Remember When: KISS’ Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss Simultaneously Released Solo Albums in 1978

By 1978, KISS had released six albums and was one of the biggest bands in the world following Love Gun in 1977. On top of being exhausted from back-to-back albums and touring since releasing their self-titled debut in 1974, there were some rifts within the band, between drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, who were the band’s chief songwriters.

Criss—who wrote KISS’ biggest hit up until that point, “Beth,” which went to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured on the band’s 1976 album Destroyer—and Frehley wanted more of a voice in the band.

To help mend their differences, the band took a brief hiatus from making another KISS album to work on individual solo projects.

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Photo of KISS (l to r): Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons (Photo by Steve Morley/Redferns)

“Ace had first announced he wanted to leave the band,” wrote Stanley in his 2016 book Face the Music. “We held a band meeting on the lot where we were shooting the movie. In response, [manager] Bill [Aucoin] and [Casablanca Records owner] Neil [Bogart] had almost immediately hit on an idea to hold us together. ‘You don’t need to leave the band,’ Bill said. ‘We’ll do solo albums.’ That turned out to be our next folly.”

On September 18, 1978, Casablanca Records released the eponymous solo albums from each member of KISS—the Demon (Simmons), Starchild (Stanley), Catman (Criss), and Spaceman (Frehley)

[RELATED: January/February 2023 Legends Cover Story: KISS Forever and Ever]

Here’s a look back at each solo album, and the singles, released by KISS’ four original members.

Gene Simmons

Except for his closing cover of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for the 1940 Disney animated film Pinocchio, Simmons wrote all of the tracks on Gene Simmons, including the opening single “Radioactive.”

The track went to No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 and features Bob Seger and Aerosmith‘s Joe Perry. An earlier version of the track also featured a prelude performed by Janis Ian, which was later edited out.

[RELATED: 5 Songs You Didn’t Know Gene Simmons Wrote Solo for KISS]

In 2004, Simmons released his second solo album, A–Hole, but hasn’t released another since then.

Peter Criss

On Peter Criss’ self-titled album, the Catman wrote six of the 10 tracks—”Don’t You Let Me Down,” “That’s the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes,” “Easy Thing,” “Kiss the Girl Goodbye,” and
“Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll” along with the opening “I’m Gonna Love You.”

“My album reflected my musical taste,” Criss wrote in his 2012 autobiography Makeup to Breakup. “Motown-inspired R&B with horns and backup singers.”

Produced by Vini Poncia, who also worked on KISS’ Dynasty (1979) and Unmasked (1980) albums, Criss’ singles “Don’t You Let Me Down” and “You Matter to Me” failed to chart.

Criss released his fifth and final solo album, One for All, in 2007.

Paul Stanley

“Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We’re Apart)” was the only single released on Paul Stanley and peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the second most successful single from the four members after Frehley’s cover of “New York Groove.”

[RELATED: 4 Songs You Didn’t Know Kiss’ Paul Stanley Wrote for Other Artists]

Stanley released another solo album, Live to Win, in 2006, along with Now and Then with the Soul Station in 2021.

Ace Frehley

Of all the solo KISS albums in 1978, Frehley had the most success with his hit “New York Groove.” Written by British producer Russ Ballard, “New York Groove” was originally recorded by the glam rock band Hello in 1975 before Frehley covered it on his eponymous album.

Frehleys cover went to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The New York METS play “New York Groove” following their home game wins, while the New York Giants play Frehley’s version whenever they score touchdowns during home games.

Along with releasing two albums with his band Frehley’s Comet in the late 1980s and other collaborations, Frehley released seven more solo albums, including 10,000 Volts in 2024.

Photo: Fin Costello/Redferns

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