KISS Related

Mitch Weissman (2013)
Background vocalist/original "Beatlemania" cast member recalls his contributions to Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album and his work with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons on albums such as "Animalize" and "Crazy Nights," plus a potpourri of KISS stories and tangents.

David Snowden (2013)
Longtime KISS fan and former head of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion fan club talks "All Systems Go" and various KISS-related topics

Mark Opitz (2013)
Producer details his work on "KISS Symphony: Alive IV"

Bruce Foster (2012)
Grammy-nominated musician discusses working with KISS and playing piano on "Nothin' To Lose"

David Wolfert (2012)
Grammy- and Emmy-nominated producer recalls working with Peter Criss on his first post-KISS solo album, 1980's "Out Of Control"

Bob Ezrin (2012)
Legendary producer details "Destroyer: Resurrected" and the making of the album

Lydia Criss (2012)
Author discusses the second printing of "Sealed With A KISS" and various Peter Criss- and KISS-related topics

Jean Beauvoir (2010)
Songwriter/recording artist recalls collaborations with KISS on "Animalize," "Asylum" and more

Kenny Kerner (2010)
Recalling KISS' early days with the co-producer of "KISS" and "Hotter Than Hell"

Eric Singer (2010)
Exclusive interview with KISS' current drummer regarding a variety of topics

Ace Frehley (2009)
KISS' original Spaceman details his first studio album in 20 years, "Anomaly"

Bruce Kulick (2009)
Non-makeup-era axeman discusses KISS tenure and latest album, "BK3"

Mike Japp (2005)
A discussion with KISS collaborator on the "Killers" and "Creatures Of The Night" albums

Dick Wagner (2004)
KISS' favorite "ghost" guitarist discusses his guitar playing on "Destroyer" and "Revenge"

Jesse Damon (2003)
Former member of Silent Rage on his collaborations with Gene Simmons

Stan Penridge (2000)
Peter Criss' right-hand man talks Chelsea, Lips and working with the Catman

Bruce Kulick (1999)
Guitarist talks Union project with John Corabi, Eric Carr and ESP

Sean Delaney (1998)
A brief encounter with the "fifth" member of KISS

Bob Ezrin (1998)
Former KOL webmaster Michael Brandvold grills the legendary producer regarding his work with KISS

Q&A with Stan Penridge

By Julian Gill

Like Sean Delaney, I'd hoped to develop a rapport with Stan. Sadly, Stan passed on May 11, 2001 so remaining sections of Q&A were never completed, but more importantly we lost a friendly and fascinating person with deep connections to the classic era of KISS and Peter's pre-KISS work.

KissFAQ: About you, at what point did you decide that you would try and make music a career? What point did you consider yourself a professional? What are your influences, and what would you call your musical epiphany?
Stan "Doc" Penridge: In all honesty I knew that music was going to be my career from the age of nine or ten. Having begun my studies at the New York School of Music at age seven, although the youngest, I felt the vibe immediately. You were there to prepare for a career in music (teaching, performance, composition, etc.) and there was no tolerance for anything short of giving 100% As was expected from both teacher and pupil. I began playing regularly in 1964 (at age 13) for money. I had left home by that time and it was my teaching and gigging that supported me through High School. This is not a sob story. At the time I was strictly a folk artist. But my exposure to the acts I opened for in Greenwich Village honed my writing and performong skills.

At The Cafe Wah I opened for Jimmy James & the Blue Flames (still was still playing R&B) but you could see the connection was bound to happen. The connection being the tranformation into Jimmy Hendrix - that only needed the right time and place. Perhaps we all await our musical epiphany - if we are aware of what the future is bound to bring (in no uncertain terms). At the Night Owl I opened for The Lovin' Spoonful. Through 1968 I was a "regular" in GW Village. As I developed my style - I realized that I had - what Lothar & The Hand People, The Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (BSO), The Blues Magoos, The Raves... what they all had - the desire and disipline to make it work for me - that was my "epiphany". That realization was reinforced when I began getting studio work - the first major gig was replacing Jon Hall (Dance With me, You're Still The One) in an act he was producing for Columbia (Pacheco & Alexander) - at 17 I was "on my way."

KF: You replaced Chris Aridas as the guitarist in ChelseSP: How did you come across the ad, were you familiar with the band, and what was the process at the audition from which Peter was absent? I.e. Music performed, discussions, etc...
SP: Although I was living in Manhatten and I had heard the name "CHELSEA" I Knew nothing about the band. The only reason I knew the name at all was they had played at Ungano's (on St. Mark's Place) which became The Electric Circus. It was a very popular club, with groups like The Velvet Underground making it a "hot spot" at the time. I'll jump ahead a question and say that the John Cale connection may have been an outgrowth of the early days at Ungano's/Circus. As far as running across the ad for "guitarist needed" in The Village Voice there was nothing magical about it. It was a routine that all of us (musicians) went through whether or not we had gigs. Just always looking for something bigger and/or better.

