Kiss to live on as virtual band after final gig
Kiss gave a glimpse into their future as a virtual band at their “final ever” concert after unveiling digital avatars created by the team behind ABBA Voyage.
The American rock icons debuted the technology during the encore of their retirement show at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 2 December, which was livestreamed worldwide on pay-per-view.
Their 8ft “superhero” avatars – Demon, Starchild, Catman and Spaceman – were designed by George Lucas’ San Francisco-based Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and financed by Pophouse Entertainment, which was co-founded by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus.
“This is the sneak peek as the band crosses over from the physical world to the digital,” Grady Cofer, visual effects supervisor at ILM, tells Fast Company. “We want to give fans a sense of the many forms this band could take in the future.”
In a video posted in the wake of Saturday’s swansong, Kiss singer Paul Stanley said: “The band will never stop because we don’t own the band. The fans own the band, the world owns the band.”
“We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamt of before”
“We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamt of before,” added bassist Gene Simmons. “The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before.”
While Thierry Coup, ex-chief creative officer at Universal Destinations & Experiences, has been hired as the virtual show’s creative director, Pophouse CEO Per Sundin says where it goes from here is yet to be finalised.
“We’re going to figure it out after the tour,” says Sundin. “Is it a Kiss concert in the future? Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story, an adventure?”
The 50-year-old band’s longtime manager Doc McGhee hinted at the avatar plans in a career-spanning interview with IQ earlier this year.
“2024 will bring something new and something that the business has never seen before,” he said. “Everybody should really look forward to what is going to come. With the technology that we have, I think you’re going to see this manifest into something completely crazy – a mind-blowing experience.”
“If you are an artist, you can create your legacy in a way you never could before”
Kiss, who initially announced their retirement in 2000, began their 250-show End of the Road Tour in Vancouver, Canada in January 2019. The group will also live on through other ventures including a Las Vegas museum, cruises, and a forthcoming movie and cartoon.
The smash-hit ABBA Voyage virtual concert residency has created a new model for legendary artists since debuting to widespread acclaim in 2022, reportedly grossing more than $2 million (€1.6m) a week.
Held at the purpose-built 3,000-cap ‘ABBA Arena’ at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park under the direction of producers Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson and director Baillie Walsh, the £140m (€164m) show has brought the Swedish group back to the stage in avatar form, supported by a 10-piece live band.
According to Bloomberg, ABBA Voyage has achieved a 99% occupancy rate with an average ticket price of around £85 (€100) and discussions have taken place to expand the production to cities including Las Vegas, New York, Singapore and Sydney,
“If you are an artist, you can create your legacy in a way you never could before,” said Sundin. “This is such a success. We already have been talking to some artists that really want to do this.”
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KISS to livestream final concert on PPV
KISS have announced their final ever concert will be livestreamed worldwide on pay-per-view.
The legendary American rock band will bring the curtain down on their 50-year career with the show at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 2 December.
The show, which will be broadcast on PPV.com, will begin at 8pm EST and will cost $39.99 in the US and Canada and $19.99 outside North America.
The group, who initially announced their retirement in 2000, began their End of the Road tour almost five years ago in Vancouver, Canada. The run has encompassed 13 tour legs and 253 shows.
KISS previously livestreamed their 2020 Goodbye concert on New Year’s Eve 2020, filmed at Dubai’s Atlantis hotel.
Meanwhile, the band’s longtime manager Doc McGhee has joined the advisory board of eResonate Media Corporation, which is billed as “the first live entertainment social network”.
“With the technology we have, I think you’re going to see something truly amazing for the music industry”
eResonate aims to “significantly boost revenue and engagement” by ensuring that venues and performers receive all generated revenue from their eResonate live broadcast performances. The company is seeking to bridge what it calls the “current annual live music industry revenue gap of less than $25 billion” by providing access to over $300bn in digital and television advertising revenue.
“With the technology we have, I think you’re going to see something truly amazing for the music industry,” says McGhee.
“Having known Doc since my MTV days, working with him to deliver compelling live entertainment excites me,” adds eResonate CEO Jeffrey Yapp. “We couldn’t hope for a better partner and confirmation of our business model from a more substantial industry figure than Doc McGhee.”
Subscribers can click here to revisit IQ‘s career-spanning 2023 feature on McGhee.
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Kiss sued over death of guitar tech
The family of a long-serving Kiss guitar tech who died after contracting Covid-19 while on tour have launched a lawsuit against the band, alleging negligence and wrongful death.
