The Members of KISS: Where Are They Now?

KISS is an American hard rock band known for hits like "Rock and Roll All Nite" and "Black Diamond." From the original four to the group's current lineup, here's everything to know about the members of KISS

Kiss poses for a portrait session in January 1975
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

KISS is preparing to take its final bow.

The American hard rock band rose to fame in the 1970s, thanks to hit songs like "Rock and Roll All Nite" and "Black Diamond," and built a dedicated fanbase that has remained loyal through the decades.

The group was co-founded by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in 1973 in New York City. Ace Frehley and Peter Criss joined the band shortly after as the other two original members, but both departed by the early 1980s. All four original members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

The band currently includes Simmons, Stanley, Eric Singer, who joined the band in 1991, and Tommy Thayer, who became a member in 2002. Past KISS members include Eric Carr (drums), Vinnie Vincent (guitar), Mark St. John (guitar) and Bruce Kulick (guitar).

In addition to their music, the group is also known for their signature onstage makeup designs. Each look represents a different persona: the "Demon" (Simmons), the "Starchild" (Stanley), the "Catman" (Singer) and the "Spaceman" (Thayer). In 1983, the band ditched their costumes and makeup during what became known as KISS' "unmasked" era. It lasted for over a decade before the group's original lineup reunited briefly in 1996, bringing their iconic personas back along with them.

In September 2018, the group announced their farewell tour, revealing that they planned to retire from touring after the final concerts.

Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer and Paul Stanley appear onstage to announce their upcoming Motley Crue and KISS co-headlining tour at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on March 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California
KISS. Kevin Winter/Getty

"All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who've filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years," KISS said at the time. "This will be the ultimate celebration for those who've seen us and a last chance for those who haven't."

The End of the Road Tour began in 2019, but was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will conclude in December 2023 with their "final shows ever" at New York City's Madison Square Garden. The band has expressed that after their final touring shows together, they may still be open to a future Las Vegas residency or one-off concerts.

Here's a look into the lives of the members of KISS, then and now.

Gene Simmons, 73

Gene Simmons of the group Kiss
Gene Simmons. Paul Natkin/Getty ; Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty

Gene Simmons, né Chaim Witz, was born in Israel on Aug. 25, 1949. He immigrated to New York City at age 8 with his mother and changed his name to Gene Klein, taking on his mother's maiden name. For his stage name, the band's co-lead singer and bassist took inspiration from rockabilly singer Jumpin' Gene Simmons.

Simmons was in his first band, The Lynx, as a teenager. In 1968, he joined Bullfrog Bheer, and later formed the group Wicked Lester with Paul Stanley. The duo ended up walking away from the group and a record deal to create KISS. Outside of music, Simmons worked as a sixth-grade teacher in New York for six months and was the assistant to a Vogue editor in 1973.

Simmons has remained KISS' bassist and co-lead singer since the group's inception. His persona, the "Demon," is infamous for sticking out his tongue, vomiting fake blood and even spitting fire on stage.

In addition to the band, Simmons has launched several other successful ventures, including a magazine, record label and an animated show, My Dad the Rock Star.

The rocker is the father of two children, daughter Sophie and son Nick Simmons, whom he shares with his wife Shannon Tweed-Simmons. The couple has been together since 1983, but waited 28 years to officially tie the knot in 2011. His family life was chronicled on Gene Simmons Family Jewels, his reality series that ran on A&E from 2006 to 2012.

Simmons prefers to keep his personal circle small, telling Goldmine magazine that outside of his bandmate Stanley, he doesn't have friends.

"Even today as I sit here, other than Paul [Stanley], and we only get together when we do stuff for the band … How do I say this without sounding inhuman? I don't have friends," he told the outlet.

In April 2023, Simmons made headlines after he became ill at a KISS concert in Brazil and needed to pause the show before sitting down for the remainder of the performance. The following day, the musician responded to fans' concern on Twitter, writing that he "experienced weakness because of dehydration," but it was "nothing serious."

Paul Stanley, 71

Paul Stanley
Richard E. Aaron/WireImage ; Amy Sussman/Getty

Born Stanley Bert Eisen in New York City on Jan. 20, 1952, KISS rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist Paul Stanley was influenced by music from a young age, receiving his first guitar at the age of 7. He first linked up with his future KISS bandmate Simmons in the early 1970s, joining Simmons' group Wicked Lester.

After Wicked Lester broke up in 1972, the pair teamed up with Peter Criss and later Ace Frehley to form KISS, a name Stanley came up with after taking inspiration from Criss' previous band Lips.

