Original Kiss Band Members Names And Ages

KISS, the iconic American hard rock band, has left an indelible mark on the music industry, captivating audiences worldwide with their electrifying performances and larger-than-life personas.

From their inception in the early 1970s to their present-day lineup, the members of KISS have been at the forefront of rock and roll history.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the lives and careers of the individuals who make up this legendary band.

The Rise of KISS

KISS burst onto the music scene in the mid-1970s, captivating audiences with their unique fusion of rock and metal-style live performances.

Their shows were a spectacle of epic proportions, featuring smoking guitars, levitating drum kits, and much more.

But what truly set KISS apart was their distinctive face paint and outfits, which drew inspiration from the colorful world of comic books.

It wasn’t until 1983 that the band decided to shed their iconic makeup, marking the beginning of their unmasked era. During this period, they achieved commercial success with the release of their platinum-certified album, “Lick It Up.” Now, let’s delve into the individual members who brought KISS to life.

KISS Band Members and Their Alter Egos

KISS band members adopted larger-than-life alter egos that became synonymous with their stage personas. These alter egos added an extra layer of mystique to the band’s already enigmatic image. Here are the original members of KISS and their stage names:

  1. Paul Stanley
  2. Gene Simmons
  3. Ace Frehley
  4. Peter Criss

These stage names were not arbitrary; each was inspired by different comic book characters, further solidifying KISS’s image as a superhero of rock and roll.

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Gene Simmons: The Demon

Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons, born Chaim Witz in Israel on August 25, 1949, embarked on a remarkable journey to become the iconic bassist and co-lead singer of KISS.

At the age of 8, he immigrated to New York City with his mother and adopted the name Gene Klein, taking on his mother’s maiden name. His stage name, Gene Simmons, was inspired by the rockabilly singer Jumpin’ Gene Simmons.

Simmons’s musical journey began as a teenager when he joined his first band, The Lynx. In 1968, he became a part of Bullfrog Bheer, and later, he and Paul Stanley formed the group Wicked Lester.

However, they decided to part ways with the band and their record deal to create KISS.

Beyond music, Simmons worked as a sixth-grade teacher in New York for six months and even served as an assistant to a Vogue editor in 1973.

But it was with KISS that he would make his mark, captivating audiences with his “Demon” persona, characterized by his famous tongue-waggling, fake blood-spewing, and fire-breathing antics on stage.

In addition to his musical career, Simmons ventured into various successful business ventures, including launching a magazine, a record label, and an animated show called “My Dad the Rock Star.”

His personal life includes his marriage to Shannon Tweed-Simmons in 2011, after 28 years together, and their two children, Sophie and Nick Simmons.

Paul Stanley: The Starchild

Paul Stanley

Born Stanley Bert Eisen in New York City on January 20, 1952, Paul Stanley, KISS’s rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist, was destined for a life in music.

He received his first guitar at the tender age of 7 and would go on to join forces with Gene Simmons in the early 1970s, becoming a pivotal figure in the creation of KISS.

After the dissolution of Wicked Lester in 1972, Stanley, Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley came together to form KISS. It was Stanley who proposed the name “KISS,” drawing inspiration from Criss’s previous band, Lips.

Along with the name, Stanley also embraced his alter ego, “The Starchild,” sporting a distinctive painted star over his right eye.

Stanley’s musical journey extended beyond KISS, as he released a self-titled solo album in 1978 and followed it up with “Live to Win” in 2006. In 2015, he founded a tribute band called “Paul Stanley’s Soul Station,” dedicated to performing soulful music from the 1960s and 1970s.

He’s also collaborated with Simmons on ventures such as the restaurant franchise Rock & Brews and the Los Angeles Kiss football team.

In his personal life, Stanley was previously married to actress Pamela Bowen, with whom he shares one son, Evan Shane. In 2005, he married Erin Sutton, and the couple has three children together: Colin Michael, Sarah Brianna, and Emily Grace.

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Ace Frehley: The Spaceman

Ace Frehley

Paul Daniel “Ace” Frehley, born on April 27, 1951, in the Bronx, New York, brought his electrifying guitar skills to KISS when he officially joined the band in January 1973.

