Kiss and Make-up or not?

Kiss and Make-up or not?

I originally posted this article on July 15th, 2009, but with the release of the new Kiss album ‘Sonic Boom’ and the ‘Kiss Alive 35 Tour underway, the issue of new Kiss members, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer wearing the make-up of original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss has become a hot topic once again. I wanted to update this article and re-post it.

Gene Simmons / Peter Criss / Paul Stanley / Ace Frehley

Gene Simmons / Peter Criss / Paul Stanley / Ace Frehley

Recently on the Eddie Trunk Show Live, which broadcasts every Monday afternoon on The Boneyard a channel with Sirius/XM Radio. Eddie mentioned his uneasiness with current Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer wearing Ace Frehley and Peter Criss‘s original make-up. He said it makes him uncomfortable and the more it goes on the more uncomfortable he is with it.

Lets make a call to Eddie Trunk.

I called Eddie to discuss it with him. I told him, “I have been a Kiss fan since the release of their 1974 self titled debut album “Kiss” was released and didn’t have a problem with the new guys wearing the old make-up”. It didn’t sway him any, he said he was still uneasy with it. He went on to say he just didn’t think it was right. He also commented that he didn’t have a problem with the new make-up that was created for Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr, and that it was better than them wearing the original make-up of Ace and Peter. I know Eddie has a relationship with Ace and Peter, they have both appeared on his radio show, and Ace was on “That Metal Show” on VH1 which is hosted by Eddie Trunk, so I think his feelings are a little biased.

On October 5th, 2009, The Pulse of Radio reported what Paul Stanley had to say about this issue:

“That there are people who take issue with it is all well and good. To say the vast majority don’t agree would be an understatement. The fact is, there are four iconic figures that are what KISS is. To change that because someone is no longer in the band cheats me, because I busted my butt for 35 years making this what it is. So why would I let somebody deny me and the majority of the fans what they expect? That’s what we owe to people; the representation and embodiment of what KISS has been since the beginning.”

Stanley added that if he left the group, he wouldn’t be upset if someone took on his persona. He explained, “I would hope it would happen. It would only affirm that the band is bigger than any of us. That the band is about an ideal, about a point of view, about a way to deliver a show, about a philosophy that puts the fans first. I’m not delusional enough to think I couldn’t be replaced.”

1977 KISS Halloween Costumes

1977 KISS Halloween Costumes

The first concert I ever attended featured Kiss as headliners with Rush opening the show in San Diego, CA 1975 but that’s another story (see “My First Concert“). To celebrate Halloween in 1977 my friends and I wore Kiss make-up as did a lot of other fans of the band. But we took it to another level and wore the suits from the “Dressed To Kill” album cover. We payed close attention to every detail of their outfits down to the shoes. When we showed up to the many parties that were going on we were the show stoppers, everyone knew Kiss’s make-up whether they liked the band or not, it was a true phenomenon.

Time for a change.

So to me with the departure of Peter Criss in 1980 and Ace Frehley in 1982 things were never the same, especially the make-up. When Eric Carr (1980) and Vinnie Vincent (1982) officially joined the band and new make-up was designed and put on (Carr the “Fox” and Vincent the “Ankh Warrior”) it just didn’t look or feel the same, a very important aspect of Kiss had been lost, that iconic look that I had grown to love was gone and I hated it.

Vinnie Vincent

Vinnie Vincent

Eric Carr

Eric Carr

Current Line-up

Moving forward to June 19, 2004 I saw Kiss at the “Irvine Meadows Amphitheater” in Irvine, CA. The band consisted of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. They wore the original Kiss make-up and it looked good, it looked like Kiss. I had no problem with new members wearing original make-up and the show was great. It is theatrics and sometimes that requires make-up, Kiss make-up.

Eric Singer / Paul Stanley / Gene Simmons / Tommy Thayer

Eric Singer / Paul Stanley / Gene Simmons / Tommy Thayer

So what do you think about new Kiss members wearing original make-up?

