KISS may once have wanted to rock 'n' roll all night, but now the famously face-painted group have turned down an opportunity to do just that. Today, the band announced they will not play a live show to celebrate their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this May, due to disputes over the involvement of past band members, specifically founding drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley. Though KISS's official statement, as backed up by bassist-cum-vocalist Gene Simmons, insists that there is no bad blood between the band's current and former members, both Criss and Frehley have taken to the media with complaints. Criss posted a statement to his personal website claiming that "Ace and I have been denied a performance with Gene and Paul for our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction" — a fact he calls "disgraceful" — while Frehley told New York's Q104.3 FM that performing alongside guitarist Tommy Thayer would be "absurd."
It's a quandary, to be sure: How to appreciate the old members without casting aside the new? Thayer, for example, has been playing with the band since 2002; surely his 12-year contribution has something to do with the band's induction-worthy status. But then again, without Frehley, there wouldn't be a band to induct. Ever the diplomat, Simmons attempted to explain the tension to Rolling Stone in an interview last December, comparing the band's numerous lineups to a series of marriages:
"Well, Kiss is Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. It's like, if you introduced me to your wife and I go, 'Wait, where are all the other wives?' It's like, 'Yeah, I was married to them and now I'm here.'"
But on the other hand...
"[Criss and Frehley] were equally important in the formation of the band. When you have kids with your first wife, you give kudos. The fact you got remarried doesn't delete or minimize the importance. Hey, 'You gave birth to this thing, Kiss, with Ace, Peter, Paul and Gene.'"
Of course, the ideal scenario would involve some sort of compromise — a few songs with Thayer and Singer, a few with Frehley and Criss, a blowout finish all together, everybody's happy. But it's naïve at best to expect such politesse from rockstars, especially grown men whose egos are still tied up in face-paint patterns. For now at least, fans will have to be content with KISS's promise that instead the band "will focus our attention on celebrating our induction." I mean, at least they can still party every day, right?
And meanwhile, we can all sate ourselves with the following glorious 45 straight minutes of Paul Stanley's throatily-screeched stage banter. (You're welcome.)