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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  • Jamie on

    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.

  • Rich on

    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.

  • Rick on

    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.

  • Kolby on

    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.

  • Kissnut91 Oracle09 on

    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

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