Peter Criss Returns to Cadillac

Peter Criss Plays Cadillac in 1984


To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I was sitting in my easy chair when I got a call from Peter Criss. "I'm in Cadillac at some place called The Pines," he said. "Can you come over?" I was on my way in seconds!

As the story goes, Peter had taken a few years off after leaving KISS in 1980, but now he had another band and was touring small clubs. His tour bus happened to be heading up a highway in northern Michigan and he asked the driver if they were close to Cadillac. When the driver replied they were within 50 miles, Criss ordered a fast detour. They rolled into town and asked someone if there was a club that had live rock and roll music and were directed to The Pines. Peter found the owner and asked if there were any bands booked for that night and when he found out there wasn't anything on the docket he offered to do a show. The club's owner jumped at the chance and a hastily arranged concert was scheduled. The owner even printed a few makeshift posters and hurriedly posted them around town. 

Well, I met up with Peter that afternoon. His family was with him and they were all enjoying some pizza when I arrived. We had a great talk and, of course, I stayed for the show. Below is the full story as reported by the Detroit Free Press. -- Jim Neff




(July 30, 1984) --The last time Peter Criss was in Cadillac, Michigan he was a member of a wild, new band called KISS. Billing themselves as "the hottest band on earth," KISS came to Cadillac at the behest of the local high school football team which had taken up the theme of the "KISS defense" while fashioning seven wins in a row. The trip reaped a publicity bonanza which helped catapult the group into national prominence.

Recently, Criss was back in the small. northern Michigan community, this time with a new band, the Peter Criss Alliance. "Those were great days, great times," he said recalling his tenure with KISS. "But everything changes and we all go in new directions."

Criss left KISS in 1980, after a career which saw the group sell 40 million records. And Criss, himself, had personal success while with the heavy metal band, recording a solo album which went platinum and a gold single, "Beth".

After taking a few years off, Criss grew edgy to create some new music, and when long time associate Doc Pendrige, who had co-authored "Beth", suggested they team up on a project, Criss decided it was time to get back to work.

"I got tired of the make-up and the pressure, and in KISS there was always the frustration of not being able to do more of my own material," he said. "Now I'm out front singing and dancing and I can be more creative. I want to give the public something different; I don't want to be behind a drum kit anymore."

Criss' return to Cadillac came as a surprise even to him. Based out of Nashville, the Peter Criss Alliance needed to play some small clubs in smaller markets," to get the kinks out." Michigan has a good reputation for a testing ground. One of the best of the new out-state rock clubs is in Cadillac, The Pines Nightclub. In the past two years, The Pines has offered audiences a mix of bar bands, popular club headliners (like Normtandie, Oz, and Salem Witchcraft), and mini-concerts by semi-famous groups (such as Head East, Streets, and Black Oak Arkansas). Locals and tourists from Chicago. Detroit, and other cities, gives the club a unique blend of musical tastes.

The Alliance was booked into The Pines by accident, almost, but Criss was delighted. "I remember our last visit here. The people are great and the area is beautiful," he said. "It's nice to see old friends and see what everyone's been doing."

KISS had a reputation for showmanship, so the night the Alliance played found The Pines packed with an SRO crowd. Many of the people in the audience were in high school when KISS visited, so they formed a vanguard of Criss fans. Truthfully, though, they had no idea what to expect.

What they got was a stark departure from KISS-style metal. Criss and his new group blistered through a 9Ominute set and three encores of what might be labeled as part Mitch Ryder, part big city soul, part southern rock, and a ton of percussion. Backed by Pendridge on lead guitar, Mike Hutchins on guitar, Tony Crow on keyboards, Alan Woody on bass, and John Moss on drums, Criss revealed himself as an energetic front man with a gritty, throat-searing voice. And when he wasn't pulling watchers out of their seats with his vocals, he retreated into a maze of percussion instruments that added yet another dimension to the band’s diverse facets.

And if anyone was having more fun than Criss it would be hard to find him, continually clapping for the crowd, exchanging banter, giving high-fives, and responding to applause, Criss seemed to revel in his new role.

The Peter Criss Alliance was tight, right, and together on this night. With a record deal in the works and an album about written, it looks like Criss was again making his presence felt on the music scene.

"We'd love to be the band that breaks things wide open for Nashville rook and roll," he said.

Peter Criss Returns
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