45 Years Ago: Kiss’ ‘Christine Sixteen’ Starts as ‘Brotherly Kibitzing’
The “brotherly kidding and kibitzing” that’s always taken place between Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley resulted in many hit Kiss singles being written – and a good example was June 1977’s “Christine Sixteen.”
This song, and many others, had their roots in the way Simmons and Stanley “shared our dreams and ambitions with each other from the start,” Simmons said in the liner notes to his 2017 Vault archive release.
“When one of us heard a good idea from the other, we would nick it and make it our own,” Simmons added. “I remember talking to Paul about a Rolling Stones song called ‘Tumbling Dice.’ I loved the title and the vibe and wanted to write my own song like that. I told Paul I had an idea for a song about a New Orleans hooker named Black Diamond – a diamond in the rough, as it were – and he liked it so much that the next day, he came in with his own ‘Black Diamond’ song.”
Simmons felt it needed a riff that made the song as memorable as the Stones’ “Satisfaction,” so he added one, and that became a regular way of working. “For some reason, we never took songwriting credit for things like that; although today, we certainly would,” he observed, in typical Simmons fashion.
Listen to Kiss Perform ‘Christine Sixteen’
The “kidding and kibitzing” level rose while Kiss was working on 1976’s Destroyer. “Paul would say, ‘Gene, all you ever write about are monster songs. Like “God of Thunder.”’ And of course, he went home and wrote that song, as a semi-parody of a Gene song. Ironically, I wound up singing it because our then-producer, Bob Ezrin, said he couldn't envision [Stanley] singing those words convincingly.”
Later, Simmons countered by telling Stanley: “‘Oh, yeah? All you ever write are teenage girlie songs like “Christine Sixteen.”’ And as soon as I heard myself say that, I quickly wrote it.”
Taken from their sixth album Love Gun, “Christine Sixteen” caused some controversy with its suggestive title. Many radio stations refused to play it, while others only airing it after 7PM. Whether that helped or hindered its climb to No. 25 is anyone’s guess.
Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex had long been rumored to have recorded a demo of this track during pre-fame sessions with Simmons – and that proved true when it was released as part of the Vault collection. “Christine Sixteen” was also memorably sampled by Tone Loc for his 1989 single “Funky Cold Medina.”
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