23 Responses to “Kiss and Make-up or not?”

  1. SpaceTrucker says:

    Love the in depth comment Scooby and I agree with most of what you had to say. I really appreciate an intelligent well thought out conversation about music.

  2. Scooby says:

    When I was 8 years old, I saw an oddly interesting album in the record store. It was KISS “ALIVE” & was the first album I ever bought. The makeup is what got my attention. The music is what made me a life long fan for over 40 years.

    Personally, there is very little I like from the non-makeup era. The songs from “Revenge” are pretty much the only ones I like. Every other album from that era has 2 songs (at best) that I like.

    Although it wasn’t my fave album, the Dynasty tour was my first ever concert. As a 12 year old though, I was still largely in awe. We didn’t know it at the time but it would be the last time we saw the original 4 play together for 17 years. At least I could say I saw the founding members.

    I saw the band a few times during the non-makeup years & even though I wasn’t crazy about most of the songs during that time, the concerts were pretty good. I loved seeing “Leon” on the HITS tour & the Statue of Liberty/skull flying “the bird” on Revenge was awesome!

    The MTV Unplugged performance & subsequent Reunion Tour was a dream come true! KISS was back with the look & sound I grew up with.

    I saw them just recently on KISS KRUISE V & they looked & sounded GREAT! Yes, their popularity & fan base may have fallen off in the 80s & 90s but there are PLENTY of die hard fans still out there. The KRUISE sold out in 2 months & was fully booked 7 months in advance. I expect the same for KISS KRUISE VI which starts booking next week.

    The fact that different people than those who originally wore the makeup is the same as different actors playing the same role. Eric Singer has said that multiple times in interviews. Tommy feels the same.

    Many would like them to have their own unique makeup. That would have been feasible if it was the early 80s. When Eric C. & Vinnie joined, KISS was still in makeup & they were less than 10 years into their career. It was a reasonable gamble. I loved The Fox but was never a fan of Vinnie.

    When Ace & Peter left the group (again) KISS was in the midst of a world tour. Concerts were booked, media kits & merchandise was already printed. To bring in new characters in the middle of a tour AND nearly 30 years into their career would have been a DISASTER!

    As far as I know, Ace DID have a royalty agreement for his makeup for a few years after he left following the reunion. I think Peter sold his rights when he left the first time.

    Even Vinnie, from the documentation I’ve seen, owns the rights to his makeup. In fact, he applied for the rights to The Fox but he either no longer owns the rights or it was never granted.

    I don’t think KISS (i.e. Gene & Paul) ever had a desire to own the Ankh Warrior makeup. As far as The Fox, my gut feeling is they didn’t apply for the rights & felt the Carr family may apply for them. Not sure why they never did.

    If Carr had lived & continued in the band. I DO think he would have continued with his makeup. As far as the reunion, not really sure about that. I’ve read that Carr was insecure & perhaps he ultimately would have left or bowed out if MTV Unplugged had still happened & led to a reunion. Or maybe KISS would have played with both drummers, with Peter playing part of the shows featuring older songs & Carr playing part of the shows with the newer material.

    As far as new makeup not working, I think it actually did for The Fox but not the Ankh Warrior. Again, though it worked in the early 80s. It wouldn’t now. I do think though that once Gene & Paul hang up their platform boots & KISS continues (which is what I’ve read for a long time), that new characters MIGHT work then or maybe just an update/modification to the original 4 personas.

    I think the biggest reason for KISS’s slump was the change in the music scene & the bands attempt to go along with those changes. Personally, I think The Elder is a pretty good album. I also like Unmasked pretty well. I’d DEFINITELY listen to either of them over one like Carnival of Souls.

    I know a lot of people like the non makeup era & Bruce Kulick was a BIG part of that. I definitely prefer him over Mark or Vinnie. As far as him in makeup though, he NEVER wanted to put on the makeup. If you don’t believe me, read his interview in Rolling Stone ( ). Plus, he was never asked. After he left when they reunited, he joined Grand Funk & he was afraid he’d be asked to rejoin when he heard Ace was about to leave again. He didn’t want to leave GF & take that risk.

