Archive for the ‘KISS’ Category

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The Demon That Devoured Cleveland

July 13, 2012


(NOTE: Click on images to enlarge!)

One day back in 1978 in Cleveland, Ohio KISS’ Gene Simmons arrived in town for a day promoting his new solo album. Each of the four KISS members, Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley & Peter Criss, released solo LPs simultaneously on the Casablanca Records label. When Simmons left town at the end of the day, all of northeast Ohio knew he was there!


Accompanied by Casablanca Records’ Gary Bird and a photographer/reporter from not Rolling Stone (Are you crazy?), not Creem, not Circus, but 16 Magazine, the ‘entourage’ spent time with Simmons at the WMMS radio studios, among other destinations & activities. Simmons took calls from listeners and talked about his new solo album. He ‘Guest DJed’ and had listeners in the palm of his hand (I remember tuning in that day thanks to WMMS’ hyping it ahead of time).

Simmons kept busy that day in Cleveland. Interviewed by the famed Jane Scott of The Plain Dealer, various other local media types, and also shadowed that day by WMMS’ Denny Sanders. Sanders was taping a segment on Simmons for WEWS’ Afternoon Exchange television program.

Gene Simmons on the Afternoon Exchange show. 1978

Gene Simmons on the Afternoon Exchange show. 1978

A clip of the Afternoon Exchange segment is available online. The interview with Simmons took place at Cosmic Comics, a leading comic book store in
Cleveland in the 70’s & 80’s that was owned by Marvel & DC Comics writer and Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella. Cosmic Comics was in downtown
Cleveland located at the Colonial Arcade.

Since I don’t post videos on Bangagong! you can watch it by clicking HERE to watch the 1978 WEWS clip of Gene Simmons in Cleveland.

Seen here is the two page spread that appeared in 16 Magazine from that day in Cleveland. 16 Magazine was an enormous success with young teens and
pre-teens during the 60’s & 70’s with Gloria Stavers at the helm, a fireball of a businesswoman and a media whiz. 

  

 

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

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New Gene Simmons/Holocaust Book Takes Off

June 6, 2012

Author Ross Berg alongside his subject matter.

Months ago we alerted readers of this website about the new book by Ross Berg, Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey In The Shadow Of The Holocaust that was released in January. Since that time Berg’s book has been selling well and gaining substantial attention. The book takes a unique approach and details the KISS member’s childhood, his interest in comic books and horror films and rock & roll growing up and his devoted affection for his mother, Flora Klein.


 Simmons, born Chaim Weitz was born at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel on August 25, 1949. He and his mother emigrated to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City when he was eight years old. He is the only child of his mother, a German Nazi Concentration Camp survivor.

It too Berg approximately six years to research and write the book and the details he unearthed are plentiful and interesting and written in a narrative non-fiction style that is intriguing and adds charm to the material.
 
But what really reaches out and grabs the reader is Flora Klein’s amazing story of surviving the Nazi concentration camps as a teenage girl and her will to survive and take care of her son after both were abandoned by her husband and Simmons’ father.

A mother & son!

Needless to say, Berg has hit a bullseye on subject matter and an incredible amount of details that has equated to sales and awareness.
 
“The reaction to the book has been amazing,” Berg told Bangagong. “Viewing the ‘Reader Reviews’ on Amazon.com is quite inspiring and the book has sold hundreds of copies, which is very satisfying personally.”
 
“The project was definitely worth the time and effort I put into it; especially when people send me comments about how they hadn’t previously known much about the Holocaust or how I have inspired them to want to write their own books.”

Gene & Flora

The Holocaust is a subject in the book that grabs the reader by the collar and drags him in. Berg has written a simply fascinating story of survival, determination and faith. “Well, when you’re talking about the Holocaust where 9 million people were murdered, with 6 million of those being Jews, it is often hard to wrap one’s head around those kinds of numbers,” said Berg. “The Holocaust is something that has affected me all my life — especially being raised by a survivor of a survivor.”
 
Berg is more than happy with the public reaction to the book.
 
“The only reaction from Gene/Flora/Family are the initial ones I received on Gene’s TV show, webpage message board, and Twitter messages thanking THE FLORA ARMY for our efforts. Beyond that, I have heard nothing directly from Gene, but I really didn’t expect to, either.”
 
Berg is the founder of the now famed ‘Flora’s Army’ Facebook page that is devoted to Flora Klein.
 
The horrifying Holocaust is a subject that has captured Berg’s interest. “I am currently enrolled in a Master’s Degree program in Holocaust Studies so this is something that I am obviously devoting my life to and hope to ultimately teach Jewish Studies or Holocaust Studies in a university setting,” Berg commented.
 
So with Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey In The Shadow Of The Holocaust now being distributed and selling well, will Berg rest on his laurels or is there another book in him?

 “Yes, I am currently working on a follow-up book called Jewish Star:The Continuing Adventures of Gene Simmons,” revealed Berg. “I hope it doesn’t take another six years, but if it does – then that’s what it’s gonna be. This is all a labor of love.”
 