Francis Stueber, 53, who had worked with the group for more than two decades, passed away in hospital in October 2021 after being quarantined in a hotel room in Detroit, US for two days.
The lawsuit names Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, their manager Doc McGhee, promoter Live Nation and hotel chain Marriott International as defendants, according to documents seen by Rolling Stone.
“The failure to enforce or have adequate Covid-19 policies or procedures caused a Covid-19 outbreak amongst band members and tour personnel,” claims the suit.
“As a direct and proximate result of the dangerous condition created by defendants, decedent suffered fatal injuries and plaintiffs suffered damages.
“Defendants… breached their duty to plaintiffs by their negligent production, operation, inspection, supervision, management and control”
“Defendants… breached their duty to plaintiffs by their negligent production, operation, inspection, supervision, management and control over The End of the Road Tour that ultimately resulted in the death of decedent.”
The band, Live Nation and Marriott are yet to respond publicly to the lawsuit.
Speaking to RS at the time, three crew members alleged The End of the World Tour’s Covid-safe measures were insufficient. “Every day during the shows, we weren’t tested,” claimed one roadie. “It’s horrible that Fran passed, and it’s horrible if this is our protocol just for us to tour.”
Kiss, who said they were “profoundly heartbroken” by Stueber’s death, issued a statement denying the claims, insisting their safety protocols “met, but most often exceeded, federal, state, and local guidelines”.
“Ultimately this is still a global pandemic and there is simply no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk,” the statement added. “If certain crew chose to go out to dinner on a day off, or have beers at a local bar after the show, and did so without a mask or without following protocols, there is little that anyone can do to stop that. Particularly when many of our tour markets did not have any state or local mask mandates in place.”
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Kiss and tell: The Doc McGhee story
As one of the music industry’s most legendary artist managers, what sets Doc McGhee apart from that very small group of peers is the fact that he is universally revered and respected by everyone he does business with. Currently celebrating 40 years of his company, McGhee Entertainment, here he tells Gordon Masson about his path to the top and his future plans for his “QTR”…
If the old adage is true about making your passion your job and you’ll never work a day in your life, then Doc McGhee hasn’t been working his ass off for the best part of half a century.
Obsessed by music, Doc’s first taste of the live business came courtesy of his grandmother, whose restaurant bar would regularly see big bands gracing the establishment. “My first introduction to music that I really got into was The Ed Sullivan Show,” he says. “Whenever they would have a musical talent on one of the shows, I would make sure I watched it, because at an early age of like, 12 or 13, I was playing guitar, so I gravitated toward music from there. And then when The Beatles came out, I was just hooked. I didn’t know much about the business side of things. But the music side, I was very deeply into.”
And Doc’s guitar skills were better than most. “Everybody seems to have some story of success, ten minutes of fame… or four seconds of fame,” says Doc. “When I was 16, we had a record deal with Mercury Records – a singles deal back then.
It was 1966, after the Beatles came out.
“We’d been playing together as a band, The Rising Four, since about the age of 13: me and another guy and two brothers on bass and drums. We practised at their house because their father was in a jazz band, and they had a rehearsal room – he was a big shot at AT&T. It was fun.”
“In truth, I just wanted to hang around the recording studios because I was still an aspiring guitar player”
Growing up on the southside of Chicago, Doc never had any other aspiration but to be involved in music, in some shape or form. And his determination to get a foot in the door quickly paid off, courtesy of a Hollywood exec taking a chance on the music-obsessed teenager.
“Bob Stirling was in the film business, but he loved music, and he had some songwriters on the payroll, so he hired me to try to help him work with his writers to produce some music for his movies. The bottom line is that he didn’t know what to do with them, so that’s why he gave me the job.”
That first step also involved Doc relocating to Florida – a state where he still has a home to this day. And with a fairly flexible remit, the job also allowed him to develop some entrepreneur- ial skills while honing his ability to sniff out an opportunity.
“Basically, I’d just go after stuff,” he explains. “A lot of it just felt like I was waiting around, doing research, and knocking on doors. But in truth, I just wanted to hang around the recording studios because I was still an aspiring guitar player.”
Indeed, having had a modicum of success with a one-single record deal, Doc had some credentials and a basic understanding of how to make a record. “I was a fucking professional,” he laughs. “We’d recorded on a four track, so it was the simplest time: guitar, bass, drums, and you could overdub a couple of things. And luckily, I was able to keep up with developments over the following years when recordings became 16 tracks, then 32, etc.”
Nothin’ To Lose
Quite how Doc made the switch from general music biz dogsbody to artist manager remains a mystery, even to him. But he pinpoints a fellow Chicagoan as the catalyst.
