Q&A with Dale Sherman

Legendary Rock Interviews chats with Dale Sherman, author of KISS FAQ. Visit their site for the full Q&A.

You’ve written a couple of other books including one of my favorite KISS books Black Diamond.  Unlike that book or another great book, Behind the Mask, this is less of a straight biography and more of a book for true KISS nerds with info and stories I have never heard before.  Your subtitle says it all…’All that’s left to know about the hottest band in the world’.  It also manages to serve its purpose without alienating a newer or more casual fan.  Was that difficult?

One reaction I’ve been glad to get from the book so far is that of reviewers saying they had no background or interest in KISS, but found that they got sucked into the book and couldn’t stop reading it.  I’m glad to hear that, because that was one of my aims – to write something for the KISS Army, but also for people who are just curious about the band and know little about them.  In fact, one of my favorite reviews was one where the critic essentially said, “I hate KISS, and I hate this book because I keep coming back to it to read more!”
My main difficulty was trying to find a way to write in the background details that casual or non-fans wouldn’t know without simply regurgitating information I had already covered in one of my previous books.  My bio about the band, Black Diamond, had been updated and reissued in 2009, so I need to find a way to cover SOME of those areas without fans thinking “well, I already read all this in his other book” , which was a challenge.  For example, the first chapter is biographical details on the band members, which obviously would be in a bio, but I tried to put the emphasis on things of a more personal nature than one would in a bio (for example, the noticeably anti-Semitic nature of the way people will use Gene’s birth name in interviews, or how Paul Stanley has managed to keep most of his life private over the years).  It wasn’t easy, but on the other hand, it forced me to be more creative about it.

One of the first critical pieces of info that maybe gets under-reported is that the visual aspect of KISS was not solely a Gene Simmons, Bill Aucoin or Sean Delaney creation.  Paul, Eric, Peter and Ace were all at one point involved in graphic arts.  Do you think this point is as important as I do and why or why not?

I think so, and a good example is found in the Wicked Lester chapter of the book. When Gene and Paul go to the other members of Wicked Lester and say, “We want to wear makeup and costumes on stage,” the other guys in the band balk (with the exception of one that thought it may be a good way to hide his identity from his bosses). As an artist, or even from being around artists, there’s a tendency to be a little looser, having a greater understanding of the visual and even a sense of “willing to do anything.” So when Ace and Peter were presented with the idea of makeup and costumes, they were fine with it, because they could see the potential in it. Plus, you have those creative talents branching out aspects of the band. Gene didn’t come up with cat makeup for Peter and Paul didn’t dress Ace – they put their own touches on their makeup, costumes and characters.It drove the four members of the band, and later Eric, to do something more than the ordinary, and I think their background in art was a big part of that understanding as to their vision.

Its great that so much of the book is dedicated to debunking rumors or in some cases, lies and misinformation.  We both clearly love the band but it seems like there are more instances of myths, lies or recreations of truth in Kissdom than in many other bands?  Why do you think this is?

I’m reminded of the “Chicken Incident” story that involved Alice Cooper in their early days. Without going into a lot of background, a live chicken accidentally was killed during the show.  Soon rumors went flying around that Alice killed chickens on-stage every show. Frank Zappa – who was working with the band – called Alice up and asked if the rumors were true.  Alice told him that it wasn’t true.  Frank’s response was, “Well, don’t tell anyone the truth.”  Meaning that the publicity surrounding the rumor was too great to try to correct it.  I think KISS benefited from rumors about them as well, and having the whole “hidden identity” factor in-place certainly helped in creating a mystery about them. If someone wanted to think that Gene had a cow’s tongue grafted on to his own, what did it hurt? It only made people talk about them. I think as well that it had something to do with it being the ‘70s. Back then we couldn’t just Google info and find out if  rumors were real or not; we would spend months trying to figure out if the new KISS show had the band smashing a car on-stage or not (as the DESTROYER rumors went). Everyone had some rumors about them during that period and KISS was no different, which is why so many of them still surround them today.

Keep reading this interview on Legendary Rock Interviews.

