Kory Grow of Rolling Stone reports:

For over a decade, KISS’ Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer have both worn makeup associated with the band’s founding guitarist and drummer, respectively. Although the move has sparked some controversy among fans, singer-bassist Gene Simmons tells Rolling Stone it doesn’t bother him.

“Why wouldn’t we use the classic makeup?” he says. “We own it.”

The subject came up during an interview regarding the 40th anniversary of the band’s Destroyer album, when Simmons bemoaned founding guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss’ acrimonious departures from the group within its first decade.

“The saddest thing of all is here we are, top of Mt. Olympus with all this cool stuff happening, really enjoying ourselves, the fans are thrilled, and nobody ever holds up a sign, ‘Where’s Ace and Peter?'” he says. “Anybody that’s in a band goes, ‘Oh, they can’t exist without me.’ They are sadly mistaken. Whether you’re AC/DC or Van Halen or anybody, they can actually not only exist without you. Even if you’re the lead singer, they can actually get twice as big.”

“Even if you’re in Genesis: ‘Oh, they can never do it without Peter Gabriel.’ Oh, sure they can,” he continues. “In fact, we’ll get a guy who doesn’t have any personality and doesn’t put on masks or anything and just sings songs, and they’ll play stadiums. And Peter Gabriel, with all of the great masks and the things, never played that.”

The band had previously encouraged band members who joined in the early Eighties to create new personas – guitarist Vinnie Vincent became the Ankh Warrior and drummer Eric Carr was the Fox – but after the band decided to “unmask” Simmons, the musician says the band decided new personas were not valid. So, when Frehley and Criss departed the band’s reunion tour in 2002 and 2004, respectively, the group – which owns rights to the makeup – bequeathed it unto Thayer and Singer.

“In retrospect, it was the right decision,” Simmons says. “There’s always going to be five percent or 10 percent of people who were there at the beginning who will complain about anything. And listen, I think that’s valid from their point of view. But people get onto a train at different times.

“If you go to see the Stones live today and poke the guy next to you and say, ‘Ron Wood, he’s not Brian Jones,’ the guy says, ‘Who the f–k is that?’ He wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about. He came into the Stones 10, 20, 30 years after you did.”

Rolling Stone reported in 2014 that Peter Criss relinquished the rights to his character when he left the band. “I’m pissed at myself that my makeup slipped through my hands,” he said. “That’s my cross that I bear.” Frehley said he licensed his and would get it back, though singer-guitarist Paul Stanley called that notion a “fantasy.”

Read more at Rolling Stone.


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  • Brian B on

    Open the flood gates !!! How dare Gene make sense…..

  • Doug R. on

    Most longtime fans have a problem with it Gene, and why you don’t get that, and can’t understand that is beyond me. One more thing, I never had a problem with the “Fox,” or the “Warrior,” we knew those personas were Eric & Vinnie, as the “Fox and the “Warrior.” When I look at the “Catman” and the “Spaceman” I want to know I’m looking at the original “Catman” and “Spaceman,” Peter & Ace, not Eric & Tommy. But I know Gene, I get it, brand before band.

    • Bill F. on

      I don’t know how you can say that. My first record I ever bought with my own money was Alive II, and I’ve been with them ever since, through the solo albums, through The Elder (I love that record), through the makeup off, through the makeup back on…

      And the only time they even came close to “losing me” was… with the Fox and the Warrior. I thought that was the stupidest idea ever, and a mockery of what I loved about Kiss. I was actually grateful at that point that they took the makeup off rather than sully the image any further.

      Fast forward fifteen years or so, give or take, and having seen about 10 reunion shows (including the “homecoming” in NYC at the Garden) I’m watching the Kiss/Aerosmith tour and Peter is up there going through the motions. He SUCKED. Except for Wang Chung (I’m not kidding) it was the worst performance I have ever seen in an arena by a major band. Stephen Tyler wasted and falling off the drum-riser in Worcester on the Done With Mirrors tour wasn’t that bad. It was embarrassing and it was disrespectful to the band and the legacy. I for one was GLAD when Eric Singer came in and was able to carry the load like it should be carried.