“I’m not really sure how that went, but I was helping out these writers, and then I came across Barry Mraz, who was an engineer from Chicago, so I started helping him out, too. I guess managing means you just help people out – I was kind of facilitating some stuff for Barry – and everything else kind of fell into place.”
“Ahmet’s theory was that you have to be the dumbest guy in the room, but by surrounding yourself with smart people, they’ll help you deliver what you want to achieve”
Recalling how he started his self-taught journey, Doc continues, “Once somebody writes a song, then you have to do something with it. When you hear something on the radio, you figure out that it’s got to get to the radio somehow; so how does it get there? That prompts you to go looking for independent promotion people; you find marketing people; and you just talk to people to figure it out. I didn’t know any of this, cos nobody taught me how to do it. But I quickly figured out the steps, and what it boils down to is that your biggest asset is finding people.”
Citing the advice of record company mogul Ahmet Ertegun, Doc recalls a story from 1977 when they were socialising at Elaine’s in New York.
“You never want to ask people what to do, but you could ask ‘How did you build Atlantic Records?’ Ahmet puts his drink down, places his hands behind his back, puts his head down, and runs into this guy at the bar, knocking his drink out of his hand. And then he turned around and ran headfirst into another guy. ‘You know what I did?’ he said. ‘I run into geniuses.’
“That’s the concept that I adopted. Ahmet’s theory was that you have to be the dumbest guy in the room, but by surrounding yourself with smart people, they’ll help you deliver what you want to achieve.”
“The sad truth of the matter is that nobody would hire me, so I had to start a company”
Doc names Ertegun as one of his biggest influences. “He definitely was my mentor,” he says. “On the record side and marketing and promotion side and everything else. It was definitely Ahmet. On the management side, it was David Krebs. He was the only American manager I knew the name of that was big enough – he had Aerosmith and Humble Pie and everybody else.”
Doc’s definition of an artist manager is interesting. “When people would ask an artist if they could speak to their management, they would get directed to me, and I guess that’s how I got the title. Unfortunately, you don’t have ranks for managers, otherwise I would have said I’m a private manager or private first-class manager or now I’m a colonel manager. So, it’s a strange job in that we don’t have levels to describe people’s ability.”
When it comes to the launch of his company, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, Doc notes that his straightforward approach to business means he’s never had to fold operations or rename any corporate endeavour. “The sad truth of the matter is that nobody would hire me, so I had to start a company,” he says. “Looking back, I had to say I was from somewhere: I couldn’t just say, ‘I’m Doc McGee.’ Also, you really don’t want to have contractual stuff under your name because of the liability. So, the simplest idea was to set up McGhee Entertainment. The logo was drawn by the wife of one of the kids I grew up with, and it’s never changed.”
Doc’s reputation as an industry mogul also had its roots in those early days around Miami and his ability to persuade musicians to collaborate on interesting new projects.
Detailing his role in the formation of the band Niteflyte, Doc tells IQ, “I ran into Hamish Stuart and Steve Ferrone from The Average White Band, and I introduced them to this 16-year-old kid called Howard Johnson and another guy, Sandy Torano, from Cuba, and with that line-up we formed Niteflyte. They got signed to Ariola and released a song called If You Want It, which was a hit.
“It was those musicians who kind of walked me through the backstage of life: they introduced me to a ton of other artists in Miami – the Bee Gees, and everybody else. It was a bit like the 1970s in Laurel Canyon because everybody kind of hung out together.”
“I haven’t had a bad decade – all of them are really great in their own right”
While Doc is universally acknowledged as one of the industry’s pioneering artist managers, he also enjoys a global reputation as one of entertainment’s greatest storytellers and raconteurs, with hundreds of anecdotes from his experience of working with some of the biggest egos in rock. But that jovial status does not overawe his remarkable achievements in management.
Under his guidance, his artist clients have sold more than half a billion records, thanks to a roster that boasts some of rock’s biggest acts including Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Scorpions, Hootie & the Blowfish and, of course, KISS, while Doc’s expertise has also benefited the careers of numerous solo acts.
Another incidental claim to fame is his part in ending the Cold War. In 1989, working with Russian musician Stas Namin, Doc was given permission to organise the Moscow Music Peace Festival at Central Lenin Stadium – the first time the USSR had allowed hard rock acts to perform in the capital city. The event featured Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Cinderella, Gorky Park, Nuance, Brigada S, and Scorpions – the latter of whom were inspired to write their biggest career hit, Wind of Change.
“I haven’t had a bad decade – all of them are really great in their own right,” says Doc. “I guess the most sensationalised is the 80s because it was so decadent and so crazy. And I had so much success with it, so I think that the 80s would probably be more my defining kind of moments.”
His success has also delivered recognition on the big- and small-screen.
He played a central role in reality TV series, Supergroup, where he shepherded the likes of Scott Ian, Ted Nugent, Evan Seinfeld, Sebastian Bach, and Jason Bonham, while the general public also saw him feature regularly in – a TV series that chronicled when he, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley owned the Los Angeles KISS football franchise.
On the big screen, he was portrayed by David Costabile in The Dirt, which dramatised some of the heyday excesses of Mötley Crüe in the 80s, while younger viewers experienced a very different version of his persona in Scooby-Doo! And Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery, when Doc provided the voiceover for his parodied character, Chip McGhoo.
“You want to work with acts who are driven to become the biggest band in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to do that with a bunch of people”
That personal recognition is a by-product of his skills in building long-term careers for his artists, but in atypical fashion, he says that he was “a good handicapper” because he was able to choose the right horses to back. “You want to work with acts who are driven to become the biggest band in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to do that with a bunch of people,” says Doc. “They want to perform in front of 20,000 screaming kids, and my job has always been to get them from where they are to that arena level.”
When it comes to regrets, Doc does not dwell on the past, preferring to concentrate on the future and upcoming projects. However, he does admit, “The one band that I missed that I really wanted to work with was Rage Against the Machine. Other than that, everybody else was pretty much taken. I wasn’t around for Pearl Jam, which I would have loved, but I never went after anybody. I have a small company, and I never wanted to have world domination, and I realised I had more acts I could work with anyway.
“The most we ever looked after at once, I think, was seven, but that was crazy. We had 45 staff all over the place. Actually, we had more than that because we had writers and actresses and everybody. But nothing was great, and I realised that you cannot do everything. Actually, in truth, some people can: I guess I can’t. But once I understood that, I figured out what I was good at. And it turned out to be just my part, just my section of life. So, I focussed on that, and I’ve tried to be the best at what I’m good at.”
Nowadays, McGhee Entertainment has a staff of four, and Doc is a lot happier. “Now I can be creative, and I can do this, rather than be split across 75 different things – here’s a photo session for The Fucksticks… Who cares? I was spending hours on stuff I shouldn’t even be talking about in the first place, so one of the best decisions I ever made was to rein that shit in.”
While Doc is first to concede that keeping up with technology is important in the 21st century music business, he also highlights that employing tried-and-tested methods to achieve success should not be discarded.
“The music industry is always evolving, and you have to accept that. Just because I don’t understand the way they market and promote people today, doesn’t mean it’s wrong,” he admits. “However, the major thing I cannot comprehend is that I cannot see many musicians and artists that are going to be here for 50 years like the acts I’ve been working on for my whole life.
“I don’t look for expendable things. I don’t look for one-hit things. And I don’t look for market share. But the business has just changed dramatically with technology and that has consequences – I know of at least eight or nine songwriters in Nashville who have left writing music because there’s no money in it, so we’re definitely losing some of the potential Bob Dylan’s of the world, because they’re not going to be able to develop or have a platform that’s economically feasible for them to stay in that business. And we’ll end up with pretty much what we’re experiencing now, which is a TikTok generation of throwaway musical acts.”
“There’s a lot of useless information around these days. I liken it to visiting the Galapagos Islands: I learned 500 bits of useless information every day, and I loved going there, but I’d never do it again”
Noting that technology, when used strategically, can accelerate fanbase growth, Doc opines, “It all comes down to the fact that artistry is about word-of-mouth – a feeling that people get where they want to experience things. What has changed is that although we now have a bigger mouth, how we use that mouth doesn’t always benefit the act.”
And recalling the premature excitement that the industry went through when the digital age elevated data analysts up the chain of command, Doc observes, “It started 25 years ago with data people claiming, ‘We can tell you where your fans are.’ I mean, wow. It was interesting, but did it mean you could reach those fans? Fuck no. Could you cultivate them? No.
“There’s a lot of useless information around these days. I liken it to visiting the Galapagos Islands: I learned 500 bits of useless information every day, and I loved going there, but I’d never do it again.”
Instead, Doc harks back to a proven formula that has been connecting with teenagers since the 1950s: rebellion and danger.
“In 82 or 83 when I was signing Bon Jovi, I brought them five Van Halen books and told them, ‘This is who you could be – you can take over from Van Halen because they will implode.’ It’s the reason we chose a two-word band name: Bon Jovi. It was modelled on Van Halen.
“Then I showed them two magazines – People magazine, which had a photo of an artist outside his house with his dog and his BMW car; then a picture of David Lee Roth on the cover of Rolling Stone with three girls half-naked sitting on the side of the bed looking dishevelled, with a half-eaten pizza on the floor, with the headline, ‘I used to have a drug problem, but now I can afford it.’ What were the kids going to gravitate to? The BMW or David Lee Roth? That’s never changed. It’s why hip-hop took over from rock – Death Row Records connected with the kids because those guys were literally living life on death row. It was dangerous, and it was exciting.”
“Nothing great comes from the middle, yet all our industry seems to do is focus on that middle. Instant gratification seems to have taken over”
He continues, “It’s not just music. In today’s world, who’s exciting in acting? Johnny Depp and all the fucking crazy fringe people. In golf, John Daly is still one of the biggest draws because he’s different. Nothing great comes from the middle, yet all our industry seems to do is focus on that middle. Instant gratification seems to have taken over. There are no record labels that offer three-album deals any more – some don’t even have three-single deals.
“I’m an old-school analytics guy, which means if you sell records, people want to see you, so they buy tickets. With streaming you can have a billion hits, but you can’t sell 50 fucking tickets. The correlation between what people are doing and the other doesn’t mean anything. There’s no connection with the fans. And the people who do come up in this generation and become the stars – Adele, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran – they are back to old school because their songs are being played on the radio and they are outperforming to their fans. They will be around for a long time because those are the type of people that will succeed.
“With the bands I’ve worked with, I’ve never thought of marketing trends. It’s very simple for me. If you have the best fucking band in the world, people will come and see you. And if you don’t, they will go somewhere else to see the best band. It’s not fucking complicated.”
In addition to being legendary showmen, KISS have made fortunes from lines of merchandise that other acts can only dream of. Asked how he and the band come up with product ideas, Doc jokes, “It’s really well thought out, and it’s really high tech. What we do is we find stuff that people like to buy, and we put the KISS name on it… People get buried, so what do we do? We sell them KISS caskets!”
You’re All I Need
Speak to anyone who has dealt with Doc McGhee over the decades and without fail, every single person will repeat one word: loyalty.
The man himself confesses that most of his confidantes come from the rock & roll world. “I have a lot of close friends in the business – a lot of whom go back 50 years. But then, some of the new promoters I use are terrific. Jose Muniz in Brazil, for instance,” he says.
“I’ve worked with some really shitty promoters, but that’s how I learned, so they were important in the grand scheme of things”
“Ossy Hoppe is one of my best friends in life. Ron Delsener doesn’t know where he’s at, but he’s a fucking great guy, and I love working with him. Rick Franks is one of my closest friends, even though he works for the evil empire at Live Nation these days – but like lots of other Live Nation folk, he’s a great guy, and he knows what he’s talking about. But most of my friends are in the business: Mitch Rose, Rob Light, Rod MacSween – I don’t think I’d sign a band in Europe without Rod. He’s never let me down in 40-plus years.
“If I didn’t have friends in the business, I’d be pretty fucking lonely. This business is a lifestyle, and I could not do it if I wasn’t hands-on. I could never sit in my office like Fred fucking Flintstone: Yabba dabba doo and clock out. I go on the road with the bands because that’s what my job is about.”
Indeed, while some of his best friends are the live music industry’s true pioneers, Doc is quick to also acknowledge others who did not exactly set the world on fire. “I’ve worked with some really shitty promoters, but that’s how I learned, so they were important in the grand scheme of things,” he says. “Contrary to what many people these days believe, everything is not a popularity contest. It’s about who is doing the right job, and it took me years to understand that if you didn’t have it, then you’re never going to have it… a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then, but the track record isn’t there.”
I Finally Found My Way
Keen to impart advice to the next generation of artist managers, Doc harks back to the lesson that Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun taught him. “Success is about finding the right people to do the job. For me, it was the Barbara Skydels of the world, the people that ran the world at that time: Frank Barcelona, Ahmet, Doug Morris, Dick Asher, David Geffen, Elliot Roberts, Howard Kaufman, Irving Azoff – they were the people that helped make my career.
“Nowadays, people are not allowed to make mistakes but that’s mostly because they don’t put themselves in a position to make a mistake in case they get fired. In our blame society, where everybody’s a fucking victim, nobody will make a decision. That wasn’t how it was back in the 70s and 80s where people like Doug Morris, when he was at Skid Row, would make a decision and everyone would follow it – right or wrong.
