Monday, December 2, 2013

Peter Criss’ Ex. Wife Lydia Criss Tell-All In Depth Interview About Her Book “Sealed With A KISS” And Says “Peter Is Very Dramatic, He’s An Exaggerator, He’s A Complainer, He’s A Liar!”

I spent a nice chunk of time talking to Lydia Criss, ex-wife of KISS drummer Peter Criss but I’m sure I barely scratched the surface of her wealth of stories about the hottest band in the land and her incredible experience during the 70s. Lydia, a seasoned rock photographer in her own right, documented her relationship with Peter and his rise in KISS with her coffee table book “Sealed With a KISS”. The book, which has come out in several pressings, is now currently available via her website, (including a special “cyber monday” deal today only!). I think you’ll dig the book and will get the scope of her unique experience based on the following interview, read on…..

Legendary Rock Interviews: Your book, “Sealed With A KISS” is a great backstage pass to that classic KISS era and obviously I want to talk to you about your experience but I would be a fool to avoid asking you about Peter’s book which came out last year. Gene’s book was kind of predictable, Ace’s kind of felt stifled but Pete really let loose. What was your reaction to or your reaction to everyone else’s reaction? (laughs)

Lydia Criss: Yeah, I’ve heard a lot from other people for sure. I’m sure you know (author) Ken Sharp. He was the first one to call me, he was in Florida and was like “Lydia, you gotta call me, this book is crazy” (laughs). Then I had an ex-boyfriend that called me and said “Peter’s delusional, what is wrong with him??!!” (laughs). I know Peter, I was with him for 13 years, I’ve known him for 40 years. Peter is very dramatic, he’s an exaggerator, he’s a complainer, he’s a liar…as we all can see and I….when we were married there was a point where I was actually uncomfortable with him putting me on such a pedestal and then his book comes out and he basically says he didn’t care for me that much (laughs). I suppose with Peter’s comments in his book, he’s trying to get even with me for what I wrote, which was the truth, in my book. Peter’s book is not the truth and that’s proven even by stupid little things like him saying that me and (New York Dolls drummer) Jerry Nolan didn’t get along. I LOVED Jerry, Jerry was an inspiration in my life, he was the one who taught me how to stand up to my parents. I grew up in a strict Catholic, Italian home. Jerry made me realize I didn’t have to do that, I didn’t have to go along with what my parents say as long you’re not killing somebody or something.

LRI: But there are some elements of truth in Peter’s book when he says your parents weren’t exactly keen on him?

Lydia: No, my parents definitely weren’t keen on him in the beginning. I mean, nobody had long hair back in those days. I lived on there borderline of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, everybody had short hair, he was the first long haired guy I ever went out with. I had a few boyfriends before Peter but that was when I was like 13, so it’s like you have a little crush on a kid in school or something. Peter even writes in his book that I’d only been with two guys before him, he wrote that I was bad in bed and the thing is; I probably was (laughs). I was, kind of a virgin (laughs). Peter boasts about all of his cheating but I’ve heard from multiple people, including Ace and his wife that while he did cheat, he was the least “active” cheater of the bunch (laughs). Again, Peter exaggerates.

LRI: I don’t doubt that but entertainment wise. it does make a nice 1-2 punch coupled with your book. I hope Ace’s next book is a little more revealing.

Lydia: People ask me all the time what I thought of Ace’s book. I read it in its entirety when I went to Brazil and read it on the plane and some of it while I was there and I will say that at least I know all of those stories. At least Ace told the truth in his book, Peter didn’t. There are stories in Ace’s book that I knew should be in his book and they were there, there are things in Peter’s book that just don’t add up. I never really read Gene’s book, I looked at the credits and looked for my name in there but that was about it (laughs).

LRI: Well I know that you mentioned you were there during the “Hotter Than Hell” photo sessions and that it wasn’t as wild as it was rumored; Gene and the photographer, Norman Seef also kind of reinforced that it was a little more business-like than we were all led to believe. Peter’s book had him once again going back to that original wild, crazy party story (laughs)

Lydia: I was there. He did not get a blowjob and Ace was not screwing; there was NO sex going on. The most sexual thing there was Paul Stanley because he was drunk. There was a girl all over him but that was about it, there was no real sex and certainly no “orgy”. Also, there’s a story he tells about a manager from the early days and guns in the house, way before KISS. He says I came along and stumbled into the scene with a friend from Massachusetts, I was IN THE HOUSE when it happened, we were in a bedroom, scared shitless, all of us, there were other people there, friends of us. It wasn’t like he writes it where I arrived and “saved him” (laughs). It wasn’t that way.

LRI: He does mention that he was really disappointed by the end result of the sound of the first few albums, which is something Paul has often said too but I definitely wanted to ask you; Did he complain about that to you or his family?

Lydia: The only thing that he always complained about was that he wanted a song or a spot, or a few songs, but in all honesty, Peter’s not a great songwriter. I mean, he wrote “Beth” but he wrote it with Stan Penridge and Stan was the main one behind that, Peter might have wrote some of the words but Stan Penridge wrote the music. I mean, everyone’s heard it on acoustic guitar, the “Beck” version. Bob Ezrin didn’t change that much of the melody but of course he turned it into a big production. As far as the lyrics, I actually wrote a line in that song and never got credit. I never got credit and I was never paid for it, I wrote “You say you feel so empty” because I did feel that way. I actually said “I feel so empty that my house is not my home” because I worked and paid all the bills up until that point. I was paying all the bills up until that point, which was fine because I am a Scorpio and Scorpios are control freaks (laughs) but when Peter started getting some money I kind of felt lost and said that, “I feel so empty, the house is not a home.” I got a gold single for the song but I really should have at least got an album. I also sang on “Rock and Roll All Nite” and I didn’t get an album for that but the gold single I got for “Beth” actually says “To Lydia” which is cool, that was my award, of course Peter had all kinds of them but that one was actually for me.

LRI: So you were a part of the gang vocals on the “Dressed To Kill” studio version of “Rock And Roll All Night”?

Lydia: Yeah, Ace’s wife Jeanette and I were both on that, people say that they can hear our voices better on the version on “Smashes, Thrashes and Hits” for some reason but we are singing there at the end.

LRI: Were you and Jeanette close in those days?

Lydia: Oh yeah, we were the best of friends. I mean, I really don’t hear from her anymore, we live on different coasts, she moved to the west coast but we were once very close, even after I was divorced from Peter. There was a while where I didn’t talk to Ace and Jeanette and then there was also a time where Ace lived two blocks away from me and I saw him all the time but they weren’t living together but I was friends with her and him. I went up to Boston with Jeanette to see Pearl Jam actually.

Read the full interview HERE: