Who is Sean Delaney?
There are few people in KISS history that were as important to the success of the band as Sean Delaney. Sean served from the very beginning as tour manager, producer, choreographer, hair stylist, sound and light man, co-writer, the list goes on...here are the highlights from his apppearance at the 10th Annual New York KISS Expo on April 21, 1996. (This article first appeared in KISSaholics # 16)
Q- How did you first become involved with Bill Aucoin?
Sean- I used to do a thing over in the East Village. I was a waiter and I started taking my guitar in...As soon as I stopped waiting on a table, I'd pick up my guitar and start playing songs...then I'd make people put money in a hat and pretty soon they fired all the other waiters, except me... Bill Aucoin came down there and that's how he met me.
Q- Were you involved with him in the "Flipside" show?
Sean- Yeah, we did "Flipside" and a (60's) show called "Saturday at the Movement"...
Q- How did you first encounter KISS? Did you go with Bill to see them?
Sean- Bill and I both saw them at the Hotel Diplomat...
Q- What were your first impressions of KISS at the Hotel Diplomat? Could you sense there was a "magic" about them?
Sean- I thought it was absolutely the worst thing that could possibly hit, I mean worst. It was so unlike anything that it had to be incredible. It was new, it was something that wasn't being done...So try to imagine, in a small rehearsal studio, four guys are up there playing. In front of them are Bill Aucoin (KISS' future manager), Neil Bogart (future president of Casablanca Records), Joyce Biawitz (also KISS' future manager), and myself. They finished the first song and no applause. Gene walks down to Neil Bogart, grabs both of his hands, and makes him applaud...and Neil started applauding because he was scared to death. And I said to myself at that moment, "This I wanna be involved in"...because that's the kind of balls you have to have to do anything...
Q- Now your role with KISS wasn't just one thing, it was multi-faceted. You were the first road manager, you choreographed the show for them, you helped them write songs.
Sean- I was (also) the stage manager, sound, lights, and after about 3-4 months they allowed me to hire 2 roadies...In the beginning, Gene and Paul, the whole band and myself got close real quick, because unlike Neil Bogart and Bill Aucoin, I was a musician. They all had seen me before and I looked at them differently. They were like my babies. I wasn't going to let anything bad happen to these guys that happened to me because I had been through it before, I was prepared for it...Lies from record ompanies...managers...I was also the Vice President of the company...Along with that I wanted them to succeed...In the beginning, I dyed everyone's hair black just to put everybody on an equal level...so no matter where they went, they were connected. Paul Stanley got an itchy scalp so when he'd be playing in rehearsal, he'd reach up and scratch his head and I'd say, "What are you doing? You can't be up there and reach up with your finger and, "I got crabs" or something. You can't do that!" He said, "Well, what am I supposed to do? My scalp hurts!" I said, "Paul, instead of just scratching it, really scratch it! And that's one of his big moves. He'll stop and say, "How 'ya doing?", scratch his head and throw his arms out...So with Gene, he'd come out walking like a monster and he'd walk back like a human and I'd go, "You can't do that! You have to be this thing!" So I was their mirror that would stop them from not doing what it was that they wanted - and I did that 24 hours a day.
Q- I understand that you and Bill Aucoin video-taped some very early rehearsals so the band could see how they looked?
Sean-...In the very beginning, Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace always had a very strong idea of what they thought they were...I'd look at them and I'd say, they're trying to do this. So when I'd say, "Can you try...", they'd say, "Oh, no no" and get all mad. So what I did is took a camera and I said "Look, you know how to do it your way. I've got an idea. So why don't we try it both ways and see what you think?". So the moment that we did that, they sat down. And when they saw that it's not running around real quick and crazy that works on stage, then they could see that the other way really works...I sorta like knew what they really wanted and they learned to trust me. So we really worked well together.
Q- Who has the video of the early rehearsals?
Sean- I think Bill Aucoin has it. In fact, I know he has it.
Q- There are some great stories you talk about in the KISSTORY book, tell us about the station wagon story.
