Why Peter Criss Sabotaged His Final Shows With KISS
via KissDrummer91 / Youtube
In the annals of rock history, few stories are as tumultuous as the final shows of the original KISS lineup in December 1979. Drummer Peter Criss, a crucial part of the band’s early success, deliberately sabotaged three of his last five performances, leading to a dramatic and irreversible rupture within the iconic rock group.
The Unraveling of KISS
Amid interpersonal issues and the fallout from drummer Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley expressing their desire to quit the band, KISS attempted a reunion for the album “Dynasty” released in May 1979. The discord within the band persisted, exacerbated by a car accident that limited Criss’s drumming contributions on the album.
The Breaking Point
The tensions reached a breaking point on December 8, 1979, during the fifth-to-last show of the tour. Criss, already feeling edgy due to a pre-show visit from his cocaine dealer, took exception to frontman Paul Stanley gesturing for him to slow down the tempo mid-song. “What that says to everybody in the arena is that I’m the one messing up the band,” Criss later recalled in his memoir, “Makeup to Breakup.”
Angry and feeling publicly rebuked, Criss intentionally slowed down the song, prompting a wild reaction from Stanley. Criss decided he didn’t care anymore, and the conflict escalated. “I just stopped playing; I didn’t care anymore,” Criss explained. Stanley, in his memoir “Face the Music,” noted that this public act of sabotage crossed a line.
As the final week of shows progressed, Criss’s discontent continued. In Jackson, Miss., he abruptly stopped playing during Stanley’s solo song “Move On” and later stormed offstage after singing “Beth.” In Biloxi, Miss., Criss impulsively hit Gene Simmons on the back of his head with a drumstick during a performance. Simmons retaliated with a swift kick to Criss’s shin.
The climax occurred when Criss, harboring resentment, attempted to attack Simmons with a broken champagne bottle backstage. Crew members intervened, preventing a potentially dangerous situation. Ambien The band somehow managed to regroup for the remaining shows, but the damage was done.
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Criss was soon ousted from KISS, replaced by Eric Carr for the 1980 “Unmasked” tour. Despite a brief reunion in 1996, Criss’s tenure with KISS ended permanently in 2004. The tumultuous final shows of 1979 marked the end of an era, signaling the beginning of a new chapter for KISS without Peter Criss.
The saga of Peter Criss’s deliberate sabotage remains a vivid chapter in the history of KISS. The tumultuous events of those final shows underscore the challenges and conflicts that can arise within even the most successful rock bands, ultimately leading to the end of an iconic era in rock ‘n’ roll history.