By Paul Bibeau
On March 12, 1976, my sister went to see Kiss play the legendary Warehouse on Tchoupitoulas Street, the main venue for rock music in New Orleans in the 1970s. [March 12th also happens to be the birthdate of my oldest son, Robin.]
It was the second leg of the North American Kiss “Alive” tour, the big bang of their “Kisstoric” rise (if you will). My sister described to me this larger-than-life band of superhero rock stars with war paint, crazy costumes and seven-inch leather heals. Suffice it to say that my catlike curiosity kicked in immediately.
Being a naive, socially awkward, and extremely uncool 9-year old kid in elementary school was torture enough in 1975. One of the few redeeming qualities of my elementary school experience was a jukebox in the gymnasium. After hearing that jukebox blast the studio version of “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and seeing fellow students (including the bullies and jocks) erupt into cheers, my baptism into the study and allegiance of the Kiss Religion commenced.
I purchased Dressed to Kill from Warehouse Records & Tapes in Metairie, Louisiana (where I later cut my teeth in the music business) with cash obtained from asthmatic-ridden lawn mowing jobs and a leftover score from the Easter Bunny. I didn’t have enough cash to purchase Alive (Kiss’ epic double live album), so Dressed To Kill had to suffice.
It was May of 1975 when my Kiss journey began with Dressed To Kill. [My youngest son, Peyton, happens to have been born in May]. I studied the album cover, used chopsticks coupled with an empty chicory coffee can for drums, and played guitar with a badminton racket for hours and hours on end. From the opening track, “Room Service,” to the hard-driving “Rock Bottom,” all the way through to the classic anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” I digested every single musical morsel. Ace Frehley’s guitar solos, in particular, ran through my veins!
Back in the day, friends gravitated to different Kiss members for a variety reasons. For me, it was an immediate association, a connection, or as my shrink called it, “a borderline healthy obsession” towards the “Rhinestone Spaceman” – Paul Daniel “Ace” Frehley. The smoking Sunburst Gibson Les Paul, the heavy picking pentatonic solos (unlike anyone around), the gravity-providing alien space boots and space suit hit me like a lightning bolt!
Growing up, the influence of Ace and Kiss led me to take up the guitar and to eventually play in a rock band. The Kiss experience was a huge part of my psyche and of my rearing. My love for Ace and Kiss carried me through my years in the music business in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. To this day, classic Kiss with Ace still resonates with me and always helps to beam me back to a time when life was simple…eat, sleep and play Kiss.
Remember those two kids that I mentioned above? Well, I may have poisoned the well and passed along my music obsession to them. My two sons, Robin (19) and Peyton (16) were raised around rockers and a room full of musical instruments, all sorts of great vinyl, eight-tracks, cassettes and CDs to absorb over time.
Along with Kathy (my wife of thirty years), it was normal for us to regularly take our sons to dinner and/or a show with historic musicians throughout their childhood…Dio, Alice Cooper, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and more. We always strived to spend as much time together as a family.
In the mid-1990s, I finally had the pleasure of meeting Ace through my former Spitfire Records publicist, Carol Kaye. I was nervous as all hell to meet my childhood idol, but it was an absolute honor to be in his presence. I had the great fortune to attend industry parties, guitar shows and events like The New York Steel 9/11 Benefit Concert in his company.
After settling down, I left the music industry and the “New York Groove” in the mid-2000s to go back home to New Orleans. It wasn’t long before Hurricane Katrina chased us out of Louisiana and into neighboring East Texas. In Texas, I had the time that I longed for to be with my amazing family. No more airplanes, late-night dinners, shows or adult beverages.
As Peyton began to grow, he gravitated immediately to my drum set. Robin headed straight to my guitars. Over time, as they became more serious about learning, I began to teach them both the basics of their chosen instruments. They rapidly progressed and grew to the point where we began to play music together as a trio (with me helping to anchor the rhythm section on bass).
Inspired by Van Halen, Robin and Peyton decided to use our family surname Bibeau (pronounced “be-bow”) for the band, which now includes Drew Theiring (vocals), Chris Ray (bass) and Alan Benek Hernandez (guitar).
Bibeau can be best described as a musical bridge between the classic power metal of the
’70s and ’80s, combined with the edge and attitude of today’s modern progressive metal. The band spent the better part of last year performing all over the south and developing a loyal fan base.
On January 21, 2017, Bibeau opened for my childhood hero, Ace Frehley, at Click’s Live in our adopted hometown of Tyler, TX. Ace FUCKING Frehley! Are you kidding me?
It was an amazing experience to see Robin, Peyton and their band of brothers in Bibeau share the stage with Ace! In my humble opinion, Bibeau performed a terrific, well-paced set of predominantly new original songs from their forthcoming debut effort, and the crowd reaction was really strong.
In all honesty, I teared up watching my sons performing before Ace took the stage. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined in my youth that I would have two incredibly talented and all-around great sons in the future, much less witness them supporting my childhood hero. All that guiding, talking and teaching in effort to point them in the right direction paid off in droves that night. Kathy and I were beaming all night long.
I had the chance to briefly sit down with Ace and my sons on his bus after the show. Before long, our “Rocket Ride” had come to an end, so I helped pack up my “Rock Soldiers” and headed for home.
The circle of life…the circle of metal!