Founding KISS drummer Peter Criss‘ recently published memoir, Makeup to Breakup, gives an uncensored and no-holds-barred look at his life and exploits before, during and after his years with the famed costumed rock band. In the book, co-written with Larry “Ratso” Sloman, Criss opens up about the in-fighting and bad blood between him and his former band mates, particularly Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. He also details his struggle with cocaine abuse and many other aspects of his often turbulent life.
The drummer, who sang and co-wrote KISS’ biggest chart hit, “Beth,” tells ABC News Radio that he thinks his story is one that will captivate KISS fans, as well as readers in general.
“This book is a roller-coaster ride,” he maintains. “It’s a real story…of a man’s life that really went through rags to riches, to rags to riches again in a whole different way.”
Criss digs into Simmons and Stanley throughout the book, criticizing them for what he calls the unfair way they treated him — personally and financially — both during his initial stint with KISS and on his second go-round with the group during the late 1990s and early 2000s. He complains about Gene’s and Paul’s egos, and about how they teamed up to take control of the band. He also lambastes Simmons for his womanizing and poor hygiene, and suggests that Stanley was confused about his own sexuality.
Meanwhile, he admits to ABC News Radio that, although he felt a sense of relief to be able to reveal his true feelings in the tome, he was nervous about how his old band mates would react to some of the harsh things he says about them.
“It was really cathartic, but trust me, many a nights I had many a horrible nightmares and sweats and I didn’t sleep for weeks,” he says. “I was thinking this was gonna happen, that’s gonna happen…’Cause a lot of people don’t really wanna hear the truth, and a lot of people have been hung and shot for talking the truth.”
Meanwhile, Criss says he’s happy about the success of Makeup to Breakup, which debuted at #7 on The New York Times‘ Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers List.
“I’m proud I outsold Gene’s book and [guitarist] Ace [Frehley]‘s book, which made me feel pretty good,” he declares. “And a lot of people said, ‘Well…one book was about taking a lot of drugs and having parties, and the other book was how many women [Gene] slept with, and my book seems to talk about music.’”
That being said, Criss doesn’t shy away from recounting his own drug excesses. He explains that he fell into the cocaine habit at a time, the late 1970s, when “everyone [around him] was doing it.”
“I had no clue the danger of addiction,” he says. “I’m doing it with my manager, I’m doing it with my lawyers, I’m doing it with my business managers. So, to me, it was cool…I figured, well, if lawyers were doing it and business managers and record presidents, that [there] must be no downfall to this. And, sure enough, of course there is.”
Around the same time, Criss was beginning to get disillusioned with KISS, thanks to the commercializing of the band that he says Simmons and Stanley embraced. Criss says he was “appalled” by the band’s cartoonish 1978 TV movie, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park and that he felt like “I’d flushed myself right down the toilet” with the hit 1979 disco tune, “I Was Made for Lovin’ You.”
Despite all the bad blood between Criss and and the other KISS members, the drummer admits that he still would consider playing with them again…under the right circumstances.
“Let’s face it, if we really were offered…one great night at Yankee Stadium…it’d be pretty hard [to] say no to that,” he tells ABC News Radio. “Sometimes I really miss the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio