Thayer: I was lined up to join Kiss for years
Waiting in the wings: Tommy Thayer with Kiss
Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer says he’d been lined up to replace Ace Frehley four years before it actually happened.
He’d even been kitted out with his own Spaceman garb in case the changeover took place while the band were touring.
Thayer had been a member of the Kiss entourage for nearly two decades before he finally hit the stage with them following Frehley’s departure in 2002.
He first met mainmen Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in the mid-80s as he tried to find fame with his band Black’n'Blue.
Thayer tells Epiphone.com: “We had just released our second album and somehow we landed the opening slot on the Kiss Asylum tour. They knew we were fans and they took interest and gave us some help, especially Gene.
“He eventually began working with us, producing our third and fourth albums. Things evolved and soon I began working for Kiss, first behind the scenes, then later directly with the band.”
He admits he’d never imagined actually appearing on stage – but says: “I think Paul and Gene had almost made me the heir apparent for several years before it happened.
“Because of the volatility in the band from 1998 on, I was literally on standby backstage for several tours to take over on guitar if necessary.
“Behind the scenes, I had my own Kiss outfit, boots and makeup kit in case of an emergency situation.
“By the time they asked me to be the new lead guitarist over 10 years ago, the writing had been on the wall for a long while.”
Thayer, alongside returned drummer Eric Singer, has been credited by Stanley and Simmons for having re-energised the band. But the guitarist admits it took a while before he could exert his musical creativity.
“With 30 years of Kisstory preceding me, you needed to be faithful and support where the band had come from,” he says. “It wasn’t the time to reinvent the wheel with a new style of guitar playing or a new character or personality.”
With latest album Monster receiving acclaim from fans, Thayer reflects: “Over the course of the last 10 or 11 years Kiss has slowly built to new heights.
“The success of our tours, particularly since 2008, have been astounding. Going back into the studio in 2009 to record Sonic Boom and then again with Monster has been an incredible growing experience.
“With the support and encouragement of Paul, Gene, and Eric I’ve been able to take my guitar playing to a whole other level. It’s a great feeling.”