One of Z Toyz finest bass players was Craig Kiell. Craig was nicknamed, Fingers of Steel, because he played without a pick. The only one who didn’t like his style of playing was Ric Browde. While recording some demos he gave Craig a hard time in the studio. But Craig persevered, played with a pick and got through the sessions. Well after Z Toyz, Craig continued playing music. One of his gigs is playing in a U2 cover band called Unforgettable Fire. U2 recently played eight sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. On an off night, the Edge and Adam Clayton joined Craig’s band on stage. They were playing a club of about 450 people. Some in attendance said they felt like they had won the lottery. Check the link….http://www.uf2.com/
From lead singer Hanz…
The infamous t-shirt
When we first heard that we were opening for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, someone at the UM Student Entertainment Committee told us that they would be giving out or selling concert t-shirts with us listed as the opening act for the Blackhearts. Joan apparently found out about this and was furious. She told the University that she was not going to allow a “girl band” to open up for her (I guess she assumed a band named Z Toyz was all-female). When she found out we were all male, she relented but insisted that the t-shirts were out. The UM gave us a few, and I still have the one I got (pictured).
The story about John being found in Joan’s dressing room puts other happenings that evening into perspective. We were all in our “dressing room” (really just another eating room in the main cafeteria), hanging out after our set. We looked over and noticed Joan stretching in the doorway to our room. I thought “why here of all places? Can’t she stretch in her own dressing room, or just about anywhere else in this huge building besides across the threshold of the room we are in!? Why is she being such an asshole?” Scott had a different take. After seeing Joan pushing territorial limits, he walked over to the doorway, lit up a cigarette and attempted to make small talk with Joan while she was getting ready for her show. She was not amused.
While attending the University of Miami I had the thrill of opening up for Joan Jet and the Blackhearts on the UM patio. The patio might sound humble but it had a big stage and could easily fit 4,500 people. This was Joan at the peak of her success, ‘85. In attendance was Richard Born from Bronz Records, interested in signing Z Toyz. He was accompanied by Mitch Weisman, an original cast member, (Paul McCartney) in Beatlemania on Broadway. Richard Bron brought Mitch down to see the group as a potential record producer. Before the show John Suarez accidentally walked into Joan Jet’s dressing room. Moments later she walked in with her manager and entourage. Joan went ballistic, asking who the hell Suarez was? When he said that he was in the opening band she said, “fuck that, and you can forget opening tonight”. Suarez told me what happened. I told him not worry. I spoke with the stage manager who was a friend. She said Joan was serious. She didn’t want us opening. Here it was, a record company in town and I’ve got to tell them we may not be playing. I mentioned this to Mitch and he said, “don’t worry, I know the guys in the Blackhearts and I’ll smooth it over,” which he did. The guys in the Blackhearts were great and took care of it. We had a fabulous show that night, but I always wondered why Joan acted like such a diva. For years I found it puzzling. Then in 2010 I’m with my friend Matthew Patrick and we are watching the biopic, The Runaways, a good film no matter what the critics say. The film is about Joan Jet’s first group. Joan worked hand in hand with the director and was credited as a consultant. In the film The Runaways are on tour opening and getting little respect from the Headliners. There is a scene where Joan sneaks into the Headliners empty dressing room, pulls down her pants, and pisses on one of the guitars. She then sneaks out undetected. Wow, mystery solved. It must have been paranoia on her part to see Suarez in her dressing room alone. She must have been afraid of a little karma.
Picks acquired by guitar tech Lance Troupe at show
Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. After a great show Richard Bron came back to my house. In one room he is offering to sign the band to Bronz, in the next room Suarez tells me he wants to leave the band. Even though he could be a pain the ass, Suarez and I built Z Toyz. He was talented and we worked well together. I did everything I could to keep him in the band but it was not to be. Eventually he quit the band, Richard Bron who liked the original chemistry decided to pass, which was probably a good thing since they folded soon after. The good news was meeting Mitch who eventually joined the band. Oh… it doesn’t end there. I told the story of seeing The Runaways movie to our roadie/drum tech, Will Hart. He was shocked. He said, “are you kidding, she was totally cool, the road crew hung out with her and the band after the show and I made out with her. Yeah we sucked face” The End…
Sol Bradman ’84
Original Toyz drummer Sol Bradman recently replied to an early posting on this blog. What is so unusual is that few people had heard from Sol in over 30 years. After 1984 he just seemed to have disappeared. We are happy to report that Sol is alive and well living in the Florida Keys since escaping from the music biz in 1984. Since that time Sol has become a pilot and flew for Continental Airlines. Now he works in Homeland Security. The reason for his reemergence was a misspelling of his name, (Saul) which he wanted corrected. Welcome back Sol.
This show of Z Toyz was just before our record deal. From what I remember this show was a last minute booking and we didn’t get to promote it properly, but it still shows us in all our glory.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who was talented with a camera. My brother David shot this and did a remarkable job given the limitations of the VHS format at the time. He had this tape for years but it wasn’t until recently that he showed it to me. I didn’t even remember him filming. Luckily I was able to thank him for doing such a great job. The sound is over modulated, VHS couldn’t handle much but it’s a good idea of what we were like live. The band consisted of Hanz- Vocals, Peter Spirer- Guitar, Kory-Guitar- Craig Keill-Bass and Scott Levy- Drums. Thanks David.
Following is the link to the record that was never released. It was supposed to be Absolute/Enigma but they ran out of money and we were left with the tapes. But now you can find all those great songs on iTunes. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-lonely-ones/id539125019
The band featured Hanz Walters-Vocals, Peter Spirer-Guitars, Kory-Guitars, Craig Kiell -Bass, and Scott Levy-Drums.
Kory and Peter Spirer
When Peter Spirer reached out to Craig Kory, AKA “Kory,” he reminded Peter that it had been over twenty years since they had last seen each other. So when Peter came to Vegas they met up and reminisced about the “good ole days.”
The two decided to spend the night eating White Castle burgers, like they had back in the day before playing at the legendary Queens L’amours. Drinking dollars beers in a casino on the Las Vegas strip and keeping Kory’s mother up way past her bedtime they swapped plenty of amusing stories that will eventually make their way onto this blog. Spirer was attending the National Association of Broadcasters conference. Kory lives in Vegas as a Kid Rock impersonator. Both felt the reunion was way over due. Pictured above is the two of them before a show opening up for Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult.