KISS members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Eric Singer have issued statements regarding the passing of former KISS guitarist Mark St. John, who died on April 5 from an apparent brain hemorrhage. He was 51.
Paul Stanley: "Mark tried his best to become the guitar player that KISS and our fans needed, so that we could continue moving forward. I enjoyed and am proud of our work together on 'Animalize' and know how much he wanted to take that leap to the stage to play with us live. He was gracious in his acceptance that it wouldn't happen and was supportive of Bruce [Kulick] and a gentleman when it was clear that his ailment would end his time with us."
Gene Simmons: "Mark was a great guitarist and a good man. He will be missed."
Eric Singer: "I would like to express my thoughts on the loss of Mark St. John. He was a talented guitarist that has his place in KISStory. I met Mark many years ago when he was looking for a drummer for WHITE TIGER. I was flattered that he contacted me about the drum chair but I had other commitments at that time. I wish his family all my prayers in this tough time."
According to Greg Prato of Billboard.com, St. John (born Mark Norton in Hollywood, Calif.) was KISS' third official guitarist, having replaced Vinnie Vincent in 1984. By this point, KISS had done away with its trademark makeup and costumes, but the group was enjoying a career renaissance. The lone KISS album on which St. John appeared, "Animalize", re-established the group as one of the world's top arena metal bands. The album spawned the popular MTV video, "Heaven's on Fire" (the only KISS video to feature St. John).
St. John's flashy playing reflected the era's Van Halen-influenced rock guitarists, but it certainly helped spark the material on "Animalize", which many fans consider one of KISS' strongest non-makeup releases. However, right around the time KISS was to launch a worldwide tour in support of the album, St. John was diagnosed with a form of arthritis called Reiter's Syndrome, which caused his hands and arms to swell, and prevented him from playing guitar.