co-writer of the kiss / peter criss songs:

  beth, baby driver, dirty livin', hooligan, don't you let me down, hooked on rock n' roll,
that's the kind of sugar papa likes, easy thing, i'm gonna love you

1.) please write a short bio about yourself.

a short bio? ok - i'm 3'10" in heels. nah, just kidding. the reality is : born in port chester, ny on january 9, 1951. raised in queens (my pre-teen years) 47-12 45th street. coincidentally, just two blocks from where kiss was later to play some of their earliest gigs (at coventry on queens boulevard). began studying guitar at the new york school of music just before my eigth birthday. a very serious discipline - a school offering only classical and flamenco studies for guitar. i was expelled at 12 for playing steel string guitar, which was not considered an acceptable instrument. funny story how they found out - but some other time.

first paying gigs were in greenwich village, new york, in 1966. at that point i was also teaching guitar to support myself through high school. being the incorrigable youth i was with hair that touched my ears and those granny boots - got kicked out of the house (yesssss!). those were great years though. played the night owl on 3rd street (occasionally opening for the lovin' spoonful, blues magoos, lothar and the hand people, etc) worked the cafe wah when hendrix was still jimmy james and the blue flames along with the raves, bso - great acts, one and all. at that point i was still doing a poor man's dylan and sneaking in a few originals when everyone was drunk enough. 1967 i did my first demo which elektra passed on. i was fortunate enough to be teaching paul ( great producer - the doors, joplin) rothchild's daughter guitar. just not talented enough to get signed. also started playing electric in 1967. i was almost forced to. marvin smith (later with wilson pickett and a great solo artist in his own right), karl dunwoodie (later with the isley brothers) had a great r&b band that backed up all the motown acts that came through north jersey (minus a rhythm section, of course). they knew i was a strong reader, and i loved the music, so that was my first introduction to ensemble playing.

at that time englewood, where i was living and finishing up high school was a great music town. through marvin and karl and their session work at rudy van gelder's famous jazz studio in englewood cliffs i saw my first recording sessions. artists like george benson, writer/producers like van mccoy, geniuses like quincey jones, legends like ol' dizzy himself, miles davis...they were all there, having fun, creating magic and making records. i think that's where i first understood what the art of capturing that feel, that dizzying, uplifting, soulstirring sound was about. at least inately. the other side of that experience was that right there, in 1967 and 1968 when people were rioting in the streets, burning their cities to the ground, here was this 17 year old skinney white kid and all that mattered was the music.

2.) how did you first begin writing with kiss?

in 1970 i was living on new york's lower east side. i was doing solo work, some sessions, and playing in a c&w band in the irish bars and r&b (with marvin still) in some really dark joints. most importantly i had bought a tape recorder and was writing non-stop. i actually have every song i've written on tape. all copied and sent to myself by registered mail. my safe has 30 years of tape in it, still sealed. a practice i would urge any young writer to do. protect yourself! you never know what will happen down the road.the first recordings of dont you let me down and hooked on rock and roll were done at a writers workshop for a high school folk music club. see, you never know. so protect your work.

1970 was also the year i joined chelsea. i fit in well playing both electric and acoustic.the band was divided as to their direction - with an electric peter and mike and an acoustic peter and mike and a first album that went nowhere. if nothing else out of the electric half lips was born. peter criss was the ultimate stylist. in both his life and music. there was never a dull moment, never! mike benvenga too - one of a kind! he could weave lines around a melody like no one else was doing at that point in time. at least with the music we were pounding out - and he did it in platform shoes too. all 300 pounds of him!!! peter has this way of locking into the guitar's rhythm so mike was free to fly and he did. they were great gigs. very open to improvisation. those two years gave birth to numerous songs. there are acoustic tunes done in my living room. oldies, comedic rap songs, bits of tunes that would appear later on in other incarnations. and then two sessions done for kama sutra records that contained much of peter's first solo album. baby driver, thats the kinda sugar, dont you let me down, im gonna love you and hooked on rock and roll were all originally recorded by lips in 1971. the difference being i was doing the lead vocals at that time. seems silly now. peter obviously had a better voice than i did but at that time the writer usually sang his tunes. and so lips was passed on, the tapes were sent registered (of course) to me - i actually have the 2 inch masters for those sessions too - and shortly after mike had had enough. it couldnt have been more than a couple of months as an acoustic act that peter and i had had enough too.

