Long Deserved Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

It was probably inevitable that Kiss’ long deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be problematic—and yes, I did say long deserved.

It’s just been reported that in time-dishonored RockHall fashion, only originals Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were going to perform, with current non-inductee members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer rather than fellow inductee/originals Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. So Kiss fans, who might be expected to fill the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn for April’s open-to-the-public induction ceremony, wouldn’t have been serenaded by the original four guys who started the band in make-up 40 years ago; then again, the current lineup has been together a long time, and what about the better-known interim members Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr?

In an indication of a slow news day, The New York Times reported the bitter complaints by Frehley and Criss—who had first fallen out with the other two back in the early 1980s—that they were being intentionally shut out of performing.

“It’s something the fans wanted, it’s something the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame asked of all four of us,” Frehley said. “[Stanley and Simmons] shot it down.”

The other guys countered, in an unsigned statement, on the Kiss website: “Our intention was to celebrate the entire history of Kiss and give credit to all members including longtime present members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, and additionally Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr, all who have made this band what it is, regardless of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s point of view. This is understandably an emotional situation where there is no way to please everyone. To bring this to a quick end, we have decided not to play in any lineup and we will focus our attention on celebrating our induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

KISS-3It’s definitely not the first time conflict among band members has surfaced at the RockHall, going back at least to The Beatles’ induction in 1988, when Paul McCartney declined to attend, due to what he called unresolved “business differences” that would make him “a complete hypocrite” should he show up “waving and smiling” with the other two survivors at “a fake reunion.”

The Sex Pistols, of course, didn’t want anything to do with the RockHall when they were inducted in absentia in 2006. As Steve Jones told NPR: “Once you want to be put into a museum, rock ’n’ roll’s over. It’s not voted by fans, it’s voted by people who induct you, or others—people who are already in it.”

He was right, of course. There’s also a nominating committee, of which I was once a part, before I was kicked off, ostensibly because they wanted members who were more knowledgeable about

’70s music—which was particularly galling, as I’d written the first book on The Ramones.

KISS-1Speaking of The Ramones, I always thought that C.J. Ramone, who replaced Dee Dee on bass, should have been inducted, as he was in the band seven years, longer than original drummer Tommy, whose longtime replacement Marky was indeed inducted, just as both original Sex Pistols bassist and his far more famous replacement Sid Vicious were inducted.

But going back to “the fans,” at most they’d see Kiss perform one song in the interminable program anyway. Whatever went down, I give it up to Paul and Gene for recognizing what a headache right off the RockHall’s politics can be and backing out of them entirely with a classy explanation.

And speaking of class, I’m reminded of an interview I did with Paul for a Billboard Kiss anniversary special many years ago, when I asked his thoughts about being overlooked by the RockHall even then.

“You know, we have our own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” he said. “It’s in the record store bins.”

Jim Bessman


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