Posts Tagged ‘KISS’

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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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Marketing Rock Old School Style Pt. 1

December 19, 2011

Back in the 60’s & 70’s, decades before the internet and instant access to information, a lot of us didn’t know when bands were putting pout new albums until we heard them on the radio. Some advanced news would filter in a head of time, minimally, in places like Scene, Creem, Circus, Rolling Stone, Rock Scene, Hit Parader, etc…
 
For those of us who bought all the magazines and tabloids (Melody Maker, New Musical Express, Sounds) we’d often get advance word that a new album was being released by the record company advertisements that were placed in the media. They were usually timed to see print just weeks prior to releases so we’d have a heads up on what was coming out.
 
Here are some random samples of various advertisements hyping new album releases from back in the day as seen in various music publications.

Click on images to enlarge!

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When ‘King Biscuit’ Was King Of Sunday Nite

December 9, 2011

Back in the 1970’s during the throes of my rock ‘n roll obsession  it was rock ‘n roll 24/7/365. I can remember attending three concerts in a week on occasion. Got all the albums, 8-tracks, posters, concert tickets, wearing apparel, just like you did. For the most part myself and friends, we worshiped at 100.7 on the dial, WMMS in Cleveland. And for most if not all of the 70’s a weekly feature that we always tuned in to (unless we were at a concert) was the Sunday evening broadcast of the King Biscuit Flower Hour, a syndicated radio program that broadcast concerts with the biggest bands in the land.
 
Sometimes we’d record them, I knew someone who damn near had a full library of King Biscuit broadcasts during the 70’s. I can recall recording a few, depending who the band was that night and if I was near a home based stereo. An old pal, Dave Corbett, recorded an Aerosmith King Biscuit concert on 8-track (!) and gave it to me. I wore it out.


 I can remember many a Sunday evening out cruising back roads with a carload of friends getting our minds right and listening, at maximum volume of course, to whatever band(s) were on that particular week.
 
The King Biscuit Flower Hour debuted on February 18, 1973 with Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Bruce Springsteen. Bill Minkin served as the show’s host from the debut into the mid-1990s and he became a familiar voice to us rockers out there. The show eventually was carried over 300 plus radio stations across the country.


 I can remember attending a couple shows at the Cleveland Agora that were recorded for King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcasts (Ian Hunter/Mick Ronson & Rockpile in 1979, for one).
 
The King Biscuit producers would usually show up with a mobile recording truck, record the concert, mix and edit it and then radio stations who participated would receive reel-to-reel tapes of the shows. The producers didn’t switch over to CDs until 1987. New broadcasts lasted until 1993.


 I had no idea the show lasted as long as it did. I figure I probably heard my last King Biscuit broadcast on the radio circa 1980 or so, but it was a nice diversion on a Sunday night, it was also a chance to record some live gigs by favorite bands for the cost of a blank cassette (it had to have been a bootleggers money machine back in the 70’s). I also recall that King Biscuit producers would manufacture albums for radio stations to broadcast that were meant for radio stations only but I recall buying a couple of them at record shops back in the day.
 
In 2006, the King Biscuit tape archives were acquired by Wolfgang’s Vault that began streaming concerts online and has made some available for download.

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The Holocaust, The Mother & ‘The Demon’

September 11, 2011

Coming out in the next several weeks will be a new book entitled Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey in the Shadow of the Holocaust which is basically an in-depth look at the very early years of Gene Simmons as a ‘Child of the Holocaust’. Researched and written by Ross Berg, the new book delves into the life of Simmons’ mother, Flora Klein and how she miraculously survived the brutal Nazi holocaust as a young girl and how she then raised her son on her own.
 
Flora Klein’s life story is simply amazing and in her youth, horrific. After surviving the concentration camps and war, a number of years later her husband walked out on her and their young son, born Chaim Weitz, who later became Gene Simmons, leaving them penniless.
 
Berg, who is Jewish, and an ardent fan of KISS and Gene Simmons since the 1970’s, had relatives who also had terrifying experiences at the hands of the Nazi’s much like Flora and her family dealt with (Flora as the sole survivor of her family). Berg has also experienced prejudice for his heritage that made the details of Flora Klein’s astonishing life and that of her son’s more intriguing to the author.

Flora & Gene
 We asked Ross Berg to share his thoughts and motivations that inspired the book, as well as his many activities related to KISS and Gene Simmons, particularly the Flora Army, a Facebook page devoted to Simmons’ Mother. Which in turn led to the book.
 