You can purchase a copy of Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey In The Shadow Of The Holocaust through Amazon or any fine bookseller. Recommended!
 
Check out this detailed article on Gene Simmons, Flora Kelin & Ross Berg that previously appeared on Bangagong:  The Holocaust, The Mother & ‘The Demon’

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

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Gene Simmons: 60’s Fanzine Publisher

October 25, 2008
At work!

Gene today: At work!

Back in the 1960’s before KISS Gene Simmons was (and still is) a comic book and science fiction fan. In fact, he was so into the comic book and SF fandoms that as a young teenager he worked to earn money to purchase his own used mimeograph machine in order to begin producing his own fanzines. Not only did Simmons, who went by the name of Gene Klein after he and his mother emigrated to the USA in June 1958 at age eight (he was born Chaim Witz), produce his own amateur publications he also contributed to many others published by other enthusiasts.

 

Born in 1949, Simmons got into comic books and monster and science fiction magazines upon arriving in the USA as it helped him learn the language. Among some of the fanzines Klein (Simmons) edited and published during the 1960’s were Sirruish, Id, Sci-Fi Showcase, Cosmos, Tinderbox, Adventure, Mantis, Faun and others. His most successful was Cosmos. Cosmos eventually merged with Stilletto fanzine becoming Cosmos-Stilletto with issue #7 and then with issue #13 he changed the title to Faun.

 

In addition to writing and drawing for his own fanzines, Klein (Simmons) also contributed articles and artwork for a variety of other fanzines including such titles as Bombshell (he had a regular column called ‘Hokum’), Comic Comments, Gore Creature, Dynatron, Ecco, Comic Feature, Splash Page, Men of Mystery, Spectre, Fantasy News, Exile, Iscariot, Ragnarok (I used to order that one!), Ray Gun, RBCC (another favorite of mine), Sanctum, Pulp Era, Web Spinner, One Step Beyond and a number of others.

 

Klein (Simmons) was most prolific with fanzines, his and others, primarily from 1966-1969.

 

Simmons commented a couple of times about his days of fanzine publishing on his website:

 

“Yes, these are fanzines (fan-magazines) I published and edited when I was around 14 years old out of my mom’s house. The content was sci-fi/comics — reviews, articles and so on. I published/edited a number of titles: COSMOS, COSMOSTILETTO (a merger with Stiletto fanzine), FAUN, TINDERBOX, ADVENTURE, MANTIS and a few others.”

 

“I also edited a fanzine called MANTIS. Only about 100 were printed. I also had a column in a New Jersey fanzine called RAY GUN. There are more, but offhand, I can’t recall all of them (Note: See the list compiled above). I do have a box full of my old fanzines.”

 

“Nothing’s changed much. Back in my school days (around 7th grade through the 12th), I played in a rock band (Long Island Sounds, Lynx, and others). I was in the school choir. I acted in school plays. I published my own fanzines. And still had time for the girls.”

 

So I guess ‘The Demon’ and I had something in common, we both published fanzines in junior high school (and I owned some that he published and contributed to) and we both played bass guitar (although I gave that up a year or two after starting high school – the only thing I can play now with any ability is a jukebox). I guess that’s where the similarities end although I did dress up like him for Halloween 1976 with interesting results but that’s another story for another time (if the statue of limitations has expired!).

 

 

Gene during his high school & fanzine days.

Gene during his high school & fanzine days.

 

 

Cosmos - an early Gene fanzine.

Cosmos – an early Gene fanzine.

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KISS Meets Paul Lynde

February 24, 2008

 

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Being a fan of KISS and Paul Lynde I was jolted into flashback mode a few months ago when I first heard about the DVD release of the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, a TV special produced in 1976. I saw it in ’76 (although a fan of Paul Lynde, it was KISS that made me find a TV and tune in the night it aired) and had forgotten all about it until this release. It’s the epitome of 1970’s television, so bad it’s good. So embarrassing in places that it’s captivating. (Think Brady Bunch Variety Hour or Donny & Marie.)

 

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It was also KISS’ first-ever prime time TV network appearance.

 

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Among Paul Lynde’s guests that night (and on the DVD) in addition to KISS are Florence Henderson (Carol Brady), Margaret Hamilton (Wicked Witch of the West), Donny & Marie Osmond, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero) & Billie Hayes (Witchiepoo). Members of KISS, particularly Paul Stanley, participated in skits and performed Detroit Rock City and Beth

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This is pure, unadulterated 70’s kitsch in its purest form. If you’re a Paul Lynde fan you’ll love it, if you’re a hardcore KISS Army inductee you just may be embarrassed (KISS appeared that way, maybe it was boredom, in several scenes) but the curiosity level, like slowing down to scope out a car wreck, will tempt you.

 Ken Begg over at JABOOTU The Bad Movie Dimension has a detailed killer (and insightful) review. Check it out!

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