Posted by Dana Category: LATEST NEWS

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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  1. 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.

    1. 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 !!

    2. 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!!!

  2. 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!!!!!

    1. 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.

  3. 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….

  4. 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.

  5. ……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.

  6. I must agree. before you talk about Ace and Peter, we really need to address your competince as a studio producer/engineer. Great songs still shine thru but when you were done mixing it did you really think you did a great job? Thank God Eddie Kramer came along in the 11th hour and saved these songs on Alive! Been wanting to say that for like 38 yrs.

  7. Ace and Peter were never founding members, they were original members. It was Gene and Pauls band from the beginning, they tried out for them and they chose them because the chemistry was great. When it wasn’t they left. I loved Ace since 1975 when I got into KISS. Peter is a just a old complainer who Eddie loves to get on show and bitch about things that happened 10 years ago.

  8. Realistically, it s been a total of maybe ten years of Peter ace gene and Paul and 30 years of gene Paul and others. Peter s book was great but at the end it seems like he still thinks that he could make it as a solo artist which he cant. Ace is a good guitarists but historically unreliable and selfish. Good for Gene and Paul for reinventing KISS and entertaining fans all these years. People need to get over the original line up and appreciate more recent accomplishments. If Ace and Peter are so great why don’t they form their own line up and tour and make new music. Why? Cause they can t.

  9. Eric Singer is a more fundamentally sound drummer than Peter and I believe that Eric Carr was better than both. The fact that Peter cannot get anything going unless he is wearing the Cat makeup is testimony to his ability. Eric Singer has toured with a number of bands and is known as a true professional in the industry. The fact that Eric and Tommy are playing the songs the way they are created shows the respect they have for the legacy of KISS. Why don’t Ace and Peter put something together and do some original material and play some of their KISS classics live? Stop belly-aching over who is in the band when you had your chance!!

  10. I’m sorry, but Peter Criss is and always has been a crap drummer. Dude plays like a girl–or worse, like Don Henley.

    And yes, I’m old enough to have been around for his original turn in the 70’s…

  11. KISS today is a joke, let’s get that out of the way. Now, for the guy who produced some of the worst sounding albums of all time to be talking smack is UNBELIEVABLE.

  12. This Band should be called Betrayal. We grew up being told all four played on every album. Only to find out later Ace and Peter were Credited for playing on albums they did not. I bet Gene and Paul didn’t play on all either. So done with this band and it’s betrayl of it’s fans. Wish Eddie and all others would stop supporting them…

  13. Just wanted to comment on a few things. My original post was mainly about the article, About how Wise trashes Peter/ Ace for no contribution when we know that’s untrue. As far as Gene and Paul and them dragging the band on and on and sounding worse and worse I feel that heir time is passed. I do think Tommy and Eric are very talented as well as Ace/Peter but I also agree that they really can’t do much these days.

  14. It’s interesting Richie Wise of all people would bring up Ace and Peter lacking focus on those recordings when (as others have mentioned on here), he recorded two of the worst sounding albums from a production stand point in rock. The songs are so great on those albums, yet it sounds like Richie has them playing through 10 watt solid-state amps and did nothing to inspire or motivate the guys to sound their best either. I always wished Kiss would’ve re-recorded those albums with someone like Bob Ezrin. Clearly all Richie is doing is speaking out to recapture his fifteen minutes of fame from 40 years ago, but is really going about it the wrong way by having the nerve to question Ace and Peter’s ability. It’s true they’re no Jimmy Page and John Bonham, but I think Ace and Peter are underrated for their musicianship. There’s no question these guys have lacked something in the work ethic department and in staying clean and sober at times in their careers. If they could get things worked out between each other and on their A game, I would much rather see an Ace/Peter version of Kiss in makeup with a fake Gene and Paul. The bottom line is at least you would hear twice the number of songs played rather than the same predictable dozen songs Kiss plays today. Not to mention, not having to see the Pillsbury Doughboy squeezed into a costume playing bass with a painted face looking like a jack-o-lantern. There’s only so much even Paul Stanley can do to compensate for Gene turning that whole thing they’ve got today into the shadow of itself and joke that it is.

  15. I have a love hate relationship with this band. I know that Ace and Peter didn’t contribute a lot, but you know, they did contribute at least some stuff to band. I don’t think its good to be talking a lot of bad stuff about them. Also, I think kiss should take off the makeup or at least retire. Didn’t Paul Stanley say that “oh, after me and Gene retire, kiss will continue without us.” -.- So that means that you dummies are going to get new, younger guys to wear your costumes and makeup!? How stupid can you get? ._. You know, every band has to retire someday and Kiss needs to do that! It won’t even be kiss anymore, if you ask me. I’m sorry, but this band just disappoints me now. Nobody is not going to see 4 clowns, who are not even the original members. I don’t care that Tommy and Eric are in the band, but you know I just think that things will go downhill for this band if they do something stupid like that. Gene and Paul need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that kiss needs to fucking retire. End of rant.

