As many know, there is a KISS tie to the beginning of Van Halen’s music career. But while Gene Simmons once flew the band to New York to produce a demo for them, they ultimately did not move forward together, which Simmons recently stated was a “big mistake.” However, Paul Stanley sees it a little differently.
Simmons and Stanley spoke about the subject during a recent Q&A aboard the annual KISS Kruise (as can be seen below). As history goes, KISS were in Los Angeles to tape a TV special and were invited by local DJ Rodney Bingenheimer to check out two unsigned acts, one of which was Van Halen. After the show, Simmons shared his desire to work with Van Halen, offering to sign them to his management label. Things went as far as Simmons flying the band to New York to record a demo, things stopped at that point.
While speaking to fans, Simmons recalled, “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, who along with manager Bill Aucoin were part of the decision not to move forward, then explained why they balked at managing the group. “Thank goodness,” stated Stanley jumping in on Simmons discussion. “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 added, “You couldn’t listen to Van Halen and not think they were great. Bill 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.”
Van Halen’s big break would come soon after, initially being offered a two-album recording contract by Warner Bros., with their debut self-titled album arriving in 1978.
Meanwhile, during the time that Van Halen eventually caught their break, KISS were as prolific as ever, releasing three albums in 1976 and 1977 and all four of the members simultaneously releasing solo albums in 1978.
Despite the missed opportunity, It still all panned out well for both bands who have each been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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