      Fast forward again to last year, I got to take my then 14-year-old to her first Kiss show (Kiss/Def Leppard). She knew full well – because I told her in advance – that the “drummer and the guitar player with the silver on his face are not the original guys, but Paul and Gene are there” (she has met Paul). She was BLOWN AWAY. The next day, on her Instagram is a picture of the finale with the pinwheels and fireworks during RnR All Nite, and her caption? “Best night of my life!”

      Yeah, not all “long time fans” have the problem you do. I’d rather see a band firing on all cylinders than half-assed phone-ins from legacy members with an entitlement complex.

    • Doug R. on

      To each his own, Bill. I’ve been a Kiss fan from the very beginning, 1974, from the first album, all the way through to the 2001 box set. I too stuck with them through all the changes, trends, including “IWMFLY,” AND “The Elder,” but they lost me when they decided to parade Tommy & Eric around as Ace & Peter. I too had no problem with the makeup coming off, or going back on, once again my only problem is (IMO) it’s wrong to carry on as the ORIGINAL Kiss when it isn’t the ORIGINAL Kiss. And it’s not just Ace & Peter, I don’t ever want to see anybody else wearing Gene & Paul’s makeup either. But again, to each their own.

  • Bill F. on

    HAHAHA, you beat me to the punch; I was just about to say “Let the Gene bashing begin!”

  • Waverider on

    Gene has said some crazy things in the press, but this is not one of them. I totally agree with Gene on this. Also, its not news that this is Gene’s view since KISS have been doing this for over a decade now.

    No offense Eddie, I think overall you’re doing hard rock and heavy metal a lot of good with your work. But if you’re really past all of this stuff and no longer give much thought to KISS having Tommy and Eric in makeup like you have said in the past (though those words are my interpretation, I don’t remember your exact words), then why feature this story on your website?

    I know its a slow rock news week, but it seems like you’re trotting this out again just to stir it all up some more.

    • shannon mehaffey on

      So, you’ve got nothing better to do than throw stones at Ed here? Lol….Yeah, Eddie, what the hell is wrong with you?

      At least Gene is not saying that Eric and Tommy are better than Ace and Peter anymore, that’s just unacceptable.

      Right, DR? hey, we agree on Rage For Order, that is a great record, very New Wavish, it has this Split Enz thing happening.

      The Clown.

    • Doug R. on

      …I don’t know why sometimes I get frightened… I GOT YOU Clown 😉

    • shannon mehaffey on

      “I’m Gonna Get Close To You,” in particular, is the Split Enz metal thing.
      They made a great record, it’s my favorite one from them, did they surpass the Priest’s Turbo?

      I think Asia beat both Priest and Ryche with ’85’s Astra, however, a year before their respective records. I can’t recommend this record enough.

    • Doug R. on

      Well thanks a lot Shannon, ever since you brought up Split Enz yesterday, “I Got You” has been stuck in my head all frigging day! How Long will it last? Only Time Will Tell. ^^ 😉

    • DR Is Live on

      Gonna get close is a good cover. I’m too lazy to google, but I believe its a cover by a Canadian singer Dalballo or something like that. As far as Asia goes, I’m more partial to Alpha myself. You an Asia fan Clown?

    • shannon mehaffey on

      exatcly! that’s in the song I mention below…

    • DR Is Live on

      I have Six Months In a Leaky Boat on my google play. Rage For Order is their best…agreed Clown. It’s also my kid’s favourite Reich album. We were listening to the CD on our. Road trip just the other day.

    • Dana on

      I think the short version would be spelled Ryche. When I see it spelled Reich, it conjures up a very negative connotation. 😉

      D 🙂

  • DR Is Live on

    Sorry. That was me not paying attention to my spellcheck on the iPad.

    • Dana on

      No worries, but it shows where the spell check’s logic resides. You mean the iPad never heard of Queensryche? 🙂

      D 🙂

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