Flora Klein’s story is memorable to say the least.  As Berg once wrote:
 
“The beautiful Flora Klein was born in Jund, Hungary in 1927. When she was fourteen years old, Adolf Hitler came to power and close to 6 million European Jews were incinerated in the ovens of the concentration camps. Young Flora Klein watched as her mother walked with her own mother into the gas chamber. She later explained to her son, KISS Star Gene Simmons, that her mother didn’t want her own mother to face death alone.

Flora Klein survived the death camps because she had gone to beauty school and had some hairstyling and make-up skills. The commandant’s wife took a liking to her, and because Flora provided the wife with beauty tips, Flora was able to survive the Holocaust. ‘Survival’ continues to be a key theme in the amazing and courageous life of Flora Klein. Flora Klein continues to be her son’s greatest inspiration.

Through his mother, Simmons has said that he has learned to believe that all glasses are half full and not half empty and that although mankind was capable of unimaginable inhumanity, there was still good in the world. Flora instilled in her son Gene a fearless backbone, which he has used to become one of the most successful musicians in rock history.”

Mother & Son

So here’s Ross Berg’s story about the genesis of the book and how Flora Klein’s story touched him.
 
TOUCHED BY THE HOLOCAUST
 
“My mother’s parents fled Germany just in time. Though they were lucky not to have ended up in the Camps, the rest of my mother’s family on her father’s side did, and all but one perished. The sole surviving uncle came to live in my mother’s house when she was a child. She ran her fingers along the numbers on his arm, and felt the loss of his presence when he often withdrew in silence at the dinner table. He had once had a wife and children at his own dinner table.”
 
“While my maternal father’s side of the family was being annihilated, my maternal mother’s side endured completely different experiences. Though my mother’s mother had converted to Judaism, her family was not Jewish. They were wonderful, decent people who found themselves caught up in something they did not believe in, nor want to participate in. Nevertheless, one of my mother’s uncles was put into the Hitler Youth, and two of her cousins fought for Germany against the Allied Forces. The remainder of the relatives, often starving, endured the bombings on Berlin.

Flora & Gene

The complexity of my family living on two sides of the Holocaust has contributed to my struggle with this dark chapter of history. The impact of the Holocaust on individuals at that time continues down through the next generations.”
 
THE CHILD OF A CHILD OF THE HOLOCAUST
 
“My mother, like Gene Simmons, is a ‘Child of the Holocaust’. Offspring of a Holocaust victim and a survivor of a survivor. There are many shared traits amongst Children of the Holocaust. Gene’s mother survived the Holocaust but the rest of her family perished in the camps.”
 
“As the Child of a Holocaust survivor, Gene was anxious to understand what his mother had experienced in the Concentration Camps but those events were too painful for her to talk about. As such, a young Gene was forced to collect bits and pieces and fragments of information on his own about the Holocaust and the Nazis that killed his mother’s entire family. But the events still remained cloaked in mystery as nothing was ever directly discussed with the young boy.”


”Gene came to America from Israel as a young boy unable to speak English and he was taunted by the other children for his language difficulties and for wearing his yarmulke to school. He was an outcast based on how different he was from the other children and soon become a loner consumed with escaping his unhappiness through his own imagination. Gene withdrew into his mind – into a world of fantasy where he could transform himself from an unpopular boy from Israel to an exciting comic book hero or menacing horror movie monster.”

FAN OF ‘THE DEMON’
 
“People look at me strange when they find out how much my life has been affected by Gene Simmons. They can’t believe the ‘museum’ of band merchandise I’ve collected since the 1970’s. They are amazed at the vast number of rare Fanzines I have amassed all created by Gene in his mother’s home as a teenager.
 
“As a college student, I played in bands and performed KISS tunes. As an adult, husband, and father I worked as a Moderator for KISSOnline, started several Gene Simmons websites, self-published a book about KISS’ Elder album, and celebrated my 40th birthday with a ‘Gene Simmons Party’ – proof that the more things change the more they stay the same.”


 THE FLORA ARMY

”The genesis and odyssey of ‘The Flora Army’ goes back to Gene’s first book; an autobiography called ‘KISS And Make-Up’. I had read things about Gene’s mother here and there in interviews over the years but this was the first time I had an opportunity to fully digest her harrowing and courageous story as a Holocaust survivor. The pictures contained in the book revealed Gene’s mother Flora to be an extremely beautiful woman. I wanted to know more. I was inspired.”
 
