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Resurrected Angel: An Exclusive Interview With Former ANGEL Guitarist PUNKY MEADOWS

By Chris "Chili" Pirri, So Cal Contributor
Saturday, March 4, 2017 @ 8:48 PM


"Ace said, "Hey, Punky I'm sorry man, I stole your move but I had just had to."

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Punky Meadows, the legendary guitarist from the glam rock band ANGEL of the 70ís and 80ís, has returned. His absence away from the music scene was by choice. Now some thirty years after the demise of the original line up of ANGEL, Punky has found his way back to the studio. This is joyous news for fans throughout the world. His new debut solo album Fallen Angel is out now and he is supporting the album with a tour. For more information check out Punky's official website HERE.

. I got to sit down with Punky recently and we talked about his life in music and away from it. Here is my interview with the famed guitarist in its entirety.

KNAC.COM: All right, what I want to get to first is ANGEL, if that's all right with you?

MEADOWS: My pleasure.

KNAC.COM: Okay, Casablanca Records, that's where you made the big break. Why was it Casablanca and Neil Bogart that you wanted to go with?

MEADOWS: Well we had been...You know, we just came out to California and we were looking for...Shopping a record deal. Can you hear me?

KNAC.COM: Yes

MEADOWS: Okay. We were shopping a record deal and our manager said, "Hey, there's this new company called Casablanca. Neil Bogart, you know, is the president of Casablanca. It's a new company." And we were thinking, well it might be better off to go with a smaller record label and get a lot of attention rather than going with a bigger record label and being part of the roster. You know what I mean? Getting lost in amongst shuffle of stuff.

So, KISS had come ... We were actually ... ANGEL was playing in Washington, DC so we put the band together and one night KISS, Gene and Paul and Ace, came down. KISS came down to see us play at this club called Bogie's in DC. They had been playing at the Capital Center out there, and they fell in love with the band ANGEL right away. They thought we were fantastic.

Seeing as how we were shopping our deal, our manager said "Well let's call Neil Bogart and see what he says." He calls Neil Bogart up and says to Neil, "Hey, I got this band ANGEL, they're really great. We'd like you to come and see them." And he set it up.

And by the way, Gene, Paul, and Ace came and saw ANGEL and loved the band. So Neil said, "I tell you what, KISS is playing out in Anaheim in a couple weeks. I'll have ANGEL open up for KISS. That way I come and see the band and see what I think about them." So he says, "Let me call you back. I'll call Gene and see if we can set that up and I'll call you back."

So you know, he calls Gene and he calls us back about ten minutes later and he goes, "I'll tell you what, I'll sign the band sight unseen because Gene said under no circumstances will ANGEL ever open up for KISS." 'Cause you know, Gene and Paul and Ace just raved about the band. In fact, when they saw me play in DC, I used to do this move where I would hold my hand or my arm over my head and point to my guitar and I can play with one hand. When Gene saw me do that at the club one night, he said to me, "Punky, that's classic," he kind of mimics that move, you know.

We actually went and saw KISS playing at Long Beach I think it was later on. And we looked up on stage and Ace was doing my move up there. The guys in the band were saying, "Hey he's stealing your move!" And I said, "That's okay." So we went backstage and Ace said, "Hey, Punky I'm sorry man, I stole your move, man, but I had just had to." I said, "That's all right, I'm proud. You know everybody's taken Peter Townsend's windmill move so no big deal, you know." So it was cool, it was a good time.

Casablanca was a new company then, they were great. They just had a little house up there off the Sunset Strip. Each room was for a different part of the record company like promotion and then you know whatever other rooms were something else. But they were a small company and they were just so cool and it was just so exciting, you know. Of course later on, Neil Bogart broke big and became the golden boy of Hollywood and then he moved the company an office actually on Sunset Strip. It was a great time, you know. Neil Bogart was a really cool guy. The company was behind us and we had a great time.

KNAC.COM: Did you ever get to play with KISS or open up for 'em?

MEADOWS: No, I'm sure you probably heard the story about KISS asking me to play with them. Did you hear that story?

KNAC.COM: No, I haven't.

MEADOWS: When Ace and Peter left the band, KISS were auditioning guitar players. They put the cattle call out in one of the local music newspapers in LA. At the time, Barry Levine, who was our photographer and did a lot of stuff and was KISS' photographer too. And a lot of people in Casablanca, he was the photographer then.

