Ron Leejack, best known in KISS fan circles for his role as guitarist in Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley's pre-KISS band Wicked Lester recently contacted me
concerning the presentation of some Lester history in one of the articles I write at kissfaq.com. He was kind enough to take some time to answer some
questions I had concerning Lester history and his role within it. Keep in mind that when Ron refers to Stan, that's Stanley Eisen, a.k.a. Paul Stanley.
I'd like to thank Ron for taking the time to answer questions that he's probably been asked over and over and over again!
JG. At what point did you join Lester? How did you get connected with the band, and what, if any was the audition process?
RL. I joined Lester in the middle of the recording session. My attorneys contacted me that this group was recording at ELS and wanted me to join them, they must have heard of me from the works I have done or the groups I was in. I was working with a lot of big groups. I just went there and started recording after all the paper work was done. They were not getting a record deal with Epic so Ron Johnston set up one one more audition with Epic A&R. Ron said he didn't think they were going pass. I said don't worry about it. So when the time came I put my amp where I thought the A&R man might sit and I was right. I just cranked it up and just overplayed taking extended solo's and played every trick I knew on guitar. Gene and Stan were looking at me like what's he doing. When it was over the A&R man was in my ear (I thought he was trying to tounge kiss me) were going to do this, that bla bla bla man your great (I still think he was trying tongue kiss me). I think his name was Tom, can't remember his last name. I'm just goin yeah ok yeah ok ok ok ok allready. We got the deal, they made me the leader of the group and my first job as leader, Gene & Stan asked me to fire Brooke & Tony. Now I said to myself, Brooke & Tony looked up to me as did Gene & Stan and how could you fire people who look up to you. I know it's done every day but I don't do those things for no amount of money. So my attorneys contacted the group that I was leaving. I was put in funny situation. Then Epic found out I left and droped the group. Now I remember the A&R man's last name, Werman, Tom. Then Tom called me up to Epic about doing my own album and I said not at this time cause I still was doing recording sessions.
JG. Lester Live - Lester is rumoured to have played few live gigs, with the exception of the famed effort of A&R and perhaps a couple of shows at the Daisy. Is this correct?
RL. I never played live with WL.
JG. "Little Lady", "Eskimo Sun", and "Suiter", are rumoured to exist on a live recording of Lester - can you comment on the sort of material played live by Lester?
RL. I don't recall those songs. I didn't know what they played live.
JG. "Long Long Road", the Paul sung country-folk song. Was this simply a demo recorded before your tenure in the band, or did you have any involvement in it?
RL. I'd have to hear the song, I don't remember it but if I heard it I would my guitar playing.
JG. The two versions (mixes) of the rejected Epic album - how much involvement did the band members have in the remix of the album? Were there any additional recording sessions to fix, cleanup, overdub, or re-record any of the material?
RL. You have to remember they were not rejected after the audition with Epic. It's when I left they were rejected because they wanted me in the group (Epic) and in the situation I was in, I didn't want hurt anybody's feelings. Maybe it wasn't the right thing to do but I did it. (And don't get me wrong I'm not one to toot his own horn) I believe what happens in life is what happens right or wrong. Ron Johnston made all the decisions on everything and rightly so, he's terriffic, he could make my dog sound good and make it a #1 hit.
JG. There seems to have long been a disagreement concerning who plays the banjo on "Molly", any comment(!)?
RL. That was me playing banjo on "Molly". Ron asked if I could play banjo I said yes. He just wanted to try something different so I played it.
JG. While your resignation letters are dated 1/15/73, Lester had already ceased to exist in effect with Peter Cris joining up with Paul and Gene in late '72. At what point in 1972 did your lineup of Lester basically end?
RL. That's confusing to me also because after the album was done we started rehearsing, that's when they asked to fire Brooke & Tony and soon after that's when they got my resignation.
JG. Could you describe your career following Lester?
RL. It's been a long one ,next time I'll get into that give me a few weeks my fingers are getting cramped I'm not used to typeing for long periods (for me it's a long period).