By Patrick Fitzgerald
Former Kiss guitarist Vinnie “Wiz” Vincent has lost his bankruptcy appeal, paving the way for his former band mates to sell his Kiss songwriting copyrights for payment of a judgment they won against him.
A three-judge bankruptcy panel for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a ruling by a Tennessee bankruptcy judge that Vincent filed his most recent bankruptcy — his third Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing in three years — in bad faith and barred him from seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection for two years.
Vincent, whose real is Vincent John Cusano, is trying to block Kiss from selling his copyrights in such songs as “Lick It Up” and “Young and Wasted” to pay off an $82,000, according to a judgment in a separate California lawsuit.
That judgment is the result of attorneys’ fees due to Kiss members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and others after Vincent unsuccessfully sued them for unpaid royalties and defamation. The band members want to sell Vincent’s copyrights to pay off the judgment.
Last year, Vincent’s lawyer at the time argued such a sale would “absolutely” leave the musician “destitute, as the property sought to be sold constitutes the debtor’s life’s work.”
The appellate panel also shot down Vincent’s argument that any mistakes made in his case were inadvertent and because of the facts that he fired his bankruptcy lawyer and was representing himself pro se, a legal term meaning representing yourself.
“We cannot excuse a lack of good faith based on debtor’s pro se status, particularly when the debtor was in fact represented by counsel or had retained counsel during the vast majority of his time in the bankruptcy court but failed to follow counsel’s advice,” the panel said in court papers.
In 1982 Vincent, a onetime staff writer for the TV show “Happy Days,” was hired by Kiss for $2,000 a week to replace original guitarist Ace Frehley. He served as the lead guitarist for the band from 1982 to 1984, playing on the “Creatures of the Night” and “Lick It Up” albums.
Dubbed the “Ankh Warrior” for his Egyptian-style face paint during the end of Kiss’s original makeup-wearing days, Vincent was also part of the band’s first nonmakeup lineup. But within a year of taking off the makeup, Vincent was out of the band, reportedly fired for “unethical” behavior.
After Kiss, Vincent, formed the over-the-top glam-metal outfit Vinnie Vincent Invasion, which released a pair of albums in the late 1980s. According to court papers Vincent, 56, now lives in the Nashville area. He couldn’t be reached for comment.