  16. It’s interesting that a co-producer of two of the least successful KISS albums would go on public record and make such a moronic statement that defies the facts. Thayer and Singer are more akin to “hired hands” if that term is to be used properly. Without Criss and Frehley from day one the foundation that would allow KISS to march forward with credibility 40 years later would not exist. The statement of this former producer is as ludicrous as Simmons’ comment last November that he wished the current lineup had been in place from the get go. Although Criss and Frehley numbed their senses and were, at times, less effective than they should and could have been, they were instrumental in to the KISS machine that saw albums ship platinum after Alive. Criss and Frehley also helped tame Stanley and Simmons whose individual and collective egos reached larger than life size proportions. While both were good musicians, they both possessed and continue to have a self-inflated snese of their musical abilities. Criss and Frehley were stifled by their band mates. There is no resistance from Thayer and/or singer to the control that Simmons and Stanley exert in KISS. Thayer and Singer have been limited to one song on each of the last 2 studio releases. It sounds all too familiar. If the “hired hands” label is to be used properly, it is now and not in the 1970’s. By the time of the Reunion tour Frehley and Criss were no longer quarter owners of KISS. Obscene sums of money were made off their backs between 1996 and 2001. Perhaps they were “hired hands”during this era. To suggest that they were during to 1970’s is to endorse the absurd and to offend the fans.

  17. This former co-producer’s claim gets no traction from the get go. First of all, he does not fall into the Ron Nevison, Eddie Kramer, etc. category. He is a virtual nobody, but for his KISS connection to the first two albums which did not do so well as compared to Alive and the subsequent albums that shipped platinum. The bottom line is thatwithout Frehley and Criss, the foundation for KISS’ longevity and credibility would be gone and the band would likely have fallen into irrelevance sometime in the 1970’s. While Criss and Frehley may have shown lack of discipline as a result of their having numbed their senses for several years, their inate talents and contributions to KISS must be recognized. The material that they were “allowed” to get on various KISS releases was clear evidence that the other two original members suffered from an over-inflated sense of their worth as musicians. Simmons and Stanley are the work ethic that have kept the KISS machine rolling. However, their musical talents are no more superior than those of Criss and Frehley. The suggestion that Peter and Ace were hired hands defies the evidence. I can only speculate that the author of that statement is attention-seeking. He got that. Unfortunately, most of it is adverse and deservedly so. The successes of the 1970’s paved the way for a movement that kept KISS alive in the 1980’s and speaks volumes as to why the original lineup could still fill arenas between 1996 and October 2000. Sorry Mr. Wise, your thoughts are novel but too far removed from reality to be worthy of any weight. KISS of the 1970’s was a four-wheel drive concept. History can’t be altered by off-the-wall statements of the kind that should be retracted.

  18. That’s bull shit if you ask me this co-producer needs his head checked just like every famous person out there Peter an Ace had drug an acahol problems witch sometime might of got in the way but ace is by far the best guitarist out there an in my eyes ace made kiss what it is gene is nobody in my eye beside a big A hole always putting ace down? Probably because Ace has the most fans. An its funny that tommys in ace suit playing aces lick an doing the same stuff ace did when ace an peter were there tommy would order there food for them after the shows haha An Peter I mean I like Eric carr the best but Peter is the original so he has my vote as much as ace with out them to kiss would be sh!t.

  19. I totally agree 2 albums werent great .And thankgod for alive 1 but enough of pandering to ace and peter they left several times .and blame it all on gene and paul BULLSHIT
    EDDIE trunk is nothing more than an enabler ! For those two .respect ! For who all peter does is whine and bitch about …….$$$$$$$ shutup already ya left 13 yrs ago AGAIN bubuy
    sonic boom and monstee rock .Paul and gene r KISS

  20. This ‘producer’ can KISS my ass. He’s a frustrated ex-band member who never made it-period. This is nothing but a publicity stunt and smear campaign initiated by Gene and Paul. They are feeling the backlash from diehard Kiss fans (like myself) who are SICK and tired of this bullshit character rip-off of a band they call ‘Kiss’…it’s like Gene and Paul are in a KISS tribute band! The current Kiss is a joke now (and shame on you Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer for even going with it-no matter how much you are paid-you’ll never replace the ICONS Ace and Peter are)! Those greedy bastards Stanley and Simmons will one day REPLACE THEMSELVES just to keep making cash! Gene is full of himself and disgusts me now. And to think I idolized this guy when I was a kid? The guy is a total jerkoff. I wonder how much they paid this ‘producer’clown to say this-he was probably just an engineer anyway. Ace Frehley has been CONSISTENTLY putting out solo efforts that ‘out-Kiss’ KISS themselves. God Bless Ace & Peter!!! \m/

  21. I have been a kiss fan as long as I can remember . I saw the band in 78 when I was 10 years old and no disrespect to Gene and Paul, my favorite band members were Peter and Ace, and once they left the band it was never the same. There’s such a thing called LOYALTY. I think Gene and Paul think to much of themselves. No one member is bigger than the band. Get off your high horse boys.

  22. You could love which ever member you wanted before you knew them. Now, I know, Paul is the man, Gene is Gene, and Ace and Peter are doing a lot better today than they would have been otherwise. Everything else is water under the bridge.

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