Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have long been vilified for Ace Frehley and Peter Criss' exits from KISS following their worldwide reunion tours, which began in 1996. According to The Pulse Of Radio, Rolling Stone ran an excerpt from Stanley's long-awaited autobiography, "Face The Music: A Life Exposed", in which he explained how Criss and Frehley all but signed their pink slips from the "Hottest Band in The World."
Stanley writes about Peter Criss' unhappiness during his last days on the road with KISS: "Peter posted a sign every day counting down the number of days left on the Farewell Tour. He started painting a teardrop below his eye. I thought it made him look like Emmett Kelly's famous Weary Willie character, the tragic clown who toured with the Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Circus. And as for the rest of his makeup, it was as if he had forgotten how to do it. He started to look like a panda bear, with big rectangles around his eyes."
He went on to write, "The tour was horrible. Constant drudgery and misery. We spent all of our energy trying to coax Peter and Ace out of their hotel rooms. Ace sucker-punched (roadie and substitute guitarist) Tommy (Thayer) at one of the shows. Peter had his usual handbook detailing how hotel staff had to treat him and which windows had to be covered with tinfoil and all that. There was no reasoning with either of them. We never knew if we'd make it to a show on time, and once we got onstage we never knew whether we'd get through the show. I mean, if a guy has trouble putting on his makeup, how is he going to play? Not surprisingly, the shows could be pretty awful."
Stanley admits that he saw the band falling apart before his eyes, especially when it was frequently up in the air whether Frehley would even make it to the gig on a nightly basis. "I was angry at Peter and Ace for being disrespectful toward everything we had accomplished and everything the fans were giving us," he wrote. "I bought into the idea that this really was it. The end of KISS. There was no place to go. It was unbearable."
After a particularly bad show, manager Doc McGhee leveled with Stanley and Simmons and told them that some cuts needed to be made to keep the band operating at a functioning level. "'This will not do,' Doc said to me and Gene," Stanley wrote. "'These guys are just terrible. I run a management company, not the Red Cross. They don't send me into destroyed countries to rebuild things. I don't save people. You have to make changes.'"
Both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been quite vocal about KISS living on far into the future long after both its co-founders have retired from the stage. Stanley told The Pulse Of Radio that KISS is far bigger and important than its past or present members. "The people who believe that the band can't exist or continue without me or Gene, either both or singularly, well, a lot of those people in the late '70s believed the band couldn't continue without the original four," he said. "At this point, they're 50 percent wrong. And when we play to 15, 50, 100,000 people, they're not interested in the specifics of the past — they're interested in the band and what it represents, and what it brings to a concert, and what it stands for."
KISS will play a rare unplugged concert tomorrow night (April 3) at Highland, California's San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino.
Paul Stanley will publish his memoir, "Face The Music: A Life Exposed", on April 8.
KISS and DEF LEPPARD kick off their 42-date summer tour on June 23 at Salt Lake City, Utah's USANA Amphitheater.