Former KISS Guitarist Says He Made Just $550 a Week in the Band

By Andrew Magnotta

January 22, 2018

Former KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent has emerged after more than 20 years out of public life, and he's ready to tell his story. 

Vincent, who was described by Eddie Trunk as a "somewhat mythical creature in the world of KISS" and the "Howard Hughes of rock music," was hired by KISS as a lead guitarist following the departure of Ace Frehley in 1982.

During a Q&A at this past weekend's Atlanta Kiss Expo, Vincent explained what led to his relationships with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley deteriorating. Like most things with KISS, it came down to money, and Simmons and Stanley's unwillingness to part with much of theirs.

"Even after [1983's] Lick It Up, the perception of it was that it was a big album, and I still felt, 'No matter what I do, they're just not gonna want me in this band,'" he told the expo. "And there was a contract they wanted me to sign. But I was bringing… My take-home pay was $550 a week, so I never made any money being in the band. From the beginning to the end, it was $550 a week; that's what they paid me. That was my take-home after taxes."

Vincent said he never signed the contract because KISS never agreed to increase his pay to a livable wage.

"I had a family," he continued. "I had twins that I didn't know I was gonna have, and there was no money to take care of them, and there was no money to buy a home. We were living with relatives, and I was on call 24 hours a day, which was okay — it was all okay. But I couldn't move on; there was no future."

Although Vincent left KISS on bad terms, the band brought him back to write songs for KISS' 1992 album, Revenge

But since the late-'90s, Vincent has been largely absent from public life with the exception of several lawsuits against KISS and his 2011 arrest, which was later expunged from public record.

"I spent 20 years in hell," he told Trunk. "The broad strokes...they could have been not so broad; they could have been quickly and really amicably, could have eliminated 20 years of pain."

Vincent says half of the issues he was dealing with stemmed from his legal battles with KISS, the rest from other factors including a tumultuous marriage. 

Following his divorce, he needed a quieter life, Vincent told Trunk. 

Nowadays, that's what he has and he's very happy, he says. 

"All I do is I play, I write, I record, I take care of my dogs. I have a really private, peaceful life now. And I haven't had that in a long time."

He even added that he bears no ill-will towards KISS. 

"These are guys I love. I love them to this day. I've got memories that are wonderful—most of them are! "

Listen to the full interview with Trunk below:

Watch Vincent's interview at the Atlanta KISS Expo below:

Thumbnail Photo: YouTube / Tim McPhate

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