“Perhaps Flora’s story of survival could educate a whole segment of the population who had never known or cared about the Holocaust before. Six million is a hard number to comprehend. Putting a face to the Shoah – an Anne Frank or a Flora Klein – can often better convey the realness of the tragedy to the next generation.”

”I felt I had stumbled upon a unique thesis of sorts: in what ways had the Holocaust affected the life and art of Gene Simmons?”

”Flora, of course, would be a prominent figure within such a study. In certain ways, Flora’s strength and fortitude reminded me of my German Grandmother. My Grandmother who had gotten us out of Germany just before Hitler put his deadly plans into action. The Grandmother I loved and missed so dearly since her death in the 1990’s. I wanted to tell this story for her as well.”


”After working as a Moderator under the wise leadership of Michael Brandvold for KISS’ official website ‘KISSOnline’, I spent some time helping the amazingly knowledgeable Julian Gill moderate his site – ‘The KISS Faq’. Julian’s computer smarts and essential ‘KISS Album Focus’ book series inspired me to strike out on my own as both a Webmaster and an author. With the help of my dear friend Leanne St. Germaine – creator of the much respected ‘Paul Stanley’s Paradise’ webpage — I was soon running my own website devoted to Gene, his childhood, his mother, his Fanzine creations from the 60’s, the Holocaust, the history of Jews and the comic book industry, personality traits in Children of the Holocaust, and more.”
 
“That webpage, called ‘Almost Human’, came to serve as the basic outline for this book. As my research into Gene’s childhood and Flora’s life intensified, I decided to create ‘The Flora Army’; a fond tip of the hat to ‘The KISS Army’ Fan Club founded by Bill Starkey in the 70’s. Initially little more than a logo, ‘The Flora Army’ was something I began to take public on several KISS-related Discussion Forums. I would start topics concerning the teenage life of Gene Simmons and post rare photos of Flora in Israel from the 1940’s. The response I got to the majority of these topics was anemic and I soon added the catchphrase ‘An Army of One’ to the logo as a good-natured, self-deprecating poke at myself. But I refused to give up. I believed in the power and the importance of what I was doing.”


THE BOOK

”Around this time, I had the incredible opportunity to meet Gene at a book signing. As I was trying to explain to him all that he had meant to me in my life, and that my mother had also been a child of survivors, my two-month old daughter began to cry. Gene immediately and lovingly turned his attentions to my daughter and entwined his pinky finger with hers. As my daughter stopped crying, Gene took me aside and gently explained to me that his mother Flora often used this same trick to get him to stop crying when he was a baby. This was obviously just one of the many special coping methods and survival techniques that Flora had passed on to Gene and his eyes lit up as he spoke of her. I felt so privileged to have Gene reveal to me one of Flora’s parenting secrets. I took it as a bit of a sign. I had to keep moving forward. I had to write this book.”
 
“One morning, it came to my attention that Nick Simmons was going to be signing his new comic book at ‘Meltdown Comics’ on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. I printed out a working copy of my book cover – listed my contact information on the reverse side, grabbed my camera, and headed out. Nick was shy but friendly and graciously signed his comic book with a shiny silver pen and posed with a picture of my two young children and myself. ‘Well, thank you for coming out’, his manager said. I mustered up my courage and clutched the printout I had brought with me.”

 
“I leaned in to speak a little more personally with Nick. The ‘Gene Simmons Family Jewels’ film crew had a camera pointed directly in our faces. ‘Nick, I am writing a book about your father’s childhood, and…….’ Before I could get the rest of my sentence out, Nick excitedly took the copy of the book cover from me and examined it with great interest. I finally broke in: ‘Well, because the book deals with your father’s childhood – I was hoping that I could interview Florence for the book. Is there anything you could do to help me to make that interview happen? All of my contact information is on the reverse side.’”
 
“Nick pondered my request for a moment and then said, smiling, ‘Wait…..you wanna talk to my Grandmother? Gosh, I don’t know if I can help you with that one.’ Nick again studied the paper I had given him. ‘I’ll tell you what. Can I take this home with me?’  ‘Absolutely’, I answered. ‘I’ll take this home with me. But I’m not promising anything…..’ We shook hands and I went on my way.

