Paul Stanley pours cold water on Gene Simmons’ claim that Eddie Van Halen wanted to join Kiss

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Kiss frontman Paul Stanley has dismissed his bandmate Gene Simmons’ claim that Eddie Van Halen offered to join the New York hard rock legends following Ace Frehley’s exit from the band.

In an exclusive extract from Eddie Van Halen biography Eruption (to be released under the alternate title Unchained in the US) in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine, Stanley acknowledges that the late Amsterdam-born guitar hero visited Kiss in the studio while the band were working on what became their tenth studio album, 1982’s Creatures Of The Night, but politely dismisses the idea that Van Halen’s offer to walk out on his own band to join Kiss was ever mentioned in his presence at the time, by Simmons, EVH or anyone else.

As related to author Paul Brannigan, Stanley’s most vivid memory of Van Halen’s visit to The Record Planet studio in Los Angeles in the summer of 1982 was his enthusiasm for the guitar solo on the album’s title track. But the guitarist/vocalist recalls Gene Simmons made no mention on the day of EVH’s offer to cash in his chips with his own band and defect to the East coast to play in Kiss.

“The [Creatures Of The Night] record was coming out well,” Gene Simmons told Paul Branigan in the book, “and then Eddie called and said, ‘I need to talk with you.’ We met across the street, at a diner - I remember [future Kiss guitarist] Vinnie Vincent weaselled his way into the meeting, even he was not a member of the band then -and Eddie kept saying, ‘[David Lee] Roth is driving me nuts. I can’t fucking it. I want to leave the band…can I join Kiss?’ And I said ‘You should stay with the band Eddie. The heart and soul of it is your guitar, and if you leave the band there is no Van Halen. And there just isn’t enough oxygen in the room for you to be in Kiss, because you’ll have a million song ideas. He asked to join the band, and I persuaded him to stick it out with Roth. That’s the truth, there is no other.”

When Brannigan asks Paul Stanley whether Simmons returned from his lunch with Van Halen bearing any news of interest, Stanley says the bassist said nothing. When the author suggests that this seems bizarre, given what a bombshell this news would have been in 1982, Stanley agrees, and adds, “You'll have to make of that what you will…”

As previously revealed, Stanley also admitted to Brannigan that he and Kiss manager Bill Aucoin rejected the opportunity to work with Van Halen while the band were unsigned in order to protect their own band.

“We didn’t want to take Van Halen on because we were trying to hold Gene in check,” Stanley reveals in Eruption / Unchained. ‘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.”

The new issue of Classic Rock, featuring Van Halen, Deep Purple, Rush, Status Quo, The Darkness, Def Leppard and more, is out now.

Unchained: The Eddie Van Halen story will be published in the US on December 14 via Permuted Press

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Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.