Monday, June 28, 2010
06/28/10 - R.I.P. - William "Bill" Aucoin
1998 - Bill Aucoin "13 Classic Kiss Stories" Interview CD
(Images via: NYCDreamin Archives)
Old school members of the Kiss Army are learning today of the untimely passing of the group's original manager, William "Bill" Aucoin. Aucoin, who was 66 years old, passed away just after 9:00am this morning after suffering complications during a surgical procedure to combat prostate cancer which he had been battling recently.
Bill Aucoin was frequently known as "the fifth Kiss" while he managed the group from 1973 until he was dismissed by the band from his managerial duties in 1982. After Kiss bassist Gene Simmons pestered him all through the early part of 1973 to come see the band, Aucoin finally took Simmons up on his offer and the story goes he "discovered" the band playing at the run-down Hotel Diplomat in NYC on August 10, 1973 and soon found himself managing what was soon to become one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970's. Along with his then-partner Sean Delaney (also deceased - 04/13/03), Aucoin helped develop Kiss' stage act to become one of the most theatrical and flamboyant shows of it's era.
Aucoin was also a shrewd businessman and marketer. Sensing the almost limitless marketing possibilities with Kiss, he soon formed Niocua Merchandising and released a barrage of Kiss related and officially liscensed products onto an unsuspecting world throughout the late 1970's. Who can forget the Kiss action figures, trash cans, trading cards, and the Kiss Radio?
During the 70's while he was working for Kiss, Aucoin managed several other groups as well, including Piper (with a young Billy Squier on guitar), the amazingly talented Spider (featuring a young Anton Fig on drums), and Starz, possibly one of the most over-looked/long forgotten bands to come out of the 1970's. At some point in 1982, Bill was "released" from his duties as Kiss manager. He bounced right back into managing other bands including a brief stint as manager of a then-just-starting-out Manowar and later on managed Billy Idol briefly. During the past decade or so, Aucoin was still heavily involved in the management of several recording artists and groups including Flipp, Crossbreed, Lordi, The Early Strike and Dreaming in Stereo.
Aucoin leaves behind his domestic partner of the past fifteen years, Roman Fernandez and two sisters, Betty Britton and Janet Bankowski. Funeral arrangements are pending and there may be a memorial service in NYC at some point but details are still being worked out.
Back in the early 2000's, while Aucoin was managing Minneapolis area glam-punks Flipp, I was fortunate enough to meet him a few times through a friend of mine who did some road-crew work with Flipp. The first time I met him was at a Flipp concert in Minneapolis. He seemed to be a very nice guy, taking time to say hello and talk for a few minutes to a complete stranger who was introduced to him as "another one of those Kiss fanatics."
Several months later, I was busy at work one day (I was working for an independant music distribution company in those days) and this nicely dressed middle aged guy goes walking past my desk. I was looking at him - knowing I knew who he was but I just couldn't place the face. He disappeared and I kind of shrugged my shoulders and went back to my task. A minute later it hit me - "Was that Bill Aucoin? Nawwww...couldn't be."
I continued working and a few minutes later, here he comes, walking past my desk again, this time with one of our sales guys walking and talking with him. I looked up and said, "Hey, Hi, Bill." The sales guy looked at me like "How in the HELL do you know who this guy is?" Aucoin responded pleasantly, "Hello," and I mentioned I'd met him a few months prior at a Flipp concert. He didn't seem to remember me (and really, why would he?) but he brightened at my mention of the band and told me he was in town to see them presented with some local Minneapolis Area Music Award later that evening. He was obviously proud of them. Since I was at work, I didn't have a ton of Kiss merchandise with me...but I was thinking quickly. I grabbed an empty CD case (we had millions of them) and asked him if he would mind signing it for me, "I have that "Bill Aucoin's 13 Kiss Stories" interview CD," I told him. He laughed and said I really must be a big fan to have purchased that obscure CD. I assured him I was, since age 8. "Ahh, you were one of THOSE kids huh?" he joked. As he was signing my CD case, I grabbed a blank shipping label and asked him for one more autograph, one I could stick in the front cover of my Kisstory book. He was happy to sign one more item for me. I asked him why he happened to be at my place of employee and he mentioned to me that he was there shopping yet another music project, looking for distribution for his latest discovery, this guy who called himself "Glampire." He handed me a promo CD and said I should check it out. I still have it. We talked Kiss and Flipp for a few minutes and then, being the busy guy he was he was on his way. As he left, I stood there not believing I'd really met the guy - again - and at my work of all places. The memory of that brief meeting is a bit more special to me today...