Kiss have denied suggestions from anonymous members of their own road crew that lax Covid-19 protocols on their American tour played a part in the Coronavirus-related death of long-time guitar tech Francis Stueber.
Paul Stanley’s guitar tech for 20 years, 53-year-old, father of three Stueber passed away on October 17 in his hotel room in Detroit two days after being quarantined following a positive test for the virus. Stanley paid tribute to his “dear friend” on social media, writing “Both on and offstage I depended on him for so much.”
My dear friend, buddy and guitar tech for 20 years, Fran Stueber died yesterday suddenly of Covid. Both on and offstage I depended on him for so much. My family loved him as did I. He was so proud of his wife and 3 boys as they were of him. I’m numb. pic.twitter.com/RvwUGpFt0XOctober 17, 2021
“We are profoundly heartbroken at the loss of Francis, he was a friend and colleague of 20 years, there is no way to replace him,” the band told Rolling Stone in a statement. “Millions of people have lost someone special to this horrific virus and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Please protect yourself and your loved ones.”
On October 20, however, Rolling Stone reported a claim from anonymous members of the band’s road crew that lax, “unsafe” Covid protocols played a part in Stueber’s death. In the story, published under the heading, Couldn’t Believe How Unsafe It Was’: Kiss’ Roadies Blame Lax Covid Protocols for Guitar Tech’s Death one crew member is quoted as saying: “Every day during the shows, we weren’t tested. And there are so many unknowns. Did we superspread this, did we spread this thing from city to city? It’s horrible that Fran passed, and it’s horrible if this is our protocol just for us to tour. Is this going to be the normal, to stick someone in a hotel and if somebody dies, ‘Oh, well, off to the next guy?’
"I couldn't believe how unsafe it was, and that we were still going. We'd been frustrated for weeks, and by the time Fran died, I just thought, 'You have to be fucking kidding me.'”
Though Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons also tested positive during the tour, back in August, In a statement, Kiss rejected the suggestion that their touring environment was unsafe.
“Our End of the Road World Tour absolutely had Covid safety protocols in place that met, but most often exceeded, federal, state, and local guidelines,” the band say. “But ultimately this is still a global pandemic and there is simply no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk.”
“While the protocols were in place for the tour, it was impossible to police the crew minute by minute of their lives,” the band added. “If certain crew chose to go out to dinner on a day off, or have beers at a local bar after the show, and did so without a mask or without following protocols, there is little that anyone can do to stop that. Particularly when many of our tour markets did not have any state or local mask mandates in place.”
“We are now aware there were crew members who attempted to conceal signs of illness, and when it was discovered, refused medical attention,” they added. “Furthermore, it has recently been brought to our attention that certain crew members may have provided fake vaccination cards which, if true, we find morally reprehensible (as well as illegal), putting the entire tour in harm’s way.”
One crew member who wishes to remain anonymous painted a less sanitary picture for Rolling Stone, however.
“Out of greed, we watched our friend die day after day” he said. “And nobody did anything.”