from KISS MONSTER MAGAZINE #2 (which is sold out)
DOC OF ROCK
Behind every great enterprise is a pop culture carefully sculpted mechanism, driven by ideas and dedication to create art that is commercial, which transcends trends, and endures. With KISS today, that engine business is a cosmic cocktail consisting of three driving personalities: Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and KISS manager Doc McGhee.
McGhee is a legend in his own right, and was so long before lock he locked his legacy with KISS. The bands summer tour with the band Mötley Crüe was an obvious no-brainer for the decades- spanning maverick as Crüe remains one of McGhee's non-KISS live draws ever since he gave the band their first big break opening for KISS on the tour Creatures of the Night. We spoke to McGhee smack dab in the middle of the thundering double shot of KISS / Crüe.
KISS MAGAZINE: Can you tell us how you ended up in this mad game of rock 'n' roll management?
Doc McGhee: I was a guitarist in a band of Chicago when I was in high school. I mean, I already had a contract with Mercury Records when she was only 17! Then I called in the army and continued playing, and when I left, I went to Florida, became a waiter and at night I would play in a recording studio. As far as being a manager, people thought I was smart, I guess, or smarter than them at that time, so as I kinda fell into it. I started working with a producer named Barry Mraz, who made the first Styx record, Robin Trower ... the list is long. One of the bands that he handled was one that I played in called Night Flight, and it just took off from there. I stayed in the R&B business a the beginning managing James Brown and Isaac Hayes. Then I met Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and all these rock bands.
KISS: Never mind Crüe or KISS, managing Brown or Hayes must have made you a nervous wreck. The stories you must have ...
McGhee: You have no idea! You know, the nice thing about this business is that there are no footprint. Every artist is different. Outside of telling the truth, staying on the right path, there is no formula. It is a learning process. You treat everyone the same, and I learned that if you do that, if you're fair, if you do not develop a "selective amnesia", that good fortune comes back to you.
KISS: When one thinks of leading managers of pop music, there's really only Col. Tom Parker ... and you. Did you have a role model getting into this game?
McGhee: Actually, partly yes. When I started, David Krebs was the biggest name in the world of rock managers. He had to Humble Pie. He was my mentor in that he liked to do big things, difficult-to-pull-off-things, but the big moves are what people pay you for. People want to pay for the two or three things a year that change their lives. I learned that from David.
KISS: Simmons tried to secure you as manager of KISS back in 1982, during the tour of Creatures. Why did you resist?
McGhee: There was no Makeup! There was not much I could do to change their fortune; I didn't have a rabbit out of its hat. Although we kept in touch over the years. Gene and Paul are extremely enterprising and very smart - and in the '90s they called me again and I said, "Are you putting the make-up back on?" They were silent, so I knew they were going to. I drove over to Gene's house and Paul was there, and that's it.
KISS: Did you support them going back into the studio post-Psycho Circus?
McGhee: Yes! Gene and Paul and I are very good partners, we think very similarly, so I didn't have to tell them what kind of record they had to do. Paul knew he had to make a KISS record. When we did Psycho Circus, they were just back into the makeup, and we pushed the envelope a bit with a 3D record, a 3D tour, etc ... to make it bigger and better, but they really got back to the essence of KISS with Sonic Boom. It did really well, it came in at number two because Michael Bublé did Oprah on Friday and took the number one ... so blame Bublé for that. Monster obviously followed the same formula.
KISS: You are right in the middle of The Tour, how are Mötley Crüe these days?
McGhee: Mötley have stayed true to what they are, but they are much calmer. They were never really bad people, they were just crazy -- they had that special kind of insanity. But yes, they are much calmer now!
KISS: Are you still loving your job after all these years?
McGhee: Every day. We're always on the hunt for the next big thing. There are only one or two artists in a lifetime that you can get to have that special connection to get to stardom. There lots of great bands out there, great songwriters, but only a few have the chops to make it. I've been lucky enough to have a few of the big ones.