KISS400 Steve Appleford of the L.A. Times reports:

The sideshow at Dodger Stadium is about to begin as Paul Stanley emerges from his backstage trailer, shirtless and in full kabuki drag: bright red lips, his face painted harlequin white, a black star over his right eye. The singer-guitarist is here to perform with his band KISS but hears his name and walks over to a crowd gathered at the fence.

“Arriba!” yells one fan, and Stanley reaches over to shake hands, as dozens of cellphones take snapshots. “Let me see your shoes!” shouts another, and Stanley half-climbs the fence to swing a tasseled silver-and-black platform boot over the top. “Thanks, Paul!”

In less than an hour, Stanley and his musical partner of four decades, Gene Simmons, will lead KISS through two short sets of hooks and hard rock riffs as halftime entertainment for an ice hockey game between the Kings and the Ducks. It’s another strange gig in the ongoing saga of KISS, which long ago evolved from band to lucrative brand, ready for high-profile special events, reality TV and cradle-to-grave business ventures in the form of KISS Hello Kitty Dolls, KISS comics, books, T-shirts, action figures and restaurants as well as KISS caskets and KISS urns.

In one more way, 2014 could be the band’s most surprising year since its initial 1970s pop culture explosion, beginning with KISS’ induction April 10th into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It welcomes the hard-rock quartet into the critical pantheon that has at times violently rejected KISS and acknowledges the band’s huge impact on rock spectacle.

“I still believe the heart and soul of this is a band. The music is imperative,” says Stanley, who has produced the last two KISS albums and next month releases an autobiography, “Face the Music: A Life Exposed.” “Maybe our horizons are broader because we have an opportunity to go other places. Why not? Whether it’s a football team or restaurants, people say that’s not rock ‘n’ roll. Let me tell you what’s rock ‘n’ roll: Winning is rock ‘n’ roll.”

Being voted into the Hall of Fame is a victory that comes 15 years after the band’s initial eligibility and annual outrage from fans. But next month’s ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn also means dealing with old wounds and complications that began with the final exit of founding guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss more than a dozen years ago. In their place ever since are lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, 53, and drummer Eric Singer, 55, who both wear the makeup designs of their predecessors (designs owned by Simmons and Stanley).

“The naysayers, and some of them are loud, talk about Tommy or Eric being impostors. I think an impostor is a guy up there doing it for a paycheck,” says Stanley, back in his trailer and now dressed in his full stage regalia, with black feathers on his shoulders and medallions over his chest of a guitar pick, a feather, a star. “We’ve never been happier.”

Any hopes for a reunion in makeup of the four founding members at the Hall of Fame ceremony ended last week with a band decision to not perform in any capacity. A statement on the KISS website read: “This is understandably an emotional situation where there is no way to please everyone.”

Negotiations with the Hall of Fame stalled, say Simmons and Stanley, who wanted to include Singer and Thayer, while the Rock Hall wanted a reunion of the original quartet in makeup.

“Imagine getting onstage and playing with a lineup that does not exist,” says Simmons, 64, comparing the situation to a forced reunion with an ex-spouse. Both have bad memories of years of substance abuse by their former partners but say they are happy and proud to accept the award with the former members. Putting the original quartet in makeup was “a nonstarter,” says Stanley.

Simmons and Stanley questioned whether the former members were up to performing. Reached via email, both Criss and Frehley are working on solo albums and say their problems with drinks and drugs are behind them. Frehley has been sober for seven years.

“We should of been able to work it out as grown men; it’s a shame we couldn’t,” writes Criss, who also survived a 2007 breast cancer scare.

“My guitar playing, singing, writing, performing and producing skills are as good or better than the past,” Frehley writes. “For years, Gene and Paul have been trying to minimize my contributions to the band, even though I designed the famous KISS logo … and designed the trademarked makeup for the Spaceman character.”

All four said they were open to joining the night’s traditional jam session at the end of the night. “That’s what the celebration is all about,” Frehley writes.

Long before being voted into the Rock Hall as a band, Simmons and Stanley were outspoken critics of the rock institution and its rules. “We had issues before this happened. It doesn’t turn into a love fest now,” says Stanley, but acknowledged, “There are some people who are angry or hurt by this, and I don’t want to see that.”

The controversies over the Hall of Fame and newer members wearing classic makeup are issues mainly for older fans with an emotional attachment to the original band. [Bassist Gene] Simmons calls up a photo on his computer from a stadium show in Stockholm, then another from Lima, Peru. Both show ecstatic young fans in the front rows.

“Can you see the faces? That’s about 90,000,” he says of the crowd. “You see a bald head in there? You think they … about Ace and Peter? They’re going, ‘Who?’ We’ve been around 40 years, and only two members stayed there the whole time, never quit, no drugs, no booze. KISS is bigger than anybody in the band.”

Read more at the L.A. Times.

