July 31, 2012
The Tampa show was by far the best I have seen from KISS, but it was more than music this time. I bit the bullet and did the meet and greet, and KISS did not disappoint. The sound check idea fizzled so they blew us away with an intimate acoustic set that was supposed to be about 20 minutes…..almost 45 minutes later and many laughs with longtime idols it was almost SHOWTIME. And, while waiting I had an urge to do something crazy! I heard about getting guitars from the show, autographed from Gene or Paul and played during the show. So I thought I would ask. So I tracked down Dean and he quickly set me up with the right people and how!

I was going to go easy and only get Paul's Breakaway show ender, but then I thought why not grab both. But to my dismay which turned to pleasure the AXE was spoken for so I had to "settle" for a custom Punisher which happens to be only the second one currently in existence! It was the same one Gene played during the acoustic set and the encore. That was the easy part. The band was so real, so personable, not like you would think. They took time, exchanged jokes, actually gave you the time of day. But I was floored how it all went down.

To get Paul's guitar I was led backstage and was able to meet with Paul all over again. We talked a few and took pictures with the lucky six string that was soon gonna meet his maker and it didn't end there. After the show the guitar was personalized and brought to me by Keith, who went well out of his way to orchestrate the whole thing. But it didn't end there. Keith then took me back to meet Paul once again. I got to say bye to Doc, Eric and Tommy as they were leaving, and then Paul came up to me and asked if I got the guitar. How incredible is that?

But that is how the night ended so I must take a few steps back to tell you about Gene's hospitality. We were taken to Gene's bus and freed from the blistering heat to hang in the A/C with the lucky family snatching up Gene's AXE. Well here comes Gene who immediately recognizes us from the meet and greet and gives the misses a twirl and starts cracking jokes with all of us. But what caught Gene's eye was this adorable little girl waiting for him. He took so much time talking with her and fist bumping, showing her different ways to do it. Like he had nothing to do but hang with us all day. He signed the "Punisher" the way I wanted and we took some photos; he asked me not to grab his butt. I have pretended to be like Gene since I was 6 years old... almost 34 years later I am so glad that I listened to him when he said, "Stand up…..you don't have to be afraid!" To all that is considering the meet and greet, don't tell yourself NO. You can't take money to the grave, but the memory of me spending the day with the Hottest Band in the Land will be on my mind when HE comes calling. After all GOD GAVE ROCK N ROLL TO YOU!

Joe Phillips