Vinnie Vincent

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Vinnie Vincent
Vincent in 1988
Vincent in 1988
Background information
Birth nameVincent John Cusano
Also known as"The Ankh Warrior"
Born (1952-08-06) August 6, 1952 (age 71)
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
Years active
  • 1970–1998
  • 2018–present
Member of
Formerly of

Vincent John Cusano (born August 6, 1952), better known by his stage name Vinnie Vincent, is an American guitarist. He is a former member of the rock band Kiss from 1982 until mid-1984 during the band's transition out of their 1973–1983 makeup period. Vincent was the last member to wear a unique makeup/costume configuration, as the character of The Ankh Warrior (a design created by Paul Stanley), until he and the band were first shown without the makeup during an interview on MTV in September 1983.[2] He founded his own band, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, which had minor hits in the hair metal genre.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Vincent John Cusano was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Theresa "Terri" (Ferraro) and Alfonso Cusano, musicians. Both of his parents were of Italian descent.[5] He picked up the guitar at an early age and was inspired by bluegrass and rock and roll.[6] Cusano's first introduction to working with internationally renowned artists was working with Felix Cavaliere (mostly widely known from The Rascals and their hit "Good Lovin' ⁠") as part of the band "Treasure". This resulted in an album of the same name being released on Epic Records in 1977. It was recorded in New York City at Sound Ideas recording studios [7] In 1980, Vincent moved to Los Angeles, California where he became a staff songwriter for the television series Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi. Many of the series songs were written on Vincent's acoustic guitar while sitting at the Cunninghams' kitchen table on the Happy Days set, during off-time from the show's rehearsal schedule. Vincent has said the times of working at the Paramount lot were genuinely "happy days".[8] According to the site "Kiss Related Recordings", Vincent has played with Dan Hartman as well as the bands Hunter, Warrior, Hitchhikers and Heat going as far back as 1970.[citation needed]



The Ankh Warrior

After being introduced to the band by songwriter Adam Mitchell,[9] Vincent was brought in as the replacement for guitarist Ace Frehley. Vincent's personality meshed well with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, thus enabling him to play lead guitar on six of the nine tracks on the Creatures of the Night album as well as co-writing three. After a commercially disappointing Creatures of the Night/Tenth Anniversary tour, that finished on a high at what ended up being the "last" makeup show (and Kiss' largest crowd attendance) at Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Vincent returned to the studio with Kiss to record the Lick It Up album. His work was productive, yielding eight co-writes out of the ten songs on the album (a record for any member until Bruce Kulick's nine out of 12 on Carnival of Souls and Stanley's 10 out of 13 on Monster).

Though contributing to Creatures of the Night as a session player before being named as Frehley's replacement in December 1982, Vincent, for all the public knew, was the official guitarist in Kiss and played all the lead guitar tracks on Lick it Up. In what was a frequent occurrence for former guitarist Frehley, a "ghost player" was asked to play on the album, with Rick Derringer recording the solo on the opening track.[citation needed]

"Exciter" by Kiss with Vinnie Vincent solo.

Though Vincent performed well live with Kiss, he refused to sign an employment contract which strained the relationship with Simmons/Stanley. This arose because of disputes over his role in the band and pay (some reports indicated that Vincent had asked for, and was flatly denied, a percentage of the band's gross profits). Consequently, Vincent never formally became a member of the band. This ultimately led to him leaving after the North American leg of the "Lick It Up" tour.[10] He was replaced by Mark St. John.[10] Despite parting on bad terms, Vincent was later used by Kiss as a songwriter on the 1992 album Revenge, contributing to the songs "Unholy", "Heart Of Chrome" and "I Just Wanna". Vincent again fell out of favor with Simmons and Stanley, as they claimed that Vincent again began "making all kinds of crazy demands and pulling the same kind of crazy stuff all over again".[10]

In 2022, Kiss released a super deluxe multi disc version of the Creatures of the Night album, which featured demos and outtakes with Vincent as guitarist and songwriter, as well as two full CDs of live recordings from the Creatures of the Night/10th Anniversary Tour, the first officially released live recordings with Vinnie Vincent.[11]

Vinnie Vincent Invasion[edit]

Following his departure from Kiss in mid-1984, Vincent used the money he made from his tenure in the band to take a long vacation, traveling the world for a full year and visiting places like Tahiti, Philippines, Mozambique, India, and Europe, including a visit to the small town of Mora in Dalarna, Sweden.[12] That same year Vincent was hospitalized for mental health related issues, and also wrote songs and recorded demos of his new songs intended for Kiss with drummer Hirsh Gardner[13] Then he formed the band Vinnie Vincent Invasion with, among others, former Journey singer Robert Fleischman in the mid-1980s and released two studio albums: Vinnie Vincent Invasion in 1986 and All Systems Go in 1988. The band broke up in 1989. After that, the band's singer Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum formed Slaughter.[14]

