kiss-return The co-producer behind the first two KISS records insists guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss were never anything more than hired hands.

Richie Wise, who fronted New York metal outfit Dust between 1969 and 1972, assisted behind the desk when Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and co recorded their 1974 debut record and its follow-up, Hotter Than Hell, the same year.

He tells KissFAQ, “Ace and Peter had no focus. They were hired hands as far as I was concerned. I knew they auditioned for the band-and the band was Gene and Paul, period.

Ace, I understood exactly what he was doing. He listened to Page and Clapton and all those guitarists that I listened to, so I understood him well.

Peter was, at best, a poppy adequate drummer. But he was solid; he really didn’t get in the way and laid down the proper fundamental beat.”

And Wise believes the musical abilities of Simmons and Stanley have been overlooked throughout the band’s career.

“Gene wasn’t a traditional bass player, playing with his fingers,” says the producer. “He was more of a guitar player bass player. But he played with a lot of melodic sense, like McCartney in a way. Paul was excellent behind the mic. They had, right out of the box, good technique. They worked well together. I worked well with them.

The first album was six days, and then some mixing, I think a total of 13 days. It went very well. And I think it was very organic and real.”

Criss recently suggested there was less musical integrity to the current KISS lineup, featuring guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. He told our own Eddie Trunk, “Although Gene and Paul are the major members in the band, Eric and Tommy, to them, it’s a job.

He’s playing Ace Frehley licks to a tee; Eric’s playing my drum licks to a tee. They’re still playing the same songs that we made famous.

There’s a whole new generation of kids that are clueless about what KISS is all about. They go to see them now, and they think, ‘That’s KISS.’”

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  • Frank on

    I’ll always love the classic kiss music but now they are basically a nostalgic act. thats ok though, if people want to go to the shows that’s cool. I’m just glad I got to see the original kiss with ace and peter on the reunion tour.


      I have been a KISS fan as long as I can remember. My mom, god bless her, took me and my 2 sisters to see back in 1978. I was 10 years old. When I came to school the next day holding my KISS A LIVE 2 tour book, believe me, I was the man no doubt about it. That said I just want to say, no disrespect to Gene and Paul, but my favorite band members were Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. When me and my friends would do KISS dress up I was always THE CAT. Once they left the band I was never as big a fan and I doubt I’m alone in this thinking. In my opinion they were as much a part of KISS as Simmons and Stanl=y. FACT !!

    • paul krygier on

      Im a 30 year kiss fan..lastnight me and some friends went to see kiss live at the jiffy lube center with def leppard..and for the 1st time in my life I must say that kiss was not the best band on stage.from the start it was BAD!!! The giant spider got stuck on the ground for like 3 soungs. They had all kind of mic problem’s. And it seemed like we were being rushed though the show.and please mr stanley I have nothing but respect for were my hero growing up in the streets of cleveland in the 80s..but your voice is gone!!! Its sad as I sat though the show lastnight I just started to feel bad for you.and just wanted to leave..I guess I felt like the elvis fans did in the late 70s…sad way to treat your fans after 40 years..please take your hands out. Of are pockets. It just seems like its all about money and not the fans!!!

  • Rockguy on

    Liar! So you wait about 40 years to say this. Come now, we are not that stupid. He must be after something from Gene and Paul. MOney? The songs on the first 2 albums are good but the albums sound like sh*t. He needs to stay out of the recording studio in any capacity. I will stick with Ace and Peter’s side like Eddie. The “kids” now are getting ripped off, paying more for a fake version of the band that has no soul or feeling. Gene and Paul retire already!!!!!

    • Steven on

      How are kids getting ripped off? If you want to use that same logic then most bands are ripping kids off by keeping the same name but with different members. Band line ups change all the time. If kids coming up think that is the original KISS then they are stupid for not paying attention. Keeping the same makeup is nothing more than keeping the same character. It’s done in film and television all the time. Now when they start taking their names, then they’ve gone too far. Eddie Trunk is wrong on this one.

  • Chris on

    This is nonsense. So is Wise saying that Ace/Peter had no focus. Cold Gin, Black Diamond, Nothin to Loose, Parasite,Mainline, Comin Home, Strange Ways would not be the same without Ace/Peter.(Considering they wrote or sang on them). Ace designed the KISS logo, Peter’s wife made the costumes, there were many contributions by them Maybe Wise should comment on why he produced 2 of the worst sounding mixed albums in the KISS catalog instead of bashing Ace/Peter….

  • Don on

    I’m a KISS Army member since 1977 after the first time I saw them live. Ace was my favorite member for years. Peter was the reason I got into drums originally when I was a kid. I know I’m going to get crapped all over for this, but this story doesn’t surprise me and I believe every word this guy says. Anyone who moans about Gene/Paul doesn’t appreciate how KISS never would have been and wouldn’t be around today if not for them solely. When I realized Ace didn’t play half as much on my favorite album (Destroyer) as he’s given credit for – things changed for me. These two guys cared more about themselves than the band/brand they represented. I know its popular to say that if it isn’t the original 4, then don’t bother. My response to that is that I’ll be taking my 8 yr old to his first concert this July, and it will be KISS just like they were my first concert that the same age (9 concerts in all). I can thank Gene and Paul for that. I love the other two guys, but its time Gene/Paul get the respect they deserve instead of all the claims that they were selfish pricks to Ace and Peter. If you don’t like them, I get it. If you don’t want to support them, I get that too. Just stop with the Ace and Peter martyring.

  • Andy on

    ……Really dude? 40 years later you need to say SOMETHING to get your “never was” name on the net because Peter and Ace burned you and possibly hope to save what very very very little name you ever had in the biz ? ……40 years?!? Dick ” sour grapes ,never was ‘ Wise, go back home to Neverwasville.

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