Notes From The Band

by Tommy Shaw (Styx)

Last night (Halloween 1998), we got to the show a couple of hours earlier than usual so that we could start putting on the greasepaint.

When Jeff Buetendorp announced us, rather than the usual, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the hardest working man in Rock'n'Roll, TOMMY SHAW!", he said, "You wanted the best and you got the best..." and we took the stage as, you guessed it, KISS. I was Ace, Paul was Paul, Michael was Peter and Tom was Gene. Michael, being the avid Kiss fan as a kid and an artist familiar with painting on canvas, knew exactly how to make us look the parts. I must say, I have NEVER seen a more befuddled audience in my life. KISS opening for SKYNYRD? Whuh? On a normal night, it took the first two songs before many folks figured out who I was, and then it would settle into the familiar comfort zone, but last night it was as if there was one huge question mark over their head. Especially when we started playing a smoky R&B acoustic arrangement of "Blue Collar Man" that goes into Marty Robbins' "El Paso" just as they are starting to recognize it. The irony and all the other layers were no aid in easing their confusion, but we were loving every moment of it. I still think some folks who were already in the party mood probably woke up today believing Kiss opened for SKYNYRD. Peter Frampton surprised everyone when he came out for his encore looking very much like he did on the cover of "Frampton Comes Alive"--long blonde hair, silk shirt unbuttoned, satin pants and platform shoes. Just before we took the stage we all ran into his dressing room to show him our get-up. He was sitting there in a chair, with a hairstylist trimming his wig with a cover of the "Frampton Comes Alive" album laid out in front of Peter. It was one of those moments I wish you could have been there for. CLASSIC! We were dying laughing. Someone who was in the dressing room took a picture, but I doubt I will ever get a copy. I will never forget it though.

At the end of our set, just where we usually hit the final note of "Renegade," Michael kicked into the drum intro of "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night" by KISS and the place went nuts. Next thing you know we were in the dining room back stage singing Happy Birthday to Jeanne, in our full make-up. Surreal indeed. What a night. And really, what a tour.