Peter Criss: KISS’s Renowned Drummer

By vicky684 Wednesday 24th of July 2024

Peter Criss was born George Peter John Criscuola on December 20, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a lively neighborhood filled with jazz and rock ‘n’ roll music. At a young age, he already developed an interest for music because of his father’s love for big bands and the local jazz drummers that he looked up to. His fascination for percussion was obvious even then as he would often practice on makeshift drum kits before owning his first real set.

The Road to KISS

During the late 1960s, Peter played with different bands where he refined his skills while waiting for the right opportunity to come along. In 1972, he got his lucky break after placing an advertisement on Rolling Stone magazine looking for a group that shares the same style as him. This ad led him to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley who were forming a new band with an unusual theatrical twist. What impressed Simmons and Stanley about Criss was not only his powerful drumming but also his unique voice which eventually secured him the position as their drummer in what would soon be known as KISS.

Rise to Fame with KISS

KISS earned quick recognition for their over-the-top stage shows featuring fireworks displays, makeup designs and costumes among other things. Peter Criss contributed greatly to this image through his “Catman” persona characterized by feline makeup coupled with wild drumming antics during performances. The band released their debut self-titled album in 1974 but it was through live shows where they truly made their mark. It is during these concerts that audiences witnessed their energy levels firsthand hence prompting them to release “Alive!” (1975) which became their breakthrough record.

“Beth” and Mainstream Success

Among Peter Criss’ most notable contributions to KISS is the ballad “Beth” featured in their 1976 album “Destroyer.” This track showcased his vocal abilities and turned out to be one of the band’s biggest hits peaking at number seven on Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Beth” marked a departure from their hard rock sound thus showing versatility that helped attract wider audience base for them.

Turbulent Times and Departure

However successful they were, discord started creeping into KISS towards late 1970s. Substance abuse problems plagued Criss leading to compromised performances and strained relations among other members. By 1980 when “Unmasked” was released, he had already left the group which served as turning points for both his career and that of the band who went through several drummers over subsequent years.

Solo Career and Reunions

While still an active member of KISS, Peter Criss launched his solo career with a self-titled album in 1978. Further albums followed such as “Out Of Control” (1980) and “Let Me Rock You” (1982) after parting ways with the outfit. Although these individual efforts failed to match KISS’ level of success; However, he never stopped performing or recording music instead stayed true to his rock roots all along.

In mid-90s there was a reunion where original members including Criss united for series tours/albums which gained new attention towards band once again. The ‘Catman’ image was reintroduced during this period exposing it to another generation fans. The ‘Alive/Worldwide Tour’ held between 1996-97 proved particularly successful highlighting enduring appeal behind KISS’s founding line-up members

Heritage and Control

The impact that Peter Criss has left on rock music is not limited to his tenure with KISS. As a drummer, he was known for playing loudly and energetically, as well as fusing rock with jazz elements. The band’s sound was defined by the work they did together and in the process set a new standard for live performances in this genre of music. The character of Criss’ “Catman” may be one of the most famous images in theatrical rock ‘n roll history, symbolizing larger than life personalities like those found on stages where KISS performed.

Personal Life and Autobiography

Beyond his career in music Peter Criss openly discussed personal highs and lows throughout life. Substance abuse problems were admitted freely along with what it took to get clean again which happened after hitting bottom more than once. In 2012 came out his memoir called "Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS" which gave readers an inside perspective about what it is really like being him both onstage as well as offstage while also becoming very successful book among fans who wanted more than just surface information about their favorite band member.

Charity Work & Advocacy

Peter Criss contributed heavily towards several different charities but mainly focused efforts towards raising awareness for breast cancer related issues; especially since he himself battled this disease back in 2008 when diagnosed with men having such cancers isn't common knowledge yet so there needs still some education done around it too according him . With using fame voiceboxes like interviews TV appearances etc., his work became important part within history books which showed people cared enough not only share wealth but time also further better society through these philanthropic means.

Last Performances / Retirement

“Catman” “Peter officially ended touring,” , marking end era After having performed farewell concerts filled mostly classic songs from periods spent together band mates alongside some solo tracks while thanking all their loyal supporters who had stuck around throughout years. Peter may have exited stage right but that hasn't stopped others recognizing his huge impact upon music generes such as rock where he remains legend admired by fans both old new alike.


Peter Criss’ journey from a young boy in Brooklyn to being the drummer of KISS is one that shows talent, perseverance and passion for what you love can take anyone anywhere they want it too! He will always be remembered not only as an amazing musician but also as someone who changed rock history forever with his contributions both within this band and during solo career afterwards. There were many obstacles faced along way but these never deterred him from pushing forward because without them there would be no achievements made; so even though ‘the cat man’ has retired we know that people like him are far between – which means more will come after us!

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