“That’s the advice I’d give to any young managers coming through the business – be brave enough to throw out all the rules so that you can go after what you believe works best for your artists. And be prepared to fight for it. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong.”
“Representing an artist is just like any other relationship in life: you can’t get along with everybody all of the time, forever”
Addressing the issue of losing clients, Doc tells IQ, “Representing an artist is just like any other relationship in life: you can’t get along with everybody all of the time, forever. There’s a million different reasons why things happen, and that relationship might end, but I take ownership and every time I’ve lost an artist, I know why. I know what I did.
“Whenever it’s gone wrong, the relationship has fallen apart because of some sort of lack of communication. Honesty and transparency [are] the absolute best [things] in the world. You need to acknowledge and accept that you’re going to make mistakes. You just hope to make more good decisions than bad. If I make more bad than good, then I get fired, that’s for sure.
“It took a long time, but I eventually learned the concept of saying, ‘Hey, I fucking don’t like you!’ It’s tricky, but you have to forget about the money and figure out, ‘Can I do the job for you, am I having fun doing this with you, or are you just a pain in my ass?’”
And as for some of the flawed characters he’s had to represent over the years, he diplomatically comments, “Logic never comes into play with illogical people, so sometimes you’ve got to be a bit more crazy than them.”
“What I have witnessed over the years is that there are managers and there are damagers”
As for mentoring others, he takes a philosophical viewpoint.
“The mind is a fucked-up thing because everybody believes their own shit,” he states. “But because you might be successful in a certain way, you’ll find people who look up to you and want to know why and how and all that kind of stuff. It doesn’t drive me, and I don’t dwell on it, but I hope that what I’ve done in my career has inspired people and made them consider a different way of looking at things to help them get through. I get letters and emails from people thanking me, and that’s just really nice to hear and very kind of them to say. But as much as I like helping people, I believe it’s better for them to experience it and go do it.”
He adds, “It’s not that hard to work hard; it’s not that hard to take chances – for me, at least. But I’m on the fucking spectrum… I’m out there somewhere, fishing in deeper water,” he laughs.
While his legacy is cemented in the rock genre, Doc discloses that he did consider becoming involved in hip-hop when it took over rock’s mantle. “Hip-hop is just so big: it’s a culture; it’s this world of fashion where everything moves, so I never really got into it because I was never a viable candidate.” But he reveals, “Tom Whalley and I talked about me doing Tupac; and I met with Sean Combs, who is a very smart guy. Those types of people were very interesting to me.”
Recognising his own limitations, however, is one of the traits that sets Doc McGhee apart from many others in the music business. “What I have witnessed over the years is that there are managers and there are damagers,” he says. “To put it another way, there are doctors that heal people, and there are doctors who kill people. Anyone can say they are a manager – we’ve all seen the guy at a record company who loses his gig and decides he’s going to be a manager. Yeah, good luck with that! It’s like shooting baskets into your driveway, making a few and saying, ‘I’m gonna go to the NBA.’ You’re gonna get your ass handed to you… everyone’s a bull rider till someone opens a gate. It’s a very select type of person that can actually do that.”
“My advice is simple: go out and make your shit happen. Make your mistakes, work hard, keep your head down, and surround yourself with the best people that you can. And listen, don’t talk”
Indeed, for anyone entertaining a notion to pursue a career in artist management, he urges them to get into the trenches and learn about the different challenges on tour to amass knowledge.
“That experience gives you the ability to say no. When some designer goes, ‘Hey, I got this idea,’ then I know how many points it will take to go on the ceiling. I also know about the restrictions in trucking from one country to another, so I can call bullshit on things. I’ve learned from experience when I’ve had trucks sitting on the road for a show that couldn’t get into a venue. I’ve had sets that weren’t built correctly to be able to put into a building. And I’ve hired shitty people because they were cheaper. I did all those things that fucked up everywhere. You don’t learn that by sitting behind a desk.
“So, my advice is simple: go out and make your shit happen. Make your mistakes, work hard, keep your head down, and surround yourself with the best people that you can. And listen, don’t talk.”
Doc’s last remaining clients are KISS – an act he has been representing since the band decided to reunite, close to 30 years ago. But with the band set to lock away their makeup and hang up their power suits for the final time at the end of their pandemic-delayed End of the Road Tour at Madison Square Garden in December, their manager is also looking to wind down his activities.
Does that mean he has completely ruled out taking on any new clients?
“It would be near impossible, in the climate of today, for a new band to have me do what I needed to do to help them,” states Doc. “It would require too much of my QTR – quality time remaining – to give them the amount of focus needed.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still see and hear artists that I find intriguing, and I’ll go down the rabbit hole just to find out more. It’s something I’ve always done, and there are some amazing people out there. The question of whether or not they can fight the fight is another story. But do I have the energy or the willingness to leave what I want to do now to go do that? No, I don’t.”
“Everybody should really look forward to what is going to come. With the technology that we have, I think you’re going to see this manifest into something completely crazy – a mind-blowing experience”
Admitting that 2024 will herald a new era, he reveals, “If you said to my grandchildren that Doc is a mogul in the music industry, or whatever, and asked them what kind of guy their grand- father is, then they’d probably say ‘Well, I’m not sure. I don’t really know him. Every Christmas he comes in and buys us a bunch of shit. And then he gives us a ten-minute life lesson, and then he’s gone.’
“So that’s what is important for me: to refocus on family and friends and who’s left because none of us are gonna get out of this alive. I take it one day at a time, but my real M.O. is to focus on family and friends.
“It’s not important if I break another band because it would just be another band I broke. Besides, there are some really good people out there that have more desire to get into this fight scene of the metaverse, etc.”
Nevertheless, it appears that he is working on plans to keep the KISS brand alive.
He does not dismiss long-fabled rumours about KISS 2.0, but he is tight-lipped on plans beyond the end of the tour, while teasing that “2024 will bring something new and something that the business has never seen before.
“Everybody should really look forward to what is going to come. With the technology that we have, I think you’re going to see this manifest into something completely crazy – a mind-blowing experience. Stay tuned.”
Kiss announce ‘last ever’ UK tour dates
Legendary rockers Kiss have announced their final dates in the UK as part of their farewell tour.
The End of the Road tour will land in the UK in 2023 with Robomagic-promoted shows at Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park (3 June), Birmingham Resorts World Arena (5 June), Newcastle Utilita Arena (6 June), London’s The O2 (5 July) and Manchester AO Arena (7 July), before finishing up at Glasgow OVO Hydro (8 July).
The group, who initially announced their retirement in 2000, headlined the UK’s Download festival in the summer and were previously due to tour in 2021, prior to the pandemic.
“This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t”
“All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who’ve filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years,” says a statement from the band.
“This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t. Kiss Army, we’re saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we’ll go out the same way we came in… Unapologetic and Unstoppable.”
The End of the Road tour started at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada in January 2019. Its 12th leg will launch in Europe this summer, with additional stops in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, Sweden and Norway.
Kiss refute lax Covid protocol claims
Kiss have strongly denied allegations of lax Covid protocols after their long-serving guitar tech died last month after testing positive for coronavirus.
Rolling Stone reports that 53-year-old Francis Stueber, who had worked with the band for more than two decades, passed away just two days after being quarantined in a hotel room in Detroit.
The group are currently on the American leg of their farewell End of the World tour. However, three crew members, speaking to the publication on the condition of anonymity, have alleged the tour’s Covid-safe measures were insufficient.
“Every day during the shows, we weren’t tested,” claimed one roadie. “It’s horrible that Fran passed, and it’s horrible if this is our protocol just for us to tour.”
In response, Kiss issued a statement saying their safety protocols “met, but most often exceeded, federal, state, and local guidelines”, adding: “Ultimately this is still a global pandemic and there is simply no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk.
It has recently been brought to our attention that certain crew members may have provided fake vaccination cards which, if true, we find morally reprehensible
“If certain crew chose to go out to dinner on a day off, or have beers at a local bar after the show, and did so without a mask or without following protocols, there is little that anyone can do to stop that. Particularly when many of our tour markets did not have any state or local mask mandates in place.”
The band said they had also been made aware of some crew members attempting to conceal signs of illness and later refusing medical attention, and also brought up claims that fake vaccination cards had been used.
“It has recently been brought to our attention that certain crew members may have provided fake vaccination cards which, if true, we find morally reprehensible (as well as illegal), putting the entire tour in harm’s way,” they said.
Kiss added they were “profoundly heartbroken” by Stueber’s death and urged people to get vaccinated against the virus.
Download festival 2021 cancelled
There will be no Download festival in the UK this summer, promoter Festival Republic confirmed today (1 March).
