The first line of Gene Simmons' autobiography, "Kiss and Make-Up," which
comes out December 11, seems to confirm the rumor that his band's farewell
U.S. performance will be at Shea Stadium in New York. But considering the
abuse he flings at original Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter
Criss throughout the rest of the book, it wouldn't be surprising if half of
his bandmates chose not to join him that evening.
The two are portrayed as ignorant and irresponsible parodies of rock and
roll whose dependence on drugs and alcohol has repeatedly jeopardized the
band's existence. This alone shouldn't come as a surprise to the faithful
fans who have followed the group over the years, but the personal nature of
the attacks are unflinching.
Simmons says that both Frehley and Criss were sometimes left off studio
recordings because they either didn't show up to the sessions or were too
out-of-practice or inebriated to play. He claims there were numerous occasions when
they have crashed cars, and describes how the photographer of the cover of
Hotter Than Hell had to superimpose the left side of Frehley's made-up face
over the right side because the guitarist had badly scarred his mug in an
auto accident. Toward the end of the band's last reunion tour, Simmons
alleges that Frehley and Criss were so out of it they were unable even to
play the songs.
"People were crying in the audience, but maybe it wasn't because they were
never going to see us again maybe it was because Ace and Peter were
playing so badly," he writes. "As the tour went on, it became clear to me
that the decision to make this tour the last one was not only smart but
At one point in the book there's a photo of Frehley
intimately kissing a gray-haired Australian man, and the adjacent text
reads, "After he got enough alcohol into his system, all bets were off. He
would lose all inhibitions and think nothing of kissing and making out with
Simmons recounts tales of the guitarist shooting paintball guns in a deluxe
hotel suite and reveals that at one point Frehley had an interest in Nazi
memorabilia and he and a friend used to get drunk and make videotapes of
themselves dressed up as Nazis.
Elsewhere, he criticizes Frehley for being scatterbrained and not living up
to his potential. "He could play guitar, write songs and do any number of
things, but he's never applied himself," wrote Simmons. "He's admitted to
being chronically lazy and a flake."
Simmons is equally harsh on Criss, whom he labels a hot-tempered whiner. He
mentions that while promoting Dynasty, the drummer got so frustrated during
an elongated commercial shoot that he punched a glass case. "A shard went
through his hand. He had to be taken to the hospital and stitched up ... Can
you imagine being so upset at anything that you'd [do that?] The whole James
Dean lifestyle had never appealed to me. Because after that guy dies in a
car crash, I'm going to sleep with his girlfriend."
In 1980, after a lengthy bender, Criss tried to convince his bandmates that
he was clean and sober by returning to the studio with a music stand and
attempting to trick everyone into believing that he had spent the last six
months learning to read music. Of course, he hadn't, and when he started
playing he was "worse than ever."
At the end of "Kiss and Make-Up," Simmons reveals the real reason why Criss
left the band earlier this year. For the farewell tour, both he and Frehley
were being treated as employees, and given a flat-rate salary for performing
instead of getting a percentage cut of the profits. But as the band prepared
to embark on the Japanese and Australian leg of the farewell tour, Criss
wanted to renegotiate his contract.
"We had a contract with him and weren't willing to meet these new terms,"
Simmons writes. "Peter held his ground and told us that we could take it or
leave it. We left it. At the end of the day, Peter Criss is still the very
same guy who, even before our first show at the Diplomat Hotel in 1973 a
show where we scratched and clawed to get people there was ready to quit
Of course, there's more to "Kiss and Make-Up" than bandmate bashing. The
biography begins with Simmons' earliest days as a poor boy in Israel and
follows his immigration to the U.S. and his discovery of women, rock and roll
and big business. The book also details many of his "4,600" one-night stands
with ladies whose photos he still keeps in his collection of memorabilia. It
also reveals some intimate details of his relationships with Cher, Diana
Ross and Shannon Tweed, the mother of his two children.
Some of the most interesting passages in the tome touch on Simmons' various
money-making schemes over the years. As a youth he would buy stacks of
comic books from his neighbors and then resell the valuable ones. In school
he typed other people's term papers for a fee. And when Kiss were up and
running, he began to launch the band's merchandising empire by including
mail-order forms in the sleeves of every record sold.
"We did things other bands wouldn't have had the balls to do," he boasts.
"From the start, we didn't care that it invalidated what we did. We were
not concerned with credibility."
Over the course of "Kiss and Make-Up," Simmons makes various claims regarding
aspects of rock and roll that he allegedly pioneered. These include the
coveted heavy metal "sign of the horns," which he says he inadvertently
developed because of the way he holds his bass pick. Simmons also says that
Kiss were the first band to use elevator lifts that brought the members out
from under the stage, and that he convinced Casablanca record company president
Neil Bogart not to name his label Emerald City.
In true Gene Simmons fashion, "Kiss and Make-Up" ends with the entrepreneur
taking an opportunity to plug his latest products. He assures us there will
be a Kiss Cartoon and Kiss theme parks, amongst other things.
"To America, sweet America," he concludes, "Thank you for making a poor
little immigrant boy's dreams come true."