|Single by Kiss|
|from the album Destroyer|
|A-side||"Detroit Rock City"|
|Studio||Record Plant, New York City|
|Songwriter(s)||Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Bob Ezrin|
|Kiss singles chronology|
"Beth" is a song by American hard rock band 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" ranked #3 in VH1's 25 Greatest Power Ballads.
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. In an article for Rolling Stone, Paul Stanley questioned Criss' role in co-writing the song, saying, "Peter had nothing to do with it."  Lydia Criss (who was married to Peter Criss throughout the 1970s) says that she alone is responsible for the name change.
All four original Kiss members gave their own accounts of "Beth" on their respective autobiographies: Simmons claimed (Kiss and Make-Up, 2001) that he first heard it in late 1975 when Criss tried to sing it in a limousine after a concert, and then Simmons suggested changing the title and later on producer Bob Ezrin transformed it into what was eventually released, allegedly taking the middle-eight from a Mozart piano concerto; according to Frehley (No Regrets, 2011), Stanley didn't like it and Frehley himself was hesitant, but Simmons found it interesting as did producer Ezrin, who then insisted on changing the title and adding the piano and orchestration, which he did; Criss confirmed Simmons' limousine story (Make-Up to Break-Up, 2012) but claimed it was Ezrin's idea to change the title and insisted on Stanley and Simmons not wanting a ballad on the album; Stanley said (Face the Music, 2014) that most of the song was penned by Ezrin, who took over from fragmentary lines of lyrics and melody Criss and his former bandmate had written beforehand. All four independently praised Ezrin's involvement and stressed he had been instrumental in shaping the piece.
The song was a last-minute addition to the Destroyer album. According to Bill Aucoin, the manager of Kiss at that time, Simmons and 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. During the recording sessions for the song, Criss was the only Kiss member in the studio, making it 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 band's usual hard rock-oriented sound.
When released as a single, "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. Kiss and Casablanca Records reissued "Beth" as an A-side with "Detroit Rock City" as the B-side, and it was far more successful. The single went gold in the US (the first Kiss single to do so) on January 5, 1977 and in Canada on December 1, 1976.
"Beth" is also credited as invigorating sluggish sales of the Destroyer album, which many fans initially saw as a misstep. In 1977, Kiss received a People's Choice Award for "Beth", one of the few industry awards the band ever won.
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 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 guitar during their Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour and again on their The Hottest Show on Earth Tour in 2011. It has since been again removed from setlists, but the band occasionally performs the song at meet and greet sessions. On the 2019 End of the Road World Tour, the song has been performed by Singer, miming it on the piano.
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Peter Criss: lead vocals
- Gene Simmons: bass guitar
- Bob Ezrin: piano
- Dick Wagner: acoustic guitar
- New York Philharmonic: orchestra
- In 2010, a cover by the cast of Glee peaked at #44 on Billboard's digital song chart.
- The 2016 Volkswagen Passat used the song in television commercials to advertise their Car-Net App-Connect, which allows the driver to access certain apps from their Smartphone through the dashboard.
Appearances on Kiss albums
"Beth" appears on the following Kiss albums:
- Alive II – Live version
- Double Platinum
- Smashes, Thrashes & Hits – Eric Carr vocal
- Kiss Unplugged – Live acoustic version
- You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!!
- Greatest Kiss
- The Box Set
- The Very Best of Kiss
- 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Kiss
- Kiss Symphony: Alive IV – Live version
- Gold: 1974–1982 – Sound & Vision
In popular culture
- The name of the character Beth played by Vicki Lewis on the television series NewsRadio came from this song.
- The song is the in-universe inspiration for the name of Quinn and Puck's daughter on Glee after the latter performed it in the episode "Theatricality."
- The song plays in Wet Hot American Summer when the character named Beth gets kissed.
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- Prato, Greg (February 15, 2016). "Lydia Criss Tells the 'Beth' Story". Songfacts. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
- David Leaf, Ken Sharp. KISS: Behind the Mask – Official Authorized Biography, Warner Books, 2005 ISBN 978-0-446-69524-4 Page268
- Radio Revolution: Rise and Fall of the Big 8 Dir. Michael McNamara. Markham Street Films, 2004. Film
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- "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2015-11-21. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2016-06-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "American single certifications – Kiss – Beth". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
- "Glee Cast Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
- Lifton, Dave (18 December 2016). "Kiss' "Beth" Given New Twist in Volkswagen Commercial". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
- Cormier, Roger (2015-03-24). "21 Things You Might Not Know About NewsRadio". mentalfloss.com. Mental Floss. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
- KISS: United States Singles Discography
- The Complete KISS Singles Chart Action
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- SongFacts: "Beth"
- Sherman, Dale. Black Diamond – The Unauthorized Biography of Kiss. CG Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-896522-35-1