Tommy Thayer adds a KISS of community spirit to fundraiser
Written by Jason Vondersmith
Tommy Thayer never tires of putting on the makeup, donning “The Spaceman” ensemble, playing the classics nightly and touring seemingly every year with an American institution, rock band KISS.
The lead guitarist Thayer, 52, gets excited for any performance, whether it be in Winnepeg, Manitoba, or Tokyo’s Budokan arena.
“You can never forget how fortunate you are to walk up on stage before 14,000 people,” the Beaverton native and Sunset High graduate says. “With this band and its amazing history, great persona and characters and show, how can you lose sight of how great that is? We’re flying on private jets and staying at Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton. ...”
KISS celebrates its 40th year together next year, and Thayer has played alongside juggernauts Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley for the past 11. We’re talking epic longevity for one of the hardest-working groups in music.
“It’s a lethal, viable, legit rock ‘n’ roll band, and we’re playing just as big of shows as ever,” he says. “It’s extremely rare for a group like KISS to continue for 40 years. I can count the number of bands on one hand who’ve done that. We’re playing arenas and stadiums and selling out, with an onslaught of new kids following us. It’s multigenerational. It’s like a tribe.”
But, Thayer, who lives in suburban Los Angeles with wife Amber and maintains another residence in Cannon Beach, has never forgotten his roots. The son of a successful businessman and a musician mother, Thayer serves on the board of directors of Pacific University in Forest Grove.
A rural private college and a hard-rockin’ guitarist? Yeah, it’s an odd match, as Thayer has dutifully helped the Washington County school raise funds for athletics through his Legends event and golf tournament. The golfing part has been shelved for the year, as Legends leans on the musical aspect with another star-studded lineup for the dinner-auction-concert fundraiser, Sunday, Aug. 25, at Waverley Country Club in Portland.