3.) what was you first impression of kiss?

peter never told me about gene and paul until they walked into the king's lounge in queens to see peter play (bongos?). i've got to admit they stood out from the rest of us. it was obvious these three had something going. it was the end of our nameless acoustic act and the beginning of a band that would change the music business. i know you probably think it seems strange coming from me, in my current situation and such, but when i went to their loft on 23rd street, and they were still a trio then, they played black diamond and i knew....these guys were going to hit big. peter was at home finally - paul too. they seemed to click so well. guess it's that guitar/drum thing again. anyway, i remember passing carnegie hall that night on my way home. i could hear loggins and messina playing and i was thinking about firehouse. that's how impressed i was.

4.) aside from the business side of co-writing with kiss, what's your personal opinion of them?

my personal opinion of them you ask. them as an entity known as kiss? or them as individuals. there would be a black hole between the two. and i have no qualms speaking on either end. i've seen what the band has done. no one can diminish their achievements. i've also seen what money or lack thereof can do. i've seen the lengths one will go to to demean others. what others will do to stay in the spotlight, as it were. i think the key word is personal. regardless of who reigns it's meaningless without growth. thirty years have passed and i hear the same tune. it must be very hard to do. perhaps, therein lies the kudos. but for myself i couldnt do it. i've spent the past three decades trying to enrich my life and others.

5.) of all the kiss songs you have co-written, which one are you most proud of, and why?

i have a lot to be proud of. but you want to know which song i'm most proud of and why? the obvious answer would be beth for obvious reasons. but i'll surprise you. if it's a kiss song it would be dirty livin'. but not for the song itself but what it grew out of. through lips, the first solo, then the demos with vini for out of control and remembering the time and place. it brings back such dizzying times. but for a song that i think is one of peter's best performances - well, that amazing session at electric lady....with peter standing in the middle of the studio, lights out, singing live with the band - for me it will always be easy thing.

6.) can you give us some "behind the scenes" views of what the writing process was like with kiss?

i guess you can see i really didn't begin writing with kiss. it began with lips. a joke song called beck that became beth - a serious song! i've explained baby driver's origins. even dirty livin' had it's beginnings in lips though vini changed that up a bit. hooligan is a differant story. that actually began in the studio in the midst of a conversation. peter was talking about his grandmother. can't remember about what - but i remember him saying that she called him a hooligan. five minutes later we were laying down rhythm tracks. i played bass and guitar. peter sang and played drums. he was really playing that night. we left the record plant with two songs that evening. love bite and hooligan. yeppers. i have those demos too. i've never thrown a thing away...thank gawd!!!

7.) can you give us some professional song writing tips?

songwriting tips? that's funny! as my buddy bruce hawes once told me (mighty love, the spinners, melba moore) when we were both staff writer/producers : steal from the best!!! write what you know and what you feel. it's easy to tell a lie but impossible to sing one - really!

8.) any music business related tips?

music business related tips: once again please! protect your work. it is your life, your inspiration that brings life to a song. so register it. no matter what you think it may be. a hit or a it for your future wellbeing!

9.) as a songwriter yourself, who are some of your personal favorite songwriters?

my favorites songwriters?? again i would give you the obvious. lennon and mccartney above and beyond. but it's who they listened to that i drew the most from.otis blackwell, little richard, doc pomus.....but even moreso richard rodgers, lorenz hart, george gershwin, harold arlen, sammy cahn..these guys crafted a song. a lyric and melody so tight the're inseperatable. but when i'm alone and need to relax, need some inspiration, need to to feel the awesome power of what man can convey without words, that speaks to the soul directly i listen to mozart. the brahms concertos slay me.....then, of of cousre there's eric clapton....

10.) what's in the future for stan "doc" penridge?

i went to college. raised a son who just left for the university of sussex in england. i have a number of patents on a reed resonator guitar and insert i've invented. there's actually a doc penridge day in austin awarded by the city counsel for the time i've donated freely producing musicians in my studio that otherwise would never be heard. and i'll be celebrating my 30th anniversary in the not to distant future (with the same woman

who knows what tomorrow may bring. there are a few items i need to take care of that have been lingering a bit too long but in the big picture i'll be doing what i do best. writing, producing, animating, there's a new design for archtops i need to finish up and build. and patent. and with it, spiritual growth. remember, the harder you chase it the faster it runs so sit back and relax and it will come knocking at your door. honest!

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