Kiss Eyeing Live Finale As Members Keep Busy

Members of the Kiss Army can rest assured: bassist Gene Simmons says the band's seemingly never-ending farewell tour is far from over. Despite a recent shake-up in the band's line-up, Simmons said las

Members of the Kiss Army can rest assured: bassist Gene Simmons says the band's seemingly never-ending farewell tour is far from over. Despite a recent shake-up in the band's line-up, Simmons said last week that Kiss has "yet to go to South America, we haven't done Europe, Asia. We haven't done Africa. And clearly this is not the right time to go. So we're taking a rest."

Drummer Peter Criss left the group earlier this year after an apparent squabble over money. The band's pre-reunion skinsman, Eric Singer, who was with Kiss originally from 1991 to 1996, filled in for shows in Japan and Australia. "Although I feel fine about [Peter], we just couldn't make a deal," Simmons says. "So, since Kiss -- [guitarist] Paul [Stanley] and myself -- owned all the underlying rights, we decided one guy's not gonna hold up the band from doing what it wants to do."

In an interview with Billboard, Simmons hinted at a grand finale in the U.S. "We're going to pick one special place, one special time to finally get up there and say goodbye for the last time," he said. Indeed, in his forthcoming autobiography, "Kiss and Make-Up," due in early December from Crown/Random House, Simmons all but gives ticket information for a finale at Shea Stadium in New York.

The very first line in "Kiss and Make-Up" reads, "Someday soon, just after the final chords of 'Rock and Roll All Night' will ring out on the Shea Stadium stage, I will pick up my bass and exit stage right. After 29-nine glorious and tumultuous years..."

However, a representative at the band's management office says that it's way too early to say where Kiss will end things for good, adding that New York is on the top of places being considered, but that other cities, including Detroit, are also in the running

Speaking to Billboard last week, guitarist Ace Frehley says the band's line-up is still somewhat up in the air. On the possibility of Criss rejoining the band for the tour's final leg, he said, "Who knows? Anything could happen. Eric's a great drummer. Peter's a great drummer. We're all part of the same family."

In the meantime, there's a slew of Kiss-related merchandise and happenings on the horizon. Most notable is the long-awaited Kiss boxed set, due Nov. 20. The five-disc sets spans the band's entire career -- make-up, hair, "MTV Unplugged," and post-reunion -- and even includes various pre-Kiss recordings by, among others, Wicked Lester, which featured Simmons and Stanley.

Simmons is also set to host a Court TV special entitled "The Secret History of Rock and Roll" on Dec. 4. The show includes interviews with founding Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler (on his ousting from the band, Ronnie Spector (on her relationship with her husband/producer Phil Spector), and also covers Charles Manson's connections to the music industry, Suge Knight and Death Row Records, and Ricky Martin and Menudo's connection to the Menendez trial of the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Frehley is setting his sights on a new solo album and a Nov. 28 New York benefit concert for the families of firefighters and policemen who died in the World Trade Center disaster. At the show, he will play with the band he was working with prior to the 1996 Kiss reunion -- guitarist Richie Scarlet, bassist Karl Cochran, and drummer Steve "Budgie" Warner -- alongside the recently reunited Twister Sister, former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, Anthrax, and Overkill.

A native New Yorker who grew up about 10 blocks from Yankee Stadium, Frehley said his participation in the event came about through a recent conversation he had with WNEW DJ Eddie Trunk, who is to host the show with New York Mets catcher and metal fan Mike Piazza. Trunk, who was a VP at Megaforce Records when Frehley was signed to the label, hosts a Saturday night heavy metal show that Frehley has also hosted in the past.

"Basically, I called him one night when he was on the air and we were just joking around live," Frehley said. "And then he took me off the air, and we were talking about the tragedy and I was telling him I was thinking of putting an 'Ace Frehley and Friends' concert together and he told me about the show he was hosting."

"All the guys in my band that I was working with prior to the reunion tour are around and available, so I figured we'd take part in the festivities and raise some money for our fallen firefighters and policeman," he continued. "New York has given me the life, you know, and this gives me the chance to give something back."

He said work should be complete in about a month on a new studio in his upstate New York home, after which he plans to continue work on his next solo set. Frehley has already recorded two albums worth of material for the project, which he says could see daylight this spring.

On the future of Kiss, Frehley said, "it's been an interesting ride. And I don't have many regrets. We've had our ups and downs, we've all made our mistakes. And, you know, who knows what the future will bring? For years and years, Paul and Gene said that there would never be a reunion tour; that they would never put the make-up back on. But, obviously, that changed in '96. I love playing with Kiss. I love getting up there and putting on that show."