Gene Simmons and Paul Stanely have both made it clear that they’re unhappy that the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is only inducting the four original members of KISS this April. In fact, it’s even led to KISS not performing in any fashion at the induction ceremony. And whether all four original members (including Ace Frehley and Peter Criss) even appear onstage together to accept the honor is unclear. So in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl, the Metal Insider staff debate whether the Hall Of Fame should induct every musician who has played in KISS over the past forty years.
Zach: I totally understand why the Hall Of Fame is only inducting the four original members. In their eyes, it was the original lineup and the records/image they created that played an enormous influence on pop culture (not just music). However, let’s not forget that the musicians who were a part of KISS in the 80s and 90s helped keep the band alive and maintain relevance (even if that time in the band’s history isn’t as critically acclaimed). So in my opinion, if Sammy Hagar can be inducted into the Hall Of Fame with Van Halen because his era of the band sold hundreds of millions of albums despite never being as acclaimed as the David Lee Roth-era, then each member of KISS is worthy of being inducted as well.
But that means every musician who was once considered a member of KISS. So if you’re going to argue that current members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer should be inducted, then so should Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, and Bruce Kulick as well (I’d almost argue for the session guitarists and drummers who played on albums instead of Ace and Peter as well, but let’s not touch that one). While some were in the group longer than others, it’s hard to argue that each of these members helped keep KISS alive and going.
Matt: I know that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley haven’t exactly been making any new friends lately, but I have to agree that other members of KISS deserve to be nominated as well. It is true, as Zach pointed out, it’s a little difficult to argue that every musician involved with KISS should be inducted, but I still think that at least a few of them should get the nod. Eric Singer’s got started with the band as early 1991 and Tommy Thayer has been going about this for about 12 years now, so they’re hardly new At the very least, Eric Carr deserves to be inducted if for no other reason other than out of respect (and maybe also the decade of work his put into the band). It’s sort of like if Metallica were inducted but only included Cliff Burton and not Jason Newsted or Robert Trujillo. They might not have been there at the beginning, but to ignore them is a bit of slap in the face. I guess it’s a little much to ask this of the Hall of Fame since it did take them this long to induct KISS in the first place.
Bram: For many people, especially a bunch of dudes in their ‘40s and ‘50s, KISS means one thing: Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter. The original four were a juggernaut in the ‘70s. By the time Peter Criss originally left in 1980 and Ace in 1982, the band had released the bulk of their music that mattered. Sure, they might’ve had a good song or two per album in the ‘80s, but that was after they were unmasked and Simmons was more concerned with making it in Hollywood than he was with KISS. I’m not saying that Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr and whoever else aren’t worthy of being inducted, but for Paul and Gene to shit on Peter and Ace’s legacy smacks of douchitude. I mean, their biggest hit (“Beth”) was sung by Peter Criss. And quick, name a song, any song, off one of the band’s last three studio albums. Nope? Didn’t think so. I’m not saying that Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer don’t matter, but if the band think they’re anything more than a nostalgia act at this point, they’re kidding themselves.
I agree that all of the existing members of KISS should be up there, but for KISS to take their toys and go home because the Hall of Fame wanted to honor the era of the band when they were at their most popular is a shame. They should be happy that they’re finally being honored after all these years and recognize that although they’ve been around for over 40 years, it’s the devotion of those that have grown up idolizing the band’s early years that they continue to exist.