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  • Mike Hebert on

    If you guys are happy with this line up why is the picture accompanying this article of the original 4 with make up

    • Eddie on

      To be truthful that was what Dana who does my news posted. The photo in the LA Times is the current band

    • Dana on


      I used a picture of the classic group because the last time I posted a picture of the current line-up , I got reprimanded for using a picture of the “fake” KISS.

      No matter which version of the band I would provide, someone is always annoyed and has to complain. I give up, you KISS fans are a tough bunch to please-LOL!!!

      Dana from 🙂

    • Cali on

      I still think of the real KISS being Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul.

    • George St Geegland on

      Wouldn’t it make sense that if the article referred to the current line-up, you would post a photo of the current line-up? It’s not rocket science. Stop cow towing to these jobless whiney cretins and do what’s right.

    • Dana on

      Well “George,” you make a good point. I just wish you made it without feeling the need to insult others.

      Thanks for your input and I have changed it merely to keep with the integrity of the original article.

      Dana 🙂

  • GenesRaccoonWig on

    F@CK You Gene and Paul….

    Ace and Peter are not saints, but neither are you. Since Gene and Paul still bring up the substance abuse issues and playing.

    Gene what about your sex addition? You cared more about cheating on Shannon than about the quality of the music.

    Gene what about your desire to be Mr. Hollywood and not give a sh@t about Kiss? Surprised you were not nominated for an Oscar for that awesome performance in “Runaway”

    Paul what about you spending more time with your shrink than the band? (and shrinking the Kiss bank account).

    Paul why cant you write a decent song since Vinnie Vincent left? Maybe the way your voice sounds you should stick to instrumentals.

    For the two “smart guys” in the group, you sure have a funny way of treating the fans that made you rich and famous.
    Like it or not – without Ace and Peter, you would still be looking for big break.

    Give credit where it is due:
    Ace is the (classic) sound of Kiss
    “Beth” kept the momentum going for Kiss when “Destroyer” was tanking.

    • Cali on

      Yeah no one says anything about Gene’s sex addiction and that’s pretty much what it was.

      I remember on Family Jewels Shannon making him burn all of his ‘albums’. And this was something that happened 20 years after they first met.

      I couldn’t imagine any decent man keeping those types of ‘photos’ around after they’ve lived with a woman for many years and had two kids by her.

    • DR on

      Cali if you were watching Family Jewels, weren’t you just feeding the Demon’s machine that you are spending a lot of time speaking out against?

    • Land of the Lost on

      Gene’s sex addiction did not affect the band adversely. That’s the difference.

  • Bathsheba on

    Poor bald Paul Stanly… He’s not only ‘completely’ bald but he has SO many skeletons in his closet he has to constantly bitch like the old ‘woman’ that he is about Ace who not only isn’t bald but is healthy, seven years sober and a genius guitarist who always delivered. Paul doesn’t even sing anymore; he’s got someone behind the curtain singing! These guys just have they’re cronies in a bunch because they can’t write and they’ve never been ‘real’ rock and roll musicians or even respected by real musicians; only Ace is the ‘real’ musician. Paul is a tired old clown who may as well take up juggling because his voice is gone and he’s cranky with years and years of steroids and pain killers….

    • pete lytel on

      Really lame assertions. I cant stand whats going on either but to make the accusations you did was wrong and immature. Grow up.

  • Bathsheba on

    Oh and Gene… Do everybody a favor and shut up… You just come off as paranoid that Ace will upstage you, so you pay as many people off as you can to try to look bigger.. But you’re getting smaller and smaller. You’ve got to have personality and talent, you can only ride on paying people off because you ‘have neither of those things’ for so long.

  • el duce on

    Hey Eddie! Do you know if kiss initially planned to just play with Tommy and eric before they decided to not play???? I feel like that’s what they planned before they got the backlash and had to not play at all.

    • Eddie on

      Exactly. They wanted to play with the current band. Ace & Peter would not sit and watch that or even go since they are not being inducted (Tommy & Eric). Ace says what he says on my show, Peter says what he says, Kiss says screw it nobody will play

    • El duce on

      Sad! Gene & Paul are such jerks………

    • pete lytel on

      Hey Eddie, one does not have to steal ones “character” to be a greedy jerk. Just ask your buddy Mick Jones who put half of Foreigners money up his nose than screwed the band out of the name and trademark. Really awful man. Yet you welcome him on your show. Foreigner and Molly Hatchet are the reasons Crue are quitting. Foreigner have only one original member…sometimes, Hatchetm no original members. And Lou Gramm and the other guys got SCREWED. Yet you welcome mick like its a big deal. Maybe after the show mick can get dinner with gene and paul.

    • pete lytel on

      hatchet has

    • Eddie on

      I don’t know the business arrangements of Foreigner as apparently you do, but last I checked Kelly Hanson wasn’t looking and acting like Lou Gramm on stage..

    • pete lytel on

      Point well taken. And by the way I really enjoyed TMS last night. Great job!!!!!

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