Kiss Apparently Kiss Off Peter Criss

Drummer Eric Singer rejoins band for final stage of farewell tour; Web site message doesn't mention founding drummer's absence.

Eric Singer, the drummer for Kiss from 1992-96, has rejoined the band for the final stage of the band's year-plus farewell tour. This all but certainly indicates that Peter Criss, the band's classic drummer, has left the tour.

A message on theofficial Kiss Web site, Kissonline, from the three other founding members of Kiss — bassist Gene Simmons, guitarist Paul Stanley and guitarist Ace Frehley — addresses only the matter of Singer rejoining:

"Eric has been a member of our family, and his drumming and singing have been the cornerstone of past KISS tours," the message reads. "We are stoked that we can bring our ultimate spectacle to KISS fans worldwide."

Criss' departure remains unaddressed. The office of Doc McGhee, Kiss' manager, had no comment Wednesday (January 31). Mercury Records, Kiss' record company, issued a statement identical to the one on the Web site.

Singer's first show with Kiss since 1995 will take place March 3 in Tokyo. Criss' last one apparently was October 7 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Criss, the Brooklyn, New York-born Cat-man, who was the third member to join Kiss when the group was formed in 1972, has had an often stormy time in the band. After enormous success with 1975's Kiss Alive, 1976's Destroyer (featuring the Criss-sung "Beth," a #7 single) and 1978's Love Gun, he left Kiss for the first time, in 1980. Frehley left the band in 1982.

In the meantime, Stanley and Simmons forsook makeup and from 1983 to 1995 soldiered on, with several guitarists and drummers replacing Cat-man and Space Ace. Singer, a Cleveland-born drummer who had pounded percussion for Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Lita Ford, took over for Criss' replacement, Eric Carr, for 1992's Revenge. Carr died of cancer in 1991.

In 1996, all four members publicly swept all the discord under the rug at a press conference on the U.S.S. Intrepid, announcing a yearlong reunion world tour. Surrounded by his once-again greasepainted comrades, Simmons addressed the years of turmoil and exiled bandmembers by exclaiming, "F--- it, the magic's back!"

Launched in July 1996 at Detroit's Tiger Stadium, the tour was the most profitable of the year. Two years later, the band returned with a new album, Psycho Circus, and another world tour.

Last year, Kiss announced they would embark on a final tour. The band promised that the shows would be the Kiss spectacular to end all Kiss spectaculars — a promise that was largely delivered. Not only did the Kabuki-ed quartet ignite more pyro and spit more blood than before, but Criss and Frehley even played songs that were not recorded during the pair's tenure, such as 1983's "Lick It Up" and 1984's "Heaven's on Fire."

But Criss and Frehley's participation in Kiss over the last five years never denoted full partnership in the band. Stanley and Simmons run the Kiss corporation, which plans various Kiss-themed entertainment ventures once the band retires.

Fans posting messages on Kissonline are, while typically supportive of Singer, for the most part indignant regarding Criss' departure. Many suggest onstage dissonance would occur once Singer takes the stage: Would he wear Criss' makeup? Would he wear his own distinctive makeup? Would he wear no makeup? Some call for the band to call it a day immediately.

Perhaps Simmons will mull all this over as he fields questions from Regis Philbin on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" on Thursday night (February 1) at 9 p.m. ET.