Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French spoke in an interview with Mitch Lafon during the recent episode of Lafon’s podcast, and revealed the phone call he got from KISS bassist Gene Simmons.
He remembered the time when he was auditioned for KISS, and told the story:
“Okay. But, by the way, we’re not talking about two consecutive weeks, like 14 days. It just means over a period of a couple of weeks.
So here’s how it all went down. In late May of ’72, I was in my apartment building in New York, I was babysitting for an attorney named Peter Thull, a very well-known music industry attorney, and I think he used to hear me play guitar out of the window, because I used to play guitar in my apartment and blasted all over the neighborhood, everybody knew that was me playing.
He says to me one day in the elevator – and I was babysitting for his kid, he had a daughter Emily at the time that I would occasionally babysit for as a neighbor – so he says to me, ‘Are you looking for a band?’, and I said, ‘Yeah, I actually am looking for a band.’
And he goes, ‘Well, I’m representing an attorney named Ron Johnson who’s produced a band and I’m looking for a guitar player.’ So they gave my number to Gene [Simmons] who called me and said, ‘I understand that you’re a Led Zeppelin fan,’ etcetera, etcetera, and, ‘We’re looking for a guitar player.’
And I said, ‘Sure.’ I was 19 years old at the time. So I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they asked, ‘Can we see you play?’. And ironically enough, the first week of June, I was jamming in New York with a band named Scout, and the drummer of Scout was Don Perry, who went off to be Jethro Tull’s drummer.
So, I go and I play and Gene and Paul [Stanley] show up. They’re standing at the back of the church, I walk off the stage, I walk to the back, they introduce themselves, they tell me that they’re changing their name – that they have a band called Wicked Lester – that the band sounds like Looking Glass and that they’re going to change it to this other thing.
They asked me if I ever heard of Slade, and at that moment, I started to hear Slade, and I was still kind-of in Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead mode, and they said that they were going to follow in the lines of Slade.
I didn’t exactly know too much about Slade, but I said, ‘I’m down for it.’ So they said, ‘Come in and rehearse with us, we’d like you to come to a session with our band, but you can’t tell the guys in the band that they’re being replaced because they don’t know. So you’re coming down as a friend.’
We jammed a couple of times over a couple of weeks, that’s all it was. It wasn’t a two-week rehearsal, it was over the course of a couple of weeks. I’d go down and jam with Gene and Paul, and I believe Peter [Criss, drums] was already recruited at that time. I could be wrong, but the bottom line was that after a couple of weeks, I never heard from them.”