Anyway, Gene and Paul were in town, they were recording. Barry said, "Hey, what about Punky?" And Gene said, "That's a great idea." So Barry calls me up and he says, "Hey Punky listen, you know KISS are auditioning guitar players and Gene would like you to come down to SIR and sit in with him and play." And I said, "Okay, sure, I'll see what happens. Tell Gene to give me a call." Gene calls and goes, "Yeah Punk, we're auditioning guitar players, we'd love you to come down, and go over one side of the KISS Alive! album, it doesn't matter any side, just play one side. Come on down and sit in." I said, "Okay, cool."

So I learned one side of the album and I went down there to SIR. And when I walked in, they were playing "Communication Breakdown", it was LED ZEPPELIN. It was Gene, Paul and Eric. Eric on the drums. I plugged up and played. We sounded really good, we kicked ass. After we were done playing, we were just happy and Gene says, "Come on, let's talk business. You got the gig."

I sat down in the drum lodge and started talking. I said, "Well you know Gene I'm with...Greg and I are shopping...We just finished some demos and we're shopping a deal with a group named ANGEL. Greg and I are. So I didn't say yes or no, I just don't know what I was doing right now. I couldn't just dump Greg like that. So Gene I guess was highly insulted, he just got up and walked out and said, "Come on Paul, let's go," and just stormed out of the rehearsal hall and took off.

I sat there for about a half an hour and I talked with Eric. We talked for awhile. Then I went home. And as soon as I got home Barry Levine called me. He goes, "Punky, what did you do?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Gene and Paul came back to the studio with their jaws to the floor. And Gene said no one has ever turned down KISS. And I said, "Barry, I didn't turn him down. I didn't say yes or no. I just told him that Greg and I were were shopping a deal with ANGEL right now. I didn't even have a chance to finish before they walked out." And he goes, "Well, they were going to offer you $160,000 per year plus points and that sort of thing." Of course at the time I could've used the money. But it is what it is. And that's how that ended. KISS and I and Gene, Gene especially have had kind of a history, you know?

KNAC.COM: You actually could be the only person to turn down Gene then, maybe.

MEADOWS: Well that's the thing about Gene. Gene has a big ego, you know what I mean? The thing is, I didn't say yes or no. I didn't say no, I didn't have a chance ... They just walked out, I mean I definitely thought I was gonna jump up and down like, "Oh god, thank you so much." I was actually honored and pleased that they dug it and stuff and that I was considered. He just took off, I guess I insulted him so bad.

KNAC.COM: The first time I ever saw ANGEL, and it wasn't in concert, and it wasn't an album cover. It was actually in a movie, Foxes, with Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. I couldn't believe that. That's where I first heard you and saw you and got turned on to your music. I was only like ten years old and dragged there by an older friend.

MEADOWS: That's cool. That's good way to be introduced to ANGEL. That was a good movie actually. Jodie Foster was just young kid, she was just 13 or something. Maybe a little older maybe 16 or 17 I guess. Just a kid.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, that movie was actually like all Casablanca too. Because I believe Donna Summer was in it. KISS had posters everywhere in it and then you're the music.

MEADOWS: What happened was Casablanca went into Filmworks. They did The Deep, they did Midnight Express, they did TGIF, Thank God It's Friday, and they did Foxes of course. They were heavily into film by then. So of course they were gonna promote all their acts.

I remember Jodie was just a young ... We would go there early in the morning to get into makeup and costume and all that stuff. And we'd sit there around all day long while they're trying to get the lighting just right and the smoke just right and that kind of stuff. Then we'd go in about five o'clock in the afternoon and shoot the scene for about fifteen minutes and then that was it. There was a lunch break so we went into like this cafeteria thing, set up and Jodie was there. And Jodie was ... She was just so in awe of us and just kind of starstruck. She just kept staring at us you know what I mean. Like a little kid.

I guess we were pretty intimidating too. We were so big and the white costumes and all the makeup on and stuff. She was really cool. Cherie Currie was in that flick also.

KNAC.COM: Yes

MEADOWS: Yeah, Scott Baio and was it ... No, the other Quaid brother

KNAC.COM: Randy, yeah.

MEADOWS: Right. It was a pretty good movie. At the time, it was about those four girls growing up and their trials and tribulations about growing up and the things they had to go through and it was a pretty good movie.

KNAC.COM: After the demise of ANGEL, you went into the suit and tie world for thirty years there. What's the difference between music or...?

MEADOWS: It wasn't suit and tie. I opened up my own business and did really well. Then I got into the stock market. I never wore a suit and tie. I was always able to be me. I always had my hair and I dressed the way I wanted to. I had my own businesses. I did really well.

