Bill Aucoin, who discovered the rock group Kiss and helped build them into a musical and merchandising juggernaut, died Monday at a hospital in Aventura, Fla., of surgical complications from prostate cancer. He was 66.
Aucoin discovered Kiss in New York City in 1973 and helped launch the makeup-wearing, fire-breathing quartet into a moneymaking machine.
He financed the band's first tour on his personal American Express credit card when money was tight, but he was well rewarded when the band's popularity exploded in 1975 with the hit "Rock And Roll All Nite."
FOR THE RECORD:
Bill Aucoin: The obituary in Thursday's LATExtra section of Bill Aucoin, manager of the rock group Kiss, said that he had discovered the band. Lew Linet was Kiss' first manager; Aucoin followed Linet and is credited with launching the band into stardom. —
"He was the fifth Kiss," drummer Peter Criss said. "If it wasn't for Bill, there would be no Kiss."
Criss said Aucoin had an eye for what was visually striking and recognized the vast merchandising potential of rock bands in a way that few others could. With Aucoin's help, Kiss became as famous for the array of products bearing their likeness — including belt buckles, Halloween costumes and makeup kits, action figurines and vitamins — as they were for their music.
After parting with Kiss in the early 1980s, Aucoin managed Billy Squier and Billy Idol.
He is survived by his longtime partner, Roman Fernandez, and two sisters.