”Months passed and I heard nothing from Gene’s camp about the book. I was disappointed but continued to work on my project day and night. During this period, I discovered Facebook and decided to bring ‘The Flora Army’ to this new social networking juggernaut. Once again, I filled my page with information about Gene, his childhood, his mother, his Fanzine creations from the 60’s, the Holocaust, the history of Jews and the comic book industry, and personality traits in Children of the Holocaust. I posted sample chapter ‘vignettes’ from my book-in-progress and continued to try to educate others about the Holocaust and the heroic life of Flora Klein.”


 “When I logged on to Facebook one day, there was a mysterious message from a user named Adam Freeman announcing the following on my page: ‘The ‘Flora Army’ is going to be featured on Gene’s TV show next Sunday night.’ I thought for sure this individual was pulling my leg and I didn’t even respond to the post. A week went by and I kept seeing Adam Freeman’s message on my page. Highly skeptical, I finally responded with: ‘Do you mean Flora herself is going to appear on Gene’s TV show or the program is literally going to spotlight my ‘Flora Army’ Facebook page?’ ‘Yes, Gene’s TV show is going to showcase your ‘Flora Army’ site exclusively’. ‘How do you know this?’ ‘Because I’m the Executive Producer of Gene’s television show.’


 “At the conclusion of an extremely touching episode where Gene visited the Anne Frank home and spoke with a local family who had been touched by the Holocaust – photos and content from my ‘Flora Army’ site began to fill the screen as Gene’s family commented:


 
Nick: ‘Apparently there’s a Facebook fan page for Grandma called THE FLORA ARMY.’ 
 
Sophie: ‘It’s a group of dad’s fans who are now Grandma’s fans who have a Facebook page just for Grandma and everything Grandma does.’ 
 
Shannon: ‘I love the pictures.’ 
 
Nick: ‘And I guess they read Dad’s book, it tells about her and they say it’s honoring this courageous woman – and I was like…..really….I didn’t expect that, but ummm……..it’s cool!’

”Within hours, membership on ‘The Flora Army’ Facebook page shot up to 25,000 members. The next day Gene posted on his ‘Twitter’ account: ‘A kind thank you to all of you who are saying nice things about my Mother on ‘The Flora Army.’”


”Recently Gene Simmons was in the midst of visiting Israel; to the hospital where he was born, the Café where Flora once worked, to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. In recent press conferences – Gene has declared Israel, definitively, as his true home. After 61 years, it appears the little boy from Haifa has come full circle in his return to the Holy Land.”

”Events have come full circle in my life as well. It is my hope that both of my children grow to see their religion as something glorious and beautiful; to learn of the Holocaust without allowing it to define their entire notion of Judaism. It is my dream to educate and alert the next generation to the horrors of the Shoah so that such an atrocity is never permitted to occur again, to educate the next generation.”

“This book is about a mother and a son. Let their story of strength and survival inspire and their darkest tragedies move you to educate your children.”

LINKS:

FLORA ARMY

Gene Simmons: 60’s Fanzine Publisher

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Blast From The Past

August 17, 2011

Here are a selection of handbills (flyers) and posters and advertisements hyping some concerts I attended back in the 1970’s. If there is enough interest I’ll scrounge through some boxes and files and try and find more to scan and post. Some f-u-n memories looking at these! Click on images to enlarge!

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An AMAZING Teacher Calls It A Day

June 1, 2010

Pat Warner & MARK FOWKES are both retiring this week after 36 years at OHS.

I was recently informed that Mark Fowkes is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. I think it will be a sad day for Orrville High School when Mark Fowkes departs as the school district will be losing a fine teacher.

I just want to take this opportunity to acknowledge him being such a terrific teacher to me when I was in high school. Even though he came during my junior year I took several of his (English) classes and can honestly say I learned a tremendous amount. In fact, I remember taking one of his classes (Science Fiction) twice! Although I received no credit for it the second time I still signed up for the enjoyment and debate.

How he put up with all of us longhair, hippie, freak types is beyond me. They surely didn’t pay him enough!

And that was the kicker with Mark Fowkes.  Whether you had long hair (guilty) or short hair, black or white, hippie, jock or redneck, he treated everyone the same, with respect, understanding and lots and lots of patience!

The biggest thing though as I look back was his demeanor. He was always so encouraging, positive and forthright with all of us. As I look back and I had two teachers who made a significant impact on me, one in grade school (Jill Hyde at Apple Creek) and one in high school. Mark Fowkes was the one in high school. I will never forget how encouraging he was to me in my writing and whatever creative binge I happened to be on at the time.