The audition was held at Peter Shepley's apartment and set up for 2PM, if I recall correctly. When I arrived Mike Brand was already there. (It was Mike's wife Becky that inspired the tune Beck (Beth)). For some reason Peter was supposed to be there also - to vote on whether or not I was capable to fill Chris' shoes. An hour passed without Peter showing. At that point I had listened to their first album. My track record was enough along with my playing to land me the gig. We actually even recorded a tune that Peter Shepley & Mike Brand had been working on but had reached a snag - that I found easy to "doctor" hence the nickname. I got the gig, was given an itinerary and assuming Peter was a "no-show" we planned to meet at the next gig - just a few days away. It happened to be a Dayline Cruise for a fund-raiser held by "The Young Republicans" of NYC.

KF: Are you aware of the circumstances that resulted in John Cale ending up on the first album, even though you weren't in the band at that point? (hearsay?)
SP: Assumputions - hearsay? I think I covered that John Cale question earlier as best I could. Hope it helped!

KF: After you joined Chelsea, it is reported that the band had started working on a second album. What can you tell me about the material that was being worked out?
SP: It's true, we did start work on a second album. It was all preproduction and didn't involve any studio work or input from Lew Merenstein. Shepley, Brand & I lived in Manhatten. We got together daily to write and record (on Peters 2 track Teac). I failed to mention upon Peter's arrival the day I got the gig with CHELSEA, he quit, having not been given an opportunity in the decision making process. That lasted a day - and he would make these preproduction practices playing pots and pans. Rarely, Mike Bevenga would show to play bass and keep up on what was happening.

The material was decidely split. It was either pure acoustic - excellant lyrics by Shepley. Very poetic, indeed. And with Mike left to play rhythm I was to compliment the music by playing slide, fingerpicking , adding harmony (musical and lyrical).The same couldn't be said of the electric half of the act. Although the ideas were set in place during our get togethers the only time we were able to implement the arranging was during our gigs. Obviously, once - maybe twice an evening wasn't sufficient time to work out what the electric Peter & Mike were looking for. Peter Shepley, Mike Brand and I cut a very unique 4 song demo.

We were still Chelsea at the time but Peter Cris and Mike Bevenga were not on it. The meeting with Merenstein to discuss album # 2 was short and curt. His involvement with Van Morrison had blossomed and I'm sure the division in musical styles was more than apparent. I recall a live audtion for Lew - but the overwhelming memory was that of confusion. There never was a second meeting.

KF: Describe the: first time you met Peter Criss? first time you played live with Peter Criss?
SP: As previously mentioned, the first time I met Peter he quit the group. There's a funny story how Pete S, Mike B and I got Peter back into the band. It really wasn't a chore. He didn't want to quit. His pride was hurt and Peter was never one for a confrontation. His survival instinct and personality, in most cases, was more the flight than the fight. The first gig we were supposed to play together (the Young Republican's Cruise) Peter missed the boat by 15 minutes. I'll never forget him on shore yelling for the boat to come back. Fortunately there was a Young Republican that played drums on the boat.

When we finally did get the oppurtunity to play live together it marked the end of Chelsea. It wasn't more than a few gigs between The Young Republicans and the Yellow Front Saloon. I don't recall the gigs in between. What I do remember was Peter's enthusiasm and total abandon to have a strong rhythm guitarist to latch onto. Benvenga, although more than a ompetent player, tended to play melody rather than create movement. This may have stemmed from Chris' playing. I never heard him live so I can't say. What I can say is that when Chelsea played (with me as part of the band) Brand & Shepley were at a loss.

KF: When did Chelsea effectively cease to exist (date)?
SP: Chelsea died the night LIPS was born. It was August 1970. The Yellow Front Saloon in Fort Lee, NJ. Shepley and Brand were habitually late. But this particular night there was a large audience - packed - and getting a bit restless and quite boisterous. After missing the first set I suggested doing the second set as a trio. I think it was meant to be. We thought a second - I said Blue Suede Shoes - and that was it. Everything that didn't work in Chelsea made LIPS great. The strong rhythm that Peter complimented freed Mike to fly. It fell together so naturally. Peter would roll off his toms into a crash and I'd solo, somewhere in the heavens, and I'd open my eyes just as Pete would come around to reel me in for the next verse. It was a magical group - and things like that just don't last long. Unfortunately!!

KF: Which songs did Lips demo at RCA Records in the Spring of 1971? Bell Sound Studios?
SP: Okay - I've got to correct this date for you as far as the RCA LIPS sessions. I know I've quoted spring 1971 as those session dates. But last month, as a part of the document requests that has led to this Federal Court date I was asked to provide all the documentation I had for KISS' attorney's. I produced 2,894 pages. As of this writing the defendants have produced nothing. But I digress. In front of me I have the original tape of the LIPS RCA Sessions. I had them copyrighted in March 1972. The session date was 2/22/72. The 5 songs on the demo - in order are: 1) Baby Driver 2) Dirty Living 3) Baby, Don't You let me Down 4) You're My Woman 5) Baby Dont You Let me Down .... The sessions at Bell Sound were done for Kama Sutra Records.

