|Single by Kiss|
|from the album Destroyer|
|A-side||"Detroit Rock City"|
|Studio||Record Plant, New York City|
|Genre||Soft rock, ballad, orchestral pop|
|Songwriter(s)||Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Bob Ezrin|
|Kiss singles chronology|
"Beth" is a ballad 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 was named #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."  Changing the song's title to "Beth" for Kiss's recording has been credited to both Bob Ezrin and Gene Simmons[according to whom?], but Lydia Criss (who was married to Peter Criss throughout the 1970s) says that she alone is responsible for the name change.
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.
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Peter Criss: lead vocals
- Bob Ezrin: piano
- Dick Wagner: acoustic guitar
- New York Philharmonic: orchestra
This section does not cite any sources. (August 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- In 1988, Eric Carr re-recorded the vocal track of "Beth" for the Smashes, Thrashes & Hits compilation, something he was reportedly very hesitant to do having personal respect for the original lineup.
- 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. This is the only time Criss' natural voice was heard in the film, as his dialogue was dubbed over by voice actor Michael Bell.
- In the years since 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". 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.
- In the 2008 comedy film Role Models, the character Danny (who expressed dislike for both Kiss and singing in front of crowds early in the film) sings a version of the song to his girlfriend – whose name is Beth – with improvised lyrics and a mandolin and violin providing the instrumentation.
- The song is featured in the 2009 film I Love You, Beth Cooper, and the titular character reveals she is named after the song.
- 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
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- Prato, Greg (February 15, 2016). "Lydia Criss Tells the 'Beth' Story". Songfacts. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
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- "American single certifications – Kiss – Beth". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
- Lifton, Dave (18 December 2016). "Kiss' "Beth" Given New Twist in Volkswagen Commercial". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
- 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