Saturday, September 29, 2012



This is the final installment of my week-long
series in which I've shared various behind-
the-scenes stories from my dubious rock and
roll past. Some of these tales have been excerpts
from my books or magazine articles I've
written previously, while others were never-
before-published accounts. I hope you have
enjoyed them all. Today's story chronicles
one of my many personal encounters with
the legendary rock band, KISS.

To say that I was a bona fide teenage " KISS freak" during the 1970s would be an understatement. Truth be told, I worshiped my kabuki-faced superheroes with such zeal in those days that I earned  such nicknames as "Kiss Long" and "Kiss Baby" from the Skynyrd-loving, jock contingent at my Florida high school. I discuss my teenage KISS obsession in great detail in the pages of my 2012 book, C'MON!

Throughout my adult years, I've enjoyed numerous personal and professional experiences with nearly every past or present KISS member. But it was my 1992 one-on-one encounter with co-founder and frontman Paul Stanley that truly was memorable.

With their iconic warrior-like face paint, leather-studded outfits, platform boots and legendary stage show, KISS fired off high octane power anthems at a ferocious pace  dominating the '70s hard rock scene. Even the emasculated, hair band version of KISS had maintained a respectable '80s rock presence  scoring several million-selling records. However, by the early '90s, their "Check Engine" light was flashing red. Although their 1992 Revenge record grazed Billboard magazine's Top Ten briefly and achieved "gold" status, it disappeared from the charts quickly and the subsequent tour was tanking. In fact, an estimated crowd of less than 3,000 attended KISS' October 1992 performance at the 10,000-seat Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. As a longtime fan, I hadn't seen that much available real estate at a KISS concert in nearly a decade.

Despite a noticeable hint of
cheddar, Revenge was one of 
KISS' best recent efforts.
Clearly living in denial, my compadres and I remained convinced that our former masked messiahs were in fact, still the "hottest band in the land"  despite that evening's less than stellar turnout. And we intended to fully rock the after-show with considerable fervor. We made our way across the street to where we were staying at the Marriott Hotel immediately following the concert and (as expected) we discovered that the band was staying there as well. But unlike previous KISS concert experiences, we were taken aback to discover that tonight, several members actually were hanging out in the lobby / bar area. And once hotel security cleared the throngs of non-guests from the premises, we easily could fellowship with the band, up close and personal.

Co-founder and bassist Gene Simmons reportedly was in his room engaging in an after-hours rendezvous with my friend, Melanie, so for tonight, "The Demon" would not be joining us. However, then-drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Bruce Kulick, both were approachable and cordial. For his part, Singer flirted with a bevy of babes at the bar, while Kulick chatted up fans gleefully, discussing various aspects of the evening's performance.

Me and my ex, Trish, with Bruce Kulick in 1992.
Then, just as the party was winding down and the room was clearing out, a bare-chested, six-foot-tall guy sporting a ponytail and wearing tight-fitting Levi's and a faded, tattered denim jacket strutted into the room.

Since first seeing a picture of KISS gracing the cover of Creem magazine in 1976, Paul Stanley has maintained top-dog status in my rock book. So, when my then-wife Trish and I suddenly found ourselves in a private face to face dialogue with "the Starchild," it was, surreal.

w/ Paul Stanley in 1992.
At the time, my band Dead Serios was a top-drawing act on Florida's club and concert scene. And being the ever-tenacious, self-promoting frontman, I wasted little time in giving Paul a demo tape. But before I could break into my typical hard-sell spiel, I was interrupted by a commotion from the other side of the lobby.

"IT'S HIM!" I heard two enthusiastic male metal head-types exclaim as they made a beeline in our direction. This was the last thing I needed. There I was, poised and positioned to hock my band to a respected producer and one of the greatest figures in the history of rock and roll, and these two characters seemingly were about to blow my pitch. "IT'S HIM! IT'S HIM!" they repeated as they literally sprinted from the hotel's front entrance to our locale near the bar. The disruptive duo quickly reached our spot and immediately, one of the fellows offered a game-changing revelation. "It's really you  you're the DEAD SERIOS guy!" he announced, somewhat winded. "We come to all of your Orlando shows," he added. "Can we have your autograph?"

Dead Serios receiving "Entertainer of the
Year" from JAM! magazine in the early '90s.
(Photo: Christopher Lee Helton)
Their timing and honest, passionate delivery couldn't have been better executed if I'd staged it all myself. We were in the presence of THE Paul Stanley, but  these guys couldn't have cared less. They were Dead Serios fans  they were MY people! I instantly lost my desire to punch them for intruding and now felt compelled to hug them for being so darn cool. Heck, after that, I didn't need to sell my band  these guys were far more convincing than I ever could have been. And yes, it was kinda ironic that I had to borrow a pen from the Starchild to sign autographs for my fans.

Although Dead Serios never did receive a call from Paul Stanley to produce our next record, he did prove to be gracious and a good sport throughout our encounter despite covering his face in the photo he took with us. I guess old habits die hard.

-Christopher Long 
(September 2012)

More KISS-related
features from
Christopher Long



C'MON! -

Friday, September 28, 2012


Tom Petty and the
Stan Lynch

This is Part VI of a week-long series in
which I'm sharing various behind-the-
scenes short stories from my dubious
rock and roll past. Some of these tales
will be excerpts from my books or
magazine articles I have written
previously, while others will be never-
before-published accounts. And I hope
you'll enjoy them all. This installment
is an excerpt from Chapter Seven of
my 2012 book, C'MON! 

I’d just been going through the motions with my band DeadSerios for the last several years. We were no longer the cutting edge young kids that we once were in our award-winning glory days. The young rockers coming up on the East Coast scene clearly had no connection to guys in their 30s and our once diehard teenage followers were primarily now all married or divorced — with kids of their own, mortgages and understandably, little interest in the local rock and roll scene. I hoped that our new guitarist could provide the spark needed to re-ignite the band and keep us moving forward. We loaded our gear into our van on New Year’s Day 1997 and traveled from Melbourne, Florida to producer Jim DeVito’s recording studio, 90 miles north in St. Augustine, to begin working on what ultimately would be our last record. 

During our first day at Jim’s studio we got a visit from a guy who lived nearby. Around lunchtime this animated, hyperactive fellow came bopping through the studio doorway dressed as if he’d been playing tennis. He was none other than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer, Stan Lynch.

Talking non-stop at about a million miles an hour, Stan is quite a character. Rattling off insider rock and roll stories at a rapid-fire pace, Stan rides a fine line between captivating and annoying. However, I for one, immediately liked the guy. And I think that he liked my band too. In fact, he came to the studio each day we were there that week. We had been recording an EP that was to include a White Zombie-like remake of the 1978 Village People disco hit, “Macho Man.” Stan thought that it was an inventive and hilarious concept and offered to produce the track. However, after noticing some of the rather tongue-in-cheek impromptu vocals, he backed away from the project because, as he put it, we had “gone overboard” with what he referred to as “fag-bashing.”

Stan Lynch with Jim DeVito.
I could listen to Stan’s "war stories" all day. While taking a break from recording one evening, Stan got caught up in telling us about his experience during the 1970s as an opening act for KISS during the first Heartbreakers tour. “I had to play under that f-ing KISS sign night after night while people booed us,” Stan passionately recalled. “But I just thought, hey, I’m up here and you’re down there!”

From memories of drug-crazed experiences while working with Stevie Nicks to studio dish on recording with John Mellencamp, Stan had a million outrageous tales to tell.

Recalling his days with Tom Petty, he admitted that in the beginning they were great. However, according to Stan, while in the studio during his last days with the band, egos had gotten totally out of control. Stan claimed that by this point nobody was allowed to speak directly to Petty any longer. In fact, all communications with the legendary frontman while in the studio had to be done via handwritten notes.

One morning, Stan became a bit ramped up as he described to me his recent influx of band requests for him either to produce or manage them. “I send them all back the same three word comment card... Sucks! Sucks! Sucks!” he passionately told me with his arms flailing about. “Nobody’s got any originality anymore and everyone’s afraid to be themselves,” he added. “If you’re an aging '80s hair metal guy, then hold your head up and be the best aging '80s hair metal guy that you can be!”

I found Stan’s stories to be fascinating and his words of advice to be quite inspirational. In fact, I would apply his “hold your head up,” “be the best you can be” philosophy to my future spiritual walk.

Be on guard.
Stand firm in the faith.
Be courageous. Be strong.
And do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)

Although Dead Serios was not fortunate to move forward with Stan in any long-term professional capacity, I appreciated his guidance, encouragement, spirited commentary and uniquely personal (and private) stories.

-Christopher Long
(September 2012)



C'MON! -

Thursday, September 27, 2012


(Photo: Sandy Creamer)
Rikki Rockett

This is Part V of a week-long series in
which I'm sharing various behind-the-
scenes stories from my dubious rock
and roll past. Some of these tales will be
excerpts from my books or magazine
articles I've written previously, while
others will be never-before-published
accounts. And I hope you will enjoy
them all. Today's installment is an
excerpt from Chapter Three of my
2010 book, A Shot of Poison.

In 2003 I approached Brevard Live magazine's editor about creating a new column. This monthly segment would feature interviews with various nationally known drummers. And as a drummer myself, I knew exactly who I wanted to approach for the first edition...

My interview with Rikki Rockett was scheduled to take place backstage at Nashville’s AM South Amphitheater prior to Poison’s concert on September 1. I arrived at the venue on time, promptly at 3PM. While I was waiting on Rikki, Poison frontman Bret Michaels and part of the crew organized a football game out behind the now defunct AM South venue. When throwing the ball around at home with my son Jesse, I’m a regular Joe Montana. However, I knew if I accepted the offer to join this game, I would have made a fool of myself — and I definitely didn’t want to look lame in front of these guys! Also, even at my best, I couldn’t compete with Bret. He’s got a powerful arm and throws with amazing Troy Aikman-like accuracy. So I did my best to appear cool, watching from the sidelines.

By 4PM Rikki’s dressing room had been cleared of all tour staff and a “Do Not Disturb” sign was posted outside the door. We spent the next hour and a half hanging out — discussing drums, technique, influences, style and chicks while munching on Twizzlers and watching vintage concert footage on his laptop of one of our all-time favorite bands, 1970s glam rockers, Angel. With their outrageous white stage outfits and platform boots, Angel was once referred to as a “good-guy” version of Kiss. Their hard-driving, pop-metal style provided the musical blueprint Poison would follow in later years.

I typically try to get my interviewees to relax enough to drop their guard and engage in an open and honest dialogue. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. In fact, I frequently ask musicians very obvious and occasionally dopey questions just to get them talking. My theory is that even on tough interviews, if I can get the artist to talk long enough I can usually at least obtain a few notable quotes. Prompting Rikki to open up was never a problem and he definitely did not let me down.

“I don’t know what Joey
Kramer (Aerosmith)
thinks of me, but I
think Joey’s God!”
-Rikki Rockett (September 2003)

At one point during the interview he said to me, “I guess you heard about the fire.” Just a couple of nights earlier en route to Detroit, the brake line on one of the eighteen-wheelers transporting Poison’s equipment caught fire and the band’s entire stage show went up in flames. According to Rikki, only a few guitars and a portion of their lighting gear had been salvaged. Poison, the band known for their wild show and spectacular lighting, hit the stage in Detroit the following night with nothing more than a couple of borrowed amps and a rented drum kit. They didn’t even have a drum riser. Rikki added that the review in the local paper the next morning reported that the “stripped down” Poison delivered one of their best shows ever! 

“I play hard but I’m not
basher. I’m really just
a kick, snare, hi-hat guy,
I always have been.
I play for the song.”
-Rikki Rockett (September 2003)

During our conversation Rikki told me about one of his current video projects. It was to be a documentary based on his life patterned after VH-1’s popular Behind the Music series. Realizing that I was a huge fan of his, Rikki was struck with the notion that he should interview me for his project. Initially I thought he was goofing, but shortly after the concert I was approached by Big John, one of the band’s longtime security guys. The intimidating, yet lovable six-foot-plus assistant hollered over the backstage ruckus, “Rikki needs you in the dressing room for the interview.” 

“Punk was never out
to destroy glitter rock.
It was out to destroy
prog (progressive) rock."
-Rikki Rockett (September 2003) 

Before any videotaping began, the group’s wardrobe manager came into the dressing room. She was organizing the band members’ apparel for a VH-1 special that was slated to tape within the next few days in New York. Rikki took one look at the outfits selected for the show and threw a fit.

“We used to be dangerous!” Rikki shouted as he leaped to his feet from his relaxed position lying on the dressing room floor. “Look at this,” he commanded with disgust, pointing to a T-shirt hanging from the wardrobe rack. “C.C. has been wearing this same Johnny Cash shirt every night of the tour — and Bobby wears this baseball jersey! A baseball jersey? We used to be cool! And Bret — I don’t even know what’s going on with him!”

 Me and Rikki - Nashville, TN
(July 2004)

Once Rikki had finally regained his composure he sat me down on a stool in the dressing room and instructed Big John to clip a microphone on my shirt. Standing in a dark corner in the room, smoking a cigarette, and assuming the role of an investigative reporter, Rikki began asking me questions similar to what we had discussed earlier in the day. Unfortunately, soon after the lights and camera went on, any journalistic integrity that I may have possessed flew out the window. I became so self-conscious about trying to be cool in this video that my mind blanked and I’m sure I came off like a real dope. Although I don’t think anything ever became of the project, I did get to see some footage a few weeks later. My quotes were sandwiched between those of famous rockers and other industry insiders and fortunately (thanks to some great editing) I only came off like a semi-moron.

My 2003 interview with Rikki proved to be an incredible experience for me. And as with all of the ops he's afforded me over the years, I appreciated his time, enthusiasm and hospitality.

-Christopher Long
(September 2012)



C'MON! -

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Judas Priest

This is Part IV of a week-long series in
which I'm sharing various behind-the-
scenes short stories from my dubious
rock and roll past. Some of these tales
will be excerpts from my books or magazine
articles I've written previously, while others
will be never-before-published accounts.
And I hope you will enjoy them all. Today's
installment is an excerpt from my 2012
book, C'MON! It recounts my experience
with the iconic band, Judas Priest.

Initially, I hadn’t planned to attend the Judas Priest concert in Boynton Beach, Florida on Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, 2002. The band had achieved legendary status during the 1980s, releasing a string of chart-busting records such as British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith, and I was one of their most devout followers. However, my enthusiasm for their music had waned since the 1992 departure of original frontman, Rob Halford. In 1982 I would have killed to see Judas Priest live, but in 2002 they had become less appealing.

But I began having second thoughts about attending the concert after speaking to my old friend, David Thornquest, on the morning of the show. David had heard some buzz on a local radio program regarding the event and he surmised that it would be a must-see performance.

My primary concern was whether or not tickets were even still available — after all, it was the day of the show. So I called the Club Ovation box office and to my surprise, the owner, John Gracey, personally was manning the phones that morning. Gracey turned out to be quite personable. He informed me that tickets were, in fact, still available. Perfect!

During our conversation, Gracey revealed that he recently had spent close to a million dollars renovating the 3,000 person capacity venue and he was thrilled to be booking such top-name acts as Judas Priest. I mentioned my interest in doing a feature on the club for Brevard Live magazine and that I’d bring a camera to the show and take a few pictures of the venue to coincide with the story. My offer was music to Gracey’s ears. He graciously invited me to be his personal guest that evening, offering a VIP table, an after-show pass and an opportunity to meet and perhaps even interview the band.

I arrived at Club Ovation precisely at 10:30PM, just as Judas Priest was taking the stage. The club was packed and the band delivered the kind of high energy performance that one would expect from Judas Priest. Afterword, I was escorted by a couple of the club’s beefy security guards to the backstage meet-and-greet area.

Drummer Scott Travis was the first band member who I encountered upon entering the hospitality room. Literally standing close to seven-feet-tall, Travis resembles a cross between an NBA star and a rock and roll version of Lurch from the 1960s comedy TV series, The Addams Family. In passing, I complimented Travis on his incredible performance that evening to which he replied with a scowl, “Yeah, whatever.”

In contrast to Travis’s negative vibe, the other members of his band proved to be quite charming. Bassist Ian Hill appeared to thoroughly enjoy the post-concert festivities and seemed happy to be hanging out with his fans and he gladly signed autographs and posed for pictures.

After-show with K.K. Downing.
During my backstage conversation with guitarist K.K. Downing, I overheard a girl chatting with Travis.

“I’ve loved you guys since I was a teenager,” she confessed, nearly breaking her neck to make eye contact with the giant.

“You probably don’t even know my name,” Travis sarcastically replied, apparently mistaking her for a garden variety, blond bimbo groupie.

“You’re Scott Travis,” she fired back. “I’ve been coming to see Judas Priest shows since 1986. I ought to know your name.”

"Honey, I wasn’t even in this band in 1986,” he replied, seemingly looking for any excuse to be argumentative.

“I didn’t say you were,” she shot back with rapid-fire reflexes. “I said that’s how long I’ve been coming to see the band.” 

Anyone who loves
to quarrel loves sin.
Proverbs 17:19 (NLT)

After listening to about a minute of this ridiculous exchange, I realized that she was a diehard, longtime Judas Priest fan and likely knew as much about the band’s history as Travis did. By the time she began schooling him on some of their more obscure earlier material, I surmised that it was an ideal time to move on and say “Hi” to guitarist Glenn Tipton.

As I was preparing to leave for the evening, I mentioned to (then) frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens that I was interested in setting up a phoner (telephone interview) with him for a feature story in the following month’s issue of Brevard Live. Although I had hoped for an interview that night, it was obvious that this backstage scene wasn’t the best environment for conducting such business. However, Owens seemed quite interested in doing an interview later in the week and he went into his dressing room to get a pen so that we could exchange contact information. This made for one last opportunity in which Travis could demonstrate his particular brand of “people skills” and he succeeded with grand style.

One thing I’ve learned during my music biz endeavors is that when it comes to dealing with rock stars, it’s important to understand where you do and do not belong. At that moment I knew that I definitely DID NOT belong in Owens' dressing room. So I stood in the doorway while he dug through his travel bag, searching for a pen. As we were getting ready to exchange phone numbers, Travis came up and grabbed me from behind.

Apparently feeling that I was violating Owens’ personal space, Travis loudly offered some choice expletives as he physically dragged me by the throat from the dressing room doorway. Angry and somewhat embarrassed by the incident, I figured it was best that I make my exit right then. Over the years I’d been accused of having my own anger management issues, so the situation would have likely gotten uglier had I hung around any longer. Besides, I stood all of five-foot-six. What was I going to do, slay this “Goliath” in a “David-like” fashion by punching him in the ankles?

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;
only fools insist on quarreling.
Proverbs 20:3 (NLT)

When I first met Gene Simmons in 1983 I approached him as a giddy fan. Nearly 20 years later, my encounter with Scott Travis was as an industry professional. However, both experiences met with similar results. It took decades, but I was finally beginning to realize that my glorious perception of rock stars was all pie in the sky.

-Christopher Long
(September 2012)



C'MON! -