Secret KISS guitarist Bob Kulick dead at 70

Lyndsey Parker
Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
KISS alumni Eric Singer, Gene Simmons, Bob Kulick, and Bruce Kulick in 2012. (Photo: Jerod Harris/WireImage)

Guitarist and producer Bob Kulick, best known for his work with KISS and Lou Reed, has died. A cause of death has not yet been revealed. He was 70 years old.

Bob Kulick initially tried out for a then-unknown band called KISS in 1972, but while group members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Peter Criss were impressed with his playing, they ultimately decided to hire another guitarist who auditioned right after him that day, Ace Frehley. However, in 1977, KISS hired Kulick to secretly record guitar parts for KISS Alive II. Kulick later contributed to the KISS albums Unmasked, Killers, and Creatures of the Night, as well as Paul Stanley's 1978 solo album.

In a 2018 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Kulick said he had no problem keeping his KISS involvement under wraps at the time, explaining, "In this circumstance, being friends with Gene and Paul, it was important to me that when they said, ‘This has to be between us and us only,' that I’m going to keep my word.” 

Bruce Kulick later became an official member of the KISS lineup from 1984 to 1996; it was actually Bob who suggested Bruce for the gig. In 2017, the Kulick brothers joined forces on the annual KISS Kruise to perform a 13-song set of KISS music live together for the first time, and they were supposed to team up again for the 2018 KISS Kruise. However, after a contractual dispute, Bob withdrew from the cruise and blasted Bruce on social media, accusing his younger brother of “copyright infringement” and “back-stabbing” over the allegedly unauthorized sale of “Kulick Brothers”-branded merchandise and autographed photos. Bob went on to claim that Bruce had taken out a restraining order against him, but offered no further details.

It was in fact Bruce Kulick (who was reluctant to publicly address Bob’s accusations, but in an April 2020 interview said their relationship was “not healthy”) who announced the news of Bob’s death, posting on Facebook and Twitter: "I am heartbroken to have to share the news of the passing of my brother Bob Kulick. His love of music, and his talent as a musician and producer should always be celebrated. I know he is at peace now, with my parents, playing his guitar as loud as possible. Please respect the Kulick Family’s privacy during this very sad time."

Bob Kulick was born Jan. 16, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and began performing professionally at age 16 in the Greenwich Village circuit. His many credits as a respected studio musician and producer, aside from KISS, included playing lead guitar on Lou Reed's Coney Island Baby; touring and/or recording with Motorhead, Roger Daltrey, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Meat Loaf, Michael Bolton, and Diana Ross; and co-writing the SpongeBob Squarepants song “Sweet Victory.”

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