That time I thanked Ace Frehley for all those awesome Kiss guitar licks that got me riled up as a teen

By Steve Newton If you’d told me when the first Kiss album came out in ’74 that one day I’d be interviewing the guy playing all those wicked Les Paul licks on “Deuce” and “Strutter” my teenaged self mighta hollered “Hell yeah!” And 34 years later there I was, talkin’ on the phone with Ace … Continue reading That time I thanked Ace Frehley for all those awesome Kiss guitar licks that got me riled up as a teen

That time Ace Frehley told me that deep down inside Gene Simmons was a teddy bear

By Steve Newton When it comes to legendary rocker Gene Simmons, you either love him or hate him. Some say he’s an arrogant, money-hungry, womanizing prick; others say that he’s a legendary rocker, so who cares. When I got the opportunity to interview Simmons’ former Kiss bandmate Ace Frehley back in 2008 I asked him … Continue reading That time Ace Frehley told me that deep down inside Gene Simmons was a teddy bear

That time I asked Ace Frehley if he ever feared an onstage attack like the one that killed Dimebag

By Steve Newton We’ve all seen violence at rock concerts, but usually it only involves some guy in the crowd who’s had too much to drink and decides to give another guy a punch in the head. Rarely does it involve the actual band members on stage, although there are exceptions. Like that time, as … Continue reading That time I asked Ace Frehley if he ever feared an onstage attack like the one that killed Dimebag

That time I told Ace Frehley that I thought the first Kiss album was the best Kiss album

By Steve Newton I was crazy about Kiss when their first album dropped back in the Year of Our Lord, 1974. I was 16 at the time, which is all you need to know. I think it’s their best album–love “Strutter”, “Deuce”, “Black Diamond”–so when the opportunity came to interview Ace Frehley back in 2008 … Continue reading That time I told Ace Frehley that I thought the first Kiss album was the best Kiss album

Wallflowers guitarist more influenced by Ace Frehley than Jakob Dylan’s dad

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 20, 1997 Most guitarists for hire would jump at the opportunity to join a band featuring Bob Dylan’s son as singer-songwriter; name recognition alone would give that group an instant edge in the competitive rock ’n’ roll game. When Jakob Dylan was on the lookout for a new … Continue reading Wallflowers guitarist more influenced by Ace Frehley than Jakob Dylan’s dad

Former KISS man Ace Frehley still has a few tricks up his sleeve

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 12, 2008 By Steve Newton When Kiss played the Commodore Ballroom back in early 1975, the band had just released its second album, Hotter Than Hell, and was about to embark on a rocket ride to untold riches and fame. Thirty-three crazy years later and KISS guitarist Ace Frehley is … Continue reading Former KISS man Ace Frehley still has a few tricks up his sleeve

That time Nick Gilder told me about Bryan Adams taking his place in Sweeney Todd

By Steve Newton If you were a rock-loving Canadian teenager in the mid-seventies you no doubt heard “Roxy Roller”, the big hit by Vancouver glam-rock band Sweeney Todd, on the radio. It wasn’t one of my personal favourite tunes, but I do remember buying the album, because back in ’76 I was all about the … Continue reading That time Nick Gilder told me about Bryan Adams taking his place in Sweeney Todd

Vancouver guitar ace Scott Smith sends out a Lifeboat for pedal-steel fans in these trying times

By Steve Newton I first became aware of the six-string talents of Vancouver’s Scott Smith when he sent me a copy of his blues-rock trio Terminal Station’s Rolling All Night album back in 2009. I also knew of his fine work with Bottleneck, the country-roots quartet he fronted with Robyn Carrigan, and his guest appearances … Continue reading Vancouver guitar ace Scott Smith sends out a Lifeboat for pedal-steel fans in these trying times

That time I asked 24-year-old Bruce Dickinson why Iron Maiden had replaced Clive Burr with new drummer Nicko McBrain

By Steve Newton I’ve seen Iron Maiden in concert most every time they’ve played Vancouver since 1982, the year I interviewed original drummer Clive Burr, who sadly succumbed to multiple sclerosis in 2013 at the age of 56. In ’83 I did another Maiden interview, this time with singer Bruce Dickinson, before the band played Vancouver … Continue reading That time I asked 24-year-old Bruce Dickinson why Iron Maiden had replaced Clive Burr with new drummer Nicko McBrain

That time Tony Carey told me that he thought “The First Day of Summer” was going to break his new album wide open

By Steve Newton Way back in May of 1984 I interviewed Tony Carey, who I’d been a fan of since I heard him playing keyboards on Rainbow’s colossal Rising album of 1976. At the time of our chat he was promoting his new solo album Some Tough City, which was doing well on the charts … Continue reading That time Tony Carey told me that he thought “The First Day of Summer” was going to break his new album wide open

That time Ian Hunter told me that what sells Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter–or what doesn’t sell Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter

By Steve Newton Mott the Hoople is one of my all-time favourite bands, and Ian Hunter is one of my all-time favourite rockers. I interviewed him and Mick Ronson separately on the same day–September 9, 1988–when they were headed to Vancouver for a show in advance of recording their awesome 1989 album YUI Orta. At … Continue reading That time Ian Hunter told me that what sells Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter–or what doesn’t sell Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter

That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

By Steve Newton We’ve all heard the old joke before: “What do you call somebody who hangs around with musicians? A drummer.” I think it’s fair to say that drummers don’t always get the credit they deserve. I haven’t interviewed that many over the years–for the simple fact that I prefer talking to guitarists–but some … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

By Steve Newton Back in January of 1990 I did the first of my seven interviews with Joe Satriani. At the time he was touring behind his latest album, Flying in a Blue Dream, and the buzz about him was growing fast. People were learning that he’d spent several years as a guitar instructor, teaching … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

By Steve Newton I was fortunate enough to have interviewed Canadian guitar wizard Jeff Healey three times. Man could that guy wail on the Strat! The first interview took place in June of 1988, when he was just 22, and still three months away from releasing his incredible debut album, See the Light. When I … Continue reading That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

By Steve Newton Bon Jovi may have been hugely popular back in the day, but I actually enjoyed guitarist Richie Sambora’s solo debut album, Stranger in This Town, more than any Bon Jovi band release. I even preferred Sambora’s lead vocals over Jon Bon Jovi’s, especially on solo tunes like “Ballad of Youth”. So it … Continue reading That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Kenny Wayne Shepherd four times, ’cause I’m a sucker for folks who can play the shit out of a Strat. The first time was back in December of 1995, when he was only 18 and touring behind his platinum-selling debut album, Ledbetter Heights. At one point in the conversation I … Continue reading That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

By Steve Newton As April Wine once said, “I Like to Rock”. I like to rock as well, but once in a while a beautiful, gentle ballad is, as Ted Nugent once said, “Just What the Doctor Ordered”. But enough about April Wine and Ted Nugent. This little blog’s about a softer-rockin’, more prog-oriented band … Continue reading That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

That time I asked Elliot Easton if he felt like a mercenary playing John Fogerty’s licks in Creedence Clearwater Revisited

By Steve Newton I’ve long felt that John Fogerty was the biggest triple-threat in rock: as a songwriter, singer, and guitarist, few can match him. I’ve also always hated how, for years after the breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty couldn’t even perform the incredible CCR songs he’d written, for legal reasons. The old CCR … Continue reading That time I asked Elliot Easton if he felt like a mercenary playing John Fogerty’s licks in Creedence Clearwater Revisited

That time Wayne Kramer told me about the MC5’s political consciousness in the ’60s

By Steve Newton I missed out on the MC5 when they were a major musical force on the American counterculture scene in the late ’60s. And it’s not just ’cause I’m Canadian. I was only 11 when their groundbreaking Kick Out the Jams debut album came out, and at that point all I listened to … Continue reading That time Wayne Kramer told me about the MC5’s political consciousness in the ’60s

