THE SEARCH FOR FORMER KISS GUITARIST VINNIE VINCENT

VinnieVincent400 Max Blau of Rolling Stone reports:

Smyrna, Tennessee, is not a likely place to find a guitar god, or anyone in particular, which meant it was just about perfect for Vinnie Vincent. For a while anyway.

Behind a forbidding eight-foot-tall picket fence and a padlocked gate stand two houses. Paint cans, a television set and stuffed black garbage bags litter the driveways. This is where guitarist Vinnie Vincent — who gave life back into KISS in the early Eighties, when the bandmembers had removed their makeup but seemed musically ready for embalming, and then became a hair-metal solo star in his own right — has lived in seclusion for the last 15 years. Or, more accurately, had lived. It’s hard to know where Vincent is these days.

From the looks of it, the houses have been abandoned for some time. Knocks on the front door go unanswered, and multiple calls in to Vincent’s lawyer inquiring about his client’s whereabouts yielded nothing. It’s not as if Vincent, 61, was ever a man about Smyrna. Up the road, a clerk at the gas station can’t recall ever seeing the musician who once played for 137,000 fans in Brazil — KISS’ biggest concert. A next-door neighbor, Paul Sachtjen, says he’d never met Vincent face-to-face. He had, though, endured a battle over some pruned pear trees hanging across property lines, receiving angry letters and police visits, but never at the expense of Vincent’s closely-guarded privacy. Years later, Sachtjen’s son vandalized a convertible belonging to Vincent’s wife, Diane. Soon after, surveillance cameras and mounted outdoor spotlights were installed on Vincent’s property.

“I feel bad for him,” Sachtjen says now. “He wants to be a recluse and left the hell alone.”

As the original replacement for founding member guitarist Ace Frehley, Vincent garnered a reputation as one of the band’s most talented, influential, and divisive members in its 40-year history. From 1982 to 1984, Vincent’s knack for cocky melodies and virtuosic guitar shredding revived an outfit that had limped into the Eighties with the release of the high concept, low quality Music From The Elder. 1983′s Lick It Up was the KISS first album on which Vincent was credited as a member (uncredited, he’d subbed for Frehley on the previous year’s Creatures of the Night). It was also the first time the band appeared without makeup, and as the writer of the title track and the musician responsible for the re-born KISS’ most jaw-dropping moments, Vincent helped frontmen Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons establish a post-grease paint identity, pushing the music in the chart-topping direction of Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard.

Despite his contributions, on April 10th, when KISS receives their long overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Vincent is about as likely to attend the ceremony as Syd Barrett would’ve been to fly on an inflatable pig over a Pink Floyd show.

“He’s such a mysterious figure,” says Bruce Kulick, who held down the lead guitar spot in KISS for 12 years following Vincent’s departure and who will attend the Rock Hall event. “In some ways, he’s the Howard Hughes of KISS. Vinnie has laid low for so long that it adds to his legend.”

Vinnie Vincent’s fans and former bandmates have different theories about his current whereabouts: He might be in Nashville, with family in Connecticut, or with some sympathetic female KISS fan. Wherever he’s gone, believes Promoter Phil Elliott, Vincent will make his presence known once the bills start to pile up.

“I don’t know how he’s going to stay afloat,” Elliott says. “When he’s desperate enough, he’ll come out of the woodwork.”

It’s hard to imagine a situation in which Vincent would not choose to keep his connection to the music world and his fans strictly online, mostly one-way and entirely out of sight, if never truly out of mind. As Robert Fleischman — like so many alienated by Vincent long ago — puts it: “If he wants to be left alone we should leave him alone. I just don’t think he really wants to be left alone.”

If Vincent does resurface, digitally or otherwise, what kind of reception he’ll receive when he does is anyone’s guess. He drew the ire of some fans when he failed to issue refunds for pre-orders from his website. Some customers even threatened him with a lawsuit for alleged fraud for selling a product, The Vinnie Vincent Archives, which he never intended to deliver. As a sop, they received letters from Vincent’s Metaluna Records, likely a one-man operation at this point, apologizing for the lengthy delay in sending out the compilation. Those apology letters came with offers to buy a guitar pick used by Vincent on the Creatures of the Night tour. The asking price was $1,000.

On VVForums.com, rumors still swirl that Vincent will take part in celebrating the KISS legacy he helped create, whether by acknowledging the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony or through some other, more idiosyncratic means. That idea that he might show up is certainly delusional, but it’s also sweetly optimistic — the KISS Army still loves the Ankh Warrior, and as anyone who knows anything about Vinnie Vincent can tell you, stranger things have happened.

Read the entire three page story at Rolling Stone.

Comments

  1. Terrific article. The fact he put to legal papers he was getting screwed by Gene & Paul to $1,000 a week and 2 star hotels speaks volumes about Kiss back then. I bet Singer/Kulick and the late Carr have wage tales that rival this or Jake & Vivian stuff. Yes, he’s probably broke and shacking up with a Kiss fan avoiding the servers. At least an Ace is out there hitting the deck at album/show/appearances at conventions….V-V could be too.

