Earlier this month at the Spooky Empire convention in Orlando, Florida — his second public appearance since emerging from seclusion — former KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent participated in a question-and-answer session. Footage can be viewed below (Q&A starts at the 5:41 mark). A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On the status of the “Vinnie Vincent Archives”, a nine-hour, six-cassette project announced in the late 1990s that was never released:
Vinnie: “Everybody still keeps asking me for it, and they keep misunderstanding what originally happened. At the time when I said, ‘I have all this material; I should let everyone hear it’ — this is going back just about 22 years ago — I made the mistake of, I had everything compiled, I had all the artwork done, I had the boxes made. I went broke putting it together, because I wanted everybody to have something nice. Then the lawsuit happened. [Editor’s note: Vincent initially sued KISS over royalties in July 1997.] Everything that happened to me was like a jet engine sucking me in, and [I] never came back out. It went into hibernation until now. All of this is going to be on that ‘Vinnie Vincent Archives’ — all the writing sessions from the ‘Revenge’ record, all the jam sessions I used to bring, all the rehearsals from ‘Creatures Of The Night’. God, there’s so many — ‘Creatures’, ‘Lick It Up’, we had all the early writing, where we’d have our guitars sitting around saying, ‘Well, how about this?’ It’s interesting for me because I would love to hear that. I would always love to think in my mind, ‘What would it be like to hear a tape of John Lennon and Paul McCartney writing ‘She Loves You’? Just to hear them writing, hear the process. That process, I used to record all the time, just to see if it sounded good to me. Never for anything more than that. But all the rehearsals with Eric [Carr] and Gene [Simmons] and myself… Gene, me and Eric used to record, used to jam a lot at rehearsal, and used to love to play [LED] ZEPPELIN and Jeff Beck songs. All of these were captured, and they were really great. In the middle of all that, Gene would sing some of the songs that we were working on for that time period. He’s my favorite bass player, and that really is the truth. I love the way he plays bass, so when he plays, I get electric shocks, so it makes me want to shock him back.”
On the movie title that best sums up his “trials and tribulations”:
Vinnie: “‘Midnight Express’. [Editor’s note: ‘Midnight Express’ is a 1978 prison drama written by Oliver Stone that was based on Billy Hayes‘s 1977 nonfiction book of the same name. The film’s title is slang for an inmate’s attempt to escape.] Anybody know that movie?”
Moderator: “That was the one with the guy who was locked in the prison.”
Vinnie: “That’s where I was. It was a very well-secured prison. [Laughs] There was that moment where he got out — do you remember that moment? You remember where he was losing his mind, and all that started to happen? You remember when everything was like, his parents would come and see him, and he would be behind the glass and couldn’t get out? There was that moment where [makes escape gesture]. I said, I know this scene. I know this moment. Coming back is… actually probably the most appreciation I have ever had for life is right at this moment right now. You really don’t know — at least, I never knew how precious this life here was that we’re all living, because I never thought about it. I kiss the ground I walk on every day, and that’s really the truth. I get to say the sky’s really blue, the grass is really green, everything smells so great, I got flowers on my table — real flowers, because I need all that sensory [stimulation]. It’s all sensory for me now. It used to be, but I wasn’t taking note of it until now. I really appreciate it, and seeing everyone come to see me, it’s just something I never thought I would love to see. I never thought anyone was out there.”
On his proudest accomplishment:
Vinnie: “I think the question is more not what [I accomplished], but that I did accomplish it. I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking to you guys and that all these beautiful people [tears up], you guys are here.”
Vinnie joined KISS in 1982, replacing Ace Frehley. As the “Ankh Warrior,” he toured with the group in support of “Creatures Of The Night”, on which he played lead guitar on six songs prior to becoming an official member of the band. From there, KISS wrote and released “Lick It Up” — their first album without makeup — in 1983, a recording on which Vincent co-wrote eight of 10 songs, including the title track, which remains a staple of the group’s live performances to this day.
Despite the album’s success, Vincent was fired by KISS after the “Lick It Up” touring cycle came to an end, allegedly due to a dispute over both the terms of his employment contract with the band and royalties. From there, Vincent founded VINNIE VINCENT INVASION, which recorded two albums.
In 1992, Vincent re-teamed with KISS principals Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to write three songs for their acclaimed album “Revenge”, including the record’s first two singles, “Unholy” and “I Just Wanna”. Their relationship quickly soured once again, however. Four years later, Vincent released a solo EP, “Euphoria”, which featured vocals by former VVI singer Fleischman and included material from sessions recorded around 1990. Soon after that, Vincent vanished from the public eye and remained off the grid for more than two decades.
In recent years, Vincent has been the subject of a number of rumors about his gender identity, including that he has been cross-dressing and that he has undergone a sex change.