That time Joe Satriani told me how his mind works when he’s playing wicked guitar on stage

By Steve Newton Some guitarists learn how to play by ear, and others–like Joe Satriani–learn how to play by the book. Satch knows music theory better than most, so when I did my first interview with him back in 1990–just after the release of Flying in a Blue Dream–I asked him how that relates to … Continue reading That time Joe Satriani told me how his mind works when he’s playing wicked guitar on stage

That time Randy Hansen told me about recording his atmospheric, Hendrix-style guitar parts for Apocalypse Now

By Steve Newton Back in August of 2001 I interviewed Jimi Hendrix tribute artist Randy Hansen because he was coming up from Seattle for a gig at a Vancouver club. This was right around the time that Apocalypse Now Redux, an extended version of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic 1979 Vietnam war movie, was being released. … Continue reading That time Randy Hansen told me about recording his atmospheric, Hendrix-style guitar parts for Apocalypse Now

That time Bob Rock told me that he just wakes up in the morning and music is what he does

By Steve Newton Being a rock journalist in Vancouver during the ’80s and ’90s meant that I was close to where a lot of the top-selling albums of the time were made. That was mainly down at Little Mountain Sound, where local producers, engineers, and mixers–guys like Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock, and Mike Fraser–were tweaking … Continue reading That time Bob Rock told me that he just wakes up in the morning and music is what he does

That time Steve Vai told me about the “cornball arrangements” on his Zappesque debut album Flex-Able

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Steve Vai, just after he’d released Passion and Warfare in 1990, we got to talking about his previous album, Flex-Able. Turns out the success of Passion and Warfare was pushing sales of the six-year-old Flex-Able, even though the music on it was the opposite of … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me about the “cornball arrangements” on his Zappesque debut album Flex-Able

That time Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman told me about creating the riff for “American Woman”

By Steve Newton Canada doesn’t seem to have an overabundance of rock-guitar heroes. Sure, you’ve got your Lenny Breau when it comes to jazz, and your Jeff Healey if you’re talkin’ blues. But when it comes to Canadian rock-guitar heroes, I can’t think of tons. Alex Lifeson, Kim Mitchell… Obviously Neil Young, but isn’t he … Continue reading That time Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman told me about creating the riff for “American Woman”

That time Ann Wilson told me about the heartfelt dedication on Heart’s “These Dreams”

By Steve Newton I was a huge fan of Heart back in the seventies. I remember they played a show at the hockey rink in my hometown of Chilliwack, B.C. when I was just out of high school. With Ann Wilson’s killer voice, Roger Fisher’s killer guitar, and killer songs like “Magic Man” and “Crazy … Continue reading That time Ann Wilson told me about the heartfelt dedication on Heart’s “These Dreams”

Andy Powell on the awesomeness of Wishbone Ash’s Argus, up-and-comer Doyle Bramhall II, and “old friend” the Flying V

brian ferguson photo By Steve Newton I loved Wishbone Ash in the seventies. The dual lead-guitar stylings on albums like Argus and There’s The Rub really turned my crank. So it was cool to finally do a little interview with founding member Andy Powell back in 2003, before the band played a gig at Vancouver’s … Continue reading Andy Powell on the awesomeness of Wishbone Ash’s Argus, up-and-comer Doyle Bramhall II, and “old friend” the Flying V

That time I asked Klaus Meine if the Scorpions were blowing Van Halen off the stage on the Monsters of Rock Tour

By Steve Newton Way back in July of 1988 I made the trek from Vancouver to see the Monsters of Rock Festival at the Seattle Kingdome. The lineup featured Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, Dokken, and Kingdom Come, and at the time–since David Lee Roth was no longer in VH–I was particularly psyched to see the … Continue reading That time I asked Klaus Meine if the Scorpions were blowing Van Halen off the stage on the Monsters of Rock Tour