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LEGENDARY founding KISS drummer Peter “Catman” Criss has lived an incredible life in music, from the streets of Brooklyn to the social clubs of New York City to the ultimate heights of rock ’n’ roll success and excess.
KISS formed in 1973 and broke new ground with their elaborate makeup, live theatrics, and powerful sound. The band emerged as one of the most iconic hard rock acts in music history. Peter Criss, the Catman, was the heartbeat of the group. From an elevated perch on his pyrotechnic drum riser, he had a unique vantage point on the greatest rock show of all time, with the KISS Army looking back at him night after night.
Peter Criscuola had come a long way from the homemade drum set he pounded on nonstop as a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the fifties. He endured lean years, street violence, and the rollercoaster music scene of the sixties, but he always knew he’d make it. Makeup to Breakup is Peter Criss’s eye-opening journey from the pledge to his ma that he’d one day play Madison Square Garden to doing just that. He conquered the rock world—composing and singing his band’s all-time biggest hit, “Beth” (1976)—but he also faced the perils of stardom and his own mortality, including drug abuse, treatment in 1982, near-suicides, two broken marriages, and a hard-won battle with breast cancer.
Criss opens up with a level of honesty and emotion previously unseen in any musician’s memoir. Makeup to Breakup is the definitive and heartfelt account of one of rock’s most iconic figures, and the importance of faith and family. Rock ’n’ roll has been chronicled many times, but never quite like this.
Criss, the original drummer of Kiss and the third member of the band to pen a memoir, delivers an entertaining autobiography written with Sloman, who coauthored Scar Tissue, the memoir by Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis. But while bass player Gene Simmons (KISS and Make Up) focused on the sex and lead guitarist Ace Frehley (No Regrets) detailed the drugs, the appealing part of Criss's account is that he keeps the focus on the rock and roll, which results in the best and most honest account of Kiss craziness during the band's heyday in the 1970s. Criss recounts the various tactics used by Simmons and guitarist Paul Stanley to manipulate him and Frehley to achieve "the power that Gene and Paul always seemed to want to wield" and which led to Criss's 1979 departure from the band. But the book's most interesting section explores Criss's early life as a street punk turned hardcore jazz fan in the 1960s; this may be the first time the name Thelonious Monk has appeared in a book on Kiss.