Frehley’s alter ego, “The Spaceman,” was known for his out-of-this-world guitar style, and his solos were legendary, often accompanied by his signature Les Paul Custom guitar that would emit smoke during his performances.

Despite his immense popularity as a guitarist, Frehley was entirely self-taught, never having received any formal instruction. His unique style and charisma made him a fan favorite. However, his initial tenure with KISS came to an end in December 1982, and he was temporarily replaced by Vinnie Vincent.

Frehley went on to form his own band, Frehley’s Comet, releasing two albums in 1987 and 1988. He also pursued a successful solo career, releasing nine albums between 1978 and 2020. His brief reunion with KISS during their 1996 reunion tour remains a memorable chapter in the band’s history.

In his personal life, Frehley married Jeanette Trerotola in 1976, and they have a daughter named Monique. Although still legally married to Jeanette, he has been engaged to Rachael Gordon since 2010.

Peter Criss: The Catman

Peter Criss

Born Peter George John Criscuola on December 20, 1945, in Brooklyn, New York, Peter Criss made a name for himself as the drummer of KISS and adopted the persona of “The Catman.” His journey to joining KISS was a stroke of fate when Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons spotted his advertisement in the East Coast edition of Rolling Stone.

Criss not only kept the beat for the band but also lent his vocals to some of their iconic songs, including the 1976 hit “Beth,” for which he received co-writing credit. However, in 1980, he departed from KISS under disputed circumstances, with Simmons and Frehley claiming he was fired, while Criss maintained that he quit.

After leaving KISS, Criss embarked on a solo career, releasing five solo albums. He also opened up about some of his struggles within the band, citing clashes with Simmons and Stanley due to creative differences.

In 1996, Criss reunited with KISS for their reunion tour, marking the first time all four original members had performed together since 1980. He left the group again in 2002 but returned briefly before being permanently replaced by Eric Singer in March 2004.

Criss’s personal life includes marriages to Lydia Di Leonardo, Debra Jensen, and Gigi Criss. In 2007, he faced a health scare when he was diagnosed with breast cancer, advocating for awareness of the disease among men.

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Eric Carr: The Fox

Eric Carr

Eric Carr, born Paul Charles Caravello on July 12, 1950, in Brooklyn, New York, took on the persona of “The Fox” when he replaced Peter Criss as KISS’s drummer in 1980. Carr’s introduction to the band marked a new era, as he replaced the “Catman” with his own unique character.

Carr’s tenure with KISS began with the album “Music from ‘The Elder,'” and he showcased his versatility by not only playing the drums but also experimenting with guitar, bass guitar, piano, and background vocals. However, in early 1991, Carr received a devastating diagnosis of heart cancer, leading to a temporary hiatus from the band while he focused on his health.

Despite his health challenges, Carr was determined to continue his involvement with KISS. He even appeared in the music video for “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II” after his doctors informed him that he had only a few months to live. Carr made his final public appearance with the band at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards before his passing at the age of 41.

In honor of his memory, KISS dedicated their 1992 album, “Revenge,” to Carr and included “Carr Jam 1981,” a demo he had recorded with the band. Additionally, in 1999, his family and former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick posthumously released Carr’s solo album, “Rockology.”

Eric Singer: The Catman

eric singer

Eric Singer, born on May 12, 1958, in Cleveland, Ohio, followed in the footsteps of Peter Criss, taking on the role of KISS’s drummer. He initially joined the band in December 1991 after the passing of Eric Carr. Singer’s love for music was deeply influenced by his father, who was a local bandleader, and his diverse musical inspirations included The Who, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin.

Singer’s association with KISS spanned several periods of the band’s history. He first played on the albums “Revenge” and “Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions.” However, with Criss’s return in 1996 for the Alive/Worldwide tour, Singer stepped away from KISS, only to return in 2001.

After a brief departure in 2002, Singer rejoined KISS in 2004 and has remained an integral part of the band ever since. His contributions extend beyond KISS, as he has toured and performed with renowned artists such as Queen’s Brian May, Alice Cooper, and Black Sabbath. He also serves as the drummer for Paul Stanley’s side project, Soul Station.

