I would like to start the new year with a serous tip of the black ‘Firehouse’ helmets in remembrance of two rock soldiers who passed away in 2015; Lemmy Kilmister of MOTORHEAD & Gary Richrath of REO SPEEDWAGON. I can’t help but see KISS connections to both legends because, well … that’s what you do when you are a KISStorian.

GRI wanna start with Gary. I picked up the guitar because I wanted to be Gary Richrath on the cover of their double-live opus, You Get What You Play For.  I am from the Midwest and Speedwagon, before they sold out (and Gary left the band), were in many ways the band that bridged the gap between 60’s folk to 70’s rock with tunes like Gary’s “Golden Country”.  Speedwagon was ‘a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll’, somewhere between Skynyrd, Steve Miller, The Eagles and Seger but, with Richrath overdrive, could rival Nugent, Joe Perry, Neal Schon or Ace at any given moment. Plus, their image early on was wide scoped: quasi hippie-dippy, certainly ‘jammy’ and, above all, guitar-driven with Live_You_Get_What_You_Play_ForGary leading the charge on his Sun & Tobacco Burst Les Pauls. He always ripped, like Ace. Even if you didn’t dig the tune you could look forward to the solo. Richrath knew that; he was a closer. He had a singular tone, almost a precursor to Boston’s, and certainly akin to Ace’s on hits like “Roll with The Changes”. Blues based, hairy rock leads, no effects. Same gear as Ace too by and large. I’ve never heard Ace speak of Gary, maybe it’s time? Gary was classic mainstream radio rock competition and so similar to Ace in approach that it’s frankly mind boggling.

On to Lemmy, a larger more domineering rock presence to be sure… Gene, minus the booze n’ drug, may have modeled himself on Lemmy given his predilection for women, strippers and anything breathing / willing.  Gene knew that Lemmy was the only real dude in LA and I imagine their respective black books had some overlap(?). But, to the music  ….Gene’s classic growl / scowl vocal is probably closer to Lemmy than any Lemmy copyother singer on earth (though on “Two Timer” I hear shades of the late, great Louis Armstrong), Gene always had an ear on England, from Slade to The Who … no fucking way he overlooked Motorhead, Lemmy’s delivery or Motorhead’s defiant stance and unwitting formula. And, obvious but rarely addressed, Gene’s semi-distorted bass tone, and guitar player attack, are closer to Lemmys’ than anyone else I can think of also …especially live, just listen to anything live from Alive II on. Notably, Motorhead never played with KISS; Gene may have known it would have been their ‘Kiss of Death’.

Over the years Lemmy provided a convenient stereo-type for the likes of Simmons to mimic. Now it’s time for KISS to cover “Ace of Spades” w/ Ace on guitar and Gene on lead vocal … or for Gene to guest in that capacity on Ace’s forth-coming ‘covers’ record?

Happy 2016 KISStorians!

SLUTTER rocks Chicago @ LiveWire

IMAG0723Women alive did SLUTTER bring the love & joy when they hit the stage dressed to kill last nite people, proving they are Chicago’s rock & roll party. They opened with “Detroit Rock City” as if to say, yo, you wanted the best, you got the best. These gals know that KISS with boobs is a heady brew and the audience beamed with delight throughout. They’re sexy and they rock, kinda like KISS used to be. Highlights for me included “Shock Me”, “Dr. Love”, “Black Diamond”, “Love Gun” and “God of Thunder” — go figure! SLUTTER have confetti cannons, an infectious sincerity and one of the coolest KISS-inspired logos in all KISStory. May God continue to bless the ladies of SLUTTER: the following impromptu interviews were done in the “Ladies Room” backstage Friday, March 6th @ Live Wire Lounge in Chicago. If you haven’t been there, and you rock, get there soon.

Front woman GG STANLEY’s singing, preening & semi-reluctant stage raps were brilliant. In some ways she is the best Paul Stanley clone I’ve seen, plus she’s got a hot bod. On the intro to “Cold Gin” she admitted she prefers a Merlot or Chianti and then, quickly tiring of the charade, simply closes with “yeah, whatever……. COLD GIN!!”. Lady Starchild smiled & laughed often at the sheer majesty of the tunes & spectacle that is SLUTTERI gotta tell you people, if you are down in the dumps, and you need something to bring you up, I think GG’s got you. 

DR. LOVE’s head wags, ghoulish glare, blood-letting and Demon growl were devilishly faithful and are a guilty treasure to be sure. Maybe it was the blood moon but, basically speaking, she’s watchin’ you, and you don’t know what to do whoa whoa ….  In fact, her decidedly menacing pleasure on “God Of Thunder” brought a comforting levity to the proceedings. We heard her words, we took heed ….it’s only right now. 

PETERLESS CRISS’s back beat nailed the early KISS groove even if she admits she has no affinity for Peter the man. She was especially strong on “King Of The Nighttime World”, “Shock Me” and “Dr. Love”. Gene once said that “when the drummer sucks even the fat girls know” and this is no exception. Peterless or not, Mrs. Criss has balls (behind the kit) plus she may be the comic genius mastermind behind SLUTTER’s considerable hi-jinx (cat).

ACE SHELEY is hot. Lady Space sounded like what you would expect if Ace had never been in KISS and then joined a KISS cover band called SLUTTER. She even kinda played her own versions of a few of the leads but with flash, balls and, dare I say, bravado. Sheley was amazing on “Shock Me”, a SLUTTER band-wide fav, taking every one at LiveWire quite literally down to the bare wire. Babe, I don’t wanna burst your bubble but she has the Mrs. Excitement vibe down, on guitar and otherwise. Her hair is perfect. She’s like a KISS dream date; my only regret was not going home with her and trading licks 🙂

PS – the outro to”Black Diamond” was A1 gonzo-rific!