Keepin’ it positive for KISSmas – Mark St John

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Hey there, and a very Happy KISSmas in July! Just in case you’ve wandered in here by mistake, KISS is a huge band, commanding a huge and devoted following. Most fans have favourite eras and line-ups and enjoy them regardless but for some arguing about who & what is best seems to take up most of their time. Personally, I just like the music, and the performance, in and of itself, no matter what era or line-up.
It’s all Rawk N Roll to me.
So, channelling the great Matt Porter from The Kiss Room, I’m keeping it positive and showing my unashamed appreciation of the members who made KISS what it was, and is, and will always be.


The late great Mark St John’s time in KISS was to last only an album, followed by a couple of live shows, but when that album turns out to be the most successful of the non-makeup era then it surely deserves closer consideration. On Animalize, and as a player, St John was a product of his environment and in the early ’80s it was all about speed and fretboard gymnastics; the faster and more spectacular, the better. As tastes and fashion changed that style became deeply unpopular and Gene’s ‘angry Bee’ tag stuck fast, but technically Mark St John is untouchable and if you want ’80s guitar playing in all its million miles an hour dive-bombing splendor then Mark St John is your man.

My favourite Mark St John moment has got to be his playing on the track “Thrills In The Night”. Following a short, blistering intro we settle into what, on the face of it, is a typically pedestrian Paul Stanley ’80s power ballad…until Mark kicks in again with those sweet dipping harmonics, and from there taking off into full on shred-mode with a solo that Vinnie Vincent would be proud of, using everything from feedback control through to vibrato dive bombs and two-handed tapping.
Flight of the killer bumble bee.

(Photo credit – (C) Lynn’s KISS Dominion)

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