‘I Couldn’t Look Kiss In The Face’
Axeman Doug Aldrich recalls terrifying teenage audition with glam giants, shouting matches with Dio… and two-month stint with Whitesnake that’s become 10 years.
Doug Aldrich admits he was so overwhelmed when he landed an audition with Kiss in 1982 that he couldn’t look the band members in the face.
And the Whitesnake guitarist says he has fond memories of working with Ronnie James Dio – even though the iconic singer was given to shouting matches when things went wrong.
Aldrich tells RockPages of his terror on first meeting Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Eric Carr when they were working to recruit Ace Frehley’s replacement: “I was a kid – I was only 17, 18 years old.
“I was nervous because no one had ever seen them without their makeup. They were really protective about the whole thing. I remember being afraid of looking them in their faces when they were speaking to me – I don’t even remember what they looked like because I didn’t have the guts to look.
“But they were very nice. The rehearsal room was huge, like an arena, with a stage and Marshall amps stacked up to the roof. They were working on Creatures Of The Night. Gene came up to me and said, ‘Can you play this solo on a major scale?’ I said, ‘Major scale – what’s that?’ He goes, ‘Do-re-mi,’ and I said, ‘Ah, okay, I know that!’
“They called me back a couple of days later so I came back for a second time, and I was really nervous because I thought maybe I had a chance. In the end it didn’t work out because I was too young – I was a kid and they were already superstars.”
Aldrich went on to be a member of Dio, which he remembers as a high-point of his career. “Ronnie was driven. He was a perfectionist,” the guitarist explains. “All in all, he wanted one way – his way. I respected that and he made me a better guitar player. He believed in me.
“He was very intense. He would get upset if someone made a mistake, but he was always respectful. If he was mad at someone he would yell at him – but after a while he would return and apologise, and everything would get back to normal. He was a real gentleman.”
His stint with Dio led directly to his current gig with Whitesnake, for which Aldrich is eternally grateful as he describes mainman David Coverdale as his “all-time favourite singer”.
The guitarists adds: “We have a very natural collaboration, but It took some time to get to know how he likes to compose. When I first joined David said, ‘It’s a two-month tour and then you’re going back to Dio.’ I didn’t have any problem with that.
“The two-month period has become nine-and-a-half years.”