Just as the final world tour from rock legends KISS gets ready to kick off, founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have nudged the door open for some former members of the group while shutting it completely on another.
In a new interview with Guitar World (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), both men said that they’re willing to entertain the idea of being joined on stage briefly by guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss, the two ex-KISS founding members who were part of the band’s world dominating ‘70s heyday, but, as Simmons put it, “they’re never going to be in KISS again.”
“Ace and Peter have gotten three chances,” he continued. “They were in and out of the band — fired — three times. For drugs, alcohol, bad behavior, being unprofessional… So the short answer… is we’d love to have Ace and Peter join us here and there. And if they don’t, it’s not going to be because of us.”
He added, “Would we welcome Ace or Peter to jump up onstage for a song or two? Of course. Could we depend on either Ace of Peter to do a full set night after night? Not on your f—ing life.”
Depending on who you ask, Criss either quit or was fired from the band officially in 1980 but rejoined the fold in 1996 for their much-celebrated Alive/Worldwide Tour, which also included Frehley. Criss left the band again in 2000 but was hired back for a spell — from 2002 to 2004 — before being dismissed for the last time. Frehley, on the other had, rejoined the band in 1996 but left for good in 2001.
As for other ex-KISS members, Stanley and Simmons had some strong words for Vinnie Vincent, the guitarist who was brought in to replace Frehley in 1982. When asked whether they would consider inviting him to join them onstage during this last tour, Stanley said, “I would say that’s not someone who I want to celebrate.”
Simmons agreed with his longtime friend and bandmate, saying, “It’s worth stating that Vinnie has sued the band and lost 14 times. I’m not here to cast any aspersions. He’s a talented guy. That’s why he was in the band. But would I depend on him to get up onstage and do anything? Never. Can he come to the shows? Of course! Anybody can. But onstage? Never.”
Vincent clearly feels differently about the experience with his former bandmates as he told BackstageAxxess last year, “If they ask me, I’ll be there. They’re still my buds, my friends, and [there’s] a lot of love left. A lot of magic left.”
As for Bruce Kulick, another former guitarist in the KISS history books, Stanley and Simmons heaped praise upon him.
“Bruce is somebody who shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated as far as his role in the band,” Stanley said, with Simmons adding “We love Bruce. He was always professional and showed up on time. … So I can never say anything bad about Bruce.”
KISS’ “End of the Road” tour kicks off Thursday night (January 31st) in Vancouver, Canada. Get your tickets here.
UPDATE: Ace Frehley has responded to the interview, demanding an offer for his KISS job back and accusing Simmons of groping his wife. Details here.