Eventually ... You know I got tired of the music business and stuff. The music business is a tough business. I love playing but I got tired of the business and I decided to reinvent myself and do something else. And I did, and I did really well, I was successful, I did well. Got into the stock market, I bought properties too and stuff like that.

Then about 2005 I sold the businesses and the properties and went into the stock market full time and retired and moved down south, to Charlotte, North Carolina. And I really got into country music a lot. I was born and raised in Washington, DC and live in West Virginia and Maryland, around that area too. So I was exposed to a lot of country stuff back then too. I used to play in house bands, I would play in one bar straight for like three years. I played everything from rock, soul, Motown, country, British blues, played everything. I love playing all that kind of music. So I like to play all kinds of music.

I really got into the country thing. To me that's where all the guitar players were. They were no longer into pop music, they were ... Like Brad Paisley and those kind of guys are just fantastic guitar players. Marty Stewart and these cats can really, really play. Vince Gill was the first concert I went to. When I saw Vince Gill play. I thought, "Oh my god, this guy is killer and he does amazing stuff." So, I always play with finger picks anyways, so I really got into country music a lot. And I did a lot of woodshedding.

And I never stopped playing the guitar because it's in my blood. I would play every single night when I had my business. I would come home and watch TV and plug in my guitar. I would sit on my couch and play along with all the commercials and play along with all the shows. And I had a tape recorder beside me and I'd record things on my tape recorder and that sort of thing. So I was writing songs, I'm pretty prolific so I kept writing songs and I kept playing and never stopped.

When I moved down to North Carolina, I got into Facebook for the first time. I started seeing all these ANGEL fans that just loved the band, loved the group and loved me as well. I didn't realize the impact that we had made on a lot of people. Because when you played on the road before social media, people would say, "Hey we loved your band, you guys were great tonight," we'd just say, "Thanks a lot." And you moved on to the next show. You never heard from these people again. So you didn't know what sort of impression you really left on them.

It wasn't until social media and Facebook that I saw these people, and that they had ANGEL fan pages and stuff and I saw how much they really loved ANGEL and how we inspired them and stuff. If ANGEL didn't make a lot of money, at least we made a lot of people happy. That meant a lot to me. I started following back, that sort of thing. Then, couple years later, about a year and a half ago, almost two years ago, Danny Anniello, I actually met him, Farrow, Danny Anniello Farrow, my partner. He came down to one of my businesses in the DC area. And we met and he was a fan. We talked for a while and we kind of kept in touch. Anyways, so on Facebook, he said, "Hey listen, we'd like to do an interview with you at the WRAT radio out New York City, with Keith Roth." I said, "Okay, that'd be cool."

We set the interview up and the night that the interview was to be aired, too many people from all over the world were tuning in at the same time and the whole website crashed. So they finally got the website back up and they aired the interview. So after that, the interview was over, they posted on Facebook, Keith Roth said that in all the 17 years I've interviewed everybody from Jimmy Page all down the line. He'd never seen that happen in his whole life. So I was dumbfounded.

So after that I started to get all of these record deals and that sort of thing. Keith and Danny they had a record company, Main Man Records. And I know Danny and I trust Danny. He's a friend of mine too, also he's in my band with me as well. I decided to go with Main Man Records. So Danny flew down to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I live and we started writing songs together. And right away we knew we have great songs because we liked the same kind of stuff. I love pop music like ABBA and all those pop bands. I love all the pop stuff but I also like the heavy stuff too like LED ZEPPELIN and that kind of stuff. I was the kind of guy that in the morning would sing, "Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy," but at the club play "Communication Breakdown", play LED ZEPPELIN, You know what I mean?

I like all that kind of stuff. I like songs that are sing-able and that you can sing along, and have a good vibe and make you feel good. I like that kind of stuff. But yet I am really a blues guitar player. I grew up on all of the greatest blues players like Clapton, Beck, Page, Hendrix, and Gary Moore and all those cats.

KNAC.COM: Nice.

MEADOWS: I have all of that kind of stuff in my background. So we started writing songs and songs just came out. We wrote like bohemians and some really cool stuff going on here man. Great songs, great melodies, great hooks, great choruses, and verses and the guitars, they're still kicking ass. The drums are kicking ass. It's just a good vibe and they sound great so we were really pleased and so we actually went into the studio and recorded the album. The album came out and it actually charted on four Billboard charts right away which is amazing because nowadays people are streaming and stuff, nobody's buying your records if you charge, you know?

