Gene Simmons went to see Van Halen perform on November 2nd, 1976 at the Starwood Club in West Hollywood and that became both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing came when Simmons was so taken with the future super group that he offered to produce a demo and sign them to a management contract with then KISS manager Bill Aucoin.
Recalling that night, Simmons once told the Los Angeles Times, "I was thinking, ‘My God, listen to these guys.’ As soon as Eddie started playing, the thing that struck me right away was that the guy was amazingly fast and light on touch… Eddie was just swimming over that fretboard, and I couldn’t believe the control he had. Everybody’s head just turned around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist: what is that?”
Simmons did produce the group’s demo, which included future Van Halen standards “Runnin’ With the Devil" and "Somebody Get Me a Doctor." However, Simmons’ KISS bandmate Paul Stanley shot down the management deal.
In the upcoming Eddie Van Halen biography, ‘Eruption,’ (U.K.) and titled ‘Unchained’ in the U.S., Paul Stanley said, "We didn’t want to take Van Halen on because we were trying to hold Gene in check.”
Stanley added, "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.”
Simmons reportedly was not happy with what he was told and he tore up the contract.
Simmons then reportedly told Van Halen, “You guys are free.” He then said, "We’re going out on tour, and when I get back, if you don’t have a deal, I’ll come back and I’ll try to help you. But right now, I don’t feel ethical in shopping your tape because the rest of the guys don’t get it.”
Van Halen were signed to Warner Brothers Records four months later. ‘Eruption’ will be published in the U.K. coming up on September 23rd, and ‘Unchained’ in the U.S. on December 14th.
[Source: Classic Hits Today]