9/09/2007

Wicked Lester

Something a little different today. I’ve written in the past about what a HUGE Kiss fan I was when I was 13-14 years old. So of course, being well versed in “Kisstory,” I knew Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were, before Kiss, in a band called Wicked Lester. What I didn’t know, however, was the story behind Wicked Lester’s one and only album. From Wiki:
The origin of Wicked Lester traces to 1970, when bassist Gene Klein and keyboardist Brooke Ostrander recruited lead guitarist Stephen Coronel, a childhood friend and former band mate of Klein's, to join their new band. This group took the name Rainbow shortly thereafter. Coronel recommended rhythm guitarist Stanley Eisen, who had actually been rejected by the group after a previous audition.

In the spring of 1971, Rainbow played its first and only show, which consisted of two sets performed at Richmond Community College in Staten Island. After the show, the group discovered that there was already another band called Rainbow. They decided to drop the name, and quickly settled on Wicked Lester. While the decision to change the group's name came partly out of a desire to avoid any potential legal issues, it also reflected Klein and Eisen's desire to start playing more original compositions.

During their brief existence, Wicked Lester performed in public twice. The first show took place at the Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburg, N.Y., in April 1971. The second, during the summer of 1971, was at an Atlantic City, N.J., hotel, hosting a B’nai B’rith Youth Organization event.

After a chance meeting with Electric Lady Studios engineer Ron Johnsen, Wicked Lester was given the opportunity to record some demos in the fall of 1971. Johnsen, who produced the demo tape, shopped it to a few labels, with no success. Eventually the tape was screened by Epic Records, who purchased the masters and agreed to fund the recording of a full album. One of the conditions, however, was the firing of Stephen Coronel.

Coronel was replaced by session musician Ron Leejack, and the group continued their efforts to finish the album. Some songs were completely re-recorded to accommodate Leejack's different playing style. The entire recording process, which adhered to a haphazard schedule, took nearly a year to complete. When the completed album was presented to Don Ellis, Epic's A&R director, he stated that he hated the album and was not going to release it.
What I’ve got today are a couple of songs from that infamous Wicked Lester LP, which were not released in 1972, but did surface in 2001 as part of a Kiss box set. And just to compare and contrast, I’ve included the Kiss versions, both of which were on 1975’s Dressed to Kill album.

Love Her All I Can.mp3 Wicked Lester
Love Her All I Can.mp3 Kiss
She.mp3 Wicked Lester
She.mp3 Kiss

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4 Comments:

At 10:43 PM , Blogger The Idea Of Progress said...

Wimpy name to tough name to wimpy name. At least they wore makeup and high heels.

(I kid, I kid. I don't want to bring down the fury of the Kiss army on my head)

 
At 12:32 AM , Blogger MM said...

Gee, that's interesting. That photo also seems to be the cover of The Laughing Dogs' debut album--some 7 years later. Wonder where that photo originates from.

 
At 7:27 AM , Blogger aikin said...

MM - yes. If I remember correctly, I did read when I was researching Wicked Lester that the album cover art was later used on the Laughing Dogs album.

 
At 3:48 AM , Blogger mack said...

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