Kiss and Tell: Comparing the Original Band Members' Memoirs - Rolling Stone
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Kiss and Tell: Comparing the Original Band Members’ Memoirs

Peter, Paul, Ace and Gene have some conflicting memories of the same events in the band’s history

kiss, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley


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There are two sides to every story. Unless, of course, you’re talking about Kiss, in which there are now four. With the April 8th publication of Paul Stanley’s Face the Music: A Life Exposed, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees will have seen each of its original members publish a tell-all memoir. Paul’s book follows in the platformed footsteps of Gene Simmons’ Kiss and Make-Up (2001), Ace Frehley’s No Regrets: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Memoir (2011) and Peter Criss’s Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss (2012). But in certain instances, the bandmembers appear to have some diverging memories of key moments in the group’s history. We hit the books to try and figure what happened.

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“Being excited about my new band, I roughed out a sketch of the original Kiss logo in no time at all. It wasn’t a whole lot different than the logo as it appears today. My original concept featured the twin S’s in jagged detail, like lightning bolts, and a small dot in the shape of a diamond over the letter ‘i.’ I then transferred the logo to a button using a felt-tip pen and presented it to the group . . . Everyone loved it. Paul was a trained artist, so when things got really serious he polished my design, making everything nice and neat.” 

“[Ace] was a pretty decent artist. I took his sketch and used it as the basis for a series of Kiss logos I designed, ultimately arriving at the one that has adorned all things Kiss for the past forty years. I vividly remember sitting on my parents’ sofa while they were out of town and drawing up the final version on thick white stock using a straightedge and a drafting pen . . . Ace’s concept was closer to the Nazi SS. I certainly suspected that was his inspiration, and the fact that a few years later he bought Nazi memorabilia on our first tour confirmed this in my mind.”

“I remember very clearly when our picture went up on the outside of the club [the band was playing], Ace took a marker and wrote our new name right on the picture. The way he drew it was pretty crude, but it resembled our logo, with the two S’s like lightning bolts at the end of the word.” 

“Ace is a great artist, and his Kiss rendition, with the last two letters as lightning bolts, was totally bitching. And contrary to some people’s opinions (and later the opinion of the government of Germany), the Ss didn’t symbolize the Nazi SS . . . Then Paul refined the logo, made the K a little straighter, and we had a name and a logo.” 

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“There have always been rumors that the Alive! record was substantially reworked in the studio. It’s not true. We did touch up the vocal parts and fix some of the guitar solos, but we didn’t have the time or money to completely rework the recordings.”

“We all went into Electric Lady, and for the better part of three weeks we tinkered and tweaked . . . and sometimes completely overdubbed songs. None of us got off the hook completely. There were times when [producer] Eddie [Kramer] was unhappy with Paul’s singing or Gene’s singing . . . As the studio sessions went on we became increasingly flexible in terms of what we considered to be acceptable doctoring.”

“In the end we wound up keeping only my drum tracks, my vocals, and Paul’s between-song raps. Everything else was re-created in the studio.”

“Yes, we enhanced it. Not to hide anything, not to fool anyone. But who wanted to hear a mistake repeated endlessly? Who wanted to hear an out-of-tune guitar? For what? Authenticity?”

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“When I heard ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ being played back in the studio, I was blown away. Yeah, it wasn’t ‘Detroit Rock City’ or ‘Love Gun,’ but it was undeniable . . . It was universal, something that grabbed you the first time you heard it.” 

“‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ had a certain driving force and a catchy melody. I didn’t really see it.”

“The cruelest blow of all was Paul’s attempt to write a contemporary hit for Dynasty. He came up with ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You,’ Kiss’s first out-and-out disco track. What little credibility we had left was flushed down the toilet when we did that.”

“Yeah, it became a hit single and I could appreciate the polish behind it, but I never liked the song and frankly hated playing it live — hammering out that chucka-chucka-chucka chord for five minutes straight was not only monotonous, but often gave me a cramp in my wrist.”

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“We started playing, and [Criss] was worse than ever. So we had a meeting afterward, and we said, ‘Peter is unhealthy. He’s going to kill himself. He’s got to leave the band and get some help.’ So, after much deliberation, everybody, including Ace, voted him out of the band.”  

“I wanted to give [Criss] another chance, but my hands were tied. I was outvoted, and the decision was made to move forward without him, so I accepted the decision reluctantly.”

“Ace can say whatever he wants now, but he voted to fire Peter without any prodding or strong-arming. It’s a tribute to Ace that he did.” 

“I was about to eat crow and ask to come back to the band. ‘Yup,’ they said. ‘Well, I fucking quit!’ I yelled. Now I was really hurt. I looked over at Ace, and he couldn’t look me in the face. Paul and Gene actually looked like they were gloating. I was furious. They got up to leave, and Ace was the last to exit. ‘Hey, Cat, I’m not happy about this, man, but you were out of control,’ Ace said.”

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