Who’s Played the Most Kiss Shows? Lead Guitar and Drummer Totals
Since their first show in 1973, Kiss have performed using nine different lineups, featuring five lead guitarists and three different drummers. With the band set to call it quits after its upcoming End of the Road farewell tour, we're taking a look at who, so far, has played the most shows alongside mainstays Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley over the years.
Even though current Spaceman Tommy Thayer is now the band's longest-tenured lead guitarist (with nearly 17 years of service dating back to 2002), founding member Ace Frehley (1973-82, 1996-2002) still has a sizable lead in terms of shows played, with more than 1,000. This makes sense when you consider that Frehley was there from the band's barnstorming early club tours through the height of their '70s arena-rock stardom, and then returned two decades later for the massive reunion and first Farewell tours.
Thayer is second with an estimated 650 shows. If, as suggested, the End of the Road tour lasts three years, it's possible he could overtake Frehley. Twelve-year non-makeup veteran Bruce Kulick is third with a little more than 600 shows, dating from the tour in support of 1984's Animalize all the way through 1995.
Frehley's first replacement, Vinnie Vincent (1982-84), comes in fourth with 149 shows from the Creatures of the Night and Lick It Up tours. His successor, the late Mark St. John (1984), was forced off the road and out of the band by an arthritic condition after performing just three shows.
The founding member, in this case Peter Criss (1973–80, 1996–2001, 2002–04), again has the edge here with more than 1,000 shows. The original Catman left Kiss for the first time two years before Frehley, and even departed the original lineup's farewell tour shortly before its scheduled end. But he returned for a third stint a year later and ended up edging out the guitarist by a couple dozen shows. He's followed by current drummer Eric Singer (1991–96, 2001−02, 2004–present), who, in three stints and with more than 700 shows, has played with the band both with and without makeup. He's got a better, but still distant, chance at taking the lead than Thayer does, depending on the length of the End of the Road tour.
Criss' first replacement, Eric Carr (1980-91), was the first of two non-original Kiss members to get his own makeup design -- Vincent was the second and last -- and remained with the group long past its unmasking, performing more than 650 shows before his death in 1991.
Since they've never left the group, founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have played more than twice as many Kiss shows as former bandmates Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. The only thing separating the duo's individual concert counts is a 2007 incident where Stanley suddenly suffered a "rapid heartbeat condition" just before a show. He was hospitalized, and the band performed without him for the first time ever. (Bicep surgery also forced him to miss a private four-song charity performance in 2016.)