Gene Simmons and KISS performed at the Gardens in January 1983


“I want rock and roll all night long and party every day!” Gene Simmons roared in January 1983 when his band KISS performed in Maple Leaf Gardens on their Creatures of the Night tour. The original caption for this photo of The Star’s Mike Slaughter took note of the demon “spitting blood, spitting fire and performing the kind of antics that made him a rock ‘n’ roll hero.”

Dave Reimer, bassist for the Headpins, who opened this show – along with dates in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec – admits he was not a fan of the headliners. “I was that age where I thought the costumes were a bit silly,” he says. “We were guys who just played in jeans and T-shirts. We were all about the music.

But when Reimer attended his first KISS soundcheck, he was “mesmerized” by both Simmons and singer-guitarist Paul Stanley. “Incredibly, Paul was on seven inch platforms, pushing up his heels, jumping things, dancing and running. And Gene moves like he’s born with these things on his feet, ”Reimer says, referring to Simmons’ famous dragon boots. “I watched their entire show every four nights.”

For Reimer, seeing Simmons put new lead guitarist Vinnie Vincent to the test was a real eye-opener. “I was just fascinated,” he says. “Gene was showing him how to point and how to be on stage, like ‘You’re at the top of the stage, you’re solo and you’re gonna do a waah! And then you point and go Yeah! ‘ He was showing her the big rock movements.

Reimer was also struck by the attention Simmons gave to the Headpins. “Gene stayed and looked at our four scales,” he said. “You could tell he was one of those guys who were always looking for talent. He had just spotted Van Halen six years earlier and had funded demos for them. Very clever.

Reimer, who currently plays in Lee Aaron’s band (see “Teacher’s Frets,” TO3), recalls Simmons approaching the Headpins backstage at one of the shows and explaining the unusual process by which they had. won the support place. “We picked you because we were shown a bunch of records from bands that are doing well in Canada,” he said. “We didn’t even hear the songs.”

“He chose the Headpins because we had a Marshall amp on the cover of our album,” says Reimer. “As simple as that.”



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