He was only a couple years older than my pals and myself and we all liked him, he was never patronizing. I remember right before school let out in 1975 when myself and a couple others tried, in vain, to talk him into going to see the Rolling Stones at Cleveland Stadium with us. He declined, I like to think reluctantly, and all these years later as I think back it was probably one of the wisest career moves he could have made!  I don’t mean not seeing the Stones, I mean seeing the Stones with us!

I also vaguely recall his reaction (amazement) when my buddy Flash and myself purchased three entire rows of the Richfield Coliseum for the ’76 KISS concert (their Destroyer tour). I think I offered him a ticket and stated that he should feel lucky because the tickets we gave away for free were to ‘foxes’ (that’s 70’s-speak for attractive young ladies) and we were charging the ‘dudes’. He declined again, the reason lost to time and fading memories, but again, retrospectively, a likely wise career move on his part.

Another memory that has never left me was when I submitted a required poem in one of my creative writing classes. The teacher, who didn’t care for me likely because I had longhair and was a smartass, thought I plagiarized it because it was….’good’ (Believe me, I ain’t no poet!). Good ‘ol Mark Fowkes went to bat for me and told her straight out that it was all my work because I had worked on it in his classes and I had him read it several times before I submitted it. The Courier published it!

Even though I never made it to college due primarily to an early marriage and children I was able to pursue a career in writing, public relations, marketing and promotions in motorsports that ultimately saw me inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2006 along with numerous other awards and honors, including Media Member of the Year for five consectutive years by Racing America. I also had the opportunity to write for over a dozen national motorsports publications, write and produce a television show for three years, write, produce and co-host three radio programs with one being “national” and the chance to work with producers for over a year and then appear on a CNN special television program.

I also spent a few years as a features writer and columnist for the old Courier Crescent newspaper (in addition to freelancing to many other mainstream newspapers).

I owe all of this to Mark Fowkes and his encouragement 36 years ago. He was a motivator and always, always, always encouraging! I can sincerely say that my working life would have taken another direction without Mark Fowkes’ influence and encouragement. I have no complaints!

I had been published pre-Fowkes, but as I waffled about whether or not to try and get published in larger publications, he was the kick in the ass I needed at the time. He prodded, cajoled, encouraged and pushed.  Heeding his advice to go for it, in ’75 I became a features writer and columnist for The Journal, a Canadian tabloid devoted to popular culture. It was on after that.

Never one to have much confidence in myself, it was his encouragement and counsel that made me pursue my first love of writing; first in graphics oriented publications and then rock ‘n roll publications in addition to motorsports, which I pursued relentlessly upon getting married and starting a family.

Now ‘retired’, I am currently working on two books. The first has already been accepted. And I truly owe it to the inspiration and encouragement and infusion of confidence of Mark Fowkes all those years ago.

I just want to acknowledge the amazing impact and influence Mark Fowkes had on me that has carried through into my ‘old age’. He was always friendly, compassionate, sincere, encouraging and never patronizing to any of us. And I doubt he had a group of students who were as …’rambunctious’… as my pals and I were (it was the 70’s, after all)! I thank him for having patience with us!  Actually, God bless him for having patience with us!

He was not only one of the best damn teachers I ever had, he was also at the time a friend and a mentor. And I am willing to bet there are more of us out there that has similar stories.

Orrville High School is taking a hit, a loss, with his retirement and I regret my five grandsons won’t have the opportunity to learn from him. He is, and was, truly a gifted teacher.

Doc Lehman

Class of 1976

The famed Orrville bridge in ’76 that OHS senior paint each year. It didn’t stay this pristine for long – the graffiti bandits (guilty!) soon attacked!

More Orrville, Ohio and Orrville High School related posts on this website can be found here:

Power To The People, Baby! 

Where’s That Confounded Bridge?

‘Big Time’ Rock N Roll In A Small Town

Big Business Godzillas Local Landmark Theatre

Biology & Rock ‘N Roll ‘Literature’

I Liked Paul Lynde Before I ‘Met’ Him

My Last Rock Concert Promotion

My Mom Was On The Mike Douglas Show

With A Name Like Smucker’s The Beatles Have To Be Good!

DAMAGE: Ohio 70′s Bands

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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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My Wife’s Hobby

October 19, 2008

 

My wife actually has two hobbies with the first and most important being spending as much time as possible with her four (soon to be five!) grandsons. Her other hobby is collecting lunchboxes, both vintage and newer ones.  Her requirements are they must be metal lunch boxes and they must feature something from the world of popular culture. How many women do you know that has a couple dozen lunchboxes featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Hornet, Spiderman and other superheroes?