    Never have understood why people get so worked up over new members of KISS when MANY other iconic bands don’t have original members. AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Beatles….ALL legendary bands & they all hit it big with non-original members. Also, none of these bands have/had members who were as successful on their own. Why should KISS be any different?

  3. Former Diehard Kiss Fan says:

    Paul & Gene make for interesting frontmen in the tribute band formerly known as Kiss.

    Remove the makeup and be your own band guys. Kiss died long ago, anything claiming to be Kiss is sadly, just a tribute.

    Give the makeup a decent burial, it’s starting to smell fishy.

  4. Ken says:

    I hate it! Not only are Tommy and Eric wearing Ace’s & Peter’s makeup that they designed, Tommy is copying all Ace’s licks and tricks. Paul & Gene hired a couple of professional bootlickers without an ounce of ingenuity or integrity and this current lineup is about as exciting and dynamic as watching paint dry.

  5. life time fan says:

    never really understood why ace and peter didn’t fight this, the only thing I could think off is gene and paul own the rights to the make up–not sure but would make sense. the biggest question I would ask paul or gene would be–IF ERIC WERE STILL ALIVE TODAY HE WOULD MOST LIKELY STILL BE IN THE BAND, WOULD HE WEAR THE FOX OR THE CAT MAKEUP!!!

    I do understand the look of kiss staying the same, but it is still weird, don’t hate it, didn’t change my outlook or feelings, just weird. not the same, wont be the same, but still a fan, I haven’t seen them since ace and peter, not sure if I want to. I would like to remember them from the excellent reunion tour.

  6. steven says:

    I don’t have a problem with the makeup but I think both sides of the issue have a point. Paul is right though whether anyone cares to admit it or not. This is no different than the two Darrens on bewitched or the two lionels on the jeffersons. Just like those two shows some people hated the replacements and never watched the shows again and some didn’t care. That’s the same thing we have here. I accept Paul’s explanation and I don’t think there is any right or wrong in this. It just depends on how U feel about it. To hate a band over makeup is stupid. The makeup is just theatrics. People need to ask themselves why they R fans of the band, is it for the makeup or the music.

  7. Daniel says:

    For Singer to say at one press conference that new makeup doesn’t work for new members because they tried it with Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent and it didn’t work so they took it off, is sad and pure stupidity. When Eric Carr and Vinne Vincent were wearing new makeup KISS was in a slump career wise. Only one album was recorded with new makeup and it still had ACE on it, with no Vinnie. Only Eric Carr appeared on an album cover with new makeup which of course was Creatures of the Night. KISS at the time they did Creatures was snart enough to not piss off the few die hards they had left at the time by putting someone else in Peter’s makeup. KISS took the makeup off, not because new makeup didn’t sork, but because they needed a gimmick to jump start their career again for the new Mtv generation. The reason it worked was because KISS was smart enough to know that trying to sell themselves to a new younger 80s audience with the same old look wouldn’t work. To the new KISS fans of the 80s, they were like following a new band all together. When they finnaly needed a new gimmick they put it back on and reunited with ACE and Peter. Once it was time for ACE and Peter to move on, Gene and Paul kept the makeup of Peter and Ace in the band because they didn’t want the look of what was working to change. Believe me, if KISS wasn’t still selling out concerts at the time Peter and ACE left a second time, Gene and Paul would have put new makeup on Singer and Thayer.

  8. Anthony says:

    Its a travesty…the characters were created by Criss and Frehely… it was a part of who they are…not Singer and Thayer….Paul Stanley keeps tracking about how the band is bigger than they are is all he ever says…a robot for Gene at this point…why doesn’t anyone talk about how Bruce Kulick refused the offer to wear Ace make up out if respect for ace? Thayer n Singer are losers who sold out cuz gene throws money to get his way

  9. Tracey says:

    I really think that Tommy and Eric should have had their own design. Those makeup designs belong to Peter and Ace. That doesn’t mean I dislike them because of it. Tonight was my 2nd time seeing them but this time it was in Victoria BC and they ROCKED. The thing missing for me tonight was ‘Beth’. Without Peter, that song can’t be sung again. They still ROCK and put on one hell of a show!

