Legendary rock and roll band, KISS, has been making headlines recently. First came the announcement that the original lineup will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the upcoming ceremonies on April 10th. Then, disappointed fans discovered that, despite an offer to perform at the gala, KISS had declined. Why? The Hall of Fame refuses to induct current band mates Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. Now, as if there was not enough drama surrounding the band, out come allegations of prejudice within the original lineup. In Paul Stanley’s new book, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, the KISS front man makes allegations that former band members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss shared views of anti-Semitism, which were often directed at himself and Gene Simmons, leaders of the group who happen to both be Jewish.
To be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems a long time coming for both KISS and its fans. The band got its start in New York City over 40 years ago. From 1973 to 1980, the group consisted of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons, drummer and vocalist Peter Criss, and lead guitarist and vocalist Ace Frehley. Together, they experienced being one of the highest-selling rock bands of all time. However, by the early ‘80s, Criss and Frehley had separated from KISS over issues within the band. While the two rejoined the group in the late 90s, they once again split up only a few years after. Until recently, it was widely accepted that the differences among the group were related to creative problems and power struggles. Allegations of anti-Semitism among the former members of KISS seems to be a new revelation.
In Paul Stanley’s scathing new book, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, he alleges that Criss and Frehley “felt powerless and impotent when faced with the tireless focus, drive and ambition of me and Gene.” The lead vocalist further complains that the two attempted to disrupt the success of the band over their perception that it was controlled by “[us] money-grubbing Jews.” Stanley has been vehement in his belief that these accusations are not just whimsical notions, but conclusions he has drawn after years of first-hand accounts. Criss, who is particularly singled out for being anti-Semitic, has denied the claims, saying he is a lover of all races and religions. Frehley has also brushed off the allegations, categorizing them as just “talk.” Stanley’s book also seems to put Simmons on the defensive, charging him with accepting undeserved credit for KISS successes.
So, with all of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drama and allegations of anti-Semitism within KISS, just how will the group handle themselves at the event on Thursday evening? It has been reported that all members, old and new, will be in attendance. It seems a voice of reason has eloquently emanated from former KISS member Ace Frehley, who said, despite the recent gossip: “… we’re still brothers in rock and roll. At least that’s the way I feel. If it’s not going to be that way, I’d be surprised.” Right on, Ace.
Opinion by Josh Taub