After KISS' self-titled album debuted in 1974, Stanley decided to legally change his name to "Paul Stanley," citing marketing reasons in addition to the fact that he'd never been fond of his moniker. He also officially took on his KISS persona, the "Starchild," and became known for wearing a painted star over his right eye.

Stanley released a self-titled solo album in 1978, followed by a second solo album, Live to Win, in 2006. He established a tribute band, Paul Stanley's Soul Station, in 2015 to play soulful music from the 1960s and 1970s. The group released its first album, Now and Then, in 2021.

In addition to collaborating with Simmons in KISS, Stanley has worked on a number of outside ventures with his bandmate, including the restaurant franchise Rock & Brews and a now-defunct football team called Los Angeles Kiss.

As for his personal life, Stanley was married to actress Pamela Bowen for nine years until their divorce in 2001. The former couple share one son, Evan Shane, born in June 1994. In November 2005, the rocker married his second wife Erin Sutton, with whom he shares three children: son Colin Michael, born in September 2006; daughter Sarah Brianna, born in January 2009; and daughter Emily Grace, born in August 2011.

"There is nothing greater in life than family, and my accomplishments as a father rank at the top of my successes," he told PEOPLE in 2011.

Ace Frehley, 71

Ace Frehley
Fin Costello/Redferns ; Daniel Zuchnik/Getty

Paul Daniel "Ace" Frehley was born on April 27, 1951, and grew up in the Bronx. After playing as a member of various bands through his teens, he officially joined KISS in January 1973, coming up with the group's iconic lightning bolt logo.

Frehley took on the persona the "Spaceman," known for his over-the-top and out-of-this-world guitar style (during his solos, his signature Les Paul Custom guitar would fill the stage with smoke as he played).

Despite becoming one of the most popular guitarists in the world, Frehley was famously self-taught and never had any formal instruction. "I never took a guitar lesson, and just about every day, somebody comes up to me and says, 'If it wasn't for you, I never would have picked up a guitar,' " he said in 2018.

Though he had success as an original group member, Frehley departed in December 1982, and was replaced by Vinnie Vincent. After leaving KISS, he formed his own band, Frehley's Comet, which put out two albums in 1987 and 1988. He also began a solo career, and released nine albums between 1978 and 2020.

The rocker later rejoined KISS in 1996 for a reunion tour, with all four original members performing together for the first time since 1980. In September 1998, the band released their 18th album together, Psycho Circus, the first to involve the original four members since their 1979 release, Dynasty. He left the group again in 2002.

Despite a brief reunion with his former bandmates on a sailing of the KISS Kruise in 2018, Frehley had harsh words for Simmons the following year. He responded to an interview given by Simmons where he claimed Frehley was unreliable and had been fired from the group three times.

"Gene, your memory is really incorrect!…" Frehley wrote on Facebook. "I was NEVER FIRED from KISS, I quit twice (not 3-times) of my own free will, because you and [guitarist] Paul [Stanley] are control freaks, untrustworthy and were too difficult to work with!"

Frehley married Jeanette Trerotola in 1976, and they share a daughter Monique together. As of 2018, they were still legally married, according to Frehley, though he has been engaged to Rachael Gordon since 2010.

Peter Criss, 77

Peter Criss
Al Pereira/Getty ; Mike Pont/Getty

Born on Dec. 20, 1945, Peter George John Criscuola grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and is known by his stage name Peter Criss.

He played with other bands in the mid-to-late 1960s, but joined KISS after Stanley and Simmons saw his advertisement in the East Coast edition of Rolling Stone. He developed the "Catman" persona and joined the newly formed group as their drummer.

Criss also served as the lead singer on a few KISS songs, including their 1976 hit "Beth," for which he is credited as a co-writer. However, just a few years later in 1980, Criss ended up leaving the band, though the circumstances of his departure have been largely debated (Simmons and Frehley have both said that he was fired, while Criss maintains he quit).

After leaving KISS, Criss spoke to PEOPLE about some of his struggles while in the band. "It always had to be Gene's way. It was an ego thing," he said. "There's more to music than three chords."

At the time, the musician was preparing to go on tour for Out of Control, his first of five solo albums. For his first venture outside of KISS, Criss explained he was aiming for "a more sophisticated following. I don't want to duck bottles anymore. I've had it with fire and bombs onstage. I see myself in a tux in Las Vegas."

