‘It wasn’t fun anymore': Peter Criss on how Kiss’ celebrated 1990s-era reunion turned sour

Co-founding Kiss drummer Peter Criss talks about leaving the band after their long-awaited 1990s reunion in a new talk with BackstageAxxess.

The original foursome, which also included Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, had not performed together since the early 1980s. But when Criss was returned, it wasn’t as a full member, but as a paid sideman. He says that created a rift that they never overcame. Criss quit in 2001 over a money dispute, then again in 2004 — this time for good.

“To have put something together, through blood, sweat and tears, and then one day to be told: ‘If you don’t do what I want, there’s the the door,’ it really blows your mind,” Criss tells BackstageAxxess. “You started this thing like GM, and you were a CEO, and now you’re washing floors. It’s that kind of feeling. It was tough, being how I am, and doing things my own way. Now, I was sort of having to walk the line. It got really uncomfortable. It wasn’t fun anymore.”

Criss had rejoined the group, however, as his personal debts were mounting after a divorce and IRS problems. He admits that, for all of their disagreements, he emerged from this second stint with Kiss in a far more financially stable place.

“The reunion was a blessing for me,” says Criss, famous for his 1970s-era ballad “Beth.” “I knew it was going to be a great ride — and it was a good 10-year ride. This time, there was a lot more clarity, because there were no drugs. I knew this was a chance to have my pension. I can enjoy my time now, and be comfortable. I worked very hard for it.”

BackstageAxxess caught up with Criss has he continues a book tour promoting his newly published memoir Makeup To Breakup, from Scribner. He has upcoming booksignings set for Nov. 2 in Tempe, Arizona, Nov. 16 in Schaumburg, Illinois, and March 22 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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