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The four original members of KISS — guitarist and vocalist Paul Stanley, bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons, guitarist Ace Frehley, and drummer Peter Criss – will attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony April 10 at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York, along with ex-guitarist Bruce Kulick (who played with the band from 1984 to 1996) and the current KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. But don't expect any of them to rock and roll all night together — not that Simmons and Stanley didn't originally want to.
"We volunteered to bring our 'Monster' stage for us to play with Tommy and Eric, and then for us to bring on Ace and Peter," Stanley tells Yahoo Music. "We were told [by the Rock Hall] that was a 'non-starter.' That was the quote that started to irk me more than anything, because I don't want to be told by a pencil-pusher what a 'non-starter' is, when I'm the person that has been playing the guitar."
The roots of Stanley's grievance go deeper than a basic disinterest in performing onstage with former band members. As the mob would say, it comes down to respect. According to Paul, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has fought KISS's entrance into its elite organization since the band was first eligible 15 years ago. In February, KISS will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut.
"The reason we're not playing [at all] is because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is [co-founders] Jann Wenner, Dave Marsh, and Jon Landau's private boys' club," Stanley says. "Why don't they just call it 'Jann's Rock Club'? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is supposed to reflect the people, and the people clearly don't even know half the people who have been inducted into this organization. This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has never wanted us and is reluctantly taking us because they look foolish [for excluding KISS for so long]. I think you have some people running this little club who have a slightly distorted and inflated opinion of who they are, because they still felt they were going to call the shots. So now, they have a big hall to have a party in, and not a whole lot of people have bought tickets to go."
Some have suggested that if the original KISS lineup reunited for a performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, it would whet their fans' appetites for more, and then Stanley and Simmons would be faced with the difficult decision of continuing with their current lineup or launching another original band reunion.
"I think that came from somebody in the band who's engaging in wishful thinking," Stanley says of that speculation. "That's neither the case, nor ever going to happen. And yet, mind you, that same person has not been shy about calling to come back."
In the end, Stanley says he will attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to celebrate the devotion of KISS fans who have waited more than a decade to see KISS enter the Hall. But he stresses that he still has little respect for the organization or his original bandmates.
"I'm not in a position where I have to bend to anybody at this point," he says. "I've never quit the band once, let alone twice. I've been here 40 years. The rules get made here. I've survived this long, with or without Jann's club, and will continue. So we go onward, and I will celebrate this induction with Ace and Peter for the fans, and I see it as a celebration of 40 years of the band. Everyone else can see it however they want to."