Gene Simmons sorts through his stormy relationship with Kiss’ initial replacement for Ace Frehley, guitarist Vinnie Vincent — saying the split had less to do with artistic differences than it did with simple business.
Simmons says they originally met Vincent through songwriter Adam Mitchell, who co-wrote the title track for 1982′s Creatures of the Night with Paul Stanley. “We started writing songs together, and we found out he could play guitar,” Simmons says of Vincent, in the attached video. “He sang, and he was a multi-faceted, multi-instrumentalist. He kept asking to be in the band, and we said: ‘You can’t. You’re smaller, shorter. With the front line, there’s like a thing.’”
Vincent, still going by his real name of Cusano, pressed — and eventually Simmons and Co. relented. He’d eventually be part of three Kiss studio albums, co-writing the hit title track to 1983′s Lick It Up and participating in 1992′s Revenge as well. But this particular marriage, like the one with Frehley before it, was not to be.
“We decided to go on a sold-out European tour without the make up,” Simmons says. “We asked Vinnie Vincent if he wanted to come along. ‘But before you come, you have to sign this contract. It’s not a negotiation. It’s an offer of employment. You must sign it for insurance purposes. If you don’t sign this, we can’t take you.’”
Vincent promised to sign, but ultimately he failed to do so.
In fact, Simmons adds: “He’s never signed a contract with Kiss. He kept being thrown out of the band. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry — next tour, I’ll sign it.’ And we’d keep going out on tour, with unsigned contracts, and he kept wanting more and more. So, finally, we fired him.”
Attorneys eventually got involved, with disastrous results, according to Simmons. “He’s lost 14 suits, and three sets of lawyers, sued some of his lawyers — one was disbarred. Another one he rehired, and he’s starting on his 15th lawsuit. It’s a shame, because he’s talented beyond most people that you’d meet. But you get to sleep in the bed you make.”