Did Vinnie Vincent save KISS?

As KISS is about to finish off their final world tour, there is one former member that certainly will not be invited to be part of the celebrations. Former lead guitarist Vinnie Vincent long ago ruined his chances of being included in the End of the Road celebrations that mark the band’s five decades on the road as well as the end of the band’s touring days.

Vinnie Vincent is not someone the band KISS wants to celebrate. Fair enough. He has unsuccessfully sued the band on several occasions. He has been given several chances, most recently in 2018 when Gene Simmons invited Vinnie to participate as a special guest at one of the Gene Simmons Vault Experience events. Every time KISS has given Vinnie a new chance, it has ended in disagreements and disappointments. But let’s not forget that Vinnie made significant musical contributions to the KISS legacy in the 1980s and 1990s.

Did Vinnie Vincent save KISS? Don’t be silly. No, he didn’t. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons did that. But part of what they did to reinvigorate the band they founded in 1973 was to bring in Vinnie Vincent and his talents as a songwriter and musician to KISS. It worked brilliantly for a short while. But for all his amazing talent, he was difficult to work with and he gave the band a lot of grief. Thus, his stint with KISS was a relatively brief one.

His contributions to KISStory can be summed up as follows:

  • Songwriter on three great KISS albums
  • Guitar player on two albums
  • Performing as the band’s lead guitarist on two world tours

Vinnie entered the world of KISS as a songwriter and session guitarist. On the band’s tenth studio album, “Creatures of the Night” (1982), he recorded guitars for six of the album’s nine tracks and co-wrote three songs on the album – “I Love It Loud”, “I Still Love You” and “Killer”. It was the original KISS guitarist Ace Frehleys face on the album cover and who did some of the promotional videos and press conferences, but he didn’t play a note on that album. When it was time to tour the album, Ace was officially out and Vinnie put on the make up as the band’s new lead guitarist. While KISS had a great new album and a world tour happening, Vinnie very quickly proved difficult to work with.

As soon as the “Creatures” world tour was over, the band started work on their next studio album, “Lick It Up” (1983). Paul and Gene were not happy with Vinnie, but couldn’t immediately find a suitable replacement. Thus, they kept working with him. “Lick It Up” turned out great. As the album was ready for release, they decided to wash off their make-up for the first time in public and kept it off until 1996. Vinnie played lead guitar on the album and co-wrote eight of the album’s ten tracks – “Exciter”, “Not for the Innocent”, “Lick It Up”, “Young and Wasted”, “Gimme More”, “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose”, “A Million to One” and “And on the 8th Day”. He really got to shine on this terrific album and the following world tour. But life on the tour bus was hard. Between the European and North American legs of the tour, Vinnie was out of the band but came back in to finish the world tour. When the tour ended and KISS started to work on the next album, 1984’s “Animalize”, Vinnie was out for good and replaced by Mark St. John. But Vinnie unexpectedly popped up in KISStory again in 1992. As the band started work on their “Revenge” (1992) album, Vinnie offered his services as a songwriter. He wrote music with both Paul and Gene and three of the songs he co-wrote, “Unholy”, “Heart of Chrome” and “I Just Wanna”, ended up on the album.

Vinnie Vincent did not save KISS. But his songwriting and guitar-playing talents helped give KISS new energy and relevance. But don’t expect him to show up on stage when the band finishes its final world tour with a couple of shows in New York City in early December. He’s not invited and that’s fair enough. But probably a couple of his songs will be performed at those shows by Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Whether or not former members Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and Bruce Kulick will be involved in those shows remains to be seen.