in the UK and ‘Unchained’ in the US, will be released on September 23 and December 14 respectively.