  2. Lopez celestial says:

    If you like kiss, thank vinnie vincent…..with out him kiss would had under after THE ELDER.
    WE STILL LOVE YOU Mr. Cusano came back

  3. Richman says:

    A more interesting autobiography than these other guys for certain. If you remember the actor Ken Wahl, he too disappeared is sought after and is yet to re-emerge. Come back Ankh, wherever you are. $1000.00 dollar picks? You gotta be kidding me!

    • In total agreement with you on this. An autobiography by Vinnie would certainly sway the public opinion one way or another plus alleviate his percieved indebtedness. The fact that he hasnt makes me think A hes tried and been shot down by the KISS lawyer team B hasnt decided to drop that dime just yet and cash in or C isigned some sort of confidentiality agreement. The simple fact that Paul or Gene have never gone out of the way to de-establish him as an addict, but insted refer to him as “difficult” yet credit him with songwriting credits on the “Revenge” album make me lean more towards A and C

  4. vinnie vincent joining kiss was the beginning of the web of lies created by gene and paul, putting ace on the creatures of the night record having no mention of his leaving the band while announcing the tour until after the tickets went on sale? and while he spend a few years with them he was probably the first kiss member to be treated like a employee rather a true member of the band. years go by and plenty of interviews saying how self destructive he was etc…. how on earth do you expect the man to survive that?? like, the fans, ace, and peter he too knows how it feels to be humiliated , emmbarrassed, and ashamed on how these two have desecrated the history, legacy of the band and now reality show band” kiss”.

    • Yes, his shame and humiliation was so horrible it forced him to sell guitar picks for 1,000 dollars.

      • schocoman says:

        Nothing else than “meeting” the band today and “talking” to them for the same insane amount of money for maybe a few minutes, if you are lucky, i.e. trying to make the most profit possible from everything that might have the brand name Kiss on it. And if you are broke you come up with all kinds of ideas …

        • Here’s an idea…hold on schoco, ’cause it’s a biggie. How about getting a freaking job. Or, hmm… I don’t know, how about actually using the talent god gave him and make music. No denying Vinnie is a talented person so what’s the problem here. Nope, he’d rather rip off fans and steal their money. Or are you saying you approve of that? Your hate for Gene and Paul is beyond obvious but at least they actually “offer” something in return for fans money. Big difference.

        • If KISS can charge it, and people will pay it – what’s the problem?

          • BertimusMaximus says:

            Exactly DR!! The only people here bitching about greedy musicians, are the ones who can’t afford to BUY VIP ticket packages. If somebody is willing to pay 1000 bucks to meet Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Scab 1 and Scab 2 before the show, how does that impact someone else’s life? Seriously whose business is it anyway? Why would anyone care if not for jealousy? Personally, I’d never drop a grand to meet the current incarnation of the band. I think the most I’d ever be willing to do is drop 200 bucks, and the whole tab in exchange for two hours bullshitting with Ace Frehley. No matter what, I’d come out ahead, because Ace is sober now, so basically I’d be paying for my drinks, while listening to him and his hysterically funny stories for two hours.

    • BurntIce says:

      “This isn’t the first time Cusano has cried foul and then played victim. Given the history of petty disputes he’s waged and lost over almost 30 years, it’s not hard to see Vinnie Vincent as a victim — a victim of Vincent Cusano, whom Gene Simmons once described as, “about the most self-destructive person I’ve ever met. This guy would hang himself as somebody’s offering him the keys to the kingdom.´ ”

      Article here: http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/how-rutherford-countys-resident-former-kiss-guitarist-squandered-his-stardom/Content?oid=2540107

  5. Luijan Ranbel says:

    OK Vinnie…
    Please realize most of us forgave Gene Simmons.
    Some of us will forgive Paul Stanley.
    All of us forgave Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
    It’s all good man.
    Rock & Roll is here to stay and will live forever long after we’re all gone.

  6. This was a great article! Always wondered what happened to that guy. The whole KISS family is more dysfunctional than any band I can think of. I hope he does show up at the induction. He deserves it. Proof he was the best songwriter in KISS? When he wrote “Unholy” and other songs on that album. That was KISS’ last good album. Every album he appeared on was really good. The rest? Mediocre, at best, just like the talents of Gene and Paul.

  7. I would have to agree with many of you. Vinnie was a vital part of KISS. He was very influential on the Lick It Up album. He is an extremely talented and very uncredited as a guitar player. It would be great to see him just barge in at the RRHoF celebration. This would blow the minds of everyone in present or desiring to be present. Vinnie, you are remembered and admired. God bless!!

  8. jack wood says:
  9. pete lytel says:

    Vinnie, you are so loved and admired. You have no idea. You could make a killing on the covention circuit, plus promote anything new. Come on out man. Please?

  10. As a songwriter Vinnie was great. He co-wrote some of KISS’ greatest non-makeup era songs. As a guitar player however, the guy was CRAP!!!

