It’s been a long long time since anyone has heard a peep or seen a limb of the once legendary 80’s guitarist Vinnie Vincent. But this weekend at the Atlanta KISS convention in Georgia the man, myth and legend resurfaced to face pressing questions about where he’s been. Why he’s been secluded for so long. What his are plans now that he’s out of the coffin. And simply, if he’s alright.
First off it’s great to see him. And the hour plus long interview is really special. You know, he’s one of those guys that seems to understand that vulnerability equals strength. And he is strong. He bears his entire soul to the audience. Starting with his first days with KISS when he was a hired gun all the way through the mug shot that was seen around the world. And you know what? I believe him. And I certainly had no idea how much he struggled with life. Just life in general. Not drugs or alcoholism. It wasn’t that way for him, with exception of about two months of his life. I’ve concluded that it was simply one bullshit thing after another with him.
As far as I’m concerned, if the stories are true, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley took advantage of an excited and vulnerable musician who was new to a world that he’d only dreamed of. For crying out loud the guy SAVED KISS! He came in and did the impossible of convincingly replacing one of the most beloved guitar figures of all time. And what did Gene and Paul do the entire time the guy was writing for ‘Creatures of the Night’? Auditioned guitar player after guitar player right in front of him! Pulled his strings and tried to get as much out of him as possible for cheap. Meantime he and wife are driving a 1962 POS with no floor. And his wife is pregnant with twins. What assholes!
Of course, Vinnie Vincent is the mind behind the quality of ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick it Up’. And his collaborations on the ‘Revenge’ album are some of the strongest in all of the KISS catalog. Vinne co-wrote, ‘Killer’, ‘Rock and Roll Hell’ and ‘War Machine’ with Gene Simmons and ‘I Still Love You’ with Paul Stanley for the ‘Creatures’ album. Not to mention all the solos he contributed to the album on tracks such as ‘Keep Me Coming’. Finally, after the album was done they gave Vinnie a proper audition but sent him home. A few day later he was hired.
Pure KISS excellence. Thanks for the contribution Vinnie. Thanks for making Creatures of the Night so strong. By the way, as much as I love Ace, that should be Vinnie’s face on the cover. Ace didn’t play one note on the album.
Then the ‘Lick it Up’ era came. Ushering in a new era for KISS. And you know what? Out of all the line-ups the band had post original. This is the only one that actually feels like a band. The rest of the incarnations just feel like hired guns for the Gene and Paul show. But the ‘Lick it Up’ era is the one exception. Unfortunately, even though Paul and Gene officially hired Vinnie for the band, they were still taking huge advantage of a great talent. They only paid the man 550$ a week. And that’s with tour expenses added. So he’s taking home 550$ a week after taxes. He’s spending that on taking care of himself on the road and to support a wife who’s about to give birth to twin girls. For a first album a tour he understood that he had to pay his dues so he kept his mouth shut. But once the tour commenced he didn’t get anything. No raise. No nothing. And all the guy wants is a working car and some middle class home in an elementary school neighborhood. Not to live in Beverly Hills or Bel Aire. Just a simple, middle class life. And Gene and Paul couldn’t even give him that raise. This guy is the key figure in digging KISS out of the trenches. Remember, the two albums before he came into the band are ‘Unmasked and ‘The Elder’. The two lowest selling KISS albums in their entire catalog. And then he comes in and KISS releases two of their strongest albums. They go triple platinum again and are a top ten band again. And the Gene/Paul machine couldn’t even recognize that Vinnie was largely responsible for it.
I mean, go back and listen to ‘Lick it Up’. ‘Exciter’, ‘Fits Like a Glove’, ‘Young and Wasted’, ‘A Million to One’ and ‘Gimme More’ are all great old-school heavy metal songs. Those are Vinnie’s songs! And if you doubt his quality contributions just listen to the first Vinnie Vincent Invasion album. The first five songs on it are tracks that were to be on the next KISS album. But Vincent couldn’t sign a non-livable contract. So he departed after the ‘Lick it Up’ tour commenced. And it’s such a damn shame. And he knows it too. He knows the magic he created with KISS. He knows that he’s a great riff writer and soloist.
Excellent old school heavy metal.
Much better than anything KISS did in the late 80’s.
Yes, that’s the track that gave rise to Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum who would go on to form Slaughter. The last major successful band of the 80’s metal genre. But at that point Vinne had started a slow, downward spiral. Mostly due to a lawsuit against Paul and Gene and a horrendous marriage. And also the rumors. Sometimes, people have tons and tons of rumors that surround them. And Vinnie Vincent is one of those people. Maybe some of them are true. But I don’t believe for a second that he’s as much of an ego maniac as many of his peers claim. I think Vinnie is just real and that pissed off the industry. And if he was an ego maniac he certainly isn’t now. And he deserves to be heard and respected. Who knows. Maybe he’ll show up on the next KISS cruise.
Hell of a story. He needs to write a book. Honestly, it could be a great rock movie.