Former Night Ranger guitarist Jeff Watson recalled his band’s early tour dates with Kiss, and explained why the headline act’s dressing rooms always smelled like burnt toast.

As a result of the experience in early 1983 – as one of the openers on Kiss’ Creatures of the Night road trip – Watson said he permanently connects the scent with that era.

“It was eye-opening,” he wrote in a social media post. “Tanks on stage… big guns dripping with fog waiting for showtime, flame throwers, canisters with nozzles hanging from the massive lighting trusses, dripping with fog, religious protesters in front of the shows with hand printed signs reading ‘KISS = Knights In Satan’s Service’ and stuff like that.”

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He recalled the “boos and hostility” from the band’s fans as Night Ranger delivered their “nice ‘80s rock songs,” but said the experience meant they “slowly learned what real touring was.” He added that “all the guys in Kiss took us under their wing, and we shared lots of fun times… some that we’ll even speak about publicly sometime.”

Watson continued: “We always smelled toast in the dressing rooms (as we were always next to each other), and didn’t think much of it, except it seemed they really sucked at making toast, as it always smelled burned.”

“Anyway, most every night, I’d go up on stage right next to Gene [Simmons]’s rig and watch the show. And every night an older lady – like someone’s mom or older sister – would walk up right before they hit the stage, carrying a plate stacked with burnt white bread toast, and stand there the entire show watching Gene.”

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Watson eventually discovered what was going on: “It turns out that the flammable liquid Gene was gulping into his mouth before igniting with a torch was very toxic, and if he mistakenly swallowed any – which did happen – the fastest remedy before getting medical attention is eating as much burnt toast as possible.

“It does something to help neutralize the poison until proper treatment.” He added: “And that’s why I always smell burnt white toast in my head whenever I see photos of the Kiss lads.”

Simmons added his fire-breathing stunt to shows at the behest of manager Bill Aucoin, who suggested it in 1974 as a tie-in with the Kiss track “Firehouse.” In 2021 the bassist recalled: “Literally the very first show we did, my hair went up like a fucking matchstick. And the fans loved it.”


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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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