Vincent John Cusano (born August 6, 1952, in Bridgeport, Connecticut) better known as Vinnie Vincent, is a guitarist and songwriter most famous for his brief membership in the band Kiss. Vincent played on the album Creatures of the Night and subsequently toured with Kiss in "Ankh Warrior" makeup created by Paul Stanley, Kiss's lead singer and rhythm guitarist. After that, he remained with Kiss for one additional album, Lick It Up recorded in 1983, before being fired from the band for alleged unethical behavior. He later performed as a solo artist and with his own band, Vinnie Vincent Invasion.
Replacing Ace Frehley in KissEdit
A relatively unknown singer-guitarist named Vincent Cusano was brought in as an uncredited studio replacement for Ace Frehley during the recording sessions for Kiss's Creatures of the Night album. Frehley made a few appearances with the band while this album was being worked on but his musical involvement during this period was minimal.
Cusano contributed to a few songs on the album including, "I Love It Loud" and "I Still Love You". "I Love It Loud" went on to be a hit single, but Frehley appeared on the video rather than Vincent. Frehley also appeared on the cover art for the album.
When the band was ready to go on tour, Frehley refused to join them. Although the other band members harbored doubts about his personality, Cusano was chosen to replace Frehley permanently (or, more accurately, he replaced Frehley semipermanently, since his tenure with the band proved to be brief and tumultuous.) Cusano originally wanted to use his birth name in the band but this was vetoed by Gene Simmons who suggested the stage name of Vinnie Vincent (which Cusano has used professionally ever since.) Paul Stanley designed a "Wizard" persona and make-up for Vincent. From 1982-1983, the new line-up of Kiss became Simmons (the Demon), Stanley (the Starchild), Eric Carr (the Fox), and Vincent (the Wizard). This incarnation of Kiss was to be the last incarnation of the original make-up era. At the end of the Creatures Of The Night tour, the band removed their make-up on MTV.
Aside from songwriting credits under his birth name, Vincent's involvement with the recording of Creatures Of The Night was not widely-publicized for several years. When the album was re-mixed and re-released in 1985 with a non-makeup cover and a slightly different song order: Vincent was again absent from the album cover as then-current lead guitarist, Bruce Kulick, appeared there instead. The liner notes accompanying the re-mixed LP, however, have credited both Ace Frehley and Vinnie Vincent with lead guitar performances on the Creatures of the Night album.
Vincent did appear on the Lick It Up album cover and is credited as the lead guitarist. He also was credited as a co-writer on 8 of the 10 songs on the album. It is rumored that Simmons shortened Vincent's recorded guitar solos significantly when the album was mixed down. Additionally, Vincent would get "cut off" during his guitar solos live because both Stanley and Simmons felt that Vincent's leads went on too long.
Vincent's personality did not mesh well with either Stanley or Simmons and he was fired and rehired at least once. Vincent was fired for good following the Lick It Up tour and was replaced by Mark St. John (birth name Mark Norton).
Vincent was later utilized by Kiss as a songwriter on the 1992 album Revenge, contributing to the songs "Unholy", "Heart Of Chrome" and "I Just Wanna". Before long however, Vincent, Simmons and Stanley fell out with each other for a third time, permanently severing their musical and personal ties. In 1997, Vincent sued Simmons and the band's management over songwriting royalties and other matters: the lawsuit was not settled until 2001.
I named Vincent Cusano, "Vinnie Vincent." That's the only gift he's allowed. It's interesting that Vinnie hasn't changed his name back to Vinnie Cusano. Vinnie, for the record, was fired for unethical behavior, not because of lack of talent. The guy is very talented. He was unethical. He was fired.
Before & After KissEdit
Before joining Kiss, Vincent was in several bands, the most popular being Treasure (1978-1979). He toured with Dan Hartman, whose 1978 release Instant Replay produced an international single by the same name as well as a promotional video in which Vinnie performs.
Vincent co-wrote, with Adam Mitchell, the song "Tears" under his real name. It was later recorded by former Babys lead singer John Waite (whom Ace Frehley wanted as lead singer for his post-Kiss band Frehley's Comet some years later) for his No Brakes album which was released on EMI America records. Waite also released the song as a single and it reached #37. Peter Criss also recorded a version of the song for his album, Let Me Rock You, which was released outside of the USA in 1983.
After being fired from Kiss following the Lick It Up tour, Vincent formed Vinnie Vincent Invasion (also known as VVI), which released two LPs: Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986) and All Systems Go (1988).
