Why Kiss’ First Farewell Tour Wasn’t Really Goodbye
When Kiss stage their “End of the Road” tour – starting, it’s assumed, next year – it’ll prove yet again that they’ve been around so long they’ve done everything twice.
By the time the tour kicks off, it’ll be 19 years since the band last said it was quitting … although it didn’t take Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons long to change their minds.
The 2000 farewell tour came four years after the original lineup had regrouped. The return of guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss, along with the band’s iconic makeup, had made good box office, and their reunion album Psycho Circus, released in 1998, had done well critically and financially.
But all was not well behind the scenes. It was later revealed that Frehley and Criss had contributed to only three tracks in the studio, after producer Bruce Fairbairn decided that they didn’t “cut it as players.” In fact, all four members played together on only “Into the Void,” often regarded as the LP’s highlight.
The situation, naturally, left Frehley and Criss frustrated, with Criss observing later that Simmons and Stanley "were offering us $850,000 each not to play!" “I wasn't invited to the studio," Frehley said in 2014. "When you hear Paul and Gene talk about it, it's like I didn't show up. The reason I'm not on any of the songs is because I wasn't asked to be on them. I just wasn't invited to any of the sessions."
With the tension becoming unbearable, Stanley and Simmons responded by announcing the Kiss farewell tour of 2000. It seems that, for Stanley at least, it was already too late. In his 2014 memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed, he claimed that the lead duo “spent all of our energy trying to coax Peter and Ace out of their hotel rooms” during the tour.
“I was angry at Peter and Ace for being disrespectful toward everything we had accomplished and everything the fans were giving us," he explained. "I bought into the idea that this really was it. The end of Kiss. There was no place to go. it was unbearable. ... We were stuck in a rut musically as well -- basically playing the same 17 songs we'd taught them for the initial reunion. This was the third tour with the same set list."
Even manager Doc McGhee had ordered Stanley and Simmons to make changes, telling them, “These guys are just terrible. I run a management company, not the Red Cross. …You have to make changes.”
In August 2000, Frehley came so close to missing a show that the band was forced to reveal its fallback – that crewman Tommy Thayer (who’s said to have contributed to Psycho Circus) had been fitted for his own version of Frehley’s Spaceman outfit and was ready to stand in at any moment due to the original guitarist’s increasing unreliability during the tour.
Arriving 20 minutes before showtime, and seeing Thayer ready to go on, Frehley didn’t seem to take the hint that he’d become replaceable. Two months later, at the end of the tour’s final U.S. show, Criss destroyed his drum kit and appeared to be relieved that he was now free from the band’s confines.
Watch Peter Criss Destroy His Drum Kit
“We brought those guys back and they were just completely apologetic and remorseful and thankful to be back," Stanley said, reflecting on the reunion and farewell experience. "And yet it wasn't too long after things started to happen again that they started doing the same stuff. And it just became ugly and no fun. The farewell tour was us wanting to put Kiss out of its misery. And for a while, honestly, we lost sight that we didn't have to stop – we had to get rid of them.”
That’s exactly what happened. Two years after that tour, in 2004, Kiss returned with Thayer in Frehley’s place, and Eric Singer in Criss’, and that’s the lineup set to take the band to its finish line, nearly five decades after the race began.