INTERVIEW WITH C.K. LENDT
C.K. Lendt is well
known to many Kiss fans. He was Vice President of Glickman/Marks Management, business
managers for Kiss. He traveled around the world with Kiss handling their business and
financial affairs and attending nearly 800 concerts in 25 countries. In 1997 he published Kiss and Sell
through Billboard Books in the US. It includes many unbelievable stories. This book became
a huge seller in the US and has now been published in Japan.
1) First of all, why have you written this book?
I wrote KISS and Sell because I had an extraordinary experience with the band that lasted nearly 12 years. I was an insider and I had a unique perspective on their career. My goal was to be both entertaining and informative. I wanted readers to know what it's like working with a band of the stature of Kiss and to provide a close-up look working with a band of the stature of Kiss and to provide a close-up look at all of their success as well as their failures. That's the real stuff that made Kiss the band that they are. And on a personal level, I always believed that I had the ability to write a book and to share my experiences with people.
2) There are a lot of little
details in the book, things like describing the exact details of the carpets in Bill
Aucoins office from 20 years ago. Are those details made up? I mean how can someone
remember those kind of details 20 years later? Did you have a diary book?
No details were "made up" or invented. I always had a good eye for detail. Keep in mind that my job was to be the "detail man" for Kiss, handling all of their business and financial details. I do pay attention to how people dress, what restaurants I go to, and what my surroundings are like. Those things are important to me. Considering that I was in and out of Bill Aucoin's suite of offices hundreds of times over the years, I would find it odd if I couldn't remember what they looked like. No, I didn't keep a diary but I do have an excellent memory. I also have photos and interviewed dozens of people. I did a lot of research for my book; it wasn't written in a flash. Everything about my experience in the world of Kiss made a very powerful and indelible impression on me.
3) In this book there is a whole chapter mainly on Diana Ross, which has actually nothing to do with Kiss. Why has this chapter been included in such an extended way?
Diana Ross became a client through our relationship with Gene. That tells you a lot about how the music business works. An important part of what I wanted to share with readers is how the business works on the inside. Diana had a big impact on Gene. His relationship with her affected the dynamics of Kiss. That's not something that anyone in the band is likely to admit to in an interview, but it's obvious. To say that has nothing to do with Kiss is ridiculous! Artists' personal and romantic relationships have everything to do with what goes on in their musical careers. No one lives in a vacuum. Working with Diana, albeit briefly, was a direct result of working with Kiss and was an important part of my experience. Keep in mind that KISS and Sell was not intended to be the story of Kiss from a fan perspective, but my story of Kiss from my perspective as a music business insider.
4) To my knowledge about 50.000
copies have been sold from the english version, are those figures correct?
That is roughly about right.
5) Did you know, that the German
Metal Hammer magazine had a huge 4-page article about your book in the August 1999 issue,
although the book has never been published in Germany?
Yes, I did that interview for Hammer while I was in Berlin in the spring of 1999. We made numerous efforts to find a publisher in Germany but have never been able to make a deal.
6) The Japanese edition had a very
small print run of only 3.000 copies I believe of the first print. That's a very small
number for Japan. How much impact did you have in the Japanese version of the book? How
come the book has now been published in Japanese?
The book deal for Japan was made in 1999. Publication was postponed until early 2001 when Kiss announced that they would do a Farewell concert tour in Japan. It's too early for me to really assess how much impact the book has had. Shinko (note: that is the publishers name) certainly produced a very high quality book with many photos and other features not included in the US edition.
7) When was the last time you have
seen Gene or Paul?
I have not seen anyone in Kiss since 1988. The last time I spoke to anyone in the band was when gene called in 1993. He had heard that I was writing a book. We had a cordial conversation but I didn't go into any detail about my book.
8) Have you ever had a mad Gene on
the phone after publishing the book or heard from him or other members somehow?
No, I never had anyone call or write who had any complaints or objections to anything that I wrote. And that includes the Kiss members.
9) Do you think there will be a German or Spanish version available one day?
Hopefully. It really depends on how much interest people have in the Kiss story in the future.
10) Have you heard about another book
called "Kiss & Tell"? If so, what is your opinion about it?
Yes, I'm familiar with it. I can't say anything to recommend it.
11) Are you listening to KISS? Do you
like their music? Do you buy their albums?
I enjoyed Kiss's early music - "Detroit Rock City", "Black Diamond", "Love Gun", "Cold Gin", "I stole your Love". Some of their songs in the '80's were also great, like "Heaven's on fire" and "Creatures of the night". After I stopped working with Kiss, however, I lost interest in their music.
12) What is your job today?
I am a consulatant for artists and companies in the entertainment and media field and I teach entertainment business courses at new York University. I am also involved in investments.
13) If you could turn back time,
would you have done the same or would have done something different (meaning accepting the
job or doing something different handling situations)?
My years with Kiss were tremendously enjoyable. It was an unusual experience, which is what motivated me to write KISS and Sell . My biggest regret is that I wasn't able to parlay that experience into representing other artists or develop other opportunities for myself in the music business at that time.
14) Do you have any experiences with
other bands as well? If so, is there any difference between Kiss and other bands how they
are handling their business?
What I have learned is that most bands are lucky to have a few good years. After that, it's usually downhill. Musicians don't always realize this. Bands are very volatile and often break up because of personal disputes, faltering finances, or unwillingness to keep working. kiss was a phenomenon. It still amazes me that they could weather so many storms and be one of the most successfull bands in the history of rock and roll nearly 30 years after they first started.
15) The book was not written in
"easy English". Even people with English as their mother language had a hard
time to understand all the terms and words used in the book. Why was it not written
in a more easier understandable way? Have you written the book this way or has it
been "re-written" by someone else?
I am the sole author of KISS and Sell ; no one else was involved in the writing. Authors write books in a style that is comfortable for them personally. It's a reflection of who they are, how they communicate, and what style of writing they admire. I don't believe that people should "talk down" to their audience. In the US, book buyers are typically in their 30s and 40s. My goal was not to write the usual rock book but more of a personal story about my music business experience. If you look at other English language books that are business biographies, I don't think that KISS and Sell is overly complicated or dense.
books from the author C.K. Lendt:
Kiss and Sell (english version published by Billboard Books, USA, 1997, was available as paperback and hardcover edition)
Kiss and Sell (Japanese version published by Shinko Music, Japan, 2001)