This song dates back to a band called Chelsea, which future Kiss drummer Peter Criss was in with the guitarist Stan Penridge from 1970-1972. Criss and Penridge came up with a song called "Beck," which was about the wife of their guitarist Mike Brand, whose name was Becky. She was constantly interrupting their band practices asking when Mike was coming home, and the song was a joke directed at him.
In August 2000, less than a year before Penridge died at age 50, he explained to the KissFAQ: "'Beck' was written, almost word for word, from Mike Brand's responses to his wife's constant calls that interrupted our rehearsals. It got to the point where I wrote down his remarks over a period of three or four days in what I called my 'wizard book.' It was merely a small notebook I carried to jot down silly sayings, sketch in, to save ideas. If you look at the lyrics and view them as a hen-pecked hubby's remarks to his nagging wife you'll see what I mean. Just pause after every sentence and pretend there's a bitch at the other end of the line. You'll catch it - I'm sure. Absolutely not responsible at all. Another poorman's copyright by me in '70."
Penridge and Criss recorded a demo of "Beck" but never released the song. In 1976, after Criss joined Kiss, he and Penridge revived the song and with the help of producer Bob Ezrin, they changed the title to "Beth" and made it more sentimental, changing the end of the first verse from:
"I know you love complaining, but Beck what can I do?" to "I think I hear them callin', Oh, Beth what can I do?"
A piano ballad not typical of Kiss' sound, this was released as the B-side of "Detroit Rock City," which was the third single from the album, following "Shout It Out Loud" and "Flaming Youth." These three first single releases were hard-driving anthems in the style of Kiss' previous hit "Rock And Roll All Nite," but the song that got the most attention was "Beth." Radio stations began playing the song, and the record company responded by flipping the sides of the single, with "Beth" becoming the A-side about six weeks later. It became the biggest hit for Kiss, and their only their only song to get significant airplay on Top 40 radio and even - gasp - Adult Contemporary formats.
Stan Penridge co-wrote and played guitar on most of the songs on Peter Criss' 1980 solo album Out of Control. Criss was best man at Stan's wedding (Ace Frehley was also in the bridal party) and they worked together for a few years after Criss left Kiss. In 2000, Penridge filed a lawsuit claiming he was owed money for some of the songs he wrote with Criss that Kiss recorded, including "Baby Driver," "Dirty Living," and "Baby, Don't You let me Down."
Peter Criss sang lead, as he did on several Kiss songs, including "Black Diamond" and "Hard Luck Woman." He was the only member of the band to perform on this song - Dick Wagner played the acoustic guitar and an orchestra was brought in. Wagner had toured with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, but was living in New York and taking session work at the time. He wasn't credited on the album, but remembers also playing on the tracks "Sweet Pain" and "Flaming Youth."
Live performances of this song were a bit of a problem unless Kiss had an orchestra handy. When they didn't, Peter Criss would move to the front of the stage and sing it to a recorded backing track.
This song is a source of contention between Peter Criss and Kiss frontman Paul Stanley. Criss was fired from the band in 1980, and while he participated in reunion tours, he was replaced by other musicians: first Eric Carr and then Eric Singer (on later tours, Singer would sometimes sing this song like Criss used to).
As the co-writer/singer of Kiss' biggest hit, Criss stakes a solid claim to the band's legacy, but Stanley has maintained that Stan Penridge wrote just about all of "Beth," and Criss contributed very little to the song. "Peter had nothing to do with it," Stanley told Rolling Stone in 2014. "It was a lifeline that Peter hung on to validate himself, but it wasn't based on reality."
The rift between Criss and Stanley runs far deeper than a dispute over this song. When Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, Stanley and Gene Simmons refused to reunite with the original lineup and ultimately decided not to perform at the ceremony.
Sitcom writer Paul Simms named the obnoxious secretary character from NewsRadio Beth after this song. The character had "no last name."
Suggestion credit: Brett - Edmonton, Canada
Peter Criss married his first wife, Lydia, in 1970. They were still together when this song became a hit, which lent some veracity to the lyric about coming home to see your girl. In 1978, their relationship turned rocky when Criss took up with Debra Jensen, who was Miss January in Playboy that year. Peter and Lydia divorced in 1979 (with Lydia getting a reported $1 million settlement), and Peter and Debra were later married.
