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KISS’ Paul Stanley + Former Drummer Peter Criss Debate Who Wrote the Hit Single ‘Beth’

KISS
Brenda Chase, Getty Images

Though KISS have cranked out their fair share of hard rocking anthems over the years, the band’s 1976 ballad ‘Beth’ remains the highest charting song of their career. Drummer Peter Criss is often credited with the songwriting for the track, but he and Paul Stanley have different accounts as to how the track came about.

In a new Rolling Stone cover story, Stanley claims that Criss had little to do with its creation, explaining, “Peter can’t write a song, because Peter doesn’t play an instrument. [Stan] Penridge came up with ‘Beth, I hear you calling …’ Peter had nothing to do with it, because if you write one hit song, you should be able to write two. That’s the reality. Devastating? It’s the truth. It was a lifeline that Peter hung on to validate himself, but it wasn’t based on reality.”

Of course, Criss had a different take after hearing Stanley’s comments. “Paul is so full of f—ing s–t,” says Criss. “Cause as a lead singer of the band he never got to write the hit. That’s his problem. They hated the fact that I wrote a hit record and won a People’s Choice.”

Producer Bob Ezrin, who worked on the album, added, “I don’t think that I can break this tie. I wasn’t there when he was working with that co-writer.”

Criss says it’s just the latest disrespect he’s endured from KISS’ long-standing members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, adding that they never went out of their way to welcome him in the group. “If you’re going to treat me like I’m a piece of dirt, then I’m going to be mean,” says Criss. “And I would have to pull that out of my bag of tricks ’cause I didn’t go to college. I didn’t have the knowledge they had. And they would use that constantly, use words I didn’t understand. I’m a kid from Brooklyn. I’m not the smartest bulb in the band. They would literally embarrass me in front of people. You can only take so much of that after a while.”

The drummer says that it hurts to know that current KISS drummer Eric Singer has sung the track, adding, “How much more can you slap me? How hard do you want to hit me? It’s my baby — no one sings it like me. And I said to [my wife] Gigi, ‘You know what, it’s like the Lone Ranger: You can take his mask off and put it on another guy, but it’ll never be Clayton Moore.’”

To read more of Rolling Stone’s in-depth interview with KISS, check out the cover story here.

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