meeting KISS without their make-up, 1977.

9 Jun

I was finally able to talk my parents into letting me go to concerts right after my 14th birthday. Saw THE WHO, and decided I wasn’t going to miss any more shows like that- the entire experience seeing a big concert was heaven.


My friends and I would get rides from our parents after the shows, and we figured a good place to have them pick us up would be in front of The Radisson Hotel on Kellogg & Wabasha in Downtown St Paul, a few blocks away from The St Paul Civic Center and all of the traffic after the show. While standing in front of The Radisson, May 1976, while waiting for our ride, a bus pulled up. All members of AEROSMITH got off the bus, and walked into Don The Beachcomber, the tiki bar in the front of the hotel. We followed them, and they graciously gave us autographs and small talk. Then it dawned on us: THIS is where all the bands would stay when they played here! Needless to say, we arranged our parents’ pickups about an hour later after the shows ended from now on, so we could stalk the rockers. I met Nazareth, Jethro Tull, Robin Trower, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Heart, and Aerosmith this way.


My friend Roger had a great idea the next year for a Kiss show in St Paul. Since they were playing a Saturday night, we could go down to The Radisson on the bus BEFORE the show, and try to find the guys early. No school on Saturdays- so we were free to try it. The hotel detective was familiar with us by now, and would make attempts to keep us scruffy teenagers out of the lobby, but we were getting good at avoiding him. As we were in the lobby early afternoon, Roger points at someone getting out of the elevator “That’s Paul Stanley!” He said. Since Kiss always wore make-up, I brushed it off, “Naw, that’s just a roadie.”. Roger said “No, LOOK! It’s him!” The guest had headed around the corner into the fern-filled breakfast nook in back, so we followed him. We came around the corner, and there were Paul & Gene Simmons sitting down, getting ready to order breakfast. They both looked at Roger and I, our mouths hanging open, and said to us “You guys have figured it out!” They knew we had discovered them without their make-up on, and let us feel like we were now in the “inside” with them. Paul & Gene love their fans, so they graciously took time to chat with us.



3 Responses to “meeting KISS without their make-up, 1977.”

  1. Michael Phillips June 9, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Yeah man, the Radisson was ground zero for the bands that played the Civic Center. We harassed everyone who stayed there in the 70s. I’m sure we were there at the same time more than once, staking the place out.

    When Starz opened for Foghat in early 78 we left the Civic Center after the Starz set to ambush those guys. When they came in to the Radisson and we talked to them they were like, “Oh, you didn’t get to see the show?” We said, “Yeah man, we left after you guys played!” That seemed to impress them. One of the guitar players, Brendan Harkin, said, “You guys want to come up?” Now I realize in hindsight that sounds…weird. But it was cool. No funny business! Ha. I know that Scott Grubich was there, I don’t remember if anyone else was with us. We were in his room for an hour while he ate and told us stories.

    I was headed over there to catch the Clash when they came in once – the year Strummer had the Mohawk – but I saw them jump out of a van head inside when I was still a block away. Strummer didn’t go in though, he walked across the street to look at the river, so I followed him and when I caught up with him I guess he knew I was stalking him. “The mighty Mississippi, eh?” he said. We talked for a couple minutes and I took off. He wasn’t in a good mood that day, so I left him to stare at the river by himself.

    Those were the days. Must have sucked for the bands to have a bunch of teenage boy groupies. 😉 I’m sure they would have appreciated something else…

    • gojohnnygo June 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

      Later on, we started sacrificing our girlfriends to the backstage area, so we paid ’em back…

  2. Keith Patterson June 10, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

    Great story John, gives new meaning to the ancient proverb “The hotel detective he was out of sight!”

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