‘It’s true, they’re not original’: Kiss’ Gene Simmons shrugs off replacing Ace Frehley and Peter Criss

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Kiss Gene Simmons dove head on into the controversy surrounding the replacement of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, saying they once were part and parcel of what he and Paul Stanley did in Kiss — before they threw it all away.

Frehley was Kiss’ founding guitarist, serving from 1973-1982; he then returned for a reunion that lasted from 1996-2002. Criss, the group’s initial drummer, left in 1980, returned from 1996-2000, and then again between 2002-2004 before splitting for good.

“Two of the original guys who started off were equally as important as Paul and myself,” Simmons says to applause during this fanfest Q&A. “We were four guys — all for one, one for all. But they succumbed. They decided to go far right or far left. They succumbed, and it’s not even original, to the cliches of rock ‘n’ roll: Drugs and alcohol, the quickest way to the poorhouse — other than bad luck.”

Frehley has most recently been replaced by Tommy Thayer, who had worked with Kiss as far back as 1989’s Hot in the Shade before officially taking the guitar chair in 2003. Eric Singer has been the band’s drummer since 1991.

“It’s true, they’re not original,” Simmons adds. “But if original members are what it’s all about, you would never have seen the Beatles — because Ringo (Starr) was not an original member; Pete Best was. You like AC/DC? That ain’t the lead singer. Van Halen became twice as big with Van Hagar, whether you like it or not. Journey, the Rolling Stones — you like those bands? Not the original members. You say Genesis can’t exist without Peter Gabriel? Actually, they can. Never let somebody who doesn’t appreciate what God has given them to blow it for everybody else.”

Kiss’s final scheduled North American date in their ongoing tour in support of 2012’s Monster is set for August 18, 2013. They then head to Japan.

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