Kiss FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

 

Interview with KISS FAQ Author Dale Sherman

Dale Sherman KISS FAQDale Sherman is the author KISS FAQ. Below is a Q & A he did with the Nervous Breakdown.

Why do critics hate KISS so much?  Could you argue they just might be the third most influential band of all time?

KISS was the band that said you could have the huge marquee in the background, the fireworks and confetti-cannons, shows that are like Broadways productions instead of just a band running through a medley of hits. There were also at the forefront in the ’70s in reminding the public and the critics, “rock and roll is supposed to be about having fun.” And I think it’s a good statement to make. I believe there certainly is room for rock music that has a “message” but there’s no reason that has to be the case for everything.  I think that’s what upset 70s critics most about KISS. When your bread and butter is consistently telling everyone, “see, Dylan is trying to tell us about the impossibility of global war … blah, blah, blah,” you get annoyed that everyone is staring at the guys in the makeup, jumping up and down and singing about their love guns. (Then again, such critics tend to forget that Dylan was just as likely to do something like “Everybody Must Get Stoned”.) We’re trying to be serious over here and HERE COME THE CLOWNS!

So the history books tend to push KISS into the background and point at the other bands as being so significant, because dealing with their influence on music doesn’t fit into the puzzle they want to see out there. One of the reasons I started writing about KISS in the first place was because I felt the historians of rock music were willingly ignoring their work and someone had to step up to the plate to remind people about them.

What’s your best childhood memory of the band?

I know it’s odd but I really don’t have a good one.  I was 11 in ’75 and I do remember hearing stuff like “Beth” on the radio. But I think fell into a pocket age-group that KISS wasn’t working to get – I wasn’t old enough to be there for the early albums and I wasn’t young enough to get into the whole super-hero/fantasy thing. People ask me about seeing KISS Meets the Phantom when it aired in October ’78. They were all seven or eight so it meant something to them. I was 14 and busy doing 14-year-old stuff! I recall coming in after TP’ing friends’ houses that night just long enough to see my mom watching it before I headed back out to see Animal House again.

Keep reading this interview at The Nervous Breakdown.

 

KISS FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

10 Surprising People Associated with KISS

The following is an excerpt from KISS FAQ by Dale Sherman (Backbeat Books) as it appears on the NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. Please visit their site for the full passage.

Bob Dylan

Back in 1992, Simmons arranged to spend time with Dylan and work on some material, namely so he could say, “I worked with Bob Dylan.” Simmons took what was done and later created a song he initially titled “Laughing When I Want to Cry.” When working on his 2004 solo album, Asshole, he brought in the song for possible recording. It was reworked into “Waiting for the Morning Light” for the album.

Lou Reed

Another famous singer-songwriter, who had first won notice in the band the Velvet Underground. Bob Ezrin produced Reed’s controversial Berlin album in 1973 and was asked to help throw around some ideas during the recording of Music from “The Elder.” Reed came up with the title for “A World Without Heroes” and worked a bit on the song. Supposedly there is also video of Reed in the studio singing the song. Reed also co-wrote “Mr. Blackwell” with Simmons for the album as well as some additional lyrics to be used if there was to be a second album in the series. Speaking of Reed . . . .

John Cale

Another founding member of the Velvet Underground. Cale played viola on a track for the 1971 album for Peter Criss’s band Chelsea.

For the next 7 people on the list, visit the NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

KISS FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

Six (Visual) Points-of-Interest in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

Dale Sherman KISS FAQ
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Guest Blogger: Dale Sherman is the author of KISS FAQ. Below is an excerpt from his blog.
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1)  The framing of the picture is different in the various versions of the movie fans have seen over the years.
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Here’s what the title credit looked like during the original NBC showing:
Now here’s what it looked like in the version sold through WorldVision (WV) in 1982 & 1986 and later by Goodtimes Video in 1988:
Note how the title has been moved up in the frame in the WV version so that the top of the Rock and Roll Over cover has been cut off, while the original NBC version has the cover framed properly in the center of the screen.
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This doesn’t affect much of the picture for the most part, except in the opening credits where the band members appear.  Take a look at a comparison of Paul from the NBC version to the WV one: in the NBC version, Paul’s feet are out of view and thus give his figure a sense of gravity in comparison to his background, while in the WV one, he appears to just be floating above it all.
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But the worst offender…
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Visit Dale Sherman’s blog to keep reading this post!
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KISS FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

KISS and the Hall of Fame

Guest Blogger: Dale Sherman is the author of KISS FAQ. Below is an excerpt from his blog Dale Sherman-Writer at Large.

