A group of KISS roadies have blasted the band’s 2021 tour for lax COVID-19 protocols, which they blamed on the death of a longtime guitar tech, 53-year-old Francis Stueber. The band has responded by suggesting that crew members may have faked vaccination cards, among other breaches.
Stueber died from the virus just days after being quarantined in a Detroit hotel room while KISS were on the road. Speaking on condition of anonymity to Rolling Stone, numerous crew members detailed the lack of COVID protocols enforced on the tour, possibly leading to Stueber’s tragic passing.
“I couldn’t believe how unsafe it was, and that we were still going,” one roadie told Rolling Stone, adding that they would never work for KISS again. “We’d been frustrated for weeks, and by the time Fran died, I just thought, ‘You have to be f**king kidding me.’”
The crew members cited a lack of testing and improperly worn masks backstage. As previously reported, founding KISS members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons both tested positive for the virus, leading to postponed concerts. Meanwhile, just days after testing positive, Stanley was seen without wearing a mask.
“Every day during the shows, we weren’t tested,” one of the roadies said. “And there are so many unknowns. Did we superspread this? Did we spread this thing from city to city? It’s horrible that Fran passed, and it’s horrible if this is our protocol just for us to tour. Is this going to be the normal, to stick someone in a hotel? And if somebody dies, ‘Oh, well, off to the next guy?'”
The band issued a statement to Rolling Stone on the death of Stueber and accusations of bad COVID compliance, suggesting that crew members may have faked vaccinations cards.
“We are profoundly heartbroken at the loss of Francis, he was a friend and colleague of 20 years, there is no way to replace him. Millions of people have lost someone special to this horrific virus and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Please protect yourself and your loved ones.
Our ‘End of the Road World Tour’ absolutely had COVID safety protocols in place that met, but most often exceeded, federal, state, and local guidelines. But ultimately this is still a global pandemic and there is simply no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk.”
We are now aware there were crew members who attempted to conceal signs of illness, and when it was discovered, refused medical attention…. Furthermore, it has recently been brought to our attention that certain crew members may have provided fake vaccination cards which, if true, we find morally reprehensible (as well as illegal), putting the entire tour in harm’s way.”
Apparently, the tour was supposed to have a designated COVID compliance officer — now a norm on major entertainment productions and film sets — but the position was nixed a day before the tour was supposed to embark. The responsibility then fell to the production staff, and tests were only administered when crew members showed symptoms.
KISS production manager Robert Long confirmed that daily testing was not implemented. He added that he did not discourage testing, however.
“I never told anyone we didn’t want to test them,” Long told Rolling Stone. “If you wanted a test, we’d supply it. If you wanted to get tested, if you felt symptoms, if you think someone might be sick, please raise your hand. We had thermometers on every bus, sheets to write down temperatures every morning, mask boxes, and sanitizers everywhere. People were getting tested every other day, we ordered tests regularly. I’m not going to not test people; I take this shit seriously.”
Below you can see Paul Stanley’s tweet remembering Francis Stueber, a beloved member of the KISS Army and tech for the group for over 20 years.
My dear friend, buddy and guitar tech for 20 years, Fran Stueber died yesterday suddenly of Covid. Both on and offstage I depended on him for so much. My family loved him as did I. He was so proud of his wife and 3 boys as they were of him. I’m numb. pic.twitter.com/RvwUGpFt0X
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) October 17, 2021