He rejoined KISS along with Frehley in 1996 for the group's reunion tour, but left again in 2001 following a contract dispute. He returned by late 2002, but left permanently in March 2004 and was replaced by current band member Eric Singer.

Outside of the band, Criss was married to his childhood sweetheart Lydia Di Leonardo from 1970 until 1979. He met former Playboy playmate Debra Jensen while attending a party at Rod Stewart's mansion, and the pair married in 1979. They welcomed a daughter, Jenilee, together in 1981, but divorced in 1994. In May 1998, he married his third wife Gigi Criss.

In 2007, Criss discovered a lump on his chest while working out. In February 2008, doctors removed a nodule from his breast, which they diagnosed as breast cancer. A surgery the following month removed the cancer.

"So many people must die from this," he told CNN in 2009. "Somebody has to step up to the plate and say something to get them aware of how dangerous this is. Lots of men die: They wait, they don't go in, they put it off."

Eric Carr

Eric Carr, drummer of American rock band Kiss
Luciano Viti/Getty ; Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance/Getty

Paul Charles Caravello, born July 12, 1950, grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He replaced Criss as KISS' drummer in 1980 and adopted the stage name Eric Carr.

Carr's first public performance with the group was on July 25, 1980, at the Palladium in New York City. Instead of using Criss' "Catman" persona, he came up with the "Fox" character. Music from "The Elder" was the first album he worked on with the group, and he also dabbled in guitar, bass guitar, piano and background vocals.

In early 1991, Carr was diagnosed with heart cancer, and began undergoing a series of surgeries and chemotherapy. He was temporarily replaced by Eric Singer in KISS while he focused on his health, though he reportedly pleaded with Simmons and Stanley, as well as his doctors, to let him rejoin the band. After learning from Carr's doctors that he only had a few more months to live, Simmons and Stanley agreed to let him appear in the "God Gave Rock and Roll to You II" music video.

Carr's final public appearance with the band was at the September 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. Shortly after, he died at the age of 41. The band dedicated the 1992 album Revenge to Carr, which contained "Carr Jam 1981," a demo he recorded after joining the group. In 1999, the musician's family, along with former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, posthumously released his solo album Rockology.

Eric Singer, 64

Eric Singer
Kevin Winter/Getty ; Daniel Knighton/Getty

Eric Singer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 12, 1958. The drummer's father was a local bandleader and played a large role in influencing his love of music. Among Singer's other inspirations are bands including The Who, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

Singer first joined KISS in December 1991 following the death of Eric Carr. He played on the band's 16th and 17th studio albums, Revenge and Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions, and embarked on several tours. In 1996, however, the band's first drummer Criss returned to the group when the original members reunited for the Alive/Worldwide tour. Singer stepped away, only to rejoin again in 2001. After temporarily departing once again in 2002, he permanently rejoined the band in 2004, and has remained a member ever since.

Outside of KISS, Singer has toured and/or performed with Queen's Brian May, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and more. He is also the drummer for his KISS bandmate Paul Stanley's side project, Soul Station.

Tommy Thayer, 62

Tommy Thayer
Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic ; Daniel Knighton/Getty

Tommy Thayer was born on Nov. 7, 1960, and grew up in Beaverton, Oregon. He was raised in a family of musicians, and first picked up an electric guitar at age 13.

Pre-KISS, Thayer co-founded the band Black 'n Blue, which opened for KISS on tour in 1985. In addition to being part of their opening act, the rocker was involved with the band in various capacities before officially taking on the role of lead guitarist.

In 1994, he began working with Simmons and Stanley on their book Kisstory, and managed their 1995 Worldwide Kiss Convention tour. He also served as a producer and editor of several long-form video and film releases for the group. Thayer officially joined the group as the lead guitarist during a private concert in Jamaica in March 2002, replacing Ace Frehley and wearing the "Spaceman" makeup and costume for the first time.

Outside of the band, Thayer is involved in multiple charitable organizations, including serving on the board of directors of the Arnold Palmer Education Fund and the Thayer Family Foundation. He is also on the board of trustees at Pacific University in Oregon. In May 2018, the university honored the musician with an honorary doctorate of humane letters "in recognition of his tremendous career and philanthropic leadership efforts."

Thayer married Amber Peek in 2006, though the couple have since separated. In March 2021, the guitarist announced via Instagram that he had connected with his daughter Sierra the previous summer, whom he had not previously know about.

Vinnie Vincent, 70

Vinnie Vincent
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ; Bobby Bank/Getty

Vincent John Cusano, known by his stage name Vinnie Vincent, was born on Aug. 6, 1952, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1982, he was brought in as a replacement lead guitarist following Frehley's departure from the group. Like Carr, Vincent took on a different persona than his predecessor. He used the "Ankh Warrior" character, a look created by Stanley.

