EXPD. ROCK & roll drummer looking for orig. grp. doing soft & hard music. Peter, Brooklyn.
When Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons came across the above advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine, little did they know that they'd soon meet the man who would become not only the first drummer for the band KISS, but one of the most beloved members of the group as well as the vocalist on some of their biggest hits.
Peter George John Criscuola, forever best known as Peter Criss, joined KISS in 1972 and thus began the legendary run of the raspy-voiced Catman.
Criss provided an energy to KISS that even all of their well known pyrotechnics couldn't overshadow. Watching any of the group's live performances from the 70's and late 90's shows just how much Criss loved the fans. He truly seems to appreciate each and every cheer he receives from the crowd. Only Eric Carr, in my opinion, outshined Criss as a person who loved and respected the fans.
Criss' drumming style is heavily influenced by jazz and R&B. This is most easily recognized on his 1978 solo Peter Criss project (of which he actually played drums on roughly half of the album) and his non-KISS solo projects. Many people feel that these influences hindered Criss as a rock n' roll drummer. I disagree. While he might not have been a "true" rock n' roll drummer (as Carr and current KISS drummer, Eric Singer, are), Criss' style added a boogie-woogie sound to KISS that has sorely been missed ever since he officially left the band in 1980.
Criss' time with KISS was rather tough. His drug abuse has been well documented on countless KISS documentaries and in a number of books about the band. Arguments persist over whether Criss freely left the band or was fired. All that is known for sure is that Criss only played on one song on 1979's Dynasty and quickly fell out of favor with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
An amazing piece of video footage from the Tomorrow With Tom Snyder show from October 31, 1979 (which can be viewed on YouTube and within KISSology, Volume 2) shows a very quiet and reserved Criss as part of a band interview by Snyder. The video is known primarily for the supposedly drunken antics of guitarists Ace Frehley, but Criss looks almost completely detached from the rest of the group.
Criss performed vocals on many of KISS' most popular songs, in particular Hard Luck Woman, Black Diamond, and Nothin' To Lose. He is most well known for singing the vocals on and co-writing the very un-KISS sounding Beth, which remains KISS' highest charting song to date in the United States.
For the next fifteen years, Criss released a few more solo projects and worked with other bands, but never achieved a lot of mainstream success. He rejoined KISS in 1995 and along with Simmons, Stanley, and Frehley, took off on a highly successful reunion tour. Criss would again leave the band in 2000, rejoin them in 2002, and finally call it quits with KISS in 2004. He has shown no interest in rejoining the band since, especially since both he and Ace Frehley's iconic makeup has been worn by current members Tommy Thayer (Spaceman) and Eric Singer (Catman).
Criss, much like Frehley, still has a very loyal fanbase despite moving on from KISS. He is also one of the most recognizable faces of men who suffered with breast cancer and as late as last month has participated in a number of breast cancer fundraising events.
Peter Criss, despite being replaced by both Eric Carr and Eric Singer on the skins for the hottest band in the land, will always be the original Catman driving home the sounds of KISS.
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