By Andrew Catania
Famous for his peculiar and quirky appearance, acclaimed for his virtuosic guitar playing skills, Vinnie Vincent is a name that you can love, or hate but cannot possibly ignore. This is the reason why the music world has not been able to forget the daredevil guitarist, even though it has been 20 years since he went missing in action.
The ‘Ankh Warrior’ of Kiss holds an impressive career to his claim that is heavily punctuated with accomplishments, as well as conspiracies. While his professional career that kick-started in the early 1970’s, and rocketed after joining Kiss, the conspiracies related to his personal life continue to meddle with his accomplishments. He’d go on-air blazing the stage with his fiery performance on one day and would be featured as a violent lunatic, who loved to starve his dogs to death, sell out his entire possessions, and was fond of domestic abuse on the other. With so much coming from his side to fuel the gossips, newsfeeds, his absence, escape or recluse (whatever the appropriate term may be) left the music sphere with countless questions, concerns, and doubts over his existence.
Vinnie Vincent will always be remembered for instilling a breath of fresh air in the presumed corpse of Kiss. Despite the arduous efforts of the original lineup, Kiss was somehow unable to make it to his expectations and was consistently losing its fandom. As a ray of hope, and the last resort, Kiss’s bassist Gene Simmons, who was friends with Vincent, invited him to compose lyrics and play as the lead guitarist for ‘Creatures of the Night’, an album that was still in the pipeline.
Circumstances took an unusual turn, and the departure of Kiss’s permanent lead guitarist, Frehley, paved way for Vincent to replace him in a permanent capacity. ‘Creature of the Night’ turned out to be a rocking hit for the band. ‘Lick it Up’, Kiss’s next album, also proved that Vincent had become the lifeline for the band. However, whether it had something to do with Vincent’s intimidating personality, his deviant behavior or some other disconnection that made Vincent an out of place piece in the band’s playing lineup, remains a mystery. Although it was because of him, that Kiss was picking up on its lost pace, after a couple of rifts with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, Vincent and Kiss eventually parted ways.
It was as if the clouds of misfortune had completely taken over Vincent’s life. He was not just unacceptable in the band but had similar unsettling ties with his business partners, record labels, fans and media reporters. He had been bombarded with multiple serious accusations over time, was alleged of heinous domestic crimes, and deprived of his due share of royalties. His fans too took great advantage of him and used his fame to excel with their shady motives. He was hired by a fan, to design his signature guitar, that was later titled VV Guitar and was widely sold, only to benefit the investor. While Vinnie Vincent didn’t pay him a cent for his contribution.
The fellow artisans never missed an opportunity to defame Vincent, with ridiculous yet critical accusations. He was accused of multiple cases of domestic abuse, and starving his dogs to death and had to suffer a humiliating media trial. What makes it more ironic, is that all accusations were revoked, and he came out as innocent and free of all charges. However, the humiliation he had already gone through, got the best of him, and Vinnie Vincent disappeared in the sands of time, leaving behind a deserted house in Tennessee, whose trashed condition speaks for the miseries he had suffered.
Vinnie Vincent reappeared on the news horizon in 2014, to auction his possessions and keepsakes. This is tragic to note, that the lead player who uplifted the struggling Kiss and eventually landed the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to completely rock the genre through the magic of his fingertips was so conveniently abandoned by his peers, partners, and fans alike.