Dalton Ross on Vinnie Vincent's rotten luck | EW.com

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Dalton Ross on Vinnie Vincent's rotten luck

Dalton Ross expresses his sympathy for Vinnie Vincent, one of the unluckiest guys in rock. Plus: the best replacement singers ever, and readers confess the embarrassing DVDs they own

(Vinnie Vincent: Michael Ochs Archives.Com)

Dalton Ross on Vinnie Vincent’s rotten luck

Some guys have all the luck. And then there are the ones who have none at all. Falling squarely into that latter category is Vincent John Cusano. You may know him better as Vinnie Vincent. Or you may not know him at all, which, honestly, would not be all that surprising. Cusano thought he had it made when he replaced lead guitarist Ace Frehley in mega-metal band Kiss in 1982 (and subsequently changed his last name to Vincent). He thought wrong. First, Vinnie wrote some songs and played ax on the band’s Creatures of the Night album, but when the album was released, it was Frehley’s mug that could be seen hiding under all that makeup. Even worse, when they reissued the thing three years later and slapped a new, makeup-less photo on it, it was new guitarist Bruce Kulick who was pictured, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the album! Kulick! Blatantly swiping Vincent’s hype!

Actually, come to think of it, it’s probably a good thing Vinnie did not appear on the cover when it was first released, because frankly, the dude looked ridiculous. As if replacing the Space Ace weren’t hard enough, Vincent had the silliest-looking makeup imaginable. (Yes, even sillier than the late, great Eric Carr’s ”fox” character.) Vincent basically was supposed to be some sort of Egyptian warrior — somewhat curious for a dude from Connecticut — which meant he had a huge silver ankh hieroglyphic painted over half his face. I don’t know if this was some sort of rookie hazing, or a plot to make sure that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley still scored 99 percent of the groupies, but it pretty much assured that he was low on the totem pole — again, beneath The Fox.

It only took two years for Vincent to wear out his welcome in Kiss. Although the actual reasons for his departure remain murky, the one thing that is indisputable is that it did not end pretty. In fact, the feud continues to this day. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reconsider a lower court’s dismissal of a suit filed by Vinnie Vincent — and yes, this is most likely the first and last time you will see the words ”U.S. Supreme Court” and ”Vinnie Vincent” in the same sentence — claiming he is owed $6 million in royalties for his work on Kiss’ 1983 opus, Lick It Up. And who wouldn’t want to be associated with lyrics like ”Lick it up, lick it up, it’s only right now/ Lick it up, lick it up, ooh yeah/ Lick it up, lick it up, come on, come on/ Lick it up, lick it up”?

Unfortunately for him, you don’t mess with Gene Simmons when it comes to money, which explains why Vincent was a salaried gun for hire as opposed to a full-fledged member of the group at the time and is due… well, nothing. I feel for the guy. And not just for all the Kiss stuff. You see, after Kiss, he started the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, although precisely who or what they were actually invading remains open to debate. He put out two records and then watched his singer and drummer go on to form the infinitely more successful (and moderately more cheesy) Slaughter. You remember Slaughter. And if you don’t, consider yourself fortunate.

But Vincent’s bad luck extends far beyond music: There’s also the matter of a woman he was married to briefly in the 1980s, a part-time escort who was murdered in 1998 during a ”date” gone horribly wrong. Let’s face it: This Egyptian warrior has been roaming the desert for far too long and is desperately in need of a tall, cool glass of water. And, as far as I can tell, the legendary ax man’s only upcoming performances are at some guitar store in Las Vegas. (Granted, it is Ed Roman’s, the self proclaimed ”World’s Largest Guitar Store,” but still, a guitar store is a guitar store, no?)

Frankly, I am upset and appalled that the Supreme Court did not take this all into consideration before making the decision to shun Vincent’s appeal. Do you mean to tell me that Justice David Souter has never thrown off that robe and rocked out to the tasty licks of ”Dance All Over Your Face”? That Antonin Scalia never bowed down and worshipped at the altar of ”Fits Like a Glove”? That Ruth Ginsburg never spent time headbanging in a cage to ”Young and Wasted”? What kind of country are we living it, dammit?!? This just proves my long-standing theory that the U.S. Supreme Court does not, in fact, know how to rock. Give the man something! Don’t make him bust out some funky Egyptian powers and mummify your ass!

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OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

Well, ”obsession” may be pushing it, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised by season 3 of Desperate Housewives. I, like many people, grew tired last year of watching a show about a dude locked in a basement. The plots were weak, the characters seemed tired, and a lot of us wondered if the ABC dramedy was simply a one-season wonder. I don’t know if it will ever quite recapture the magic of that initial burst of episodes, but it is definitely a lot better than last year. Don’t get me wrong — Nora is one of the most grating characters on any prime-time show at the moment, and Teri Hatcher is still a little too kooky-klutzy for my liking, but we finally are back to an interesting mystery, and Kyle MacLachlan is doing some of his finest work since he informed poor Nomi Malone that she was ”a fantastic f—” in Showgirls.

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THE LIST

Vinnie Vincent got me thinking about replacement band members and how they almost never live up to the originals they replaced. Taking over for a singer can be especially challenging (Gary Cherone, anyone? For that matter: Sammy Hagar, anyone?). Which is why I’d like to pay tribute to The Five Best Replacement Singers of All-Time:

1) Brian Johnson (AC/DC)
Make no mistake about it: I am a Bon Scott man, and Highway to Hell remains, in my mind, the must-have AC/DC album. But you can’t argue with the power and ferocity of Johnson’s vocals, or the testament that is Back in Black. Easily the best debut effort by a replacement singer ever.

2) Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac)
By my count, there were approximately 1,874 members that had joined and then left Fleetwood Mac by the time Nicks and Buckingham signed up in 1975. I’m not a fan of this band, but you’d be a fool not to recognize that these two were instrumental (no pun intended) in the group’s success.

3) Tim ”Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest)
I’m not about to suggest that the Ripper had as much talent or charisma as Rob Halford, but the fact that the guy was discovered singing in a Judas Priest cover band is pretty awesome. Not so awesome? The Mark Wahlberg movie about it.

4) Joe Strummer (The Pogues)
A bit of a cheat, because he only subbed in for a tour after Shane MacGowan drank himself out of the band, but still — the Clash’s Joe Strummer singing for the Pogues? How cool is that?

5) Phil Collins (Genesis)
Again, not a big Genesis fan, but if Phil Collins doesn’t take over vocal duties after Peter Gabriel leaves, then he probably never goes on to sing ”In the Air Tonight” as a solo artist. And if he doesn’t go on to sing ”In the Air Tonight” as a solo artist, then Crockett and Tubbs don’t seem so cool anymore. And if Crockett and Tubbs don’t seem so cool, then I probably don’t end up making a fool of myself by trying to dress like them at a sixth-grade mixer. Damn you, Phil Collins!!!!

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READER MAIL

You people are sick. Sick, I say! I thought I was bad with my DVD impulse-buying fanaticism, but you guys take it to a whole other level. We had a record amount of e-mails this week, with confessions pouring in from all over the globe as to your most embarrassing DVD purchases. Here are just a few — a few — of the titles you sickos have wasted your hard-earned (or inherited) money on: Son in Law, Best of Gallagher, BMX Bandits, Killer Clowns From Outer Space, Pearl Harbor, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (this was a repeat offender, by the way), *Batteries Not Included, Nothing but Trouble, Ernest Goes to Africa, Deuces Wild, Piranha, Caddyshack II (nice use of Roman numerals), Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, Hackers, Xanadu, and, my personal favorite, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, which, as the worst of the worst, just earned Michael Patrico a copy of Captain & Tennille: The Ultimate Collection on DVD. Congrats, Michael! (I think.) Now, on to more embarrassing admissions in the mailbag:

I have recently stopped what was developing into a dangerous DVD-buying habit. I cannot even think of the last time I watched a DVD that I own. Being a typical American (i.e. someone who cannot turn away from free stuff), I can completely understand your desire to keep DVDs that you are given. It seems only natural to me. My most embarrassing title: Forces of Nature. I am mortified to even write it. I have no excuse other than to say that I am from Boston and went through an unfortunate Ben Affleck obsession. Still, I realize that is no excuse. — Juliane Scrivens

Congratulations on your newfound restraint, Juliane — in regards to both the DVD and Affleck issues.

Dalton, I sympathize with your wife. My fiancé also has a Closet O’ Crap, containing not only every sci-fi Attack of the Vegetables/Aliens/Large Woman ever made, but also two — count ‘em — TWO copies of Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. The man cannot pass a video store, sidewalk vendor, or garage sale without bringing home a DVD. And he almost never even gets the wrapping off; it just goes in the pile. When I protest, he informs me that much of this dreck is considered classic (by whom, I don’t know) and would fetch high prices on eBay. I’m considering testing this theory while he’s out of town next month. — Erin Hines

In defense of your fiancé, Erin, any movie starring Vanity is so nice you simply have to buy it twice. And good luck to him selling that stuff on eBay. He’d be better off trading it for something off of Wendy’s 99-cent Super Value meal. (I recommend the caesar salad.)

I own From Justin to Kelly… that’s right, From Justin to Kelly. I purchased it for $4.99. I remember thinking at the time that if Kelly Clarkson hit it really big it would be a collectors’ item. I think I watched half of it, mainly to torture some friends of mine who were visiting at the time… Come to think of it, a couple of them never came back… — Kristen Anderson

Those kinds of ”friends” aren’t your friends at all, Kristen. Real friends would come back. Granted, they may come back with duct tape and earphones, strapping you to your sofa and forcing you to listen to the new Jim Verraros CD as retaliation, but they would come back. Friendship is all about getting even.

So I was working my last week at a small-town video store. Before I left, I made a stack of movies I was considering buying. There were some worthy titles: The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Collateral, Batman Begins. So my last shift comes up and what did I buy? The Island. Michael Bay’s The Island. I don’t even like Michael Bay. And I saw The Island when it was in theaters (for free, of course). It was okay at times, but not really an essential. I still can’t explain it. I think the front cover of Scarlett Johansson with her hair waving so romantically in the wind was the culprit. It ended up at a used bookstore in less than a month, I can assure you. I still don’t have The 40-Year-Old Virgin, by the way. — Kyle Zwieg

Ah, the old Johansson excuse. It’s pretty much one big get-out-of-jail-free card for any situation. I will honor it here, for I too have fallen victim to her insidious charm and curvaceous appeal many times myself — including, but not limited to, The Island. You are excused, my friend. In fact, you are applauded. Well done. Well done, indeed.

I used to wonder how my husband-to-be had more than 700 music CDs and more than 300 movie DVDs and hundreds and hundreds of record albums until I discovered that he had $43,000 in credit-card debt. In looking at his last bill (for one month) he had charged more than 8,000 iTunes at 99 cents each and had charges at places that sell music and movies, too. This guy made $45,000 a year. Called off the wedding. — Susan P.

Fine, Susan! Can you get over it already? I told you, I’m working off the debt as fast as I can! If you think outing me in some lame Internet column is gonna help the situation, well, you’re just plain wrong, and that’s just plain mean. I thought we were past all this.

P.S. Will you take me back?

Fighting a sudden urge to adorn your face with Egyptian hieroglyphics? Have another favorite replacement singer? Think you can top some of the stinkers these people have admitted to owning? Shoot an e-mail over to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!