  11. Roland, you’re out of your mind. He may not have been the type of guitarist that you care to listen to, but the guy could play circles around 99% of the other players out there. Vinnie Vincent is clearly not for everyone, but there are many who enjoyed his super-fast style. I hope for his sake he’s at least happy in his seclusion, and hasn’t lost his mind, ala Howard Hughes….

  12. Very interesting article. Vinnie seems like a weird dude. Cnn should be covering this instead of the plane story ;)

  13. I said it before and I will say it again..Eddie you gotta find this guy!!!
    The metal show with the return of Vinnie Vincent would be awesome !!

  14. Boy and I thought Axl was paranoid lol.

    I consider myself a small KISS fan only… But that is mainly because of Creatures. Great album, great songs great guitar and drums. When I first heard love it loud, I couldn’t believe it rocked so hard. So I have mad respect for VV.

    Anyone recommend good tracks from Lick it up? Thanks in advance!

    • Richman says:

      I’VE HAD ENOUGH (INTO THE FIRE) is a killer

      • Great song, killer drums from the late great Eric Carr on that album!

        • Mark’s lead doesn’t sound like the angry bees Simmons was referring to in Rolling Stone, never heard the tune before, good vocals too.

      • I’ve had enough was from Animalize.

        • Richman says:

          Just making sure you ‘re paying attention. ALL HELL’S BREAKING LOOSE is an interesting song off of LICK IT UP and the only known pseudo-rap song by KISS. HYSTERICAL is accurate with Gene’s best ever bass line. If you follow my posts I quote it constantly.

      • Jimmy Apple (@jimmyapple5) says:

        I’ve had enough is an Animalize track credited to Mark St. John, though Paul shed’s some light on the recording of Animalize and suggests that Bruce Kulick may have ultimately laid down a lot of the work.

    • Young and Wasted. On the 8th Day. A Million to One. The video for All Hells Breaking Loose is beyond cheesy hysterical.

  15. I think when you start evaluating Vinnies playing u kinda gotto put it in perspective. Back then a lot of guys cranked it to 11 and just spanked the plank Then Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes popped up and were technicians with the guitar and totally blew folks away. Now you can search YouTube and find 13 year olds playing that make me want to burn my guitars that I’ve played on for 30+ years!
    Also I saw KISS around ’76 and to me they put on a “show” like Alice Cooper. When I saw Van Halen,AC/DC or Judas Priest,they put on a rock concert. I liked some KISS songs,but if I ever made my own ultimate classic rock compilation disc they wouldnt be on it but for other folks it would be different. But as far as KISS deserving to be in the RHOF.,hell yeah,in the day there were a lot of folks in the KISS Army. So they definately had an impact and influence on a lot of folks. And if. Ll Cool J is in it,they should be too,in my opinion. And Alex Lifeson said it all in his speech when Rush was inducted,search YouTube if you didn’t see it.

  16. BurntIce says:

    Ok the guy is a fucked up never-was with DEEP personal issues, no only with KISS but also with the members of his very own Vinnie Vincent Invasion.

    Are you haters gonna blame Paul and Gene for this?

    Get a life!

  17. C’mon Vinnie…come out and show everyone who misses you that you can shred like a mofo and write killer songs. It’s been too long man.

  18. Vinnie Vincent is by far my favorite Kiss guitarist after Ace. He definately saved their career at that point.

  19. Vinnie was the most talented guitarist in Kiss by far. IMO, he deserves to be inducted into the RRHOF along with Kullick and a few others. I just don’t see why they only include the first 4 guys, its not fair imo.

  20. I wonder does kiss co own his makeup.

  21. From what I read Vinnie,recently lost his wife
    Due to alcoholism,

    Yes, without vinnie kiss. Wouldnt have made it
    Lick it up is awsome
    He wrote alot songs. On Revenge tooo

  22. He screwed his fans jacking them on the box set. He’s just Jake E Lee 15 years ago. Now he needs to Red Cartel himself.

    • Whoa, Lee. Since when did Jake ever pull any stunts on his fans and steal from them? Never. That’s uncalled for, dude. Jake DISAPPEARED for almost 25 years. No one knew a thing about him, what he was doing, where he lived, etc. I think the only thing he ever did was sell some of his equipment because he was broke. And he admits that.

  23. Vinnie Vincent. His own worst enemy and a victim of himself. Very sad.

  24. randy rock says:

    Eddie can lure him out of his house.like he did with jake e lee.lol

  25. Randy Rock, I got a question for you?
    What exactly are you laughing at?

    Your own self?

    Jake E. Lee and Vinnie Vincent are two different people.

    Think you have the energy to realize that now …. troll.

  26. James Bossingham says:

    I feel vinnie is and was the first of the shredders he is right up there with yngwie,satrini via and Imprlle were are you Vinnie I for one would like to see you make a comeback and would love to learn to play from a master such as yourself it’s time Vinnie should make a DVD how to play in the style of vinnie Vincent I would buy it would like very much to learn from you personly
    Come back Vinnie
    James Bossingham

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