LOOPY'S WORLD: PART THIRTEEN C - KISS IN EUROPE PART 3
Steve 'Loopy' Newhouse
So, knowing it was going to be a pig of a journey and not wanting to be caught out like last time, Pete, Michael and myself set off at 5.00pm for the trek north through the Dolomites towards Austria.
We had heard that a storm was coming and tried to stay ahead of it but, if I'm honest, I think we drove straight into it. With thunder and lightning going off all around us and visibility down to a few feet in front of the vehicle, we had no choice but to slow down to a snail's pace.
The thought of getting to Munich late after having a week off wasn't good, so we persevered. As slow as it was, we finally got through the storm and made our way through the Dolomites into Austria and into Munich, Germany where we met up with the rest of the band the day before the show.
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After the lazy week in Jesolo, it was time to get back to the job in hand.
We found that most border control's on this leg of the tour seemed to be much more relaxed. We came out of Italy into Austria and from Austria into Germany with no trouble at all.
And being the navigator, even though I had my big European Road Map, I found travelling in Europe so effortless. Everything was easy to read, the roads were good, and all we had to do was be there on time.
Which, to be honest, was child's play.
Although most of the shows in Germany were indoors, we did do an outdoor show, in Kassel I think, where it rained for a while. But other than that the whole German tour was a lot of fun.
The fans were amazing where ever we played but I started to notice Iron Maiden t-shirts everywhere that were not official merchandise. On this tour the official shirt was the first album cover.
Having a bit of time to spare I started to wander round the local arena and was blown away by the amount of stalls selling bootleg t-shirts.
The best part was they looked better than the official stuff, so I bought a couple. You can never have enough t-shirts.
It was strange seeing the members of Kiss without their make-up, but it became an everyday thing.
We got to know them and their crew really well over the next few months, meeting up at the same hotels, same bars etc. Plus we also got to find out a lot about the places we were visiting.
In Genoa, Italy, I had run out of cigarettes so went to find an offy (off license, drug store, tobacconist, whatever). I ended up at the docks being propositioned by a hooker who was willing to give me a fag if I gave her £20 and said that she'd given me a blow job. I went without.
Turned out there was a cigarette machine in the hotel lobby; I just hadn't seen it.
At the Forest National in Brussels the only way to access the backstage area was to reverse down a long corridor, which was fairly wide but with not much overhead clearance. Between the three of us (Pete, Michael and myself), we managed to get our truck as far back as it could go. It turned out that it was the furthest back any truck that size had ever been.
To celebrate this we wrote our names on the wall above the back stage area and added the date and time. It was still there when I went back two years later with More.
We did two nights at the Hippodrome in Paris. The venue was a huge marquee big enough to hold 15-20,000 people.
Now the main component of most of the bigger marquees is plastic, and if you can imagine 20,000 people smoking and sweating in this colossal plastic tent, then something was bound to get nasty sooner or later.
And not to disappoint, it happened on the first night. Maiden had just finished their set and we stashed the band's gear backstage ready for the show the following night.
Kiss went on stage to the opening number, 'Detroit Rock City', which incorporated two huge, and can I add, extremely loud bangs. The shockwave went up and rippled the roof. Within seconds the whole place was covered in a rain of sweat and nicotine.
Everything got covered in large brown blobs, the stage, the equipment, the band, the fans, our stuff backstage and anybody lurking within range.
Luckily the Maiden boys, Rod and all the crew, were gathered in the makeshift portacabin that served as our dressing room. When we got outside and saw the mess we all realised that the following day was going to be an early start. It took us ages to get everything back to the way it should be.
Needless to say, after the second show, we took our gear straight out of the venue to a waiting truck and packed it all away there. Once bitten, twice shy as they say.
You had to feel for the Kiss crew though; they had to work through the night to clear up the mess for the second show and then had to clear it all up again the following night.
Not that we were that bothered really. We were on our way south to Lyon.
In Lyon, Kiss were headlining a show in what I think was a Town Hall or at least a very public building, next to the river. The sun was very bright, streaming through the windows so before Kiss went on stage somebody was given the job of shutting all the curtains down one side of the building.
When Kiss tour Europe, and certainly in this case, they carry two sets of S's. They use the Gestapo SS type S's in Europe other than in Germany where they use standard S's. Both sets work the same way with rotating lights, flashing at the same time and unless you've seen it you wouldn't know the difference.
Whilst in Switzerland, Clive and I were given the opportunity to visit the Paiste factory. Clive had a deal with Paiste cymbals, and had been given the chance to test out a new cymbal called RUDE.
The RUDE cymbal was developed for drummers like Clive, the real power drummer. They were thicker than normal but still had the same ring and tone.
When we received the first batch of Rude we decided there was no time like the present to test them out. So I replaced all Clive's existing crash cymbals with RUDE's. Clive sat behind the kit and started to play.
If I remember rightly, within five minutes we heard a clunk and a two inch piece of metal hit the floor. Clive had actually shattered the side of one cymbal, hence the piece on the floor, and had split another.
"They can go back", he said. And they did.
We were picked up from Zurich station by one of the top people at the time and we were allowed to call him Bobby. It was about 40 minutes to the factory and my immediate reaction was not only how small the place was, but also how clean. Even a swear word would have messed this up.
Being a Sunday everything is shut in Switzerland. Mind you, I'm talking 1980 here. Things may have changed by now. Not been there for many years. Let's move on...
Once inside this tiny factory we were given the grand tour and shown how the cymbals were made (in theory, as all the staff were having a jolly on their day off).
I have to admit, it was interesting stuff. We got shown how they make gongs too and, as a parting gift, Clive and I were presented with miniature gongs, about a foot across, to take home. We were also given a gong to take back to the Kiss drum roadie as he couldn't make the trip.
My gong is at my Mum's flat and has proved to have been useful. It was used by Mark Stewart, the drummer for Di'Anno, when we toured with Thin Lizzy in 1983.
Now, not a lot of people know that.
Clive and I were given a lift to the station to make the four hour journey to Stuttgart to catch up with the rest of the band. When we finally arrived at the hotel all hell had broken loose.
From what I understand, Dave Murray had been on one of his benders and had tried to throw a wardrobe down the stairs of the hotel. So rock n' roll.
When Clive and I got there, we were told to stay away. There were armed police everywhere and they were trying to take Dave into custody.
I don't know what happened next but everything calmed down very quickly and Dave was left alone to sleep it off.
Thinking back to that little spat in Jesolo, it was time for the band to do their thing. Harry called the band into a meeting to get things sorted. No management, no crew, just the band.
It obviously worked as the rest of the tour went better than we could have possibly hoped.
Lasting memories? There are a few, and I might leave this open for obvious reasons.
How to flick a plectrum with stunning accuracy. Having watched the Kiss band and crew do this and learning how to do it just as well was a lot of fun. 10/10.
Watching Ace fall on his arse after a few cans of Special Brew. He didn't know the stuff existed until the UK leg of the tour. He had a whole load of the stuff shipped over to Europe and spent the rest of the tour trying to stand up.
My personal favourite is the last night 'after tour' party. I got Paul Stanley to sign a dollar bill, which I still have, somewhere. He put the star sign over the eye of Lincoln? (What do I know?). I remember the food was good, and the beer expensive.
Pete and Michael headed off for the long journey home by sea and I got booked on the flight home with the band, through personal choice I might add. Although, if I could take one thing back, I wish I had gone back by ferry.
I was in such a rush to get home to my girlfriend but nobody had bothered to tell me she'd being seeing someone else whilst I was away.
These things happen of course but, back then, it wasn't meant to happen to me. But that's what they all say, isn't it?