In fact, he was never even in the band (save performances, recordings and songs), let alone a ‘fan’ if you get my drift. Through years of futile legal wrangling with his masters (KISS) for alleged royalties due, we had long known that Vinnie Vincent never signed his contract with KISS. But, in a recent episode of the perennial KISS-podcast ‘Three Sides of The Coin’, former New England drummer Hirsh Garner added some long-needed color to the murky period in KISStory by dropping a bomb shell: Gene Simmons & Vincent were still talking after the Lick It Up Tour and that, if his memory serves him, Simmons was negotiating to keep Vinnie in the line-up?! OMG!!
I am not alone in KISS country when I say that we had always been led to believe that Vincent was fired (or since he wasn’t actually on the books, “let go”) immediately after the Lick It Up tour. It had been, to hear KISS co-founders Gene & Paul Stanley tell it, a unanimous decision, he had to go …but apparently that was not the case, not initially anyway. In KISStoric terms, this is nothing short of revelation for, on the 8th day, it appears Vinnie still had at least one of the two KISS leaders ears in the Demon; Gene Simmons.
Who knows if Stanley was even in on this conversation? Knowing what we do about the cunning head-strong Simmons, it’s entirely possible he sought to right the ship mono-e-mono, get Vinnie on board, and then reach out to Sir Paul with the (tempered) good news that the shrew had in fact been tamed. But, of course, it’s entirely possible also that Paul was in on the convo and told Gene something along the lines of “if you can get him in line, have him sign the deal, and I don’t have to deal with him moving forward ….I’ll give him a final chance with the new record and see how that goes, otherwise I am done with Vinnie”.
Either way, it’s now clear Vincent must have put quite a strain on the already flagging relationship sans make-up between the Starchild and Demon. Chances are Gene & Paul were not on the same page because, after Vincent left, Gene went semi-MIA for Animilize, leaving Paul to teach guitarist Mark St. John how to hit a mark and then cobble together the album on his own while Gene chased dragons in LA and beyond.
And who knows where Gene’s head was as he sat on the phone with a now AWOL Vincent who was cutting new songs with members of New England? It’s possible Gene was considering cashing in his chips on KISS entirely if he couldn’t get Vinnie to stay. It would of course have been a betrayal of KISStoric proportions that would have weighed heavy on his mind at the time. Sure, LIU had been a success on several levels, but another change at lead guitar? when they had just re-invented the band and brand and saved their (the) Elder worn hides by finally unmasking? The fact is half the KISS Army had already defected long ago, and new, more fickle MTV generation fans wouldn’t actually care who was on lead in KISS on Animailize. Still, must have been a serious concern ….. jeez, how we gonna spin this one?
It’s also possible that Gene just wanted a few of Vinnie’s tunes for the next record, as a compromise deal if Vincent was in fact leaving. Vinnie had significantly updated their sound and Gene may have come to believe they really needed him. For all we know Gene threatened him with his royalties as the ante? In any event, both he and Stanley had leaned on Vinnie hard for tunes on Creatures of The Night as well as Lick It Up. Heck, they would even bring him back in to the fold again to co-write on the bounce back Revenge in ’92. See, Vinnie wasn’t in KISS but, for all intents and purposes, strangely was KISS in 1983. It must have been a scary time. I believe Gene feared the worst; that losing VV would be their death knell.
Almost unbelievable to learn now that Vincent wasn’t so much involuntarily discharged from the KISS Army as he was a defector. He had had a choice and what fascinates me most is where his head was at the time, or all along. Thanks to Gardners’ inadvertent revelation, it now seems to me that from the very start Vincent simply saw KISS as his ticket. When he got involved with the band circa-Creatures he saw a sinking ship. He would use what wind was left in their sales to gain personal notoriety and, once he had destroyed the Simmons / Stanley alliance from within, leave KISS in smouldering ruins as the sole survivor to launch the insane vision that would become the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, a telling moniker in hindsight. He probably felt he had saved the band and, my best guess is, may have pushed for equal partnership and it backfired? In any event, he thought he could play Gene & Paul off against each other and ultimately hold them for ransom, and it almost worked. Were it not for cooler heads, KISS might literally have been KISStory because, with Vincent, it seems Armageddon was just a matter of time …plus, everyone knows, three’s a crowd. But don’t listen to me, Vinnie gives us the finer points in this interview from ’86 …”the common denominator” >