PETER CRISS Biography - Musicians


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Name: Peter Criss                                                                       
Birth name: George Peter John Criscuola                                                 
Born: 20 December 1945 Brooklyn, New York, United States                               
George Peter John Criscuola (born December 20, 1945), better known as Peter             
Criss, is an American musician best known as co-founder, drummer and vocalist           
for the rock band Kiss. Criss established the "cat" character for his Kiss             
Criss is the eldest of the five children of Joseph and Loretta Criscuola in             
Brooklyn, New York.                                                                     
He was an avid art student and a jazz aficionado. While playing with bandleader         
Joey Greco, Criss ended up studying under his idol, Gene Krupa, at the Metropole       
Club in New York. This blossomed into an active musical career as he went on to         
play jazz and rock with a number of bands in New York and New Jersey throughout         
the 1960s.                                                                             
Criss was involved with a number of bands throughout the mid-to-late 1960s. In         
late 1960s, Criss joined Chelsea, who had a two-album deal with Decca Records.         
The group released a self-titled album in 1970. The group never recorded a             
second album, and in August 1971 became Lips (a trio consisting of Criss, as           
well as Chelsea bandmates Michael Benvenga and Stan Penridge). By the Spring of         
1973, Lips was just the duo of Criss and Penridge.                                     
After the demise of his band, Lips, Criss placed an ad in the East Coast edition       
of Rolling Stone, which read:                                                           
EXPD. ROCK & roll drummer looking for orig. grp. doing soft & hard music. Peter,       
Contrary to the story that has been recited by fans and by the band for years,         
there was never an ad placed that said "Drummer willing to do anything to make         
it." The ad was answered by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, who were looking             
for new members for their band, Wicked Lester. Ace Frehley was added to the             
lineup in December 1972, and the band was renamed Kiss later that month.               
Kiss released their self-titled debut in February of 1974. Throughout his Kiss         
career, Criss was lead vocalist on several notable songs including "Black               
Diamond", "Hard Luck Woman", and their breakthrough hit "Beth". Many of Criss'         
contributions to Kiss were written with the help of Stan Penridge, who was a           
bandmate of Criss' in Chelsea and Lips.                                                 
Peter Criss is referenced in an episode of the television show Family Guy, when         
Peter mentions to Lois that he suspected Lois was not a true Kiss fan when she         
dressed up as Peter Criss, stating "Nobody wants to be Peter Criss, not even           
Peter Criss."                                                                           
Criss is given co-writer credit for the ballad "Beth", which was a Top 10 #7 hit       
for Kiss in 1976. The song remains the highest charting song for Kiss in the USA       
and it earned them a People's Choice Award for "Young People's Favorite New Song"       
in 1977 which had tied with "Disco Duck". The song was written before Peter had         
joined Kiss, while he was in a band named Chelsea. Peter came up with the melody       
for the song while on a train to New York City from New Jersey where the band           
practiced. He and a fellow band member of Chelsea, guitarist Stan Penridge,             
wrote the song together. " Later, the two would form a band named Lips.                 
A bootleg exists of the song from 1971, but the song's title was "Beck", named         
after fellow band member, Mike Brand's wife, Becky who would call often during         
their practices to ask Mike when he was coming home. Years later, while in Kiss,       
both Bob Ezrin and Gene Simmons are credited for changing the song's title to, "Beth". 
The song was said to be a tribute to Criss' wife Lydia, and according to               
interviews with Peter, he had changed some of the lyrics to reflect some of             
Lydia's lamenting that she missed him while on tour, but the song originated           
years earlier with the band Chelsea.                                                   
Along with Beth, other songs he sang in Kiss were Black Diamond, Hard Luck Woman,       
Dirty Livin', Nothin' to Lose, Mainline, Strange Ways, Getaway, Baby Driver,           
Hooligan, Kissin' Time, and I Finally Found My Way, with only the first one             
being a live staple for every tour during his time with Kiss and Dirty Livin',         
Baby Driver, Hooligan and Beth being the only ones he co-wrote (Paul Stanley           
wrote Black Diamond, Hard Luck Woman, Mainline, and I Finally Found My Way) (Ace       
Frehley wrote Strange Ways and Getaway) (Gene Simmons wrote Nothin' to Lose).           
Criss struggled with drug abuse through many of the years he was in the band.           
Although he was always credited as drummer, 1977's Love Gun was the last Kiss           
album on which Criss played throughout.                                                 
On the 1979 release Dynasty, he played only on his own composition, "Dirty Livin'"     
and did not play at all on 1980's Unmasked. Anton Fig, now David Letterman's           
house drummer, was hired to play on both albums.