KNAC.COM: Yes.

MEADOWS: That was really nice to see that. And the album has gotten great reviews all over the whole world. Everybody just loved the album, they think it's great and so we're really pleased about that. We knew that it was a good album but you're always wondering how people are going to accept it. But then it came out and luckily they all loved the album and so it's done really well. We've been in like the Top 10 of all these big websites for the Top 100 in 2016 we've been in the top 10 and even number one on a lot of them. That was pretty amazing so we're excited about that. It's been a lot of fun and Danny and I produced the album, wrote all the songs, even did the cover art and everything ourselves on a shoestring budget.

KNAC.COM: Nice. You know I actually loved that album. You know, it's a perfect album. I live out here in LA and just to drive through this horrendous traffic, it's a perfect album for it. I'm singing along with it, my favorite song is "Loaded Gun". I love it.

MEADOWS: Yeah that's what's cool about this album. And not because it's me, but you know when I would record an ANGEL record, and I'd say okay, I'd hear it back and say that's good, let's move onto the next one. But I play this record myself a lot and I think my track of the day is "Fallen Angel" all the time because I love the song. Same thing, I get in my car and I put the windows down and I crank it and I just love playing along with it. Not because it's me but it just came out so good, it pleases me.

And a lot of people on Facebook and in the fan club they say, "This is my 200th time spinning it" and that sort of thing. You know I play it over and over again, too. It's the kind of thing that every song is different. So it's very diversified, yet every song is in that vibe that's very commercial and every song kicks ass. It has a good vibe, it's a fun album to listen to and that's what we wanted to do make because I think music should be fun. You should enjoy it. If I want to get a hard-on I listen to Steve Ray Vaughn or Jimi Hendrix. You know what I mean?

KNAC.COM: Yes. I gotcha. I know you've got a West Coast tour, you're finally coming out our way here out west. Vegas, San Diego, LA.

MEADOWS: Yeah we're so excited and can't wait to get out there. You know I lived in LA for 15 years when I was out there with ANGEL and stuff but I haven't been out there since then. I can't wait.

KNAC.COM: I know you're playing the Whisky, have you ever played there before?

MEADOWS: I played the Whisky, you know it's a funny thing, ANGEL never played the Whisky. But I played the Whisky a long time ago with a band called THE CHERRY PEOPLE. And we were on Heritage Records what was a subsidiary of MGM Records. And they flew us out here and I was on the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand with this band called THE CHERRY PEOPLE and we played the Whisky then. I was just a kid, we were like THE MONKEES. It was that kind of a band, you know? And we played there.

But then also right before I left LA to come back east, back in '88, there was a band called TOMMY GUN and they were big fans and they asked me if I would please go onstage and play an ANGEL song with them. So I came onstage and played an ANGEL song with them at the Whisky the night before I left and then we had a big party afterwards, they all sent me off and that kinda stuff. That was the last time I played the Whisky, but that was just for one song.

ANGEL never played the Whisky, so this will be the first time.

KNAC.COM: Yeah I'm excited 'cause hopefully I'm gonna be up there to see you live. It would be my first time seeing you live also.

MEADOWS: You gotta make it.

KNAC.COM: I'm gonna do everything I can.

MEADOWS: We're gonna rock the house, we're gonna rock it and be partying.

KNAC.COM: That sounds great. I hope so, man. I just want to thank you very much for taking your time and talking to KNAC.COM. Hopefully we can do this again if you're gonna do a follow-up album. By the way, are you?

MEADOWS: We definitely will, we're writing right now Danny I are doing a lot of writing right now, we're pretty prolific at writing songs you know. It comes pretty easy and we even call each other and over the phone we play 'em for each other and stuff. We're gonna work this album for this year man and probably the beginning of 2017 we'll put another one out. So we're excited about it.

KNAC.COM: Right on, that's always great news. I want to say thank you very much for joining me here today then.

MEADOWS: Thank you so much Chris. It's been my pleasure and I hope to see you at the Whisky out there.

KNAC.COM: All right. Thank you very much. Have a good night.

MEADOWS: All right brother thank you.

Be sure to catch Punky Meadows at one of the following shows!

  • 3.8 - Backstage Bar and Billiards (Las Vegas)
  • 3.9 - Brick By Brick (San Diego)
  • 3.10 - Whisky (Los Angeles)
  • 4.21 - The Chance (Poughkeepsie)
  • 4.29 - BB Kings (New York City)


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