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Tommy Thayer Says Gene Simmons ‘Was Like a Kid’ Working With Bob Dylan

Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Bob Dylan
Kevork Djansezian / Araya Diaz / Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer has revealed the only time he’s ever seen bandmate Gene Simmons’s trademark “center of the universe” attitude fail him: when he recorded a track with Bob Dylan in the ‘90s.

Thayer was recently asked by Jay Gilbert: about his favorite “industry moments.” “Gene Simmons wrote a song with Bob Dylan, and I’m guessing it was around 1991,” he recalled. “One day I got a call from Gene and he says, ‘Get a drummer and keyboard player and meet me down at Cherokee Studios at 7PM tonight – we’re going to record with Bob Dylan.’

“I’m like, ‘Wow, seriously?’ I brought my Les Paul and two acoustic guitars, a six and a 12-string that I borrowed from my buddy. I got there, and sure enough, in walks Bob Dylan and his girlfriend. Suddenly, I’m thinking, ‘It’s Bob Dylan – the guy who influenced the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Unreal!’”

Thayer explained how the 12-string was passed between Dylan and himself while they worked out the chord changes for the song they were about to record. He noted that the legendary singer-songwriter was “quiet and eccentric, but friendly. … It seemed like one of the most surreal things I’ve ever experienced.”

But what he remembered most about the night was the effect Dylan had on Simmons. “He won’t mind me saying this, but I’ve never seen Gene be anything but ‘I’m Gene Simmons and I’m the center of the universe.’ But around Bob Dylan has was like a kid just happy to be in the room.” Thayer admitted that, after the session, he removed the strings from the guitar before returning it to its owner and kept them as souvenirs, which he still has to this day.

The track in question is probably “Waiting for the Morning Light,” which appeared on Simmons’s 2004 album, Asshole, but was recorded several years earlier. “Bob came up with the chords, most of them, and then I took it and wrote lyrics, melody, the rest of it,” Simmons told Billboard in 2003. “We understood each other right away. He picked up an acoustic guitar, and we just tossed it back and forth – ‘How ’bout this, how ’bout that?’ As soon as I heard the first three or four chords, I went, ‘Wait, what’s that? Do that again.’ So I went and started to write a lyric around that.”

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