Happy Birthday to Gene Simmons: Rock journo Lisa Robinson talked to the KISS bassist in 1984

By on August 25, 2015

Gene Simmons is 66 today and to celebrate his first year of Medicare coverage, we’ve decided to dig out one of the most bootlegged tapes in the Night Flight library.

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Longtime music journalist Lisa Robinson sat down with the former Demon in March 1984, just after the band’s first non-makeup tour had concluded.

Interestingly, Gene and Lisa’s relationship preceded this interview by nearly a decade. Robinson, the editor for the much beloved music magazine, Rock Scene, had an ongoing, friendly-rivalry with Simmons. Despite the large amount of coverage devoted to KISS in the pages of her magazine, she much preferred the Ramones. This really confused the bassist, and he ran up to her as he was walking off stage at Madison Square Garden and boldly exclaimed, “Let’s see Joey Ramone do that!”

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Perhaps even more notable than the interview itself is the off-screen, shoptalk, between the two veterans that revolves around everything from vices, to the opening of the New York Hard Rock Café, to Johnny Rotten. Ever the professional, Lisa is seen having hand makeup applied, although she gets annoyed with production problems, prompting Gene to advise, “he would keep his mouth shut,” as “it’s not his show.”

It’s easy to see Simmons is well-spoken but when he boldly declares, “I don’t want to have two kids, I don’t want a marriage,” one can’t help but wonder how his two offspring Nick and Sophie Simmons would feel about that comment?

When prompted, Gene tells Lisa the origins of band’s longtime fan club, the KISS Army, as he believed it to be at that time: reportedly, in 1975, thousands of fans surrounded a rural Indiana radio station refusing to let the DJ go home until he played a KISS record on the air.

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However, thanks to Commander-In-Chief of the KISS Army, Bill Starkey, we now know none of those events actually took place. Still, it’s fun to see just how much Simmons believes the story, which was actually concocted by an employee of KISS’s then manager named Alan Miller.

In the summer of 1985, a well-meaning, 19-year old video collector/KISS fan paid a surprise visit to the Night Flight offices on Forty-Second and Ninth Avenue in New York. He was actually welcomed and given a tour, which ended with a private screening of this very Gene Simmons interview. One of the Night Flight employees, also a video collector, made a polite offer to give the fan a copy on the sly; along with two other KISS/Night Flight interviews.

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A time-coded VHS, SLP mode, videotape was given to the fan, and as these things go, a copy quickly wound up in the hands of a well-known Texas bootlegger’s catalog, which was advertised in the back pages of Circus Magazine. A couple of years later the tapes were all over unofficial KISS conventions where they eventually spread all over the world and eventually to YouTube. Sadly, it happens.

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About Curt Gooch

Curt Gooch has coauthored three books, the latest of which has been optioned for a feature film titled Spinning Gold. Additionally, He works in the clip licensing industry where his knowledge of rare rock and roll footage has rescued over 500 hours of never-before-seen vintage pop culture elements. Curt has appeared on camera on VH1 as well as licensed footage to over 100 different shows/networks.