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About Tommy Thayer
As the lead guitarist for the legendary rock band KISS, Tommy Thayer’s career in music has been more than a dream come true.
Born on November 7th, 1960 in Portland, Oregon, Tommy grew up in the suburbs of Beaverton, Oregon amidst the sounds of the Beatles and other classic ‘60s pop music. Tommy’s passion for early 70s hard rock bands drove his desire to pick up electric guitar at age 13. After graduating from Sunset High School in 1978, Tommy played in many local garage and club bands, eventually forming his own serious hard-rocking act, Black 'N Blue.
With a life-changing move to Southern California in early 1983, Black ‘N Blue had immediate success packing Hollywood’s rock clubs, and within six months signed a major worldwide recording contract with Geffen Records. Tommy’s dream of making records, videos and touring the world suddenly became a reality.
Touring for two months as opening act for KISS in fall 1985, Black ‘N Blue soon befriended bassist Gene Simmons and asked him to produce the band’s next studio album. Gene noticed Tommy’s skills and work ethic, in turn asking him to write and record song demos with him for KISS.
By the late 80s Black ‘N Blue had run its course, leading to part-time employment in the KISS camp, writing songs, recording demos and taking care of day-to-day business. By the early 90s, it had become a full-time job.
Tommy Thayer 1987 - Black 'N Blue
Tommy’s management of the 1995 Worldwide KISS Convention tour and KISS MTV Unplugged concert led to his playing a unique support role in the success of the KISS Alive Worldwide Reunion tour in 1996. In preparation for the tour, Tommy worked with guitarist Ace Frehley, helping him relearn his signature solos and guitar parts from the 70s.
In addition to playing guitar and contributing musically at KISS rehearsals, sound checks and in the recording studio, Tommy took over as producer and editor of KISS’s film and video productions including; KISS, the Second Coming (1998), New Line Cinema’s feature Detroit Rock City (1998), and Showtime Television’s pay-per-view, The Last KISS (2000).
By 2002 and with the growing uncertainty of Ace Frehley’s involvement in the band, Tommy stood by for a KISS performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony in Salt Lake City to fill-in on lead guitar if necessary. One month later Tommy got the call and donned the spaceman makeup for the first time, performing onstage with KISS at a private concert in Jamaica. Several TV appearances followed in 2002 and by the end if the year, Tommy was told the job was his.
Tommy officially took over the coveted KISS lead guitar spot on February 28th, 2003.
In his official debut concert, KISS joined forces with the 70-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (all in KISS makeup) for a concert at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne Australia. Recorded and filmed in front of 40,000 fans, a pay-per-view, CD and DVD were released worldwide later in the year. A KISS Japanese tour in March 2003 was a forerunner to the KISS-Aerosmith World Domination tour that kicked off in summer 2003, setting sales records as one of Pollstar Magazine’s top grossing tours of the year.
Tommy Thayer 2004 - KISS
With a desire to get involved and give back to the community where he grew up, Tommy was elected to the Board of Trustees at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon in September 2005. (www.pacificu.edu)
Through 2006 and 2007, Tommy has continued his interest in helping inspire kids with a commitment to support school programs, particularly in music. He arranged for new musical instruments to be donated to jump-start ailing school band programs in Oregon. Tommy has made appearances at middle and high schools in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, and Lake Oswego, Oregon speaking to students with hopes that they will follow their dreams and accomplish all that they aspire to do. More recently in February 2010, Tommy & KISS were featured in ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition helping a family in need with new instruments for their home-based, non-profit music school.
In March 2007, Tommy along with Gene Simmons visited the Marines of Camp Pendleton again, as well as members of the US Army, Navy and Air Force, to honor their brave commitment to our country with a rally and live performance featuring a medley of the armed forces anthems that was filmed for an hour-long Gene Simmons Family Jewels TV special on
A & E that aired on Memorial Day 2007.
KISS’s continued dedication to the support of US Military stationed abroad, inspired the band to headline Rockin’ the Corps, a massive outdoor concert in 2005 at Camp Pendleton, CA dedicated to the US Marines and US Military personnel stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In summer 2007, Tommy's passion for golf inspired the now annual Pacific University Legends Golf Classic, hosted by Tommy Thayer. The premier golf and entertainment event features Tommy along with a line-up of PGA pros and other celebrity friends and musicians who help raise money for Pacific University's Athletics Program in Oregon. (www.pacificlegendsgolf.com)
Tommy Thayer 2008
KISS kicked off their Alive 35 tour in Melbourne Australia in March 2008 to a huge crowd of 60,000 fans celebrating the 35-year history of the band. Hailed as the “Spectacular of the Year,” the sold-out tour ran through Australasia, Europe, South America and North America in 2009, cumulating in 100 concerts in 29 countries, to 1.5 million KISS fans.
Making an appearance on the 2009 season finale of American Idol, Tommy and KISS were joined onstage by Idol contestant Adam Lambert for a rockin’ KISS set seen by 30 million TV viewers.
Sonic Boom, the first KISS studio album in 11 years was released worldwide in October 2009, debuting at #2 on the Billboard Magazine Albums chart. Tommy co-wrote three songs on the record, including his own lead vocal debut on “When Lightning Strikes.”
A brand new KISS - Dr Pepper TV ad debuted during the 2010 Super Bowl to an estimated 100 million TV viewers. Promotions leading up to the debut included Tommy & KISS ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange in January 2010 in full KISS regalia.
KISS embarked on the highly anticipated Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour in Sheffield, England on May 1, 2010, playing 35 shows in stadiums and arenas throughout Europe through June. KISS appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in July, kicking off Kiss's 60-date The Hottest Show on Earth Tour of North America culminating in July 2011.
In 2012, Tommy was actively involved in the organization of the exclusive fundraising event, All-Star Salute to the Oregon Military which took place May 18 at The Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, Oregon. The event was the kick-off of the two-year $6.5 million capital campaign to raise funds in support of the new Oregon Military Museum that will be named in honor of Tommy's father, Brigadier General James B. Thayer Sr. Other notable Oregonians attending the event included Honorary Co-Chairs, Oregon Governors Victor G. Atiyeh (1979-1987), Ted Kulongoski (2003-2011), as well as Peter Jacobsen, Bill Schonely and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Robert D. Maxwell.