 

Among her collection (which now numbers just under 120) are lunch boxes devoted to I Dream Of Jeannie, The Archies, Bewitched, Beatles, Man From UNCLE, Lone Ranger, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Petticoat Junction, I Love Lucy, Elvis, Bettie Boop, Star Trek, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, KISS, the list goes on and on and on!

 

I never had a lunchbox as a kid. My Dad always laid out lunch money for the school cafeteria (two dimes for each of us as I recall) but I vividly recall going into stores as a kid with Mom & Dad to do school shopping and seeing rows and rows of the newly released lunchboxes just in time for the new school year. Seeing all those rows of colorful lunchboxes with superheroes and whatever was popular on TV was a sight to behold. I recall the local Mr. Wiggs department store in Wooster, OH having what seemed like thousands of the darn things back then.

 

About ten years ago my wife picked up a lunchbox (I forget which was her first, she isn’t here right now to ask) and it was on! She is still buying them on occasion. Someday they will all go to our grandkids (you don’t think we’ll leave anything to our kids, do you?)

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(Richfield) Coliseum Rock(ed)!

August 17, 2008
The Richfield Coliseum 1974 - 1994 20 years of the greatest rock 'n roll.

The Richfield Coliseum 1974 – 1994 20 years of the greatest rock ‘n roll!

 Back in the early 70’s for the most part all of us concert-goers went to see the big name acts at relatively smaller venues, like the Akron Civic Theatre, Cleveland Public Hall, Music Hall, Canton Civic Center and others. With the advent of arena rock concerts nationwide northeast Ohio got their own when in 1974 the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, OH, halfway between Akron & Cleveland and the brainchild of businessman and NBA franchise owner Nick Mileti, opened for business and served as home for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, WHA’s Cleveland Crusaders, NHL’s Cleveland Barons, MISL’s Cleveland Force, MISL & NPSL’s Cleveland Crunch, the IHL’s Cleveland Lumberjacks, and the AFL’s Cleveland Thunderbolts.
 
Music, particularly rock ‘n roll, figured prominently into the mix thanks to an arrangement with Ohio super-promoters Belkin Productions. The first musical performance to open the Richfield Coliseum was Frank Sinatra. The first rock concert was held soon after with Elton John headlining on November 4, 1974. From there on out during the next two decades it was a non-stop carousel of nearly ever and any band that had a tour bus coming to play the ‘big house’ (seating 22,000).
 
It was a big, big place but, and others may disagree, for the most part the acoustics weren’t that bad (except anytime Aerosmith played). And me and my pals, and dates, and whoever else, were there for the best bands. For instance: KISS, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Who, J. Geils Band, Queen, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson, Rod Stewart, Thin Lizzy, Tubes, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Foghat, Starz, Sammy Hagar, Boston, Ted Nugent, Babys, Rick Derringer, Angel, Peter Frampton, Black Oak Arkansas, Journey, Michael Stanley Band, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Mother’s Finest, Heart, REO Speedwagon, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, and the list goes on and on.
 
Most of my experiences were all positive. The police and security were pretty cool as long as you weren’t obvious or just a dumbass. There were plenty of restrooms with the mandatory pools of piss-on-the-floor of course and lots of eye candy and easy access to seats.
 
And you also had the opportunity over the years to see certain favorite bands multiple times.
 
Some of my memories of the Richfield Coliseum:
 
A big brouhaha immediately after the 1974 Elton John concert erupted when Richfield Zoning Commissioner Richard Crofoot went ballistic after seeing someone light up a joint during Sir Elton’s performance. He attempted to pass legislation to ban rock concerts at the Coliseum. He failed. It made all the local newspapers and regional and national rock publications.

My cousin Sue had two extra tickets to the Eagles in 1975 so I snatched them up for myself and a date. We ended up sitting next to my cousin and her date, a young fellow who eventually became a Mayor, State Representative and State Senator here in Ohio. (Dan Fogelberg, who recently passed, was opening act).


