The KISS Legend That Gene Simmons Called ‘Persona Non-Grata’
In 1973, the iconic rock band KISS was formed by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. They first got on the stage on January 30, 1973, performing for an audience of ten people in Queens. Even in their early performances, the band members would put on some makeup, which would later turn into the signature look of their stage personas.
KISS also rose into prominence with its dazzling live performances and breathtaking shows. For instance, the award-winning band’s early stage shows featured pyrotechnics, levitating drum kits, fire breathing, blood-spitting, and more. Moreover, each band member had a stage persona which they unveiled during their performances, such as Stanley’s Starchild and Simmons’ Demon.
Although KISS went through several lineup changes, Stanley and Simmons have remained in the band since its formation. Criss and Frehley were the first ones to leave the band due to their different creative approaches. Eric Carr joined KISS following Criss’ departure, but he passed away in 1991 and was replaced by Eric Singer. In 1996, the band’s original lineup reunited and went on a successful reunion tour. However, Criss and Frehley left the band again, and they were replaced by Singer and Tommy Thayer.
Among these lineup changes within KISS, there was also someone who spent only two years with the band. He was also the same person Gene Simmons described as the ‘persona non grata.’ In this article, we’ll unveil who he was and what he did to deserve this description.
Who Was Characterized By Gene Simmons As The Band’s Persona Non-Grata?
As revealed by Gene Simmons, KISS’ unwanted member was their former guitarist Vinnie Vincent. He was a band member between 1982 and 1984 for only two years during their unmasked period. Vincent also had a stage character named The Ankh Warrior and wore a specific makeup which included the shape of Ankh on his forehead.
Although he appeared in three KISS albums, Vincent had a clash of opinions with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. At that time, he was questioning his place in the band and what his revenues would be. The tension between Vincent and Simmons grew as the guitarist refused to sign the employment contract to make things official. Eventually, his refusal resulted in the termination of his career with KISS.
Vincent made a notable contribution to KISS while co-writing 8 out of 10 songs on the KISS album ‘Lick It Up.’ The album was released back in 1983, and Vincent even wrote the record’s title track. He also co-wrote the song ‘Unholy’ from KISS’ 1992 album ‘Revenge’ with Gene Simmons, although he had been fired from the band in 1984.
Gene Simmons revealed his thoughts on Vinnie Vincent in his book ‘Kiss and Make-Up’ following the release of ‘Unholy.’ He said that Vincent asked him if they would write some songs together and then apologized. However, according to Simmons, after their work on the album was finished and it was released, Vinnie did what he did before. As Simmons said, Vincent reneged on a signed deal and sued them. He then described Vincent as the persona non grata, forever.
Gene Simmons revealed in his book that:
“Vinnie Vincent came up to me and apologized for causing the band all the grief while he was a member. He wanted to patch things up and wondered if I would consider writing some songs with him. ‘Sure,’ I said. I wanted to let bygones be bygones. I called Paul and told him that Vinnie had apparently changed.
Paul wrote songs with him as well. But before the album was released, Vinnie was up to his old tricks again. He reneged on a signed deal we had made and decided that he wanted to renegotiate. He eventually sued us and lost. As far as I was concerned, he was persona non grata forever.”
Speaking to May Metal Madness in an interview, Vinnie Vincent recalled his time with the band and discussed rejoining KISS. He remembered the songwriting process of ‘Revenge’ and hinted he would want to rejoin KISS.
After he was asked whether he would consider rejoining KISS at that time, Vinnie Vincent said:
“Yes and no. Yes, in a big way, and, for my own little reasons, no. But yes, in a big way. Of course, because we’re just a natural team. So, when you’re natural, it feels natural to you. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and they feel so great to you, and you have such a great relationship in a certain way, what, are you going to look for someone else? This person works for me. They know me; I know them, and it’s a great marriage. But maybe there’s something there that doesn’t work. So, it didn’t happen. But it could have. And I mean, it really could have.”
As for recent news on KISS, this year marks KISS’ 50 years in the music scene. To commemorate this and their farewell tour, ‘The End Of The Road World Tour,’ the band aired a new documentary titled ‘KISStory: Biography.’ Their farewell tour is currently ongoing and is set to conclude in 2022.
You can watch the full interview of Vinnie Vincent, where he talks about KISS and their ‘Revenge’ below.