Ex-KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick has posted his thoughts on his website from his time at the induction of KISS into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. You can read his words below:
Now that I’m back in LA, unpacked and exhausted, it is time to share my thoughts and experiences from my day with KISS at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Why is my head still soaring in the clouds with joy over such a controversial induction ceremony, where KISS was treated poorly at best and I was snubbed by the powers that be at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame? Simple. Tom Morello’s speech showed passion and respect for all years of KISS. Thank you, Tom, for your eloquent words so clearly laying out what KISS means to people and how important it was for KISS to be inducted. Including all the members of KISS as you represented the HoF from the podium made me very proud.
Next elation moment for me? Gene Simmons giving me a shout out during his induction speech that will ring in my head for the rest of my life: “The Great Bruce Kulick!” I nearly fell off my chair! I know Gene has always showed me respect in spades, and the feeling’s mutual, but to have such a powerful figure in the world of music and show business single me out that way was so special for me to hear. Paul’s intelligent and eloquent words laying out the joy and the frustration of what the Hall did with regard to KISS and how the people that matter are the fans who BUY the music and BUY the tickets to the shows was powerful to hear, and important to note. He also mentioned my name, along with Eric and Tommy, who were sitting next to me.
But, back to the beginning…
After we arrived in heavy traffic, we went to the green room, where I was able to take a photo with “Silvio,” or I should say Steven Van Zandt from the E Street Band, who was getting inducted that night by Bruce Springsteen. “Team KISS” was asked to head to the table about 5 minutes after Jann Wenner, the much disliked publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, was at the podium announcing the evening’s welcomes and inductees. I thought that was very odd, but we were in the dark with many of the logistics of the evening. It drew lots of attention, and I loved that, as fans shouted KISS!
Once settled into our seats, I was like, “Holy crap, this is AWESOME!” ’cause I saw who was sitting arms length from me–Bonnie Raitt, Carrie Underwood, BIll Murray and Courtney Love, with Peter Criss and his wife just opposite me. Definitely made my head spin a few times! Hall and Oates were also close, and naturally the table I was at had lots of attention from the crowd. Along with Tommy and Eric on either side of me, was Paul and his lovely wife, Erin, Paul’s son the talented guitarist Evan, and Gene and Shannon, with their gorgeous daughter Sophie. A family friend of Shannon’s rounded out our table of ten.
After the induction of Brian Epstein (The Beatles manager) and Andrew Loog Oldham (Rolling Stones manager and famous music producer), Peter Gabriel was up next. WIth two podiums for the inductions on either side of the long stage, Chris Martin of Coldplay was far from my view, but being a huge fan of some of Coldplay’s pop UK music I was excited to hear his playful introduction for the legacy of Peter Gabriel’s career. Bob Ezrin (KISS producer and others) was also an important part of Peter’s early solo hits, so I was excited about Gabriel’s performance and acceptance speech. He did three numbers I believe, and it sounded awesome. I was sad of course that nothing from KISS would be performed, but clearly all of the music performed that night was WELL rehearsed, and we all know the drama leading up to the event would not have made that an option.
No controversy regarding Mr. Gabriel, so the joy of his music and the celebration of it by all was quite moving. Peter had some important words to share with the crowd, and they rang very true that night: “Watch out for music. It should come with a health warning. It can be dangerous. It can make you feel so alive, so connected to the people around you, connected to what you are inside. It can make you think that the world should and could be a much better place. It can also make you very, very happy.” What KISS fan wouldn’t freak hearing those brilliant words?!
Next up was finally the moment I have been anxiously waiting for since the announcement of the induction. The video screens lit up with a video short sharing all the excitement of KISS, with quotes from the band and amazing footage of the live shows. Tom Morello did his magic sharing his love for KISS, then Paul and Gene headed up to the stage. Peter was nearby, and even though Ace was at a table on the other side in front of the stage they moved him over to Peter’s table, as Tom’s podium announcement was directly in front of our side.
The place went crazy as the guys were given the large statue award. I noticed the guys realizing they weren’t holding the right ones, and a quick trade off was done! In the order I mentioned earlier, with each of them being as I feel true to whom they are, they gave heartfelt speeches of what the induction meant for them. “Four knuckleheads,” said Gene, “who 40 years ago got together and decided to put together the kind of band we never saw onstage, critics be damned.” They all spoke the perfect amount of time, as some others that evening being inducted went on terribly long. Then the four of them, along with Morello, were whisked backstage. Those cool photos of them holding the awards, looking somewhat uncomfortable, were taken then.
The stage attention was drawn the induction of Cat Stevens. I enjoyed the music and the speeches, but obviously my body was drained of the “KISS Fever” I was feeling for months before reaching a peak during the induction itself. After Cat’s performance was Linda Ronstadt’s induction, and that is where Bonnie Raitt and Carrie Underwood were to come up and sing. The women on stage, along with Glenn Frey, were simply amazing. Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris and Stevie Nicks were all on one stage singing Ronstadt’s hit “It’s So Easy.” Well, wasn’t so easy for KISS, was it?!
Next up was Bruce, and not me. No, “The Boss,” and the evening turned into a love affair with all things Bruce Springsteen. I watched Springsteen and the E Street Band play their hearts out, as that night was important for them. Ten years since they were all together. However, knowing the KISS band had an early morning for TV and my flight back to LA was early as well, I knew we would miss the Hall & Oates and Nirvana portion of the evening. Shannon and Sophie stayed behind, but after brief chat with Glenn Frey of the Eagles in the green room (Glenn produced Max Carl from Grand Funk’s solo disc, so he said to say “Hello!”), it was time for the rest of us to head back to the hotel in Manhattan. Gene, Tommy, Eric and I rode together, and we all discussed the night during the ride. I’ll share some of that, but some will be kept private, naturally. Gene was frustrated with not knowing in advance what the plan was for the band or how the logistics of the evening were to unfold. I am also aware that Paul has been tweeting some displeasure with the powers that be at the Hall of Fame about this lack of information/communication as well.
For me, I was along for the ride. A ride that for my KISS years–performing, touring, recording, doing videos and photo shoots and interviews, losing a band member, getting a new drummer, making more great music, and then being left behind for the reunion tour to carry on the legacy of KISS–was completely validated. The acknowledgment of my contributions, the acceptance of the fans, and the love and support I get from them means the world to me. My love for the fans who support me will always be appreciated, and the talent that I contributed to this great band will always be known in my heart. Having those “shout outs” at the podium made all the times I didn’t feel as much a part of the KISS legacy completely and utterly washed away. My contribution is solidified in KISSTORY.
I had a magical opportunity the day I was asked to join KISS in 1984 as the lead guitarist. I never disrespected it, and although I am not sure I understood the importance of it back during those amazing 12 years, I now do. Thanks to Gene and Paul for the invite of a lifetime, both for the time in the band and this fateful night in Brooklyn. I guess going home to where I was born for such a momentous event means life can certainly come full circle without you ever really making the plans. Being patient and “steady as it goes” gave me this night to share with you all. I know I am blessed and I don’t take that lightly.
Now go crank up your favorite KISS music and celebrate the fact the world knows that KISS music means everything to millions on this planet. I am just one part of it. The KISS ARMY is what keeps it valid and will carry the cause forever.