Saturday, December 15, 2012

Founding KISS Drummer Peter Criss Tells Story Of Survival In Memoir, 'Makeup To Breakup'

A gun in the mouth — it's a terrible way to end a life, but a great way to begin a book.

Founding Kiss drummer Peter Criss closed his lips around a .357 Magnum when things looked most bleak: in the immediate aftermath of a 1994 earthquake. Criss' life was already a disaster — he was a twice-divorced drug casualty who exhausted the fortune he made with Kiss, a band he was no longer in — when his world began to shake, rattle and roll.

"I was sitting in a Hollywood dump in shambles," recalls Criss during a recent call.

"Carjacked; everything gone; 100 grand in a shoebox; gold records broken on the floor; nothing left. I owed the IRS. I thought, 'My God, I really mean it this time.' I was gonna check out."

Criss uses the incident to open his new memoir, co-written with Larry "Ratso" Sloman, "Makeup to Breakup: My Life in and Out of Kiss" ($26, Scribner).

Says the musician: "I had a lot of time by myself, thinking: What was the lowest part of my life? It had to be the earthquake. I thought, 'Holy mackerel, if I start here, at the bottom of the bucket, then who cannot turn the page and see what I did next?'"

Kiss — pancake-and-studs-wearing rockers comprised of guitarists Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley, bassist Gene Simmons and Criss — formed in the '70s and became one of the biggest acts of the decade. Wearing kabuki-influenced makeup — with Criss in a cat-inspired design — the band sold more than 100 million albums and toured with a theatrical stage show that featured pyrotechnics, fire-breathing, tons of confetti and the levitation of Criss' drum kit.

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