Peter Criscuola, a founding member of Kiss, AKA Peter “Catman” Criss and one of rock’s influential drumming legends, will be respectfully acknowledged April 2014, when he and bandmates Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Ace Frehley are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In this very candid, three-part interview for MD online, Peter is very sincere and thankful for the life he’s been given.
Immediately after his appearance last August 2013, at the NYC Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp—where earlier that day Criss jammed with campers—MD whisked him over to the Cutting Room to chat with fellow drummer, Sandy Gennaro, for an exclusive MD interview.
In May 2013, drummer and Bonzo Bash creator Brain Tichy gave the very first Bonzo Bash Award to Criss. Peter couldn’t attend the star-stellar show as he was recovering from double-hernia surgery, but he sent a statement and sincere thank you that was read on stage by Tichy and co-Bash partner Joe Sutton, who, also along with radio/TV personality Eddie Trunk, gave a second surprise award to Carmine Appice, as well.
In Part One of Peter’s film he watches a never before shown video that Brian Tichy—a life long Kiss fan since he first picked up drumsticks—made just for him. You can see Peter was very touched by the sentiment. Also, Robin Diaz, Daughtry drummer and another huge fan of Peter’s, texts in a question.
Kiss’s self-titled debut album was released February 18, 1974, and the band rose to international stardom with their superhero makeup. By December 1975 they received their first Gold Record awards for Kiss Alive!, which would go on to achieve quadruple platinum status and feature their first top 40 single, the live version of “Rock and Roll All Nite.” The single, an anthem to this day, became Kiss’s first big radio hit. Alive! was also one of the first albums to ever reach platinum status.
In Part Two, Peter talks about their album Destroyer, released in March of 1976, and produced by legendary producer Bob Ezrin. The album became Kiss’s most commercially successful studio album due to Criss’ ballad “Beth,” the B-side of “Detroit Rock City.” The hit single became the band’s first top ten hit, won a Peoples Choice Award, and went triple platinum. On February 18, 1977, the New York-based band made its Madison Square Garden debut—a dream come true for Peter as he explains in Part Three.
The band became so popular they went on to make a movie called Phantom of the Park, and release four Kiss solo albums simultaneously. By 1980, Criss left Kiss shortly after the release of Unmasked, (he’s replaced by Eric Carr), and then rejoined the band in 1995 for an appearance on MTV’s Unplugged. Former members Criss and Ace Frehley were invited for a mini-reunion. In 1996, the four original members made a surprise appearance at the 38th annual Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles in full Kiss makeup and costume—the first time in seventeen years.
The original line-up went back on tour again in ’96 for two-hundred shows in twenty-six countries, playing to more then two million people, and setting a record for the top-grossing tour of that year. On the eve of the Australia/Japanese leg of the Kiss Farewell tour, in January 2001, Criss left the band and was replaced once again by former Kiss drummer Eric Singer. Two years later, in August 2003, the Kiss World Domination tour kicked off on a co-headline tour with Aerosmith, and Peter Criss returned to the lineup. Shortly after, the band drama continued and Peter decided to walk away while still on top.
These days, both he and his beautiful wife, Gigi, are cancer-survivors and are happy living a quiet life away from the spotlight. Peter, wanting to set his record straight, released his autobiography number-one best seller, Makeup to Breakup. This April 2014, after much controversy and long over-due, the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not bad for a guy who just wanted to play drums in a rock band.