Iron Maiden, Kiss and Biffy Clyro will headline the 2022 edition of the 110,000-capacity rock and metal festival, which returns to Donington Park in Leicestershire next 10–12 June. Tickets for Download 2022 go on sale this Friday (5 March) at 10am GMT, priced from £250 for a standard weekend camping pass.
Download, which would have taken place from 4 to 6 June 2021, is the first of Live Nation-owned Festival Republic’s events to announce it will be unable to go ahead for a second consecutive year, with the likes of Wireless (2–4 July) and Latitude (22–25 July) still on for now and Reading and Leeds (27–29 August) having already sold out.
Download Australia, which would have debuted in 2020, is on hiatus, as are Download Madrid and Download France in Paris (both of which last took place in 2019).
“Ware determined to make the show one hell of a party and the greatest homecoming ever”
“Downloaders, your 2022 headliners are here,” comments Download booker Andy Copping. “Rock’n’roll legends Kiss will be kicking off Friday in style, Iron Maiden will return, bringing with them mascot Eddie and more fire than we can handle, and what better way to end the festival than with Biffy, who will leave us awestruck with their energy. I’m counting down the days already.”
“Like everyone, we were all hugely disappointed when the global pandemic forced the cancellation of Download 2020, which would have been Maiden’s seventh time headlining here,” says Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, “so we are delighted to be invited back and fulfil our ambition of playing Donington Park in every decade since the 1980s.
“As most people know, this festival is hallowed ground for us – and Eddie – and our fans’ vocal support and enthusiasm is always phenomenal and much appreciated. We can’t wait to see everyone again, and are determined to make the show one hell of a party and the greatest homecoming ever.”
Further Download 2022 artists will be announced in the coming months.
Sharks among few to see Kiss on cancelled Oz tour leg
Kiss performed the single date of an otherwise cancelled Australian leg of their End of the Road world tour to an audience made up of eight humans and several great white sharks.
The show took place yesterday (18 November) aboard a boat in a part of the Indian Ocean known as a hot spot for great white sharks.
The performance was relayed underwater via special speakers to attract the sharks, while fans were lowered below the surface in a glass viewing hull.
The veteran rock band had cancelled the eight-date run of arena shows down under due to the illness of co-lead vocalist Paul Stanley.
The performance was relayed underwater via special speakers to attract the sharks
However, remaining band members Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer braved the jaws of one of the ocean’s top predators to play the one-off show, presented by Airbnb and in conjunction with tour company Adventure Bay Charters.
“Airbnb approached us with this idea that sounded, quite frankly, a little weird, but we’re used to being approached with things that are a little weird,” Stanley told Rolling Stone before the concert. “I’ve played for a lot of land sharks. Now I finally get a chance to play for the ocean varieties.”
The Australian concerts were part of the band’s last-ever tour, which is visiting Asia, North and South America, Europe and South Africa, before coming to a close in New York on 21 July 2021.
Kiss announce final End of the Road tour dates
Kiss have announced the final leg of what’s being billed as their last-ever tour, the End of the Road world tour, which began in Canada this January.
The End of the Road trek will come to a close on 21 July 2021 at a New York venue “yet to be named”, according to tour producer Live Nation.
The US rock legends are currently en route to Australia, where their next date is at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre (11,300-cap.) next Tuesday, 19 November, and will next head to Japan for a string of pre-Christmas dates. The tour will start 2020 in the US, before taking off for South America and Europe, and then back to North America for the end of 2020.
“This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t”
“All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who’ve filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years,” the band say in a statement. “This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t.
“Kiss Army, we’re saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet, and we’ll go out the same way we came in: unapologetic and unstoppable.”
Kiss, formed in 1972, have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. According to Pollstar’s Q3 2019 tour charts, the End of the Road tour was the 20th highest-selling in the first nine months of this year, grossing US$68 million from 626,935 tickets sold.
Simmons abandons devil’s horns trademark bid
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Gene Simmons has dropped his bid to trademark the ‘devil’s horns’ gesture for use on stage.
Simmons (pictured) filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) earlier this month to register “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular” for “entertainment, namely live, performances by a musical artist.”
The Kiss frontman claimed he was the first to use the sign of the horns – which is also “I love you” in American sign language – as far back as November 1974.
However, the application has now been withdrawn after USPTO received a “letter of express abandonment” on 20 June.
Most legal experts considered his bid to trademark the gesture to have little chance of success, with the gesture most associated with the late Ronnie James Dio.
Simmons’ Gene Simmons Company has owned a total of 173 trademarks, including the ‘money bag’ symbol with a dollar sign and the phrases “$#it girls say” and “I want to marry a millionaire” for use on clothing.