The man behind the axe
Bob Kulick may forever be a man connected to the legacy of KISS, but his own legacy is far more intriguing and impressive. As a young boy Kulick found that he had a natural gift for the guitar and it paved the way for a lifetime of making incredible music and memorable performances starting at 17 with his first notable band, The Observation Balloon. This week the quiet and humble rock hero shared some of his career experiences with Metalholic, talking about the infamous KISS audition, the first Meat Loaf tour, playing with Alice Cooper, along with his various bands and tribute projects.
On January 17, 1973, the day after his 23rd birthday, Kulick unknowingly placed in the rock and roll history books when he answered an ad in New York’s Village Voice looking for a guitarist in a “Led Zeppelin” style band. That band was KISS and the audition was interrupted by Ace Frehley who narrowly beat Kulick out for the gig. Paul Stanley was so impressed with Bob’s playing that the two remained in touch and in 1977 Kulick was tasked with playing lead guitar on three of the studio tracks from “Alive II“. A year later Stanley again turned to Kulick as his principal guitarist on his first solo album. In 1982, Bob would once more lend his talents to four new studio tracks on the “Killers” album. The following year he would perform a few solos for “Creatures of the Night” but according to Kulick none of them ended up on the album. In 1984 Bob would recommend his younger brother Bruce as KISS’ new guitarist, a gig he’d eventually get. In 1989, Stanley would tab Bob to be his guitarist for his first ever solo tour. For all these reasons and more his history remains forever entwined with KISS, but that is only one part of Bob’s history.
Bob on Paul Stanley’s 89 solo tour…
In 1976, Kulick would perform on Lou Reed‘s “Coney Island Baby” album. The following year, he and his brother Bruce would be the first guitarists to join The Neverland Express, the first incarnation of Meat Loaf’s band. A band that would go from ridicule to one of the year’s smash successes with a number one album in countries all over the world including Australia and England. In the 80’s Bob would again join Meat Loaf in the studio and on the road, while also releasing two albums with his own band, Balance. He would also appear on albums by Diana Ross, Michael Bolton, and others.
In the 90s Kulick would focus on his own projects; Skull, Murderer’s Row, and Blackthorne. Bands that would include the likes of David Glenn Eisley (Giuffria, House of Lords), Jimmy Waldo (New England, Alcatrazz), and Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group). Unfortunately, the various band’s collective style was a decade too late and quickly buried under the weight of grunge rock. Bob also played on two W.A.S.P. albums during this era.
At the turn of the century Bob turned to his production talents gathering fellow musicians together to create a string of metal tribute albums to the likes of The Beatles, KISS, Queen, Alice Cooper, and even Frank Sinatra. He is currently completing the latest, a metal tribute to Michael Jackson. In 2004 he even won a Grammy for producing Motörhead‘s “Whiplash”, a cover of a Metallica song, that was written ironically as a tribute to Motörhead. His talents have earned him almost a dozen gold or platinum records for his work on Kiss and Diana Ross recordings, and he’s even written and performed songs for Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and WWE’s Triple H.
Bob was kind enough to share many tales of his career with us, and you can listen to the full 30 minute interview below.