South Lake Tahoe fan pays permanent tribute to Kiss
August 28, 2008
It’s not surprising that Robey O’Day was the first person in Tahoe to purchase tickets for Saturday’s Kiss concert: He might be the band’s biggest fan, and he also might have the largest Kiss tattoo.
O’Day has the art of the “Destroyer” album cover tattooed on his back.
“Kiss always has my back,” O’Day said. “Those rare moments when I’m down, which is rare because I’m a positive person, I listen to Kiss, and everything goes away.”
But the tattoo certainly won’t be going away. Sean Dawley of Hooligan’s and the Electric Pencil worked on the tattoo every two weeks for more than seven months.
“It took a lot of dedication on both of our parts,” Dawley said. “It was tough because what were trying to duplicate was an oil painting on a CD. It’s not a clean picture.”
The first day was the most difficult: In four hours Dawley drew an outline of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, who appear with makeup as larger-than-life rock stars.
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“It’s hard for me not to try to make it perfect,” Dawley said. “I minted the image to a tee. To see it best, you need to be back about 5 or 6 feet.”
Dawley said it’s not unusual for people to request rock star tattoos. He’s also inked Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Randy Rhoads.
“I’ve seen a lot of Kiss tattoos,” said Kiss drummer Eric Singer, who like founding member Criss, wears the cat face onstage. “The Kiss fans are by far the most dedicated, crazy, zealous fans.”
O’Day’s childhood friend Matt Smith, who now lives in Ukiah, has portraits of Stanley and Simmons on his arm. Dawley also was the tattoo artist.
“I saw them when I was 12, and it just blew my mind,” said Smith, who on Sunday in Kelseyville will see Kiss for the fifth time. “They are great musicians and have really great live sounds, but it’s the whole thing: the heels, the makeup, the spectacle. They are like superhero figures on stage. Its almost like watching a live cartoon.”
O’Day grew up with Smith and Mike Miller in South Lake Tahoe, where they lived for “Kiss, BMX and Pepsi,” said O’Day, who credits “Destroyer” with his learning guitar.
“I remember putting on headphones and listening to it and dreaming of how to play the guitar,” O’Day said. “I could pick up a broom and look just like I was playing the leads. In six months I was playing Van Halen.”
O’Day is forming a South Shore band called Road Rage, which will play songs about motor sports. Ex-Mad About Music owner Boyd Wenger and Jack Coe also are in the band.
In the 1980s, O’Day, Smith and Miller formed a metal band called Lochhaven. They eventually added bass player Chuck Garric, who now plays with Singer in Alice Cooper’s band. (Garric arranged the Lake Tahoe Action interview with Singer.)
“My favorite bands were Alice Cooper and Kiss,” O’Day said. “It’s kind of ironic how Chuck gets into the Alice Cooper band and the drummer is Eric Singer, who also is in Kiss. It’s weird. It came around full circle.”
Miller married O’Day’s sister Shannon, who taught her younger brother about music.
“(The Beatles’) ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ was my first album,” said Shannon O’Day, a concert lighting director in Las Vegas. “I lived and breathed music. That was my thing. I loved The Beatles, then I got turned on to Pink Floyd. That’s why I got into show business.”
Shannon O’Day said she remembers a 4-year-old Garric attempting to run her down with his Big Wheel. Now she has two boys of her own, Joey O’Day and Mike Miller, who both play guitar for the Las Vegas punk-metal band Kid Deposit Triumph.
Shannon and her friend Sheri Johnson attended an Alice Cooper concert Dec. 12, 1975, at the Sahara Tahoe (now the Horizon). The friends will reunite next week for a Cooper concert in Las Vegas. O’Day will be the lighting director for the show. Robey also will attend.
“My sister is my true inspiration for my music,” Robey said. “She is five years older, and she had every Beatles album, then Alice Cooper, then Kiss.”
Shannon approves of her little brother’s tattoo.
“I think its awesome,” she said. “I think he’s nuts. It must have hurt like hell. That was one of my favorite albums.”
Robey said the tattoo would have cost $10,000, but Dawley offered to do it for free. O’Day thanked him by giving him the keys to his 1956 Pontiac Star Chief.
O’Day is hoping to meet Kiss on Saturday.
“I just want to thank them for all the music they put in my head,” he said. “My dream is to introduce the band. I can’t believe they are coming to Tahoe. They are going to bless the Tahoe air with Kiss music.