Peter Criss Retires From KISS: Original Catman Is Going Out His Way

Victoria Miller

Peter Criss is kissing KISS goodbye. The co-founding drummer of the legendary glam rock band has announced he is retiring from the concert stage amid years of highs and lows with his former bandmates, according to the Associated Press. Criss was part of the original KISS foursome from 1973 through 1980, then reunited with his bandmates from 1996 to 2000.

Criss, who co-wrote and performed lead vocals on the 1976 KISS touring anthem "Beth" (the band's highest charting U.S. single of all time), says he wants to leave the stage while he is still "happy." The rock legend's final U.S. show was a VIP event at the small Manhattan club, The Cutting Room, where he played a mix of Kiss favorites, cover songs, and his own solo material.

Peter Criss told the AP that when he first hit the stage as a young musician in 1973, he wasn't even thinking about making money. Instead, the KISS legend said his goal was to just play the drums, meet girls, and travel the world. Peter did all that and more. The rock superstar says he has already traveled around the world 10 times in his life.

Back in the day, Peter Criss and KISS churned out hits like "Rock and Roll All Nite" and the ballad "Beth," but in more recent years, the founding members of the band made headlines for their long-awaited 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, where neither the original members or current lineup of the band ended up playing due to all of the bad blood between them. The band couldn't agree on which members deserved to be inducted. (For the record, Criss thinks the Rock Hall got it right by only inducting the original four: Him, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons.)

But Criss now admits he wanted to play with his KISS bandmates "so bad that night." And because he didn't get to end his time with KISS the way he wanted to, he's doing things on his own terms now.

"I didn't get to end my career the way I wanted to end it," Peter told the AP. "So now I'm doing it my way, kind of like Sinatra."

With his final U.S. show in the books, Peter Criss has not ruled out a handful of similar farewell gigs at intimate locales abroad, but for the most part, he plans to focus on other endeavors, including a jazz album, a children's' book, and a comedy screenplay. Earlier this year, Criss told the Aussie magazine Loud he plans to live his life after beating cancer and retiring from KISS.

"I've been working on a couple of books that I really want to finish," Peter told the magazine.

"I've been back to my art, so I've been painting again. … I have an album I've been sitting on for nine years now, a rock thing that I started before my cancer. I didn't really finish it, but all the music's done. And I feel I'm going to come home after my last show and I'm gonna finish it. Hopefully, it'll come out next year."