His time in the group was short-lived, however, because he refused to sign the employment contract offered by Simmons and Stanley and was reportedly fired after the end of the Lick It Up tour in March 1984.

After departing KISS, Vincent formed a new band, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, in the mid-1980s, and released two albums before breaking up in 1989. He briefly reunited with KISS in 1992, appearing as a songwriter on the album Revenge, but again butted heads with Simmons and Stanley during the project. ("Vinnie was up to his old tricks again," Simmons told Rolling Stone, alleging that Vincent sued the band over a contract dispute).

Following the release of his 1996 solo project Euphoria, Vincent retreated from public life. In 2018, however, he agreed to reunite with Simmons on stage for a performance to promote the latter's Vault collector's set. The former bandmates appeared in Nashville together that April, marking their first joint appearance in over two decades.

A few years later, in May 2022, Vincent appeared with former KISS guitarists Ace Frehley and Bruce Kulick for a performance of four of the band's songs at Creatures Fest in Nashville.

As for his personal life, the guitarist shared twin daughters with his ex-wife AnnMarie Peters, who was murdered in 1998 after they had divorced. Vincent later cited his daughters as one of the reasons he refused to sign his initial contract with KISS.

"I had a family," he said in 2018. "I had twins that I didn't know I was gonna have, and there was no money to take care of them, and there was no money to buy a home. We were living with relatives, and I was on call 24 hours a day, which was OK — it was all OK. But I couldn't move on; there was no future."

In 1996, he married his second wife Diane Kero, an ex-girlfriend of Frehley whom he had met the previous year at a KISS convention in Chicago. She died on Jan. 13, 2014, at age 47.

Mark St. John

Promotional photo of rock band Kiss in 1984
Mark St. John (far right) with his KISS bandmates in 1984. Polygram Records/Wikimedia Commons

Mark St. John, born Mark Leslie Norton on Feb. 7, 1956, in Hollywood, California, was the third lead guitarist to join KISS. He was briefly in the group after Vincent left in early 1984, exiting by December of that same year.

St. John never performed in a persona for the group, as they had their live unmasking the year prior. He only appeared in one video for the band, the hit single "Heaven's on Fire" from their Animalize album, the only album he was featured on. St. John reportedly clashed with other members of the band while recording Animalize, and Stanley later said they had trouble solidifying his solos due to a lack of "structure" in his playing.

The musician's time in the group was cut short when he developed reactive arthritis, which caused swelling in his arms and hands. He was only able to perform two full shows and one partial show before Bruce Kulick began filling in for him, eventually officially replacing St. John in the band in December 1984.

Following his time with KISS, St. John formed the band White Tiger and released a single album before they split in 1988. In 1990, he teamed up with former KISS member Peter Criss on a band called Keep, though they had trouble shopping their demo around. St. John ended up leaving the group, and Criss later renamed the band after himself.

In September 2006, St. John was incarcerated at the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County, California, for possession of drug paraphernalia and attempted destruction of evidence. While in jail, he sustained severe injuries after he was allegedly beaten and stabbed with pencils by a group of inmates.

Following his release, St. John suffered from headaches and body aches, telling his girlfriend that they were the result of the injuries he sustained. On April 5, 2007, at the age of 51, he died of a brain hemorrhage brought on by an accidental overdose of methamphetamine.

Bruce Kulick, 69

Bruce Kulick
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic ; Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Bruce Howard Kulick was born on Dec. 12, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to joining KISS as their lead guitarist, Kulick worked with artists including Michael Bolton and Meat Loaf. Like St. John, he never took on an onstage persona or wore makeup while a member of the group.

Kulick became an official member of KISS in September 1984 to replace St. John following his arthritis diagnosis. During his time with the band, he appeared on five studio albums and two live albums.

Kulick left KISS in 1996 following the Alive/Worldwide tour, which saw all four original members of the band reunite, though he did contribute to the group's 1998 album Psycho Circus.

Following his departure, Kulick formed the band Union in 1997, with whom he recorded three albums. Additionally, he released three solo albums and has served as the lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad since 2000. He has also been a featured performer on the KISS Kruise since 2017.

Kulick began dating Lisa Lane in 2008, and they married in 2014. The couple lives in Las Vegas together, and occasionally records acoustic covers of popular KISS songs, which they share on Kulick's YouTube channel.

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