KISS's longtime manager Doc McGhee says that he doesn't know if Ace Frehley and Peter Criss will take part in the iconic group's final concert.
KISS launched its farewell trek in January 2019 but was forced to put it on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"End Of The Road" was originally scheduled to conclude on July 17, 2021 in New York City but has since been extended to at least early 2023. The trek was announced in September 2018 following a KISS performance of the band's classic song "Detroit Rock City" on "America's Got Talent".
In the months after KISS announced "End Of The Road", fans wondered openly if original members Frehley (guitar) and Criss (drums) would be involved in the tour, especially considering the apparent recent goodwill between Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and Ace. Frehley's latest all-original album "Spaceman" — a title suggested by Simmons himself — features two songs the pair wrote together, and the duo completed a joint summer 2018 tour of Australia, after which Frehley fired his solo backing band and hired Simmons's.
In a new interview with VWMusic, McGhee was asked if Frehley and Peter will have any involvement in KISS's final concert. He responded: "Honestly, I don't know. You can invite them, but they may not come. They may come, they may not come, and we might not invite them. We've talked to them, and we've talked about it. Well, we don't talk to Peter, but we do talk to Ace. We haven't talked to Peter in a long time. But you know something? They were part of it, they aided in starting this band, and they should be part of the end of this. They started this, so in some way they should be able to share that spotlight on the way out. Now, regardless of if it happens or not, you're not going to get six guys up there in makeup. That's not going to happen."
McGhee previously talked about what KISS's final concert might look like during a question-and-answer session on the ninth annual "Kiss Kruise" in November 2019.
"We want to include everybody that played with KISS to celebrate the 45 years of KISS," he said at the time. "And everybody — Vinnie Vincent and everybody else — that [has] played with KISS is part of this whole celebration of 45 years. So, we're still looking at what we're gonna do on the final show of KISS."
McGhee went on to say that Frehley and Criss hadboth "been talked to" about participating in some form. But, he acknowledged, "It's pretty difficult. When people say, 'Oh, you should bring Ace and Peter up.' How do you do that when you have two Catmen and two Spacemen? So you say, 'Okay. You don't wear makeup and you wear makeup.' And then they [Ace and Peter] go, 'Well, that was my makeup.' I don't know. So it's real hard to do, but we'll figure it out because they're very much a part of the heritage of KISS. And they're acknowledged by Gene and Paul and everybody in this room as the founding members… So. it's important to you guys [and] it's important to us. It's just a matter of the balance and we can bring it where it works for everybody and everybody is having a great time."
In 2018, Frehley told VintageRock.com that "the only way" he would "seriously consider" taking part in "End Of The Road" is "if I took back my make-up and costume and my character — which I designed." He added that current KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer "is not a bad guitar player, but he basically just mimics everything I wrote, and tries to imitate my persona. He's been doing it for 15 years," he said. "But the reality is I'm the original guy. And nobody can really copy the way I play guitar."
Asked if he would still consider participating in the tour if Criss was not involved, Ace said: "I think it would be great if Peter was involved. Obviously, at this point in his life, he wouldn't be able to do a two-hour show. But I can see if we worked out a situation where Peter came out at the end and did three or four songs — sang 'Beth', did 'Black Diamond' and a couple of others, I think that would be fun."
Prior to the "End Of The Road" launch, Stanley and Simmons weren't very enthusiastic about the prospect of an onstage collaboration with Vinnie Vincent. "Now Vinnie, that's one exception, and for so many reasons," Stanley told Guitar World. "I would say that's not someone who I want to celebrate."
Simmons also chimed in, explaining that "it's worth stating that Vinnie has sued the band and lost 14 times. I'm not here to cast any aspersions. He's a talented guy. That's why he was in the band. But would I depend on him to get up onstage and do anything? Never. … Can he come to the shows? Of course! Anybody can. But onstage? Never."
KISS's current lineup consists of original members Simmons and Stanley, alongside later band additions, Thayer (since 2002) and drummer Eric Singer (on and off since 1991).
Formed in 1973 by Stanley, Simmons, Criss and Frehley, KISS staged its first "farewell" tour in 2000, the last to feature the group's original lineup.