The VVI line-up included original lead singer Robert Fleischman (briefly the lead singer of Journey), who would be replaced by Mark Slaughter prior to the band's first tour, bass guitarist Dana Strum (both of whom would later form the band Slaughter) as well as drummer Bobby Rock, who would join the band Nelson after VVI's breakup.
Vincent briefly became involved with fighting censorship against rock music. In January 1987, he and Dana Strum visited the city of Goshen, Indiana in support of Marianne Hatfield, editor of a local rock magazine called Rock Rag Plus. Hatfield alleged that she was being harassed by the minister (Paul McGechie) and members of an Assemblies of God congregation, who believed Hatfield's magazine was "satanic". This event was covered in the local news media and in Rock Scene magazine.
A tribute album entitled Kiss My Ankh: A Tribute To Vinnie Vincent was released by SplitScreen Entertainment on August 27, 2008. The album consists of new recordings of songs from Vincent's careers with Kiss and the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Featured artists include Steve Brown of Trixter, Troy Patrick Farrell of White Lion, T.J. Racer of Nitro, Mike Weeks of Robert Fleischman's band, Sheldon Tarsha of Adler's Appetite, Chris Caffery of Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ryan Roxie from the Alice Cooper band and rock & roll comic C.C. Banana, who performs a parody of the Kiss song "Unholy" (rewritten as a roast of Danger Danger vocalist [[Ted Poley
Vinnie Vincent sued Kiss twice after being fired for the second time in 1984. The first lawsuit (for $6 million) was filed in around 1986 over royalties that Vincent believed he was owed for performance and songwriting. That suit was found in favor of Kiss as Vincent was determined to be a salaried employee of the band.
In 1987, Vincent was quoted in Rock Scene magazine as saying that Kiss would not allow him to use their name either to promote his solo career or to even mention the band in interviews. Throughout this interview, Vincent persistently and bitterly referred to Kiss as either "The White Face Band" or simply "The Blank Band".
In late-1988, Vincent's $4 million contract with Chrysalis Records (for 8 albums) was taken away from him because he overextended his credit line with the label. The contract was transferred to Invasion members Dana Strum and Mark Slaughter, who by this time had formed the band Slaughter. Later on their debut album, "Stick It To Ya", there was a song that referenced this called "Burning Bridges".
Vincent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1989 Vincent's second suit against Kiss in 1992 (again for $6 million) was for later songwriting royalties and other claims. That suit was dismissed because the amount Vincent requested was excessive, and once again, he was found to have been a salaried employee of the band.
In July 1997, Vincent filed another legal action against Kiss, the individual band members, Polygram, and Horipro, alleging claims of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and deceit, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, conversion, imposition of constructive trust, breach of contract, infringement on the right of publicity, defamation, and open book account for royalties. This followed the release of the publication KISStory.
In January 1998, Vincent's ex-wife, Anne-Marie Cusano, disappeared from her home and her body was not found until late 2000. A drifter and convicted sex-offender was charged with the murder.
Starting in 1982, Vincent was briefly the spokesman for Charvel/Jackson Guitars, following the death of Randy Rhoads. He later switched to a more personalized pink "double shark fin" guitar, which he helped design along with Grover Jackson. Vincent later became a spokesman for Carvin Guitars.
- Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
- Alive III (1993) songwriting credits only
- MTV Unplugged (1993) songwriting credits only
- The Box Set (2001)
- The Very Best of Kiss (2002)
- Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (2003) songwriting credits only
- The Best of Kiss, Volume 2: The Millennium Collection (2004)
- The Best of Kiss, Volume 3: The Millennium Collection (2006) songwriting credits only
- Kiss Alive! 1975-2000 (2006) songwriting credits only
- The Best of KISS: Green Series (2008)
- Playlist Plus (2008)
- Playlist Your Way (2008)
- Jigoku-Retsuden (2008) songwriting credits only
- 15 Classics (2008) digital download only
- 15 Discoveries (2008) digital download only
- 45 The Complete Collection (2008) digital download only
- Alive: The Millennium Concert (2008) songwriting credits & digital download only
Vinnie Vincent InvasionEdit
- Euphoria (EP) (1996)
- Archive Volumes I: Speedball Jamm
"My chemistry with the band helped put them back on top and gave them a musical credibility that they'd never had before, yet I couldn't get the recognition I needed. I felt like I was imprisoned in a small cubicle, like it was someone else's house..." (Vinnie about leaving Kiss in Kerrang! Magazine. Black Diamond (writer: Dale Sherman), 1997)