KF: Is it true that Neil Bogart, then at Karma Sutra Records, had you thrown out of his office and that you performed "Beck" there?
SP: No. We never performed at Kama Sutra for Neil. That's one of Peter's stories. Bob Reno, VP at KamaSutra is the guy I contacted and the person we auditioned for. He's the guy that paid for both 5 song sessions. He also gave me the masters after Neil passed on LIPS later that month. Actually, Beck is one of the only songs we didn't perform for Bob Reno - or record during either session. At that point it was still a "joke song" - or a novelty tune.

KF: About "Beck", while it has been documented that the song was about Mike Brand's girlfriend/wife Becky, what can you tell me about how the song was written - how much of it was Peter really responsible for, if any?
SP: Beck was written, almost word for word, from Mike Brand's responses to his wife's constant calls that interupted our rehearsals. It got to the point where I wrote down his remarks over a period of 3 or 4 days in what I called my "wizard book". It was merely a small notebook I carried to jot down silly sayings, sketch in, anything....to save ideas. If you look at the lyrics and view them as a hen-pecked hubby's remarks to his nagging wife you'll see what I mean. Just pause after every sentence and pretend there's a bitch at the other end of the line. You'll catch it - I'm sure. Absolutely not responsible at all. Another poorman's copyright by me in '70.

KF: Can you explain the circumstances surrounding you and Peter going your own direction. At what point did that happen?
SP: That's an easy one. Shortly after recording the 3 songs we did at Cinderella Studios in Madison, Tenn., Peter called Debbie (because he'd been missing in action for three days) after doing the rhythm tracks.I won't go into where he'ld been but he'ld been on a drunken binge nearly our entire trip in Nashville. He'ld said somethong to Debbie about me keeping the band together and producing the demos (which was always the case - the players on Out Of Control > Benny, Tony...were part of my band. we almost always used my guys because Peter was always MISP: As a matter of fact I flew to Nashville 2 months before Peter to audition players and have a band together when he got there. The first time he met them was the first day of rehearsal).

Anyway, after Peter told Debbie what was happening it wasn't long before Peter came back from a doctor's visit (supposedly) and announced to us he'ld been diagnosed with hepititus and could no longer tour. He would have to return home to rest a regain his health. So we packed up our apartment into a big U-Haul and I drove us back north. I don't think Peter could ever face me after that. It certainly was the last time we spoke. Before the 'MTV Unplugged' album went into production he was here in playing for $50 a night at EMOS and I went to see him. He refused to say hello much less speak to me. And at that time I was part of the Austin Music Council and had brought a couple of friends from the City Council along that had wanted to say hello. I was a bit embarassed - but no harm done. After all - it was in late summer and the City Council had just designated August 3rd as "Stan Doc Penridge Day" and we had gone to welcome him . . (honestly I hoped it would break the ice - I still love the guy. We were like brothers. I guess he never felt that way. Sure took me for a ride, huh?)

KF: Are you aware that Peter allegedly went to England with Lydia to audition for Elton John's band, even though Nigel Olssen had long been his studio/touring drummer - if so can you comment/clarify any of this?
SP: Wadda JOKE!!!! Peter and Lydia went to London on their honeymoon. She planned every detail of that trip and it didn't included an audition for Elton's band. You're absolutely correct! Nigel had been firmly established with Elton and there was no way Peter even had any contact with either of the two. OOOOPS!! I stand corrected! Lydia did mention that they had seen Elton play at a club in London during their honeymoon.

KF: How often did you and Peter get together after he joined KISS? How did songs like "Baby Driver", "Love Bite", and "Rumble" come about?
SP: Well, not too often Julian. We did keep in touch though. After Peter had Gene and Paul come to the King's Lounge in Queens it was the end of short lived duet days.... All for the best. I'd been dying to get out and tour and was offered a job with Saint Elmos Fire. They were a great Texas swing band ala Asleep At The Wheel (who are now neighbors of mine ) - funny how things work out...

But it was mostly the wives who kept in touch. I was on the road constantly - as was KISS, but when it came time for him to call me about Beck - he sure knew how to get a hold of quick. 'Baby Driver' I wrote about Mike Benvenga and his Alpha Romeo Spider and the grudge he held against Pete and I... actually we had on with him its a long story. Love Bite was written in the studio the same night Hooligan was written... 'Rumble' was a part of the songs we cut in late 12/79 - early 1/80 at ODO Studios, with Vini Poncia producing. 'Rumble' was supposedly about Peter's gang experiences as a kid.

KF: Any other unreleased demos with you and Peter ;) ?
SP: As far as unreleased demos with Pete and myself - tons of them. Sometimes a few differant versions dome a few months apart at differant studios. If you'd like a list of what I've been digging up and mastering and what will be released to the public - and what I'm holding back for now (merely awaiting what the Fed's are going to do) - actually we all know it'll be settled out of court...this time there won't be a gag order though. There's a book deal > talk of working it into a movie > it's been a long long decade for me with this... and you wouldn't believe how many people are involved....or maybe you would.

August 2000

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