KISS Cancels Las Vegas Residency After Guitar Tech's COVID Death Draws Criticism

KISS canceled their planned Las Vegas residency suddenly late last week amid questions about their coronavirus safety protocols. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers were scheduled to play at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas as part of their long-running End of the Road World Tour. The decision came after some of the band's roadies blamed guitar tech Francis Stueber's death on negligent safety protocols in Rolling Stone. KISS disputed many of the claims the tour staffers made.

KISS was scheduled to play at Zappos Theater from Dec. 29 to Feb. 5, but options to buy tickets suddenly disappeared from the Caesars Palace/Ticketmaster site, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Saturday. Representatives for the venue said ticket providers would contact fans with details on how to request refunds. They also asked fans to check the group's website for further updates. However, the band has not posted a statement about the canceled Vegas residency on its site or on its Instagram and Twitter pages. Zappos Theater staff did confirm the entire residency was canceled in a tweet Saturday.

The "Rock and Roll All Nite" band went back on the road for their End of the Road tour in August. Some shows were postponed after Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons tested positive for the coronavirus. On Oct. 17, Stueber died after he was quarantined for two days in a Detroit hotel with COVID. He was 53. On Friday, Rolling Stone published comments from three crew members, who blamed Stueber's death on a lack of strict COVID safety measures.

"Every day during the shows, we weren't tested. And there are so many unknowns," one crew member told the magazine. "Did we super spread 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?'"

Meanwhile, a production executive disputed the roadies' claims, explaining there were safety measures in place. The band required all crew members to have vaccination cards and wear their masks backstage. Catering was also separated from local workers and the touring crew. Anyone who tested positive were sent to hotels to quarantine and all bus mates were tested again, the executive said. The roadies told Rolling Stone that masks were not always worn correctly and tests were not done frequently enough. The executive said the tour was supposed to have an employee whose job it was to make sure COVID protocols were followed, but management dropped that idea the day before the tour began. KISS production manager Robert Long told the magazine that daily testing was not in place but disagreed with the roadies who said testing was discouraged if someone didn't show symptoms.

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"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," the band told Rolling Stone. "But ultimately this is still a global pandemic and there is simply no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk." The band also disputed the roadies' statements that Steuber was not tested immediately because the band wanted to avoid the issues that came with a positive test.

"While the protocols were in place for the tour, it was impossible to police the crew minute by minute of their lives," the band's statement continued. "If certain crew chose to go out to dinner on a day off, or have beers at a local bar after the show, and did so without a mask or without following protocols, there is little that anyone can do to stop that. Particularly when many of our tour markets did not have any state or local mask mandates in place." The band also admitted that they recently learned some crew members tried to hide their coronavirus symptoms and other crew members may have provided face vaccination cards which put "the entire tour in harm's way."