Tommy Thayer: The Spaceman

Tommy Thayer

Tommy Thayer, born on November 7, 1960, in Beaverton, Oregon, carved his path into KISS history through a unique journey. He initially co-founded the band Black ‘n Blue, which opened for KISS on tour in 1985. Thayer’s connection with KISS deepened as he became involved in various capacities, managing the 1995 Worldwide Kiss Convention tour and contributing to the book “Kisstory.”

However, it was in March 2002 that Thayer officially joined KISS as the lead guitarist, replacing Ace Frehley. He took on the persona of “The Spaceman,” donning the iconic makeup and costume for the first time. Thayer’s dedication to the band and his guitar prowess quickly endeared him to fans.

Outside of KISS, Thayer is actively involved in charitable organizations, including the Arnold Palmer Education Fund and the Thayer Family Foundation. He also serves on the board of trustees at Pacific University in Oregon.

In his personal life, Thayer’s journey took an unexpected turn when he reconnected with his daughter, Sierra, in 2020, a revelation that added a new dimension to his life.

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Vinnie Vincent: The Ankh Warrior

Vincent John Cusano, known as Vinnie Vincent, was born on August 6, 1952, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Vincent joined KISS in 1982 as the replacement lead guitarist after Ace Frehley’s departure. Unlike his predecessor, Vincent adopted the persona of “The Ankh Warrior,” a character created by Paul Stanley.

Vincent’s time with KISS was marked by creative clashes and disputes over contracts, leading to his departure in March 1984. Following his exit, he formed the band Vinnie Vincent Invasion, releasing two albums before disbanding in 1989.

Vincent briefly reunited with KISS in 1992 for their album “Revenge” but found himself at odds with Simmons and Stanley once more. Despite these challenges, he made a surprising return to the stage alongside Gene Simmons in 2018 for a performance in Nashville, marking their first joint appearance in over two decades.

In his personal life, Vincent shared twin daughters with his ex-wife AnnMarie Peters, who tragically passed away in 1998 after their divorce.

Mark St. John: A Brief Stint

Mark St. John

Mark St. John, born Mark Leslie Norton on February 7, 1956, in Hollywood, California, briefly held the position of lead guitarist in KISS. Joining the band after Vinnie Vincent’s departure in early 1984, St. John never assumed an onstage persona due to KISS’s unmasked era. He appeared in the video for “Heaven’s on Fire,” the hit single from their “Animalize” album, the only album he contributed to.

St. John’s time in the band was short-lived, mainly due to creative differences and difficulties in solidifying his solos. He developed reactive arthritis, which caused swelling in his arms and hands, limiting his ability to perform. Bruce Kulick replaced him in December 1984.

Following his departure from KISS, St. John formed the band White Tiger and released a single album before their dissolution in 1988. He later worked with Peter Criss on a project called “Keep” but ultimately left the band.

Tragically, in September 2006, St. John was incarcerated at the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County, California, and suffered severe injuries after being allegedly attacked by fellow inmates. He was released but faced ongoing health challenges. On April 5, 2007, Mark St. John passed away at the age of 51 due to a brain hemorrhage caused by an accidental methamphetamine overdose.

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Bruce Kulick: The Versatile Guitarist

bruce kulick

Bruce Howard Kulick, born on December 12, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York, brought his exceptional guitar skills to KISS in September 1984. Unlike his predecessors, Kulick didn’t assume an onstage persona or wear makeup, as he joined the band during their unmasked era.

Kulick’s tenure with KISS included contributions to five studio albums and two live albums. His musical journey extended beyond KISS, as he worked with artists such as Michael Bolton and Meat Loaf.

After parting ways with KISS in 1996 following the Alive/Worldwide tour, Kulick remained connected to the band, contributing to their 1998 album “Psycho Circus.”

Post-KISS, Kulick embarked on a successful career, forming the band Union in 1997 and releasing three albums. He also pursued a solo career, releasing three albums and becoming the lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad in 2000.

Kulick’s personal life took a new direction when he married Lisa Lane in 2014, and the couple resides in Las Vegas. They occasionally record acoustic covers of popular KISS songs, sharing their music on Kulick’s YouTube channel.

In the End

In conclusion, the members of KISS have left an indelible mark on the world of rock music, each contributing their unique talents and personas to the band’s iconic legacy.

While KISS has undergone lineup changes over the years, their music continues to resonate with fans worldwide, ensuring their enduring presence in the annals of rock history.

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