When KISS first erupted onto the rock scene back in the early 70's, fans were quick to learn as much as they could about the four founding members of the group. Each bandmate wore facepaint that supposedly represented some part of their own lives. The drummer, Peter Criss, was dubbed the Cat or Catman supposedly due to the fact that he had nine lives thanks to a rough childhood. Who would have known that many years later, another member of the band would also don the makeup of the Cat?
Criss left the band officially in 1980, and this opened the door for Eric Carr, a pure rock n' roll drummer who's style was a lot heavier and a lot more attuned to the glam/hard rock sound that was prominent in the early 80's. Taking on the persona of the Fox, Carr was embraced by many KISS fans not necessarily for his skills on the drums, but due to his own personal outreach to the fans. He quickly became a fan favorite.
Carr was a perfect fit for KISS. He remained with the band for roughly eleven years, including the unmasked years that produced hits like Crazy Nights and Forever. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with heart cancer shortly after the the band's Hot In The Shade tour. Despite a number of surgeries and treatments, Carr died in November of 1991. KISS found themselves without a drummer and the KISS Army found themselves heartbroken.
The band decided to bring in Eric Singer, who had recently performed with Paul Stanley on a solo tour as well as a long list of other legendary rock acts that included everyone from Lita Ford to Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath.
Fans appeared to enjoy and appreciate Singer, particularly considering the terms on which he joined the band. He remained with KISS until 1996, when both of the original members of the band whom had departed in the early 80's, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, returned for a reunion tour with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. The group toured through 2000, riding high on the reunion and an eventual Farewell tour.
Once again, internal troubles led to Criss leaving the band in early 2001. Singer was asked to rejoin the band. He did so, but in a controversial move, it was decided that he would put on the Cat makeup. This unsettled many fans, but the band trudged on.
Criss returned in 2003 for a brief stint, but was replaced yet again by Singer by 2004. Singer has remained with the band ever since, and still wears the Catman makeup.
Singer has been featured on a number of KISS albums including Revenge, Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions, Sonic Boom, and KISS Jigoku-Retsuden. It should be noted that Jigoku-Retsuden is a Japanese release that was re-issued with Sonic Boom in the United States as a bonus disc called KISS Klassics. The album features a number of classic KISS tracks re-recorded with Singer and Tommy Thayer, who replaced Ace Frehley after he left the band a second time in 2003.
Singer is a very energetic drummer and, in my opinion, actually enhances a number of classic KISS songs with his style. On the KISS Klassics album in particular, songs like Love Gun and Black Diamond, sound excellent with Singer on the skins.
While many fans dislike the fact that Singer is wearing the Catman makeup, I believe that few of them can argue with the fact that he is an excellent drummer. Had he not put on the makeup and simply come up with another persona to add to KISS, many fans would have still disliked him for the fact that he wasn't Peter Criss.
Singer is KISS' drummer, like it or not, and he's done a great job in the position.
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