Sunday, December 29, 2013

31 Years Ago: Vinnie Vincent Plays His First KISS Concert | by Matthew Wilkening

On Dec. 29, 1982, Kiss played their first concert with guitarist Vinnie Vincent, who took over for founding member Ace Frehley during the recording of the band’s ‘Creatures of the Night‘ album.

The opening night of the group’s 10th anniversary tour was meant to be two nights prior, in Rapid City, S.D. But according to a severe snow storm cancelled that concert and made the Bismarck, N.D. show on the 29th the kickoff instead. It was their first time on a U.S. stage since a July 1980 New York City club show, which oddly enough served as the debut for new drummer Eric Carr.

As the half-empty arena in a secondary market testified, it was not the best of times for Kiss. Besides being down two original members, the group’s popularity had taken a huge hit since their late-’70s heyday, partially as a result of two pop-leaning albums that alienated their original fanbase.

Bassist Gene Simmons wasn’t sure Vincent was the right man to help Kiss stabilize their lineup and commercial fortunes, but there were time pressures in play. “With ‘Creatures’ done, we either had to lose the window of a tour or go off on tour with this guy,” he explains in his book ‘Kiss and Make-Up.’ “We decided, rightly or wrongly, to go on the tour with him.”

Paul (Stanley) designed Vincent’s ankh makeup, the sixth and final makeup character ever employed by the group. Justifiably proud of the ‘Creatures of the Night’ album, the band played six songs from it during the opening night’s 19-song, two-solo set.

Unfortunately, apart from a highly successful series of shows in Brazil, the result was the least successful tour in Kiss history. The band realized a big change was needed, and took off their trademark makeup prior to the release of 1983′s ‘Lick it Up‘ album. The combination of their new image and second straight strong record was finally enough to reverse the band’s fortunes. But despite his impressive songwriting contributions, relations between Vincent and his band mates / employers continued to get worse.

As a result, they parted ways prior to the release of 1984′s ‘Animalize,’ and a series of lawsuits and press battles followed. After a stint leading his own group, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the guitarist mended fences and returned to help Simmons and Stanley co-write a few songs for their 1992 ‘Revenge‘ album. However the camps soon found themselves at odds again, and Vincent has largely been off the radar ever since.

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