Rock ’n’ roll journeyman Bob Kulick, known for his guitar and production work for Kiss and for penning the “SpongeBob SquarePants” song “Sweet Victory,” has died. He was 70.
Kulick’s younger brother — and another Kiss alumnus — Bruce confirmed the news on Facebook Friday, writing, “I am heartbroken to have to share the news of the passing of my brother Bob Kulick.
“His love of music, and his talent as a musician and producer should always be celebrated. I know he is at peace now, with my parents, playing his guitar as loud as possible.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1950, Kulick auditioned for the role of lead guitarist in Kiss in 1972, only to lose the spot to Ace Frehley. Eventually, in an odd twist of fate, Kulick’s younger brother Bruce ended up occupying the same slot in the band Bob auditioned for, from 1984-1996.
However, Bob hung around the band and contributed in-studio guitar work — albeit uncredited — on four Kiss albums. He also worked on band co-leader Paul Stanley’s 1978 solo album and joined him on tour in the ’80s.
Bob also picked up guitar work with Lou Reed, playing on the icon’s 1975 album “Coney Island Baby” — Kulick’s slide guitar is one of the first sounds on the record. He was also a member of Meat Loaf’s touring band, the Neverland Express, and played on records from ’80s heavy-metal terrors W.A.S.P.
A producer and an instrumentalist, Kulick’s greatest hits would eventually also include Motörhead’s cover of the Metallica song “Whiplash” — which picked up a Grammy in 2005. His credits also include collabs with the likes of Dee Snider, onetime Judas Priest singer Tim “Ripper” Owens, Scorpions and UFO guitarist Michael Schenker and, an interesting outlier, Diana Ross.
Kulick’s most lasting contribution to more recent pop culture, however, is his contribution to the “SpongeBob” canon, a loving “Eye of the Tiger”-style pastiche called “Sweet Victory” from the 2001 episode “Band Geeks,” frequently cited as a high-water mark for the show. (Kulick co-wrote the tune with another hard-rock workingman, David Glen Eisley.) In 2018, following the death of the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, more than 1 million fans signed a petition to have the song played at the Super Bowl.
“It’s hard to make magic,” Kulick said in a 2016 interview, “but that song in that context was magic.”