Veteran at Meet and Greet (Birmingham)
Damon Stevenson on 09/21/2012
My name is Damon Stevenson, and I’m the Army veteran who served in the Gulf War you talked with at the Meet and Greet in Birmingham, and the friend of Tommy Harris. When I first met Tom the Marine we hit it off immediately because I knew he was a fellow member of the KISS Army from the KISS t-shirt he was wearing!
I felt compelled to write this letter to tell you how grateful I am for the kind words you shared with me at the Meet and Greet. When I told you how much I care about you, not just because I’m a life-long fan, but for what I know you do for veterans everywhere, I could not help but get choked up. I will never forget the hug and kind words thanking me for my service. I don’t know if you can ever understand just how much it means to a veteran for someone of your stature to say that to them. It is priceless. Not just because you said it, but because you mean it.
So many times people get the opportunity to meet actors, musicians or other celebrities, and all of a sudden their bubble is burst when the celebrity doesn’t act like they would hope, blows them off or comes off as snobbish. I can say with every ounce of my being that meeting you, Paul, Eric and Tommy exceeded any outcome I could have ever hoped for. There was no doubt that all of you are very sincere and love all of your fans, and as my friend Tom the Marine had told me, you pay some extra attention to fans that are veterans. I hope you understand just how much that means to veterans like myself.
I got the chance to talk with you about some emails I had exchanged with Chris Ryall of IDW Publishing, and how nice of a guy he was, which seems to be the case with life-long KISS fans (we are all family in a sense, with similar experiences) and how much I love the new comics. I got a chance to try and get you to commit to another 20 years. If you don’t remember, you told me you were 63, then did a tap dance, and then said you would be 83. I told you if Mick Jagger can do it you can do it …you’re better than him. You replied, “you’re right, I am!” That was classic! I had very similar conversations with Paul, Tommy and Eric, and all really touched me in some way. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me to have Eric and Tommy in the band. I personally feel that KISS is more talented than ever, and we all know bigger than ever. Tommy and Eric have a lot to do with that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always love and appreciate Peter and Ace, and also Eric Carr (he will never be forgotten) and Bruce, and even the smaller contributions of Vinnie and Mark St. John, but there are reasons Eric and Tommy are there now. Just as Paul has said, KISS right now is what he always wanted it to be…four guys who get along great who care about making something special. KISS will always be bigger than four individuals, it is an ideal. Well you know all of this of course, but just wanted you to hear it from a fan who “gets it.”
Now I’m just counting down the days until Monster is released and according to Tom the Marine, you will start touring to support Monster after the holidays. He also said you plan to go back to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center…thank God! No worries about rain there and so much better. I’ve seen you there 4 times including 2009 Alive 35. Being at Oakmountain amphitheater was the only disappointing part of the meet and greet, having to be cramped in the smaller tent because the real one got flooded. We in the back were struggling to see the acoustic set. Of course that was no fault of anyone….just a freak occurrence. I’m just happy we still got to do it and the show wasn’t canceled. Meeting you and the guys was an opportunity I will cherish for the rest of my life!
Also, a friend and I went a saw the show in Nashville and was blown away all over again.