This post has been updated. See below for details.
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS have long cherished living in aggrieved opposition to critics who they have felt failed to respect Kiss’ heavy metal oeuvre, and the band’s impending induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame isn’t changing their tune.
Stanley recently complained to the Associated Press that KISS was being given short shrift by the rock hall because two members of the current four-man lineup, drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer, aren’t going to be hall of famers, even though they “have been in the band for decades and played on multiplatinum albums and toured the world.”
Instead, original drummer Peter Criss and original lead guitarist Ace Frehley, who were part of KISS’ 1970s ascension to stardom but exited in the early 1980s, will be inducted along with perennial frontmen Simmons and Stanley.
Stanley groused to the AP that “we have continuing issues with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, starting with the fact that they chose to induct the original lineup when that’s hardly the case with other bands.”
He cited as an example lyricist Robert Hunter’s inclusion when the Grateful Dead was inducted in 1994. To Stanley, Hunter is “a writer who never played an instrument.” Hunter, who wrote the lyrics for many of the Dead’s songs, especially those composed by Jerry Garcia, always was credited as a band member on the band’s album jackets.
The rock hall hasn’t been a model of consistency when it comes to non-original band members. In the case of the Grateful Dead, for example, its website lists four keyboard players among the inductees: original member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and his successors, Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick (of whom only Welnick, who died in 2006, lived to see the induction).
On the other hand, when Fleetwood Mac was inducted in 1998, singer-songwriter-guitarist Bob Welch, the first American to join the previously all-British band, and a mainstay of its middle period, was the odd man out. He was excluded, though the rock hall inducted three other former Mac singer-guitarists not named Lindsey Buckingham.
“It basically comes down to the fact that they don’t like me anymore,” Welch, who died in 2012, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer around the time of the induction. “I could understand it if I had been a sideman for a year, but I was an integral part of that band.” Welch was a member of Fleetwood Mac for five albums during the early 1970s, including the acclaimed “Bare Trees,” helping to keep the band going until the mid-1970s arrival of Buckingham and Stevie Nicks catapulted it to superstardom.
When the Velvet Underground was inducted by the rock hall in 1996, only the four original members were included. Left out was Doug Yule, who had figured prominently on two of the band’s four canonical studio albums and on “1969: The Velvet Underground Live,” a strong double-LP issued several years after the group had disbanded.
Stanley told the Los Angeles Times recently that the impasse over not including Singer and Thayer meant that KISS would not perform at the coming induction ceremony. Elaborating in his interview with the AP, he said that the rock hall “tried to strong-arm us into playing in [the] original lineup. Their craving of nostalgia or for wanting to have us play by their rules in many ways jeopardizes what we have spent 40 years building…. Very clearly the tail doesn’t wag the dog, and KISS is a big dog, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a small tail.”
Update, Monday, 1:52 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misidentified Eric Singer as lead guitarist for KISS and Tommy Thayer as the band’s drummer.