Book Review: The Ties That Bind

Rock & Roll books, bound but ungagged

The Ties That Bind

Makeup to Breakup: My Life in and Out of Kiss

by Peter Criss, with Larry "Ratso" Sloman
Scribner, 384 pp., $26

Degenerate rock star chronicles, beginning with Tony Sanchez's artless Up and Down With the Rolling Stones in 1979 and Stephen Davis' equally poetic Led Zeppelin "saga" Hammer of the Gods six years later, bottomed out a decade ago with Mötley Crüe's The Dirt. Kiss drummer Peter "Catman" Criss' autobiography Makeup to Breakup joins them in demanding at least a shower upon completion if not a full-on skin peel. Making bandmate Ace Frehely's memoir last year read like it came off a cereal box, Criss' peak-to-bottomless-pit tale arcs similarly – Brooklyn-born high school dropout née Criscuola and his three bandmates rake in $24 million between 1976 and 1978 alone – but does so with all the Catholic guilt, self-loathing, and self-awareness of a repentant priest. No boulders go unturned ("Paul [Stanley's] sexuality became a topic of speculation even for us guys in the band"), and Gene Krupa, Alice Cooper, and Tupac Shakur all make cameos. Cocaine psychosis, rehab, carjackings – Criss survived it all. Fortunately for him, so does his cat scratch fever vocal on Kiss indelible "Black Diamond."

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Peter Criss, gift guide 2012, Kiss

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