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MUSIC | ROCKTALK

From the Beginning

After stints with famous bands, musicians form Union.

April 30, 1998|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Union, the rock group that's playing Saturday night at the Reseda Country Club, is a band with a storied history. Only, it's others' storied history.

Lead guitarist Bruce Kulick and lead singer John Corabi were once two of a kind. Both were accomplished music pros who stepped in to replace original members in two highly successful famous rock bands.

Corabi replaced front man Vince Neil in Motley Crue, while Kulick stood in for original guitarist Ace Frehley in Kiss. Later, both were displaced from those bands when the original members returned.

Bummer.

Now they've gotten together to form Union, with bassist Jamie Hunting and drummer Brent Fitz.

Although Kulick's and Corabi's experiences were similar, their reactions were not.

Corabi worked with Motley Crue from 1992 until Neil's return in 1994. Corabi's lawsuit was filed last year. Kulick, on the other hand, joined Kiss in 1985 and had a different experience.

"Being in Kiss for 12 years was great, but I always felt there were never any promises," he says now.

Kiss had been performing sans makeup during those years. Kulick says that in 1996 Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were upfront with him and drummer Eric Singer that negotiations were underway for a reunion of the original band to perform and, for the first time in more than a decade, don their original Kabuki-style makeup.

"It was devastating in one way, but I'm still on good terms with the guys," Kulick says.

And so out of past disappointments comes Union. The band released its first CD on Mayhem Records in February.

"All these experiences helped us to create a dream band," Kulick says. "Union is ours starting from the beginning.

"It makes me so proud. It's our band with our pasts, so it's not just a new band."

Union performs Saturday night at the Reseda Country Club, 18419 Sherman Way, (818) 881-2988. $12-$15

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ATYPICAL--The Don Haney Band, just hired as the house band Thursday nights at the Blues Connection at Buky's BBQ in Tarzana, was formerly known as Donny and the Penetrators.

Good change!

Haney, originally from Deadwood, S.D., is not your typical blues man.

Sure, the singer-guitarist spent time in Chicago, but he also majored in musical composition at Louisiana State University. He arrived in L.A.about 15 years ago, settling in Long Beach, where he owns his own nonmusical business.

"I own a petroleum laboratory," Haney said. Very unblueslike. But what about his music?

"I pay homage to the traditional, but I'm not a museum-keeper," Haney said. "I play traditional blues and just add to it. I try to go with my heart. If you stay true to your heart, you won't go astray."

Following his own advice, Haney recently followed his heart in another way.

He was the driving force behind a benefit blues concert for Children's Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. He organized it and used his own money to get it off the ground.

Unfortunately, the April 19 concert barely broke even, but Haney still views it as a success. "We raised the public awareness," Haney said. "I'm hoping it will be better next year."

The Don Haney Band performs Thursday nights at the Blues Connection at Buky's County Line BBQ, 18588 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, (818) 342-5171.

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FULL PLATE--Cozy's in Sherman Oaks greets May with B.B. Chung King and the Screaming Buddah Heads on Friday and the Paladins on Saturday.

Chung King, a.k.a. Alan Mirikitani, once changed to just the Buddah Heads, but it confused the singer-guitarist-songwriter's fans, so he's using the full moniker again.

The San Diego-based Paladins started as a hillbilly band in the early 1980s, but recently their sound is more blues-based.

Cozy's Bar & Grill, 14058 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 986-6000.

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