You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best…The Hottest Band In The World…KISS!
Take a minute to think about it… How many KISS fans had been given chills down their spine by the sheer listening to this famous intro, only seconds before their favorite band hits the stage and gives a performance that would be permanently engraved to their memory? On the 30th of January, 2008 KISS celebrated 35 years of constant presence and Rockpages.gr decided that it was the right time for… not just another special article. You see, it would be too easy to put down on paper (or more likely on word processor) some milestones in KISS’ career. However, we wanted to give to the entire KISS Army a gift to remember and cherish for all 2008! 30 noteworthy KISS-related figures that have been connected at a point in their lives with KISS turn back the hands of time and remember their KISS experience. Every 10 days we will be adding the recollection of a different KISS-related figure, like Jim Vallance, Bob Gruen, Robert Fleischman, Jay Messina etc. Sit back, relax and enjoy this Rocket Ride that will keep us company for the rest of 2008!
Special Feature by: Sakis Nikas
(Drummer on Paul Stanley’s 1978 Solo Album)
Rockpages.gr: You hooked up with Paul after the Aucoin Connection with Piper? Who recommended you to him?
Richie Fontana: Actually, Paul contacted me directly via the Aucoin office. That's all there was to it. I guess he had me in mind all the while as he was getting ready to begin working on his solo project.
Rockpages.gr: You played drums on 4 tracks on the album. Would you like to tell me a word or two for each one of them?
Richie Fontana: I really do like all 4 tracks. Very melodic. Paul is an excellent writer. Paul, Bob Kulick, Steve Buslowe and myself just gathered ourselves in a circle and learned the songs right in the studio. The parts for the rhythm tracks came quickly.
"Tonight You Belong To Me" has that power/epic thing about it which I thought was perfect to open the album.
"Move On" is a good old rocker.
"Ain't Quite Right" I feel is a very classy tune, I love that one.
"Wouldn't You Like To Know Me" has that power pop feel that I love so much, ala Raspberries, etc.
Rockpages.gr: You recorded the album on the Electric Lady Studios. Do you have any unpublished story from that recording period?
Richie Fontana: I worked at Electric Lady Studios a number of times back in those days. At one point in 1977 both KISS and Piper were recording there at the same time. We (Piper) were recording our second album titled "Can't Wait" in studio B, while KISS were recording their "Love Gun" album in studio A. We would visit with them, and they would visit with us. This went on for a number of weeks. We all got to know each other better during those sessions, which is what led to Piper being the opening act for KISS on the Love Gun tour that followed later that year, which then led to Paul asking me to record with him in 1978.
Looking back, I remember speaking with Gene and Paul more than with Ace and Peter. It was probably the only time I ever spoke with Peter Criss. Little did we know that his wife Lydia would one day become my girlfriend as she is today...amazing.
After the 4 KISS Solo albums were released, I worked with Paul Stanley again at Electric Lady Studios. This time we were cutting tracks for the Alessi Brothers, a project that Paul was producing.
Rockpages.gr: There were a couple guests on Paul's record. Especially on "Move On" the Rouge Girls were doing background vocals. Do you remember anything from that session?
Richie Fontana: Most of the overdubs such as backing vocals were done at a later date. I was there only for two or three days when we cut the basic tracks for the four songs that I'm on. I do remember sitting with Paul in the control room while he did some guitar overdubs on "Tonight You Belong To Me."
Rockpages.gr: Let's set the record straight one for all: There are two constant rumors about your name regarding KISS. First, that you played drums on "I was made for lovin' you" and second that you were considered for a while to be the replacement of Peter Criss. Is there any truth on these?
Richie Fontana: FIRST: I will never know how that rumor got started, but the truth is 'I did NOT play on the Dynasty album'! It was Anton Fig. SECOND: When I was living in Los Angeles, working with The Skatt Bros., I was called down to the office by Bill Aucoin's west coast secretary. I was then informed that Bill had called, that he was with Gene and Paul, and that they were talking about me as a possible replacement for Peter Criss. I was quite stunned by this information, but after all, they knew me from when Piper had opened for KISS on the Love Gun tour, and of course from playing on Paul's solo album. Needless to say it never came to be. I was later told it was probably because my image had appeared on the Piper and Skatt Bros. albums. KISS had yet to be unmasked so they needed an unknown drummer so to preserve the mystic. So, there is some truth to that.
Rockpages.gr: How were the Aucoin Management employees as persons? Especially, Bill Aucoin and Sean Delaney. How would you describe them?
Richie Fontana: Aucoin Management was like one big family. Some really special people worked there. The musicians had a great relationship with the staff.
Bill Aucoin and Sean Delaney were two of the most enthusiastic people I have ever known. Their insight for business and art was amazing. Bill is still that way. Above and beyond Rock n' Roll, they understood 'show business', and we all got educated because of it. I feel fortunate to have been involved with them.
Next Week: The drummer in Treasure, Jack Scarangella, remembers Vinnie Cusano (aka Vinnie Vincent)