‘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Frehley has most recently been replaced by Tommy Thayer, who had worked with Kiss as far back as 1989’s Hot in the Shade before officially taking the guitar chair in 2003.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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  • Steve

    I’ve been a fan since 78, and yes I like the original members, but Tommy and Eric do a great job. I saw them on Aug 13th in Simpsonville, SC and it was a great show. Paul’s voice was a little rough when the concert started, but got better as the night went on. Tommy’s playing of shock me and his follow up solo were spot on. The last time I saw Ace, I’m pretty sure he was drunk while he was on stage (he was missing chords all over the place).
    I say embrace the new line up. Enjoy the fact that they are putting out new music and still putting on a great show.

  • Mkay

    Saw Kiss in the 70’s,awesome…have seen them in a couple of their line ups since,there’s no comparison…this past summer I saw them and it was very sad,Gene talks and growls a song,Paul’s voice sounded like he couldn’t catch his breath and Tommy,well,he’ll always be just a stand in for Ace,no personality or showmanship there…also saw Ace in concert summer 2012,a flawless performance…..Kiss 2.0 should hang it up…’it’s better to burn out than fade away’….

  • Scott

    I was once a proud member of the Kiss Army. I grew up playing guitar and knew all of their songs. As I got older I moved on to playing more difficult music. The video at the top of this page was just sort of sad. Geriatric men playing the same tired three chords. Granted, they got rich playing those three chords, but I’d really like to see some more complex music from them.


      they did! it was called the elder and the kiss army didn’t want that, they wanted the three chord music you now despise.

  • paul stanley

    The only thing sad here is all the people who do nothing buy live in the past. Peter didnt even play on half the kiss albums he has his picture on. Ace is great in the start but that didnt last very long. The kiss that tours now is the best kiss ever put together. Been a fan since the start and for guys who are in there 50s and 60 s there a great band. They put on a great show, they dont need peter or ace. Its the truth and everyone knows. Even peter and ace know it

  • Norm

    All of you are out of your mind who think that any body can replace ace. Tommy Thayer can play all of aces solos note for note but he can never bea substitute for ace. Why? Because ace had heart he had soul he had the vibe. Tommy feels sterile and robotic. Like going through the motions. I understand that many of the great bands gene mentiones have had replacements, but kiss was an enigma. They were special, different. when the original four are together there is an energy that is irreplaceable. “You can’t have a real KISS unless there is an ACE in the deck. Tommy Thayer is just gene Simmons gopher

  • Norm

    Btw to the post earlier about getting tired of three chord kiss. And that they should do more complex music. Well they did try it it was called THE ELDER. And look how that turned out.

  • mr latter

    The current Kiss is awful, Monster has to be one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard. Ace and Peter were smart to get out before Kiss became the joke it has become today. Oh one more thing Mr Simmons, Pete Best did not play on any Beatles records, he was there before they ever got famous so the analogy is wrong. And people don’t bash Kiss for having new members, that happens , it’s having new members that imitate past members, none of those other bands you mentioned had replacement members look and dress the same as past members.