Kiss' longtime stage manager is getting ready to share his best backstage stories for a good cause.

Steve Roman - who has overseen the band's flame-, blood- and stunt-filled concerts for more than a decade - will take part in the Six String Salute online benefit Thursday at 8PM ET on Live Nation's "Live From Home" YouTube channel. (An encore screening will take place at the same time the next day on the Six String Salute Facebook page.)

The event will also feature live performances by Steve Vai, Tommy Shaw of Styx, the Black CrowesRich Robinson, Joe Satriani and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, among others.

Roman tells UCR that Kiss are a "great bunch of guys" who hold themselves and their crew to a high standard. "They are the consummate professionals," he says. "They've been doing it so long. Basically, when you're working with Kiss, you've got to be on top of your game because they're on top of their game. If there's a mistake, they wanna know what's going on and why it happened. Doing a show as big as Kiss, there's a lot of gags - people flying across the stage in the air, pyrotechnics going off, they're spitting up blood, they're shooting up rockets in the air at things. There's a lot of stuff to do during the show."

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At a February 2019 show in Sacramento, a member of the lighting crew temporarily ran afoul of Gene Simmons' perfectionist streak, which resulted in an onstage “Give me a white spotlight, motherfucker" rant that went viral.

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"That's typical Gene," Roman laughs. "When he goes into a show, he wants to be seen. And, of course, they know what's up. They've been doing it for so long, they can tell when a spotlight's not where it's supposed to be. He's quite a character, that's for sure."

Roman notes that Simmons is always quick to forgive and forget once a show is over. "I've had my fair share of Gene yelling at me," he recalls. "One night, the pod he uses to fly over the crowd at the end of the show didn't take off on time. He's yelling at me, asking, 'What's going on?' [and] flipping me off, all this stuff. The whole thing's run by computer, so I tell him I don't know what's going on. 'What do you mean you don't know?' he says. During the show, he's into it, he wants to know what's going on. Then, after the show, we're going back to the dressing room, and he says, 'Look, I get it.' Once the show's done, he's fine. He'll give you the thumbs up, say, 'It was still a good show.'"

Even though Roman and his crew had been keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 shutdowns taking place across the country, they were still surprised when the tour was suddenly postponed in March. "We were in Tulsa that night, eating dinner," he recalls. "We got the call from [manager] Doc McGhee. He basically said they're shutting it down. We had just three shows left on that leg. I thought we would, at least finish them out."

Roman is now eager to get back on the road. "I am going nuts," he says. "I've done as much as I can around the house. I've done all the honey-dos I can, stuff that's needed to be done for forever. But I'm going stir crazy. This is the longest I've ever been home in the 30-plus years I've done this job. As of right now, we're a go for 2021, looking to start back up in April, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed until further notice."

In the meantime, he's hopeful that the Six String Salute benefit does some good for his peers. "It's helping out a lot of us," he notes. "There are 40 million people around the world right now who aren't really working. Starting from the touring crews, that includes building staff, merchandise people, hotel, restaurants, drivers. The live music industry, it helps out a bunch of people in whatever cities we're going to: flights, bars, restaurants. It's concerning to me."

 

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