Gene Simmons last night hailed the original lineup of Kiss as the "fantastic four" during their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
And Paul Stanley took the opportunity to slam event bosses from their own stage, calling for more people power in the choosing of artists to receive the honour.
Relationships between the two mainmen and ex-colleagues Ace Frehley and Peter Criss had come under additional pressure in the run-up to the ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Simmons and Stanley refused to allow any lineup to perform after Rock Hall bosses tried to enforce a reunion. Stanley even accused his estranged bandmates of being anti-Semitic earlier this week.
But all differences were put aside when – following an induction speech by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello – Stanley, Simmons, Frehley and Criss took the stage together and briefly embraced.
A passionate crowd alternately offered vocal support and catcalls during their speeches. Simmons said: “We are humbled. This is a proud moment for us all. Four knuckleheads 40 years ago got together and decided to put together the band we never saw on stage, critics be damned.
“Ace Frehley, whose iconic guitar playing has been limited but never equalled by generations of players around the world. Peter Criss, whose drumming and singing – there’s not a guy who beats him. Nobody’s got that swing or that style. Paul Stanley is the brother I never knew I had. You couldn’t ask for someone so awesome.”
He namechecked late members Eric Carr and Mark St John and thanked Vinny Vincent and Bruce Kulick, then added: “Here we are 40 years later with the great Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer – however, we wouldn’t be here today without the original fantastic four.”
Drummer Criss thanked everyone from crew to management who’d helped with the band’s four-decade “good times and hard times” before adding: “I’d like to congratulate Mr Stanley, Mr Simmons and the one and only Spaceman, Ace Frehley.”
He added: “In and out of makeup I’ll always be the Catman. You’ve got to forgive to live – it’s very important. I will remember this for the rest of my life.”
Guitarist Frehley admitted he’d come without prescription glasses and so he couldn’t read the speech he’d written. Instead he told the crowd: “I want to thank Paul, Gene and Peter. When I was 13 and I picked up my first guitar I always sensed I was going to be in something big. A few years later, there it was – I experienced the Summer of Love. That was before I met these clowns. Several years later we got together and you know the story. Life’s been good to me and hopefully I’ve got another 10 or 20 years to go.”
He touched on the fact that, although he’s been sober for nearly eight years, he’ll never be cured of his alcoholism, saying it was important to educate people to understand the problem is not one of willpower. He cited a quote his sponsor used to use: “Try using willpower when you have diarrhoea.”
Stanley was the last to speak, starting with the admission he wouldn’t manage to be as funny as the others. He continued: “We are the original foursome and everything we’ve done is built on the past. For us this is a special night – but it’s really a special night for our fans. It’s a vindication. We couldn’t have done this without you.
“I believe the spirit of rock’n’roll means you follow your own path regardless of your critics and of your peers. I think we’ve done that for 40 years. Here we are tonight, basically inducted for the same things we were kept out for.
“The people are speaking to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and they’re saying they want more. They want to be part of the induction, they want to be part of the nomination. They don’t want to be spoon-fed by a handful of people. The people pay for tickets, the people buy albums. The people who nominate do not.
“I’m here tonight because of the people who inspired me, and because of the people I inspired. God bless you all – it’s a wonderful night.”
During the evening Bruce Springsteen inducted the E Street Band and Coldplay’s Chris Martin inducted Peter Gabriel. The surviving members of Nirvana celebrated their honour by performing with Joan Jett, Annie Clark, Lorde and Kim Gordon. Linda Ronstadt was represented by Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Emmy Lou Harris and Carrie Underwood.