KISS mania had taken hold at high schools all across Ohio and everyone had KISS Alive and Destroyer. We hardcore KISS fans had everything they had done of course. For the March 9, 1976 KISS/Artful Dodger appearance at the Richfield Coliseum Flash and I went to the Ticketmaster location at the Belden Village Mall and bought three complete rows of seats. One row was around six rows below the other two rows. So we went to Orrville and sold most of them (at cost) to our pals (so we could control who we sat with). I had people in school (my senior year) who never spoke to me coming up asking if I had any tickets left and pleading for one. The power! A few tickets we gave away to some very charming young ladies and we kept two each. (I’d tell you the ‘details’ of that night but I have five grandchildren who may read this someday.)

Led Zeppelin on January 24, 1975 that saw a mini-riot erupt and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of broken window glass by a group outside who were unable to get tickets. That made the papers.

The Who on December 9, 1975. Nuff’ said.

I think I saw Aerosmith there at least four times at the Coliseum and only once was the sound working right and you could actually hear the band. Guess they were just jinxed there.
 
After a Ted Nugent/J.Geils Band show Bug, Mott & myself shaking hands with Peter Wolfe. As we came out of the Coliseum we walked by a couple limos and in the back of the first one with the window down was Peter Wolfe sitting between two lovely ladies with a drink in hand. We stopped, told him, “You guys kicked ass!” His response? “I know!” He slapped us each a high five and off we went.

I remember the Foghat/Starz show on February 20, 1978 because my pal Rog caught a flying drumstick from Foghat drummer Roger Earl. The two bands always kicked ass live.
 
I remember not expecting much out of Rod Stewart on November 4, 1977 because he didn’t have Faces with him (they were killer in ’75 at the Stadium). Wrong. Stewart kicked ass that night, had everyone out of their seats and had the audience n the palm of his hand.

Led Zeppelin on April 27 and April 28, 1977. Tickets were available via mail order only with a minimum number of tickets per order. So Flash and I got our money orders prepared and each ordered the maximum number allowed for both nights. We went to the Richfield Post Office and at midnight of the date orders could be postmarked we dropped our order in the mail (along with probably 100 others lined up). We got lucky and each got four tickets for both nights. First night was with dates, second night with buddies. The April 27 performance is a huge bootleg bestseller on the black market. Full details on this night can be found here: https://doclehman.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/

New Year’s Eve 1977 was celebrated at the Richfield Coliseum seeing Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and Derringer. A friendly law enforcement officer stopped us on the way home and inquired about our health and sent us on our way after promises of getting to Orrville ASAP and staying there. Derringer owned the night.
 
I remember taking three or four people for their first Angel concert on March 8, 1978 and them being blown away by Angel’s stage show.

I remember the January 8, 1978 KISS concert at the Richfield Coliseum because it took 20-25 minutes to get there and after the show we went to the car to be greeted by a mountain of snow. We had two blizzards that year (the second one, even bigger, in March) and the night of KISS was the first one. It took nearly three hours to get home, dodging sliding cars going backwards down Route 21 past us as I kept the hammer down on the Cutlass trying to get up those big hills with what seemed like five feet of snow and more coming down. We made it back to Orrville and were snowed in for three days.

I remember seeing Alice Cooper again later that year in ’78 because that was the first concert my older sister Cheryl had ever been to (we broke her in with that one!). That was May 5 and Jay Ferguson opened. A good time was had by all, as is the case anytime you see Alice Cooper.

Boston and Sammy Hagar on my birthday in 1978. Boston was good but Sammy laid the smackdown.

In 1978 went to see Black Sabbath and Van Halen. Had heard maybe one or two Van Halen songs on the radio at that point and none of us that went gave them much thought. We were there for Sabbath. Result: Van Halen whipped Black Sabbath performance-wise and musically like a bastard redheaded stepchild.

New Year’s Eve 1978 at the Richfield Coliseum: Bruce Springsteen. Nuff’ said.
 
Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson on September 22, 1979. One of my favorite concerts at the Coliseum. Too many reasons to list. But what a night!

Ian Hunter & the late, great Mick Ronson

Ian Hunter & the late, great Mick Ronson

There’s more, lots more (Tubes, Babys), but you get the idea. I’d like to hear from others about their experiences at the Richfield Coliseum.


 I know I saw well over 100 bands there during the 70’s and very early 80’s. A couple performances I missed that I always regretted were not seeing George Harrison (’74) and Paul McCartney (’76) on their respective tours because tickets were mail order and my orders didn’t get picked. I also went as far as making plans to buy tickets to see Elvis in 1977. One of my cousins saw him at the Coliseum in ’75 and convinced me I had to see him at least once. But right before the Cleveland tickets went on sale he died.
 