Last week someone asked what I thought of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not nominating KISS again.  To, I believe, their disappointment, I admitted that I didn’t think much of anything about it.
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Oh, I know the routine.  Every year, this happens and every year us KISS fans are supposed to fall into the same old song and dance.  “KISS deserves to be in there more than those acts!”  Which is then followed by the usual “It’s just as well!  The Hall of Fame doesn’t deserve KISS!”  Kind of the whole spectrum of what kids do when they can’t get on the team they want at school.  As effective of an argument it is, we might as well be saying, “Well, KISS didn’t want to play hopscotch with them anyway!”
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On general terms, I can sympathize with the arguments against the selection process.  It is amazing how there are always at least two acts mentioned that seem to be there more because they’re “hip” rather than because they did anything that contributed to the success of rock music through the years.  Then again, that’s a personal perspective – I know I could rattle off some names here of who I think fits into the category of those not deserving such recognition, and within five seconds someone would say, “Whoa! What a minute!  That guy really did make a difference and here’s why …”  Then they’d be able to rattle off good reasons to prove me wrong followed by a comment about how I’m an idiot.  (Which is why I didn’t mention any names here … I’m too smart for that game.  So Madonna is safe from my rants for now.  Opps.)
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Keep reading this post on Dale Sherman’s Writer at Large blog.
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Kiss FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

Q&A with Dale Sherman

Below is a recent interview with Dale Sherman, author of KISS FAQ. The interviewer is Michael Sandler with Rock Cellar Magazine.

Rock Cellar Magazine:  The first chapter of KISS FAQ delves deep into every band member’s music history prior to joining KISS.  How did you find the information for this book?

Dale Sherman:  Research and some interviews. I wish I could make it sound more exciting than that, but when it comes to any evenhanded biographical study of someone or a group, it all comes down to the research.  Being a fan for 30 years helps as well.

RCM:  Most Kiss fans would say “What else can be written about KISS that hasn’t been said?”  But you put a new twist to things, even critiquing their music videos, which I hadn’t seen before.

DS:  Right.  As I state at the beginning of the book, I wanted to talk about those topics KISS fans always discuss when they get together, but never quite make it into the biographies or reference books.  For example, everyone talks about Kiss Meets The Phantom being a bad movie, but no one really looks at it from the perspective of how all these rather good elements came together and made a bad movie!  Not to mention, exposing the myth that the movie did brilliant in the ratings for NBC. It actually did terrible – contributing to one of the network’s worst ratings for the year.

RCM: So who would you say this book for? Extreme KISS nerds, or new fans who don’t know much about the band?

DS: Both, I hope.   I didn’t want to disregard readers who are just plain curious about the band and didn’t know all the bits and pieces we as KISS fans know by heart. Thus, a reason why you have the first chapter briefly outlining the band members’ various histories,  but with a spin that will get longtime fans to say, “Oh, yeah, that’s right, I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before.”

Keep reading this interview on Rock Cellar Magazine.

KISS FAQ

Since 1973, KISS has recorded over 20 studio albums; been recognized as an innovator in rock presentations; witnessed a firestorm of rumors and controversies; remained a thorn in critics’ sides; and continues to surprise its massive fan-following, the KISS Army, with various career twists and turns. Moreover, many television shows, movies, toys and even comics have kept KISS a bigger-than-life name in entertainment for decades.

Dale Sherman, an interview

 

 

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, Dale Sherman, author of KISS FAQ, chats with leader of the KISS Army Bill Starkey (who also wrote the foreword to the book).

>>>LISTEN HERE<<<

KISS FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.