Header image courtesy of Peter Criss Facebook (official)
By Andrew Daly
Peter Criss’ 2017 show at New York Cities Cutting Room was supposed to be his final show, and for five years, that promise rang true.
At the time, Criss commented:
“In my life, and here tonight, I have so many people who I know love me. I have no animosity. I have always said, forgive to live. You can’t carry shit with you, it’ll kill you. Life is too damn short.”
It was with those parting words, that the Catman rode off into the sunset, perhaps never to be musically heard from again, and at 71 years of age, and with many arthritic miles under his belt, who could blame him?
The 2017 show was to serve as an exclamation point of sorts for a kid out of Brooklyn, who scratched a clawed his way to the top with KISS amidst a bustling 70s glam rock scene, only to fall into near-death obscurity in the 80s, before being granted the chance to shine again alongside his original KISS bandmates during the mid-90s and early 2000s.
And so, five years later, in the late winter of 2022, it came with great surprise that Criss would be taking the stage for an appearance at Creatures Fest, alongside former bandmate Ace Frehley, as well as additional KISS alumni Bruce Kulick, and Vinnie Vincent.
Of course, the story left KISSnation mostly stunned, and it wasn’t long before the news cycle was buzzing with a myriad of potential scenarios which may or may not manifest.
Ultimately, in early May of 2022, it was finally announced that for one night only, Peter Criss would return to Brooklyn’s Cutting Room stage once again to perform with the same band that had backed him five years ago in 2017, Sisters Doll.
In an interview with VWMusic, Sisters Doll drummer Bryce Mileto commented:
“This will be Peter’s warm-up show, before hitting the stage again in Nashville for Creatures Fest, sharing the stage once again with Ace Frehley. We are all huge KISS fans, so to be even saying all of this to you is blowing my mind. KISS were our superheroes growing up, and KISS was the first concert we ever went to. Peter was and still is my idol, and the reason why I play drums in the first place. KISS is a big part of how and why Sisters Doll began, and are a huge inspiration to us to this day.”
And so, KISS fans in attendance on Sunday, May 22nd, were understandably on edge as anticipation mounted. Would Criss stick to KISS tracks? Would he play solo cuts? In the end, Criss joined the Australian rockers on stage for three deep cuts and no KISS tracks. It should also be noted that the now 76-year-old Criss did not get behind the drumkit.
As Criss took the stage on a sweltering 90-degree evening in Brooklyn, his smile, charm, and charisma were vividly apparent, and even with his advancing age, Criss’ distinctive voice showed to be fully intact as the NYC native ran through “Don’t You Let Me Down,” from the drummers ’78 self-titled album, “Words” from 1980’s Out of Control, and “You Matter To Me,” also from his self-titled affair.
For KISS fans, and rock ‘n’ roll historians alike, the evening will prove to be a special one indeed. What looms ahead for Criss now is Creatures Fest, where he will reportedly take the stage with former KISS guitarist, and once close confidant, Ace Frehley.
Tensions between Frehley and Criss have been long present dating back to the disastrous end of KISS’ Reunion era, with Criss retrospectively commenting on his former bandmate’s double-dealing ways:
“It broke my heart when Ace broke my heart. In the book, I tell the story, but towards the reunion, towards the end, I was devastated, man. I couldn’t believe what went on, which is why it was especially hurtful for me to learn that Ace was making more money than me when the tour ended. It was again about the old M-O-N-E-Y. Money, money, money. Power, power, power. It never was enough for those guys.”
One can surmise that Criss’ appearance with Frehley at Creatures Fest – only his second with Frehley since KISS’ supposed Farewell Tour – means the duo have ended their long-running feud, and have finally made nice. Beyond Creatures Fest, for both Frehley and Criss, a larger question looms – will the two take the stage with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons during KISS’ ongoing End of the Road Tour?
In 2012, while on the radio with Opie and Anthony, Criss had this to say regarding his bandmates:
“I could start feeling Paul and Gene wanting the power. The more we were going up the ladder of future and fame, the more it was kind of swaying to Mr. Simmons and Stanley. Ace and I were kind of not getting our musical ideas in. It’s funny — I wrote the biggest hit the band ever had in “Beth,” and meanwhile, I was kind of always getting put down for this stuff. So it was always a battle.”
Simmons has steadily remained cagey, if not downright derogating to his former bandmate, once being quoted as saying:
“Most people only have one chance, if at all, to swing the bat. Peter’s had many chances. When there’s a party, not everybody comes. And if you’re not at the party, from the outside looking in, you scratch your head and say, ‘Why wouldn’t anybody want to go to the party? Lots of girls. Lots of money. Lots of good times.’ You got me.”
While Paul Stanley has oftentimes echoed Simmon’s statements, he did go on to give his views on Criss and Frehley’s potential participation in the Hall of Fame band’s final tour:
“Anything is possible. I don’t rule anything out. I have to say that we wouldn’t be here today if not for our past. If Peter and Ace hadn’t been there at the beginning, we wouldn’t be here today. But I will also say that if Peter and Ace had stayed with the band, we also wouldn’t be here today. So you have to put it into some sort of balance and perspective.”
The frontman then further commented:
“If there is a way to include them in celebrating the final tour, yeah, I’m open to it. It has to make sense and it has to feel right because the band has existed far, far, far too long without them to let anybody spoil this or make it less than it should be. If there’s no joy in it, I’m not interested.”
While Criss and Frehley’s future in regards to KISS seems murky at best, what is certain is that for one weekend at least, at Creatures Fest, Criss and Frehley will bury the hatchet, and take the stage together for the first time in many years, and perhaps, unless KISS’ four original members can finally come to some sort of agreement, for last time ever as well.
Interested in seeing the Catman come out of retirement? Hit the link below:
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