Later career[edit]

In 1996, Vincent released a solo EP from the studio sessions he did in 1990 (some say 1989–91), called Euphoria, once again with Robert Fleischman on vocals. Vincent, as well as playing all the guitars, played bass and did the drum programming under the guise of "V. Meister". Andre LaBelle provided drum tracks to the CD[15] but they were replaced by Vincent's drum programming. LaBelle can be heard on various tracks on the bootleg Guitarmaggedon/Guitars from Hell CD that featured five more songs than the Euphoria EP.[16][citation needed]

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 and roll comic C.C. Banana, who performs a parody of the Kiss song "Unholy" (rewritten as a roast of Danger Danger vocalist Ted Poley).[17]

Appearances in 2018–2023[edit]

After 22 years of being off the radar, Vinnie Vincent agreed to appear at the 2018 Atlanta Kiss Expo in January.[18] Vincent fulfilled his commitment and appeared at the sold-out expo, playing a four-song set including the live premiere of Kiss's "A Million to One" from Lick It Up and a VVI song "Back on the Streets" where he was joined by original VVI vocalist Robert Fleischman.[19] He said he considers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley family, wishing them nothing but the best. After some e-mail exchanges with Gene Simmons, Vincent agreed to appear with Simmons on stage in April 2018 which was the first time they have met in person in over two decades.[20] He also gave an exclusive interview to Eddie Trunk for Sirius XM, which was his first in over two decades, and held multiple question-and-answer sessions with fans.[21]

On February 16, 2018, it was announced via Facebook that Vinnie would appear at the Days of the Dead convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in May 2018.[22]

Vinnie Vincent's first concert in 30 years was scheduled for December 7, 2018, at Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. However these shows were postponed until February 8–9, 2019 in Nashville,[23] before being canceled. These shows were promoted by Derek Christopher, who despite never having finalized or fulfilled a contract with Vincent, continued to sell tickets nevertheless. This left everyone wondering where the money went, and ultimately blamed Vincent.[24]

Vincent then announced another show in Nashville called "Speedball Jamm", which was scheduled for June 7, 2019.[25] This show was ultimately canceled.[26]

Two months later, Vincent hosted Vinnie Vincent's Birthday Bash on August 10 in Nashville, TN, followed by Vinnie Vincent's Merry Metal Christmas on December 14–15, 2019.[27]

On May 22, 2022, Vinnie played for the first time live together with his lead guitar colleagues from Kiss, Ace Frehley and Bruce Kulick, performing a 4-song all Kiss set at Creatures Fest (hosted by Neil Davis, Brian Bell, Dale Walter) in Nashville.[28]

In May 2023, Vincent held an album listening party, at Starstruck Studios. The upcoming album was well received; several bands opened for Vincent, and he played with backing band Leo Roriz of Sleeper Signal and Ben Hanz of Trixter.

Personal life[edit]

Vincent was married to AnnMarie Peters, and has twin daughters with her.[29] AnnMarie was murdered in 1998, after she and Vincent had divorced. In 1996, Vincent married his second wife Diane Kero, one of Ace Frehley's ex-girlfriends whom he met at a Kiss convention in Chicago the previous year. The two resided in Smyrna, Tennessee until her death on January 13, 2014. Diane died aged 47 from complications due to alcoholism.[30]


With Kiss[edit]


With Vinnie Vincent Invasion[edit]

With Black Satin[edit]

  • Black Satin featuring Fred Parris (1976)

With The Hitchhikers[edit]

  • The Hitchhikers (1976)

With Wendy O. Williams[edit]

  • WOW (1984 Passport)

"Ain't None Of Your Business" Songwriter (Simmons, Carr & Vincent) & Guitar

With Peter Criss[edit]

With John Waite[edit]

Songwriter "Tears" (1981)

With Dan Hartman[edit]

Rhythm & Acoustic Guitars, Tambourine, Backing Vocal

With Laura Nyro[edit]

With Treasure[edit]

Guitar & Lead Vocals on "Innocent Eyes" & "Turn Yourself Around" (with Felix Cavaliere: of The Rascals)

With Felix Cavaliere[edit]

  • Castles in the Air (1979)

With HEAT[edit]

