By Andy Greene
Kiss fans may not be getting the reunion performance they hoped for at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, but the four founding members of the band did stand together at the podium to give their acceptance speeches, marking their first public appearance together since the conclusion of the American leg of their "Farewell Tour" in October of 2000.
Despite taking endless nasty shots at each other in the press during the past few months, the group — Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley — was remarkably courteous to each other. Peter Criss spoke first, thanking everyone from "the grips to the truck drivers" to the "doctor that saved me from breast cancer." The former drummer also commemorated his iconic makeup. "In and out of make-up, I will always be the catman," said Criss.
Guitarist Ace Frehley spoke next, recalling, "When I was 13 years old and picked up my first guitar, I always figured I'd be into something big. Life's been good to me. Hopefully, I got another 10 or 20 years to go."
Even Stanley - who recently accused his former bandmates of anti-semitism - took the high road, focusing on the band's fans. "Here we are tonight, inducted basically for the things we were left out for," said Stanley. "The people buy albums. The people who nominate do not."
Current Kiss members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer sat in the crowd near former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick. The Hall of Fame's refusal to let them in, along with other former members of Kiss, incensed Stanley to no end. "I don't need the Hall of Fame," he recently told Rolling Stone. "And if there's not reciprocity, I'm not interested. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, practically every member was inducted, and virtually all 175 members of the Grateful Dead. Rules need to apply to everybody."
The group initially wanted to perform with their current lineup, but they were told that wasn't an option. "We heard, 'We would like Ace and Peter in makeup,'" said Stanley. "And we said, 'That's not going to happen.' That band is long gone. I question what Ace and Peter would look like in those outfits. We've spent 40 years building something, and to dissipate what we've done, or confuse it by sending mixed messages? What we offered was to play with Tommy and Eric and then bring out Ace and Peter to play with us."
Criss and Frehley made it very clear they would have boycotted the ceremony had other musicians played in their signature makeup. "I won't be disrespected," Criss told Rolling Stone. "How can you put me in the Hall of Fame and then tell me to sit over there in the corner while another guy puts on my makeup and plays? That's an injustice. To the fans, too."
The mere fact that all four of them stood together at the podium was a small miracle, and, in all likelihood, it'll be the final time anyone sees the four of them together again.