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COVID-19 continues to KISS off summer tours: Paul Stanley, Kid Rock’s band have virus

Three rock stars in heavy makeup and costumes perform onstage
KISS had to cancel shows on its End of the Road tour after frontman Paul Stanley, right, tested positive for COVID-19. Also pictured are Gene Simmons, left, and Ace Frehley.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

In the ongoing battle between COVID-19 and music, the deadly virus seems to have the upper hand.

As concerts and sometimes entire tours are being canceled due to rising infection, hospitalization and death numbers, some prominent names have announced positive tests in their touring orbits — and even among the performers themselves. Kid Rock recently tweeted that most of his band “has f— covid” and KISS frontman Paul Stanley likewise announced he himself was infected.

The legendary hard rock band’s purported farewell tour — called End of the Road, when Farewell KISS was out there for the taking — was only four shows in when the news broke, nixing a show in Burgettstown, Pa.

Soon after, Stanley took to Twitter to dispel rumors regarding the seriousness of his condition: “PEOPLE!!! I am fine! I am not in ICU! My heart allows me to do 26 miles a day on my bike! I don’t know where this came from but it’s absolute nonsense.” He did acknowledge he had flu-like symptoms, while a spokesperson said Stanley, the band and crew are fully vaccinated.

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Reportedly, many attending camps didn’t wear a mask during cheer and dance activities.

In a previous interview with the Music Universe Podcast, rock ’n’ roll demon Gene Simmons spelled out why KISS takes COVID-19 precautions seriously and expects its fans to do so as well:

“Once you get backstage, every road member, road crew, security, truck drivers, everybody’s gonna get vaccinated and wear masks,” Simmons said. “And the rest of you have a choice because you live in, ‘Oh so free America.’ There’s a law that says you have to wear a seatbelt and there isn’t a law that you have to wear a mask to protect others in case you infect them? That’s crazy.”

He said the band wouldn’t be interacting in person with fans, as it has been wont to do.

“That’s for the fans as well as us. If one fan infects anyone of us, the entire tour is canceled and the insurance company goes insane and everybody sues each other — just one [jerk] who didn’t care about you — who cared only about his freedoms,” Simmons said. “Even as a courtesy when you yawn, you cover your mouth, don’t you? And you’re not willing to wear a mask that might endanger somebody else?”

‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’ star Melissa Joan Hart, who is vaccinated, suspects she got COVID-19 from her son, whose school didn’t require masks.

Meanwhile, Kid Rock tweeted in a thread that most of his band has tested positive, despite “many” of them being vaccinated, leading to cancellation of planned shows.

“Billy Bob’s Shows This Weekend... I am pissed. Over half the band has f— covid (not me), and before u s— for brains bloggers and media trolls run your mouths, many of them, like me, have been vaccinated. I was gonna come and rock the house anyway, play acoustic, DJ ...,” he said, “or even just Juggle…. or at least try to entertain u good folks. But seriously, s— is way out of my hands on this one. I am beyond upset and you real ones know I would never cancel if I absolutely didn’t have too [sic]. For this, I am sorry.”

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He went on i to rail against President Biden’s handling of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, calling for the military to “bomb the s— out of those” unspecified “f—s.”

Other acts to postpone or cancel tour dates due to the pandemic’s resurgence include Garth Brooks, Nine Inch Nails, Stevie Nicks and — to squeals of agony and disappointment everywhere — BTS. Tony Bennett’s announcement of his shows’ cancellations was followed by the news of his retirement from touring.

Stanley tweeted in response: “Tony Bennett is the Olivier of song interpretation. I’ve always thought him the greatest.”

Some, such as Jason Isbell, Harry Styles and Foo Fighters, have taken the Delta variant’s surge as a cue to require masks and show proof of vaccination at their shows, or in some cases (as in Phoebe Bridgers'), to move originally indoor shows to outdoor venues. Those precautions, however, didn’t prevent Foo Fighters from joining the unenviable list of acts postponing shows due to positive cases within their camps; Foo Fighters just last week performed the Forum show they’d postponed from July. Others include Lynyrd Skynyrd and Korn.

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BTS, KISS and Stevie Nicks are among the musical acts that have nixed or postponed tour dates as the very contagious Delta variant spreads.

Not all performers see rising COVID-19 numbers and these cancellations as reasons to support mask mandates or proof-of-vaccination requirements, however.

Noted vaccine skeptic and guitarist Eric Clapton recently said, “I feel honour bound to make an announcement of my own: I wish to say that I will not perform on any stage where there is a discriminated audience present ... Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”

Country and Southern rock band the Steel Woods canceled a St. Louis show that required proof of vaccination and said in a statement that they “will not participate in any show in the future that requires proof of vaccination or negative Covid test result for entry. This includes all headline shows, festivals and all shows we are supporting.”

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The band posted a photograph of the late country legend Johnny Cash on Instagram with the following statement: “We are an American Band with American values. We aim to create music that is healing and play shows for all who want to attend. We believe in an individual’s right to choose what they want to put into their body and that no one should be forced to do anything for their own good in order to go about their lives. The recent news that AEG and Live Nation venues — and specifically our show in St Louis on 11/5 — will require vaccination or proof of negative test effective beginning of October is not something that we fully support or are willing to comply with.”

However, Cash’s daughter, singer-songwriter and poet Rosanne Cash, objected to the use of her father’s image to forward their message, tweeting:

“THEIR statement, not my dad’s from beyond the grave. This is an irresponsible and thoughtless misuse of the image and supposed beliefs of someone who cannot offer his own opinion. Please remove his picture from your press release. I hope you all #getvaxxed”

Soon after Cash’s tweet, the band reposted its Instagram message with a portrait of themselves in place of the Johnny Cash photo.


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