SEETHER DRUMMER JOHN HUMPHREY HAS BEEN COLLECTING KISS FOR DECADES
By Chris M. Junior
Photo courtesy Clay Patrick McBride.
It started innocently enough with KISS trading cards when he was in grade school. Since then, Seether drummer John Humphrey’s collection of KISS memorabilia has grown tremendously in size and value — and it also includes items that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley no longer have.
Intrigued by the band’s look, and without even hearing a note of KISS music, Humphrey started collecting the KISS bubble gum cards manufactured by Donruss in the late 1970s. Luckily for Humphrey, a relative worked at a convenience store, so he had someone who could supply him with a steady stream of the 15-cent card packs.
For his eighth birthday, Humphrey received a copy of the 1978 K-Tel Records collection “Star Power,” which contained the KISS hit “Christine Sixteen.” By the time the band released “Creatures of the Night” in 1982, Humphrey was pretty much immersed in all things KISS. He finally saw his makeup-wearing, costume-clad heroes in person, when the tour supporting that album came to the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.
Humphrey says his KISS memorabilia collection is insured and valued at $60,000 to $75,000. He has various items on display at home, and one of the more prominent pieces is the KISS pinball machine (made by Bally and introduced in 1978) that he purchased for $2,200 around 1999.
“I was smiling from ear to ear when I got that thing,” Humphrey says. “It was broken and needed a little love. It’s still the crown jewel of my collection.”
Humphrey said an auction house has been in touch with him about his KISS collection, but he remains an active collector. He really hasn’t parted with too many items over the years.
“I’m trying to upgrade,” he says. “I’m picky about mint and still-sealed items. Occasionally I’ll eBay something when I’m home, which isn’t too often — I’ll sell some stuff if I’ve upgraded — but I haven’t really let go of anything. All of the important pieces I still hold onto and still have.”
Humphrey has KISS items from all over the world, but he does have standards beyond those related to their condition.
“I don’t really get into all the new stuff — the lava lamps, the teddy bears,” he says. “Some people get everything. With me, it’s the vintage stuff.”
It would be hard to imagine Humphrey ever parting with two items in particular. One is an autographed outtake poster from the first KISS album. When the original KISS lineup reunited for a tour in 1996, The Nixons, Humphrey’s band at the time, opened for KISS, so he had Simmons, Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley sign the poster for him.
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Thanks to our friend Ken Mills at KISS Fan Site for sending KOL the story!