In the early seventies when KISS was starting out and trying to build a following, they grabbed every and any possibility to tour as opening act for a bigger band. Soon KISS got bigger than those bands, and obviously the show KISS put up was more spectacular than any band's stage show at that time. So after a while no band wanted to have KISS open their show anymore. But before it got to that point, KISS had the opportunity to open for Dutch rock band the Golden Earring who were touring the USA around the time they enjoyed a big hit with the single Radar Love off of their 1973 album Moontan and were doing the follow up, the 1975 album Switch.

"You can spit on my stage anytime you want"

After 35 years (and some 27 albums, released between 1965 and 1998) the Golden Earring are still going strong, being one of the most popular (rock) bands in Holland. As I thought it would be interesting to have one of the Earrings tell some road stories from their days with KISS, I asked the band if they could take some time out of their busy schedule to share some anecdotes. So, one day in April lead singer Barry Hay called me to make an appointment for the interview. Some days later I had to call him back and amongst other things, this is what he told me...

"We met those guys in Kansas City and they were our opening act. It was a pretty small club where some 1,200 people could get in, I believe. I think it was back in '76 or something like that. Where they big yet back then?"

No, not when they were your opening act. That was around the time you guys had a very big hit with Radar Love.

"Yeah, I know, what year was that? ...'73, yeah. Yeah, '73. Okay. So, what happened? We heard them play — I hadn't, we hadn't heard from them ever before obviously — and we heard them jamming in the dressing room, and that sounded very good. Really, you know, we really thought like: 'Jesus, this is a damn good band.' And than we hadn't seen anything yet, you know. Back then we were doing the Switch Tour, we had already had Radar Love. We were doing the follow up to Radar Love then. And we had horns, Bertus Borgers and Karel Kamp, and Robert-Jan Stips was with us. It was a pretty stylized show. We had an extremely white stage. And Gene Simmons used to have a... well look, we went to grab a bite after our sound check so we left and hadn't seen that band at all. But the roadies told us: 'Boy, what a circus! You should have seen those guys, they were wearing make-up and weird space costumes'.

- From KISS Kollector Magazine No. 25, June 1998, by Joop van Pelt -

But Gene Simmons had asked Maarten, who used to be our tour manager at the time, if he'd mind him to take one of those blood capsules and spit blood over that stage. So Maarten said: 'Fuck off, I don't want that. No spitting on my stage, you know. Don't you see: it's a white stage. Are you out of your mind?! No blood, out of the question. Forget it!' So Gene didn't spit. And that was that. We only heard those stories. One year later they were huge and famous. And rightfully so. I mean, that band... I often think that that whole thing with the make-up and such overshadows how good they are. It kinda turns them into a Mickey Mouse act. While they're actually, you know, musically they were really, they really didn't need it."

Have you ever seen them after that period?

"Well, hang on. I'm not finished yet! A couple of years later we were on tour with Aerosmith and we played in Washington, in a big arena. We were opening for Aerosmith, and I remember Aerosmith was experiencing a rough time because they were all heavily on drugs and all that, and they were really doing one shit performance after the other. And we actually were very good at that time, you know. We were going full speed ahead. We had thrown away all the bullshit and were a four piece band again. We were tight and thorough. So, each show we were better than Aerosmith. When we played we had lots of success. And then they came on and sounded terrible. People just left. The next day the paper said: 'the Earring was fabulous and Aerosmith was a piece of shit'."

"Anyway, the next morning in Washington I'm coming down for breakfast and this dude comes over to me. I knew him from Shanana, some rock 'n roll act. Danny, his name was, Danny the Bouncer and he comes over to me and says: 'There's someone who wants to meet you, it's a guy I work for nowadays.' His name was Gene Simmons. So, I'm thinking: 'Oh my god, what's going on?' So Gene was sitting there a few tables away, and well, you don't recognize that dude. [without the make-up, in those days! — ed.] It's a big guy with that weird long hair. He had a kind of sods on his head [referring to Gene's big, long hair — ed.]. And that coarse pate [face] of his. He says: 'So, you're Barry Hay. Sit down, you want some juice or eggs?' And I go like: 'Yes, very nice. Sure.' And he says: 'You're the guy who wouldn't let me spit on your stage.' [Barry starts laughing — ed.] I say: 'No, I had nothing to do with it, Gene. I'm so sorry. You can spit on my stage anytime you want', I told him, you know. 'It was that wacko tour manager we used to have, but we immediately fired him when we heard it.' He had to laugh about that so much, and he gave awesome compliments as he originally came to see Aerosmith but had seen us opening up. He had seen us play and loved it very much."

"So that was that, and then I met Paul Stanley when George [Kooymans, the lead guitarist — ed.] and I were working on Against The Grain, one of our CD's. We flew to Los Angeles because we had an American producer who was good friends with Bruce Springsteen. He had an awesome show there, and we were invited as well. We could use a friend of a friend's private jet, blah blah, to fly down there and it was all very glamorous. And we also hit the studio for two days, as we actually were in the studio in New York, our producer said we'll make it worthwhile by using the Record Plant in Los Angeles. We were in Studio 2, and in Studio 1 Paul Stanley was working on a solo album. He was such a big dude too. I always thought he was much smaller, but he's a big man as well. And very friendly and very funny and, well, a little arrogant in reality, you know."

He's a real rock star.

"Yeah, a real rock star, indeed. Making jokes about everything and totally, well, you know what it's like, he's really a type like that, yes. But I liked it, because he also talked about it of course, back then you know. Those guys hadn't forgotten about it, I liked that. They remembered Golden Earring, etcetera."

How did it come about that a young American band got to open up for you on one of your American Tours?

"Oh, Aerosmith once opened for us in Boston also. Their first single was just released back then. It's very ironic that those bands used to open for us and sky-rocketed all the way to the top. [laughs — ed.] You know what those boys did? They obviously were in America and just toured for months, then took two weeks off and then toured again for two months. Plus the fact that there's an awful lot of competition, they were all firing up one another. And here, when we came back home after three months of touring, which was very long (we had to, because we obviously couldn't fly back home for a vacation), so after three months we were home and all fed up, and then it took another year before we went there again. So, we didn't pursue a steady course for that matter. I remember that Jon Bon Jovi, I talked to him then in New York and they really started out back then. They played in smaller clubs than we did. And he said: 'We tour this country to death and that's the way to make it.' And that's true, for you become very good by playing often."

Besides meeting Paul in '78, have you ever seen them again later on?

"No, no, that was about it. I've never seen them live. I thought they were rather good, but I didn't like that whole live act. It seems that recently they... but I couldn't go. They were one of the most successful tours of the year. I would have liked to go. Because now I can smile about it. Back then I thought: 'Those guys are doing weird, why do they do that?' To me, it was all very childish. But then again, their audience was made out of kids for a big part. All those little children who loved it. That obviously had to do with those strange outfits and the make-up. For those kiddies all came in the make-up and those strange outfits. And well, all the paraphernalia... It made them very rich."

After this we talked a little about KISS being in the studio working on the new album, and planning a new world tour. Which had Barry remark: "Oh, so I might get a chance after all to see them once. Keep me posted. Maybe you can arrange something for me, a ticket or something. Ha, ha. Well, give Gene my regards."