  • Still Waiting (1981)

Tribute albums and singles[edit]

  • Kiss My Ankh: A Tribute to Vinnie Vincent (2008)
  • Virtual Invasion – Gypsy in Her Eyes (2017)
  • Virtual Invasion – Young Blood, Young Fire (2018)
  • Virtual Invasion – Forbidden (2018)
  • Virtual Invasion – Tears (2020)

With the Bangles[edit]

  • Everything (1988) Songwriting credit & Guitars for "Make a Play for Her Now" [31]

With Was Not Was[edit]

With Warrior[edit]

  • Warrior (2017 HNE Recordings). Collection of Demos.
  • Warrior II (2019 HNE Recordings). Another Collection of Demos.


  1. ^ McPadden, Mike (August 6, 2015). "The 10 Most Underrated Hair Metal Guitarists Of The '80s". VH1 News. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  2. ^ "Ranking Rock's 10 Greatest Replacement Guitarists". Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "Central High School Biography of Vinnie Vincent". Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  4. ^ "Vinnie Vincent:Biography". MSN.Com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "VINNIE-VINCENT.COM – A Vinnie Biography, Part 1: The Wilderness". Archived from the original on May 20, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Prato, Greg. "Vinnie Vincent". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 11, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Treasure – Treasure (Vinyl, LP, Album) | Discogs". Discogs. Archived from the original on April 22, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  8. ^ "Vinnie Vincent Biography". KissFAQ. September 2010. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
  9. ^ "KISS Asylum: KISS Thought Vault: Issue #9". Archived from the original on July 23, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Black Diamond: The Unauthorized Biography of KISS | Dale Sherman | 1997
  11. ^ "Love It Loud: KISS Expand 'Creatures of the Night' for Deluxe Box Set". The Second Disc. August 31, 2022. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  12. ^ "Image: 8317200911401762e1.jpg, (570 × 784 px)". Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  13. ^ Bergdahl, Alex; Linnaeus, Carl (2023). Time Traveller (in Swedish). Sweden: Gain.
  14. ^ Jeff Giles (April 16, 2015). "Mark Slaughter Looks Back on the Band Mutiny That Ended the Vinnie Vincent Invasion". Archived from the original on November 12, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  15. ^ "★ ANDRE LABELLE - History Bio". Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  16. ^ Vinnie Vincent - Guitars From Hell, retrieved October 8, 2022
  17. ^ "Kiss My Ankh: A Tribute To Vinnie Vincent". SplitScreen Entertainment. Archived from the original on August 31, 2008. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  18. ^ "Former KISS Guitarist Vinnie Vincent Is 'Happy And Excited' About His Appearance At Atlanta KISS Expo". Blabbermouth. September 2, 2017. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  19. ^ Olivier (January 21, 2018). "Vinnie Vincent performs live with Robert Fleischman & announces return of Vinnie Vincent Invasion". Sleaze Roxx. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  20. ^ Magnotta, Andrew. "Gene Simmons Reunites With Vinnie Vincent at Vault Event in Nashville". IHeart Media, Inc. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  21. ^ "Vinnie Vincent Returns: 10 Things We Learned". Ultimate Classic Rock. January 20, 2018. Archived from the original on January 20, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
  22. ^ "Days Of The Dead". Archived from the original on July 28, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  23. ^ "Vinnie Vincent Live". Vinnie Vincent Live. Archived from the original on February 22, 2020. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  24. ^ Kielty, Martin (January 29, 2019). "Vinnie Vincent Cancels Comeback Shows". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on January 29, 2019. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  25. ^ Irwin, Corey (April 13, 2019). "Former Kiss Guitarist Vinnie Vincent Announces Nashville Concert". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on May 27, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  26. ^ Wilkening, Matthew (May 20, 2019). "Vinnie Vincent Reportedly Cancels June Comeback Show". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on May 27, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  27. ^ "Vinnie Vincent's Merry Metal Christmas Premium Ticket – Vinnie Vincent". Archived from the original on December 17, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  28. ^ "Vinnie Vincent Setlist at Creatures Fest 2022". Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  29. ^ Blau, Max (April 8, 2014). "Inside a Hair-Metal Meltdown: Search for Ex-Kiss Guitarist Vinnie Vincent". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 15, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  30. ^ Writer, TINA A. BROWN; Courant Staff (February 15, 2003). "MCARTHUR SENTENCED TO 60 YEARS". Archived from the original on November 30, 2021. Retrieved July 15, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ "Everything – Bangles | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Lead guitarist of Kiss
Succeeded by