  10. peter says:

    I think the replacments should have come up with there own makeup all the other band members did tommy and eric don,t have any respect for ace and peter the new kiss sucks because its not kiss enuff said

  11. Powerslave88 says:

    I have been a KISS fan for life, seen them 45 times prior to Tommy and Eric. What a sad joke for them to wear the outfits of Ace and Peter. Love KISS but refuse to see without the four.

  12. Timm says:

    I honestly couldn’t care less about who is wearing which makeup design… I don’t see ‘em live because I can’t afford to, so no problem there. and when I listen to the albums, it’s the voices and instruments I’m listening to… Not the Makeup. These two most recent KISS albums have both rocked, regardless of makeup designs. \m/

  13. randy firlotte says:

    The Current Kiss is a Cheap tribute to a once great band! For Gene and Paul to say that anyone is replaceable is nothing but crap! If the replacements were so great they would have made it on their own! Stars, NOT!

  14. jones says:

    i think the new line up sucks after singer took over full time and thayer came in it sucked all around the fact they are wearing the make up doesn’t piss people off its the fact that those two assholes thayer and singer are uncreative in every way and doc mcgee is a pussy about a change cuz hes a stubborn jackass, when eric carr came in he brought creativity and even more beats than peter criss, when vincent came in it was acceptional, but better when kulick came its mcgees fault they suck

  15. travis says:

    I have been a KISS fan since I was 7 years old back in ’77. I still have them on my walls. I have stayed a fan through all their lineups, but cannot accept anyone else in Ace and Peter’s makeup. There is a very good reason they didn’t do this back in the early 80′s. It’s disrespectful, desperate, and in very poor taste. For God sake, use your imagination and come up with something! Evolve! Don’t go back to what was! Change into the next stage! Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are great musicians and I have no problem with them in the band, but have some faith in your fans and know that we will stick with you through anything. Change the makeup, take it off, do anything else except this! This whole thing is a real insult to Ace, Peter, their fans and KISS fans. That’s my 2 cents.

  16. George O says:

    I think that the makeup represents the personality of the original members. I love KISS I first became a fan around 1975 I was 5 years old so I would say I’m a life long fan. I like all the line ups they have had but I don’t think the new guys should wear the Ace and Peter makeup. I disagree that KISS is an entity of itself if one day the band didn’t have any original members it would probably be a good band but would be a really good cover band.

  17. ringo moon says:

    KISS originally toured with Erik and Tommie in the makeup in foreign countries, figuring foreigners would be too dumb to notice it was not really Peter and Ace. Then they came back to America to prove how dumb American fans are. The makeup was based on Ace and Peter’s personalities. If Ace and Peter started their own version of KISS and hired two people to wear Paul and Gene’s makeup, would that also be KISS? When Paul and Gene retire, are they going to hire two guys to wear their makeup and tour with Tommie and Eric?

  18. beth priefer says:

    i really dont think that these newest member s of the band should be wearing the old make up they should have their own design.not liking it to kiss though but need to get a new look with the new guys!

  19. Marek says:

    The original makeup was a reflection of the original members. The makeup of the original four evolved with the members over time until it became what we know today. To have someone else just slap on the makeup because they’re taking over the role in the band seems wrong. Eric Carr didn’t take on the Catman persona and Vinnie Vincent didn’t become the Space Ace. Why should Singer and Thayer?

  20. sorryrocky says:

    I guess once you have accepted the fact that all original band members are not there anymore . I would have to say bring on the old make-up. KISS is not KISS of old without it. KISS ROCKS !!

  21. David says:

    I don’t really care for the idea of new members wearing the old makeup. I think the makeup/characters embodied the members personalities. I can respect Paul’s justification, but it is something I will have to try and get used to.

  22. Beano says:

    The Gene / Paul / Vinnie / Eric line up was the greatest. End Of. Rio ’83.

  23. vince says:

    I really hate it.

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