PUNKY MEADOWS DISCUSSES TURNING DOWN KISS, AEROSMITH AND THE NEW YORK DOLLS
Greg Prato of Alternative Nation spoke with Angel guitarist Punky Meadows, portions of the interview appear below.
Alternative Nation: Is it true that you were asked to join New York Dolls, Aerosmith, and Kiss at various points?
Punky Meadows: With New York Dolls, Leber and Krebs…David Krebs managed Aerosmith, Nugent, AC/DC, and the Scorpions, I had done an album called BUX with Mickie Jones – the bass player from Angel – and Ralph Morman, who later sang with Joe Perry Project. We did an album up in Boston, and Jack Douglas produced that album, who produced Aerosmith. David Krebs always liked Mickie and I a lot, so we were just putting Angel together, and David called me up and said, “Listen, I’d like to put you and Mickie into the New York Dolls. I think you’d be great in that.” I said, “We have a new band called Angel. I’d really like you to hear this band.” So, we basically turned down the New York Dolls because I was so into Angel, and we went with an organization out in California. But I stayed friends with David, and when Brad Whitford and Joe Perry left Aerosmith, David again called me and said, “Hey, I think you’d be great in Aerosmith.” This was after Angel pretty much was over, but Gregg [Giuffria] and I were still hawking some revamped Angel stuff and were shopping a deal, so I said, “David, Gregg and I are shopping a deal right now.” And he said, “Well, if you change your mind…” but I didn’t. And I was also asked to play with Michael Bolton at one time, too. When Michael first came out, he was wearing leather and was heavier in the beginning, and David said, “I think you’d be a great addition to Michael Bolton.” I turned that down, as well. And then the KISS thing, around the same time David asked me to join Aerosmith, Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss] had left, and KISS had a cattle call out in Los Angeles, looking for a guitar player. And Barry Levine, who was our photographer for Angel and Casablanca Records, Barry was also the photographer for KISS, and they were all good friends. So KISS was recording down at the Record Plant, I think in LA, and Barry said, “Hey, how about Punky Meadows playing in KISS?” And Gene [Simmons] said, “Wow, that’s a great idea!” Gene was always a big fan of mine, as was Paul [Stanley]. Gene, Paul, and Ace first saw Angel at a club called Bogie’s in DC – they came down after they played the Capitol Centre – and freaked out. That’s kind of how we got our record deal with Casablanca in a roundabout way, because when we were shopping a deal with Angel, our manager called Neil Bogart and said, “Hey, I’ve got this band called Angel. We’re looking for a deal, and Gene and Paul saw Angel and loved it.” Neil said, “KISS is playing at Anaheim Stadium this weekend. Maybe I’ll get Angel to open for KISS, so I can get to see the band and what I think of them. Let me call Gene and I’ll call you back.” So Neil calls Gene up and calls us back, and he says, “I’ll tell you what – I’ll sign the band sight unseen, because Gene said, ‘There is no way Angel will ever open up for KISS’!” But we did play for Neil Bogart, and we got our record deal. But getting back to me playing with KISS, Gene and Paul were at the studio recording, and Barry said, “What about Punky?” And Gene said, “That would be a great idea.” So Barry called me up and said, “Gene wants you to come down and send him a couple of tunes. Gene is going to give you a call.” So Gene calls me up, and says, “We’re looking for somebody to replace Ace, and we’d love for you to come and sit in. Why don’t you learn just one side of the Alive! album – I don’t care what side it is.” So I said OK. So I learned one side – I can’t remember what side it was of the Alive! album, it may have been the first side. I went down to SIR Studios where they were rehearsing. When I walked in, they were playing Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin – it was Paul, Gene, and Eric Carr. So I plugged in and played, it sounded really good, so Gene said, “Look, you got the gig. Let’s talk business.” I said, “Well, y’know Gene, I’m right now with Gregg. We’re shopping a deal. I have to think about it.” So, as soon as I said that, Gene got so insulted and offended, that he just stood up, and said, “Come on, Paul, let’s go.” So Gene and Paul just stormed out of the place! I sat with Eric Carr for about half an hour, and talked. Then I went home and Barry called, and said, “Hey Punky, what happened? Paul and Gene came back with their mouths to the floor, and Gene said, ‘No one has ever turned down KISS!’ They were going to offer you $160,000 a year, plus points.” I said, “Well Barry, that sucks, because I didn’t turn them down, I just didn’t say yes right away because I had to let Gregg know – Gregg was my partner, too.” So that’s how that turned out. I guess I insulted Gene and Paul so bad because I didn’t say yes right away. Gene has a big ego, and rightly so – he’s in one of the best bands, ever. And Gene and I were always really good friends – he’d come to our concerts. I actually had a pose where I would point to the neck of my guitar, and Gene saw me do that at the club Bogie’s, and he mimicked that pose of me, and said, “Punky, that’s classic.” I remember we went to LA, signed to Casablanca, and KISS were playing Long Beach, so they invited us all down. I had never see KISS live, that was the first time I saw them live. We went down, and of course, Ace was up there, doing my move. The guys in Angel were like, “He’s stealing your move, man!” So I went backstage afterwards, and Ace said, “Hey man, I stole your move. I hope you don’t mind it – it’s just cool.” And I said, “It’s cool dude. I’m flattered.” But KISS and Angel were on the same label, so we respected each other a lot.
Alternative Nation: What can fans expect at your upcoming shows?
Pinky Meadows: We did BB Kings last year – last June – and it was sold out. That was our very first show we’d done together. It was fun and exciting but also nerve-racking, because we’d never played in front of anybody. It came off really well. This next show is going to be even better, because we’re well-rehearsed now, and we’re going to be touring out west. We’re going to be playing in Las Vegas, San Diego, and also the Whisky in LA. And we’re doing BB Kings, and Poughkeepsie, New York, too. We’re going to kick ass. We do stuff from Fallen Angel and a bunch of classic Angel songs, too. We’ve got two female background singers too, that are really great. That’s what’s fun about doing a solo thing – you do what you want to do. I love vocals, and on my Fallen Angel record, there are a lot of vocals on that record. I mean, I love the Eagles – great vocals. On Fallen Angel, I wanted to have a lot of vocals, so there are a lot of background vocals. It’s going to be a fun show, a good party, a good time.
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To view Meadow’s tour dates, and to watch a video for Straight Shooter,please go here.