Sean- This has got to be one of my top 10 favorite stories. In the beginning, on the first tour, we had 2 vehicles; a station wagon and a 22ft. Hertz rental truck. We had 2 roadies in that and me in the station wagon. In the beginning of the tour everything's fine. We're singing songs, "99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall"...and as the tour went on, the happiness sorta dropped because you are in a station wagon and you're driving 6-700 miles a day. You're tired, you're sick, you're getting paid nothing. People have never seen you, so when you first get up on stage people are throwing bottles and booing...So the tension is really heavy between the band and they would do things to me like, they'd all sit in the back seat and they'd take little pieces of cotton and stick them on top of my head...I'd be driving and I wouldn't even know..I'd end up with a "Marie Antionette" thing and driving to some redneck gas station - "Hey Bud, fill it up." and they'd look at me...and they'd (KISS) all laugh and hide in the back. So the tension got worse and worse and we all went to see "Deliverance". Well, we were down south and these guys from New York, we are in "hillbilly land". It was a real nice development with a house and 8 acres of land, but to them it had to be "hillbillies". I missed a turn and Ace starts poking me and telling me, "Remember where you are driving" and Peter starts poking me...and I'm sitting there and all of the sudden I get an idea. I reached down and turned the ignition off, tapped the gas pedal to flood the engine and the car goes "Roomp, roomp"...I said, "Guys, oh my god we are out of gas!". Here we are in a wooded area and they think "Deliverance". They were scared to death! Here they are 4 guys, back then with tinted black hair and skulls all over...everything, some casual daytime makeup...down in the south and they were panic stricken! I tell them to get in the back of the station wagon and lay down. I then cover them up with a blanket. So here's 4 sets of platform heels sticking straight up and a blanket. I get out and sit down and drink 2-3 beers. Twenty minutes later, I walk back over to the car and they are still laying under this blanket and and I started to laugh hesterically. One head would pop up and Gene would look at me and Paul would look at me and Peter would not speak to me for 2 solid weeks. Not a word! It's nice to get even.
Q- Could you talk about how Paul evolved...into the great showman that he is today?
Sean- ...When all the makeup got on the faces, the only one that looked closest to human was Paul Stanley. I mean, he had the star on his face, but everything else was the Demon...Do demons talk to you? No, they growl but they don't talk. Ace would have opened his mouth and went, "Ha! How you doing?"...this is not talking, this is "Ace-ing". Peter was way back at the drums, cats don't talk to you. Paul had to learn exact lines. So I used to work with him on "How 'ya doin'?". What would happen is that Paul would get excited and do things like this (gestures)...this is what you call a "He/She". One of the first reviews was Paul Stanley "bi-modualtes, bi-sexually across the stage."...Paul died!!! They just called him a queer in public! Oh No!!! Paul would go to stick his leg out and everybody would grab it. Not just the girls, but the guys too! He just got to the point where he got sorta like scared of the audience. So anyway, the four guys had a way to aggravate each other. "He/She" is all you had to call Paul to get him pissed. With Gene, it was "Mr. Marvello" because he knew everything about everything. So when he'd start telling the band what it was they's all go, "Sshhh. 'Marvello' speaks!" Did that answer your question?
Q- No, but it's pretty darn good - keep going.
Sean- That was something that Paul had in him; the ability to be very masculine on stage and, at the same time, very feminine. His success was probably the one thing that he didn't like about himself in the beginning.
Q- People say that Alive! and Alive II were Re-recorded. Of your knowledge, how much was re-recorded?
Sean- Ok, because I was there, they do...they re-cut every band, this isn't just KISS. They'll take a whole bunch of recordings from different live concerts...pick out thebest audience participation and, of course, which sounds the best.
Q- Destroyer was a big leap forward for the band from the prior records, especially working with Bob Ezrin. I understand he was a real taskmaster. Was that difficult for the band?
Sean- When we went into the studio the first time to meet him he was sitting there stark-assed naked!!!(with a bow-tie). That album had a lot of Bob Ezrin in it. He's probably one of the most amazing producers in my lifetime...because I produced Double Platinum with Mike Stone and we had to remix all of the tracks and Bob records with all of the special effects and everything on the tape. You cannot change anything Bob Ezrin has ever done - there it is, like it or not.
Q- You produced Gene's solo album. Do you know why he did "When You Wish Upon A Star"?
Sean- When he got to America, at his school they put a sign on him that said, "If I look lost, point me in the right direction". The first English words that Gene ever learned were the words to Jiminy Cricket's "When You Wish..." and if you listen (to Gene's version), you'll hear his voice crack, because at that point he was crying. I wouldn't let him re-record the vocal.
Q- I heard Gene was trying to get Lennon and McCartney to sing on the album.
Sean- We almost had them and Ringo said, "No".They said we might do it if you don't tell anyone we did it and we went, "Of course we won't"...the album would have went "Gene Simmons and the Beatles". Gene was in contact with them and it almost happened.
Q- When did you leave the band?
Sean- We went to Australia in 1979 and I almost retired then I liked it so much. I left the band at the end of 1979.
Q- How much memorabilia have you saved?
Sean- I have the first KISS t-shirt that Lydia Criss actually made.
(Reprinted from KISSaholics Issue #16)
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