When Peter Criss defends Peter Criss

Book reviews


Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS, Peter Criss, Simons and Shuster, 2012.


 It took years until it saw the light of day, but it’s here in the form of Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS. In 2012, original KISS drummer Peter Criss released the autobiography that he had been promising the world for what literally decades. I used to kid around with people that it was Peter’s Chinese Democracy, but even that came out four years before his autobiography did.

KISS fans are attached to each of the original members and the individual personas they portrayed, but when I was a kid I wanted to be Peter Criss. He was the reason I began to play drums and when me and my friends put on the KISS makeup for Halloween I was Peter.

You cannot deny that Peter was an original member and was a part of what made KISS and what made the band special, his jazzy drumming style, his voice; he was an important part of what made KISS the band the it became.

I was glad to see that his book was finally released, Paul’s book was excellent, Gene’s and Ace’s books are good reads, but you get a sense that just scratch the surface (Gene’s first book is largely about himself, his second business and Ace’s book he seems to have forgotten things and skims through years towards the second half).

Peter Crisscuola, I knew, would be honest to write it all down; the good, the bad, the madness and he’s not shy about his drug addictions, his near suicide in 1994, depression, battles with cancer, even his band members (I think this may be the final nail on the coffin for any fans that still had hopes of seeing the original four reunite once more).

The first chapter already sets into the some of the madness in Criss’ life. The book starts in 1994 when an earthquake destroyed everything he owned and he was about to pull the trigger on his life. It’s a rather dark chapter to start the book with but it’s good in that it makes you want to read the book and find out all you can.

I loved the part about recording Destroyer and how demanding producer Bob Ezrin was, out of all the books that have come out on the band Peter goes into the details and things that aren’t as talked about.

He sheds insight on the money he made, how much money KISS made. Peter is very vocal and I was captivated to read his thoughts from about 1978-80 when he was about to leave the band and it was clear that they were not longer a unit (he wasn’t fond of Love Gun either turns out).

He was against doing the KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park ’78 made for TV movie and the way he recalls it he was really direct about it too and thought it wasn’t KISS anymore and hated doing it.

Same with the Dynasty album in 1979 with “I Was Made For Loving You” going disco even though he didn’t play on that album except for his one contribution. I think he sums it up best when he said,”To me KISS was a Rock and Roll band and we had become a kiddies band, a circus and it became about the merchandise and not the music, I was in for the music from the beginning man”. I think that echoes some of the KISS Army’s feelings too.

I love how he doesn’t hide his feelings on KISS, the band members, producers or anyone else. When he talks about why he quit the band you understand it more, why he decided to leave and the events that pushed him to do it. His feelings about KISS now are clear as well and he really doesn’t like Tommy Thayer. He’s vocal about decisions that were made and what some band members did and tells it all like it was.

The book is not just about KISS, there’s a lot about Peter himself. His personality comes through when talks about his solo career and the bands he played with, his near-suicide and more recently, his battle with breast cancer.

There were a lot of things I didn’t know or had only read about without any real insight. His wives, his going to basically an asylum, his near comeback to KISS in 1980, suicide attempt and so on. I loved reading about Peter’s childhood and growing up, playing clubs before KISS, his attempt at a solo career, the reunion with KISS up until the present day. It’s all covered in Makeup to Breakup, make no mistake.

Sometimes it’s easy to see how fragile and emotional Peter could be. Deep down, the cat is surprisingly sensitive. Yet with all the stories he tells, he really was the original Tommy Lee in a sense, there’s a lot of immature fun and stuff that will make you go “what?”. There’s swear words throughout but then again its rock and roll and sometimes it can be offensive.

The most interesting parts of the book may very well be the dirt on Gene, Paul and Ace. I don’t think anyone would be surprised by what Peter had to say on Gene. Ace’s is a bit more surprising and I’m sure he wouldn’t be happy to know some of the things that were included about his subject in the book even though they’re more goofy than anything else. The worst though, is definitely Paul and Peter tells it all, how he used to see shrinks and talk to them on the phone every day, his sexuality, certain physical aspects and things that he did (particularly funny and exaggerated during the KISS/Aerosmith tour).

What made me respect Peter’s decision to make this book was that he intended to reveal all the behind the scenes about KISS and he had no problem telling this as they were. He gives credit where credit is due as he talks a lot about Bill Aucoin and Sean Delaney, the tour guys and acknowledges whoever did what. At one given point Peter says that Gene and Paul like to take credit for certain things while it was others who came up with the ideas, or mess with “KISStory” as he puts it.

Peter is utterly honest about touring, his wives, the sex, drugs and all the crazy things he did. He tells all about growing up, his family and personal things really. Sometimes you don’t even want to know some of these stories in the book because it’s plain filthy and immature, but this is Rock and Roll and Criss’book is a wild ride.Peter’s book was well put together and comes across as honest and very readable.

I know he was known for exaggerating sometimes and crying wolf, even he acknowledges that, but he doesn’t try to make himself or anyone come off as angels or any better than anyone else. Makeup to Breakup is a great read for anyone who is or was a KISS fan, Criss’book does the best job of telling it like it really was and goes into things that other KISS books do not which would make it required reading for the die-hard.

I have a lot of admiration for Criss putting this book out slamming himself, his bandmates, the decisions they made. An entertaining book and a solid read, it delivers and informs certainly answered some questions I had and others I didn’t have. 4.5/5.











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