Beth (song)

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"Beth"
Single by Kiss
from the album Destroyer
Released August 1976 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded 1976 at Record Plant Studios, New York City
Genre Soft rock, symphonic rock
Length 2:45
Label Casablanca NB-863A (US)
Writer(s) Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Bob Ezrin
Producer(s) Bob Ezrin
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Kiss singles chronology
"Detroit Rock City"/"Beth" (US)
(1976)
"Beth"/"Detroit Rock City"
(1976)
"Hard Luck Woman"/"Mr. Speed"
(1976)

"Beth" is a ballad by Kiss, originally released on their 1976 album, Destroyer. To date, it is their highest-charting single in the US, reaching #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It is one of only two gold selling singles for the band (the other being 1979's "I Was Made for Lovin' You"), and their first of two Top Ten singles (along with 1990's "Forever", #8) in the US. Beth was named #3 in VH1's 25 Greatest Power Ballads.[1]

Song information[edit]

Kiss' drummer Peter Criss sings the song, which was co-written by Criss and guitarist Stan Penridge. The song was written before Criss had joined the band, while he and Penridge were members of Chelsea. A bootleg exists of the song from 1971, but the song was sung "Beck, what can I do?" "Beck" was the nickname of fellow Chelsea member Mike Brand's wife, Becky, who would call often during practices to ask Mike when he was coming home. Years later, while in Kiss, both Bob Ezrin and Gene Simmons are incorrectly credited for changing the song's title to "Beth," presumably to be more recognizable as a female name.

The song was a last-minute addition to the Destroyer album. According to Bill Aucoin, the manager of Kiss at that time, Simmons and Paul Stanley did not want "Beth" on the album because it was not a typical Kiss song. Aucoin insisted on keeping the song on the record.[2]

When released as a single, however, "Beth" was initially the B-side of "Detroit Rock City". Some of the initial credit for the flip-hit goes to Rosalie Trombley, at the time the music director at "The Big 8" CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. Trombley's daughter had a copy of the 45 and was hooked on "Beth", and began nagging her mother about it. "Beth" wasn't being promoted as the "A" side, but Trombley added it to CKLW's playlist. After "Beth" became a smash, Kiss presented Trombley's daughter with a gold record.[3] Kiss and Casablanca Records reissued "Beth" as an A-side with "Detroit Rock City" as the B-side, and it was far more successful.[citation needed] The single went gold in the US (the first Kiss single to do so) on January 5, 1977[4] and in Canada on December 1, 1976.[5]

In 1977, Kiss received a People's Choice Award for "Beth", one of the few industry awards the band ever won.

"Beth" is also credited as invigorating sluggish sales of the Destroyer album, which many fans initially saw as a misstep. It is also the only Kiss song that features no instrumental performances by any member of the band. Criss is backed by a piano and a string orchestra, a stark departure from the hard rock-oriented band.

Origin[edit]

The song was written by Criss and Penridge, both of whom were in Chelsea. A demo tape of the song, however, was recorded later, during Criss' tenure in another band, Lips, immediately before he joined Kiss. In an article for Rolling Stone, Paul Stanley questioned Criss' role in co-writing the song, saying, "Peter had nothing to do with it." [6]

During the recording sessions for the song, Criss was the only Kiss member in the studio.

Live, "Beth" was performed by Criss alone on stage backed by a tape of the instrumental track. The acoustic version featured on Kiss Unplugged is the only recording with members of Kiss solely backing up Criss. The version of "Beth" featured on the group's 2003 Kiss Symphony: Alive IV DVD and subsequent album (less Ace Frehley) would be the only time the song was performed live with an ensemble. In 2010, the song was performed live for the first time with Eric Singer on acoustic guitars during their Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour and again on their The Hottest Show on Earth Tour in 2011.

It has since then been re-shelved in live concerts, but the band still continues to perform the song regularly at Meet and Greets.

Sales certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[7] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Personnel[edit]

Other versions[edit]

  • In 1988, Eric Carr re-recorded the vocal track of "Beth" for the Smashes, Thrashes & Hits compilation.
  • Peter Criss also redid the song acoustic style on his 1994 album Cat #1.
  • For the Kiss Unplugged album and music video, the original Kiss lineup performed a version of "Beth" that featured Criss on vocals, Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley on acoustic guitars, and Gene Simmons on acoustic bass guitar. However, they had to be taught the guitar version of the song by then-current lead guitarist Bruce Kulick since none of them, said Stanley, knew how to play it properly. The performance received a rousing standing ovation.
  • Stanley can be seen plucking part of the song's melody on an acoustic guitar as Criss sings in the Kiss film, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. However, this is the only time Criss' natural voice was heard in the film. A voice actor overdubbed his dialogue.
  • In the years after he quit Kiss in 1980, Criss admits that he radically changed the song for live shows. By his own admission, he made it more "Vegasy".[citation needed] With his return to Kiss in 1996 for their reunion tour, the song returned to the setlist. However, when Criss was again let go in 2001 (replaced by Eric Singer, who assumed Criss' catman persona), the song was again dropped from the setlist until the Sonic Boom Over Europe tour in 2010. During and following the tour, Kiss has again replaced the song on the setlist; however, the song is now sung by Singer on vocals and Stanley and Tommy Thayer on acoustic guitars.
  • Punk rock band the Groovie Ghoulies covered "Beth" as an unlisted track on their 1989 debut album Appetite for Adrenochrome. No Use for a Name also covered the song as an unlisted track on their 1997 album Making Friends, as a medley with the Beverly Hills, 90210 theme and their own song Soulmate. Hardcore punk band Coffin Break also covered "Beth" for the Kiss tribute album Hard to Believe: Kiss Covers Compilation. Punk rock band Boris The Sprinkler covered "Beth" on a split 45 with The Droids.
  • In the 2008 comedy film Role Models, the main character Danny (who expressed his dislike for KISS and singing in front of crowds at the beginning of the film) ends up serenading his girlfriend named Beth at a renaissance fair with a version of the song, with heavily improvised lyrics and the music being played on a mandolin and violin.
  • The song is featured in the 2009 film I Love You, Beth Cooper, and the titular character reveals she is named after the song.
  • In May 2009, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert covered "Beth" during his performance with Kiss.
  • In a May 2010 Glee episode "Theatricality", the cast of Glee covered the song. "Beth" is also the name chosen for Puck and Quinn's daughter, who is given up for adoption.
  • In February 2011, "Beth" was covered by Laughon Bryant & The Midnite Riders on their album entitled "Down That Road".

Appearances on Kiss albums[edit]

"Beth" appears on the following Kiss albums:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "VH1 list of 25 greatest power ballads". Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ David Leaf, Ken Sharp. KISS: Behind the Mask - Official Authorized Biography, Warner Books, 2005 ISBN 978-0-446-69524-4Page268
  3. ^ Radio Revolution: Rise and Fall of the Big 8 Dir. Michael McNamara. Markham Street Films, 2004. Film
  4. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum database". Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ "CRIA certification". Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  6. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/kiss-forever-40-years-of-feuds-and-fury-20140326?page=5
  7. ^ "American single certifications – Beth". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH