Real Name: Peter Crisscoula
Born: December 20,1947 (1945??)
Married: Divorced, 1 daughter
After spending 11 years in various bands, including Chelsea and Lips, Peter Criss places an ad in Rolling Stone stating he was "willing to do anything to make it." Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons answer the ad and hired Criss without an audition.
As a trio, the band begins rehearsing in a loft in Manhattan, and they place an ad in Village Voice for a guitarist. Ace Frehley, answers the ad and auditions. KISS then goes on to get Casablanca Records contract and releases KISS in 1974. Peter wrote the band's biggest single, "Beth," in 1976. Originally called "Beck," Gene Simmons suggested it be changed to "Beth." The song was originally released as the B-side to "Detroit Rock City," but radio stations began playing it anyway. It peaked at #7 on the Billboard singles chart. It took KISS 14 years to come close to that type of chart placing, with "Forever" peaking at #8 in 1990. ("I Was Made for Lovin' You" peaked at #11 in 1979.)
Peter began to become unhappy with the band situation in 1978 during the making of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park TV movie. Peter refused to show up for "looping" sessions to redo his lines for the movie (which overdubs the lines over background noise). As a result, Peter's voice isn't even in the movie at all. According to Gene and Paul, both Ace Frehley and Peter wanted to leave the band at this point. The band decided to record solo albums instead. Peter's album is a bluesy, soulful album that is much different than anything KISS had recorded.
Peter was reportedly doing a lot of drugs at this point and his studio preparedness was not up-to-par. Anton Fig, who'd drummed on Ace Frehley's solo album, was brought in to help out during the Dynasty sessions in 1979. Although Peter toured with the band for the album, it would be his last. Unmasked, recorded the following year, featured Anton Fig on drums exclusively. By the end of 1980, Peter had officially left the band to pursue a solo career. He assisted in the auditions for a replacement (Eric Carr) and then gave up the job.
Peter's solo career is somewhat hard to follow. He released two albums on Casablanca following his departure from KISS, neither of which were released in the United States. (Both were deleted from Mercury's catalog by 1982, but would be re-released in 1998.) He then pretty much vanished from the public eye until he surfaced briefly in hard rock magazine articles in 1986, playing for a band called Balls of Fire.
In 1990, he recorded demos with ex-KISS member Mark St. John, but nothing was ever released -- although some clips of songs, including one entitled "Do You Know," have made it onto the Internet.
In 1991, The Star, an American tabloid, ran a story that claimed Criss was an alcoholic and living on the streets of Los Angeles. Criss, who was dealing with the death of his mother at the time, was outraged. He appeared on The Phil Donahue Show to face the woman who'd come to the aid of the "Peter Criss" that The Star had featured in their article. She claimed that, since she'd had an affair with Criss previously, she would take him in and care for him. To her dismay, the man that she picked up at the airport (on a flight she supposedly paid for) was, in fact, not Peter Criss but a slightly retarded, homeless man. Criss, with the call-in assistance of his ex-wife Lydia, debunked the woman and urged the homeless man to get some help. (Several years later, the woman later would claim that rocker Billy Idol assaulted her in an unrelated incident.) Criss also filed a lawsuit against The Star, which was settled out-of-court in 1993.
In 1994, he released an EP and an album on Tony Nicole Tony (TNT) Records under the band name Criss. Following that, he toured for awhile, eventually hooking up with Ace Frehley for the "Bad Boys of KISS" tour.
In August of 1995, he returned to the stage with Gene, Paul and Ace for the first time since 1979 for MTV's KISS UNPLUGGED, which eventually blossomed into the reunion tour.
Now considered a full member of KISS once again, Peter reentered the studio with Ace, Paul and Gene and producer Bruce Fairbairn to record their latest album, Psycho Circus, which was released in September, 1998.
In March of 1998, Mercury re-released Peter's two post-KISS solo albums, Let Me Rock You and Out of Control. They should be available from any good record store.