VINNIE VINCENT. Vinnie Vincent’s greatest claim to fame is that he was thefirst guitarist to replace original lead guitarist Ace Frehley in Kiss. Born Vincent Cusano, Vincent was given his stage name by Gene Simmons when Vincent joined the band in 1982.
Prior to joining Kiss, Vincent (as Cusano) had played in a variety of bands and done session work for Laura Nyro and Dan Hartman and had been a composer for the television show Happy Days. Meeting Kiss’s Gene Simmons through a mutual friend, Vincent was soon asked to contribute songwriting and lead parts on the band’s Creatures of the Night album when the band began experiencing problems with original guitarist Frehley. Once Frehley had exited the band, Vincent was asked to join. With “Ankh Warrior” face makeup (designed by Paul Stanley), Vincent joined the band for its tour in support of the Creatures album.
After the tour finished in 1983, Vincent joined the band for that year’s Lick It Up, for which the band took off their makeup. Vincent contributed songwriting on much of the album, which after a string of commercially disappointing albums became the band’s first in three years to go gold. Unfortunately, Vincent was unhappy about his salary with the band and departed before work on 1984’s Animalize began.
Landing on his feet, Vincent soon emerged with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, which released its eponymous debut in 1986. Featuring pop-oriented metal tunes and an over-the-top glam rock image, the band made something of a splash on MTV and released a second album, All Systems Go, in 1988. Shortly after the second release, Vincent’s bandmates, singer Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum, departed themselves to start their own band, Slaughter, and the invasion was over.
Vincent popped up again briefly in 1992, contributing writing to Kiss’s Revenge album, but by 1997 had filed suit against the band for alleged nonpayment of royalties. Little more has been heard from Vincent since, apart from occasional appearances at Kiss conventions during the 1990s, although he released Speedball Jamm in 2004, featuring informally recorded unaccompanied shredding.
Discography: Vinnie Vincent Invasion (Chrysalis, 1986); All Systems Go (Chrysalis, 1988); Speedball Jamm (Vinnie Vincent, 2004).