Gene Simmons confirms that Eddie Van Halen, frustrated over his relationship with David Lee Roth, approached him about joining Kiss in the early 1980s. The timing was right, too, as Simmons and Co. were working without a guitarist on Creatures of the Night.
But Simmons, in a video Q&A below, adds that he strongly advised him to stay with Van Halen, anyway: “I’m proud to say, he got over it. He stayed there, we stayed here; we’re happy, they’re happy, everybody’s happy.”
Simmons, of course, had financed and produced Van Halen’s first demos in 1976, and even then he says he cautioned Van Halen about the possibility of bad end with the flamboyant Roth. “Eddie was very uphappy with Roth,” Simmons says, “just like I warned him in the beginning, respectfully.”
Kiss was in sessions for 1982′s Creatures, which featured Ace Frehley on the cover though the founding guitarist had been replaced by a group that included Vinnie Vincent (who would stay with Kiss through 1984, and then contribute to 1992′s Revenge), as well as Robben Ford, Bob Kulick and Steve Farris.
“We had different guys playing because we hadn’t yet settled on who was going to play lead,” Simmons says. “Eddie called me, and we had lunch right across the street (from the Record Plant, where recording was underway). We sat around a lunch table, and Eddie was really upset: ‘Roth is out of his mind; he’s driving me crazy,’ all this kind of stuff and ‘I want to join the band.’”
Simmons response: “Let’s not go too fast.” Bands, he says, are like any other relationship. They go through difficult periods. Besides, Simmons was certain that Van Halen wasn’t right for the Frehley role.
“It’s your band,” Simmons says he told Van Halen. “There are always going to be rough times. You’ll get over it. You don’t want to be in Kiss, because you’re not going to be happy. You’re not going to want Paul and Gene to be writing songs, and telling you to play a solo over here. You want to stretch out, and be who you are.”
Van Halen returned to the fold, and the group emerged with its first-ever No. 1 hit, 1984′s “Jump,” through they did split with Roth not long after. Van Halen reunited with its original lead singer last year, however, for the well-received Different Kind of Truth. Kiss, meanwhile, continues these days with Tommy Thayer on guitar.