Lots of good memories there and lots of good bands came through many times. I think I saw KISS there four or five times, Aerosmith the same, Alice Cooper four times, Fleetwood Mac four times, the list goes on….
 
With the opening of Gund Arena in Cleveland the Richfield Coliseum was doomed. It shut down in 1994 and in 1999 was demolished and the property returned to woodland and under stewardship of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  You can find more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richfield_Coliseum  


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Akron Civic Theatre – Best Damn Rock Concert Venue

July 31, 2008

The 1970’s were my heyday of attending rock concerts. I went to tons of them throughout that decade and one of my favorite venues was the Akron Civic Theatre on Main Street in Akron, Ohio. The Akron Civic Theatre was, and is, a historic landmark theatre (built in 1925) and during the 1960’s and 1970’s rock fans were treated to some pretty tasty concerts.  Holding barely over 2,000 people (counting the balcony) the atmosphere was second to none (and the smell of ‘smoke’ was thick and permeated the historic grand old dame).
 
I started attending concerts at the Akron Civic Theatre around 1972 and over the years I saw such bands and performers at that intimate theatre like Suzi Quatro, Bruce Springsteen (a four hour show in ’75!), Glass Harp, Sammy Hagar, Starz, Artful Dodger, Foghat, Bad Company, Mahogany Rush, Triumph, Montrose, Todd Rundgren, BB King, Michael Stanley Band, Robin Trower, Sweet, Babys, Blue Oyster Cult and many others. I remember seeing Journey there three or four times, the first couple prior to Steve Perry joining.


One of the best shows I saw there was one of the first I attended, the December 19, 1972 Mott The Hoople concert with Fleetwood Mac opening. What an experience inside the Civic that night! I became a lifelong Mott The Hoople fan after that concert and immediately went out and bought all the albums I didn’t already have plus a couple imports.


In 1973 one of the highlights for me was seeing the J. Geils Band again after seeing them the previous year. They were even better and had the house rockin’! Lots of Orrville hometown people there that night.
 
One of my favorite concerts of all time at the Akron Civic Theatre was when KISS appeared there on April 8, 1975. Myself, Flash, Bug and Rick all went and this was the first time Bug and Rick saw the band. We sat in the third row, center stage and the whole evening was just heavy metal bliss. As you can see by the advertisement posted here the Heavy Metal Kidz opened the shows that tour (Flash and I and two dates saw them at The Palace in Cleveland a couple days later as shown in the ad) but at the Akron Civic Theatre that night Rush was added onto the bill.


Bug and Rick both commented after Rush’s performances that KISS had a challenge ahead of them trying to outdo Rush. Then KISS came on. KISS saw, they conquered and left the theatre victorious. Basically, after the show, Bug and Rick were, ‘Rush who?’. They became KISS Army members that night.
 
One cool thing about that night, which I only discovered a couple months ago, was that future KISS drummer Eric Singer (from Cleveland) was there that night as well and had front row seats! He was all of 17 years old. If he only knew what lay ahead for him! (Currently Eric Singer, still a part of KISS, is on tour with Alice Cooper). Who knows, the way those doobies were being passed up and down the isles maybe we shared a toke on one.


Another good one that year was on November 19, 1975 with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. I saw them again in Cleveland but that night at Akron Harvey was insane. He lived up to his reputation, we’ll put it that way.

Another highlight at the Akron Civic was on December 10 when Artful Dodger headlined. The band was great, the whole night was perfect and a lot of it had to do with the company I was keeping that night. Nuff said!
 
I’ll never forget those nights at the Akron Civic Theatre. Some nights it seemed like every rocker from Orrville was there. Akron used to really rock in the 70’s and we’d go to the Civic and the theatre at the University of Akron for shows and would often make trips up to visit Arsenic & Old Lace, a killer record shop and head shop where we often bought concert tickets.


That KISS concert memory came back to me twenty years later when attending Daytona International Speedway for the first time for a NASCAR race. The sheer force of the cars coming off turn four and down the front straight as you stand along the fence, at 200 MPH plus, is incredible with the pounding and vibrations against your chest so very evident and exhilarating. It was the first time I felt such a powerful force of noise physically since that April 8, 1975 night at the Akron Civic Theatre when KISS’ sound system beat the hell out of us. I can vividly remember the shockwave pounding on my chest from that stack of Marshalls and all those pyro explosions.
 
Damn, I miss those days!
 
Visit: http://www.akroncivic.com

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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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