In our interview with Lydia Criss, she claims credit for coming up with the name "Beth." According to Lydia, Gene Simmons didn't want to call it "Beck" to avoid confusion with the guitarist Jeff Beck. She says she suggested "Beth" because she was thinking about the woman Neil Bogart of Kiss' label Casablanca Records was married to: the former Beth Weiss. Like the original inspiration for the song, Becky Brand, Beth was also a twin.
Lydia also says that she provided the line "You say you feel so empty that our house just ain't our home." She explained: "I was working for six years of our marriage and supporting Peter. When I finally stopped working, I said, 'I feel so empty. I feel like this house isn't even my home.' And he put that in the song. Because I was used to paying the bills, and being a Scorpio, kind of controlling things. When I moved, I didn't have control anymore, so I felt a little empty, and they put it in a song."
This was used in a 2015 commercial for the Volkswagen Passat where a husband gets a call from his wife, Beth, that shows up on his car information system. He ignores it, and runs off to join their kids for some fun and adventure. Driving home with the kids asleep in the back seat, he tells the vehicle: "Text Beth: What can I do?" The reply: "Pick up milk."
Henry from Sanford, Florida, Usa"Beth" (Beck), piano-dominated ballad at No.7, and disco-thed, "I Was Made forLoving You" at No. 11, were ironically the biggest hits for Kiss...
Debby from UsaEric Carr, who passed away in 1991 didn't ever wear the Catman makeup. His character was a fox. Eric Singer currently wears the cat makeup. Beth won the People's Choice Award for Best Song in 1977 (of the year 1976). Since Kiss were on tour at the time,they were videotaped onstage thanking the public and Peter's then wife, Lydia accepted the award on behalf of the band.
Debby from UsaBeth was Kiss's highest charting song to date and their only top ten hit. Their second highest charting song was in 1979 with 'I Was Made For Loving You', which peaked at number 11.
Beth from NjI was born two years before this song was released. Unfortunately, whoever wrote it, it's been the story of my life.
Jeff from Ft. Worth TxAlthough he replaced Criss, Eric Carr never wore Peter's cat makeup. His character was a fox.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 5th 1976, "Beth" by Kiss peaked at #7 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top chart; it had enter the chart on September 9th at position #79 and stayed on the Top 100 for 21 weeks.
Susie from Burnaby, BcThis had nothing to do with his wife or what most people assume. If one of you runs into Paul or Gene and can talk privately they may admit origins but they are under a non disclosure agreement and representational agreements. They were given persona's to follow and this affected the songs. Beth was simply from the name Elizabeth it was a middle name of someones grandma. The writer (and aren't they lucky they wont be silverspooned again for pissing them off) pictured what it must be like to be on the road a distance from someone you love. A similar song written by the same writer behind the pen names also wrote Helene by Roch Voisine. How the heck do I know? My cousin is Steven Spielberg whom with some of his sisters (Lari and Terri did business but often Leslie did voice acting/music) backed several of these bands via other names they do business with. My cousin Steven when I was younger (and worked in the industry) would call me up occasionally or send me records and videos. One of the times was during the recording of the KISS solo albums. Gene got on the phone and frankly was a jerk and I told him off and Steven told him to go record and leave me alone. Then I had a talk with Ace who was much more friendly and little less ego freak. What did Gene say? "You should stick to writing science fiction." How stupid was that? At the time I was well known by his peers and his contract while it didn't stop him from having an opinion also didn't get him out of doing what he was told. Frankly I did kind of lift an eyebrow when I heard his solo album outside of kiss. He probably lifted one when I got mad and asked my cousin to make him play "Silverspoon" where just guitar saw an upgrade to include other things and then Steven showed him what else I did. I will say on the flip side most of the other entertainers were friendly. Billy Idol was positively adorable.
Charles Hollingswort from Leeds, AlTo Rick in N.J.:if "Beth" had been intended to be a "B" side(which it was a "B" side),it was issued on a 45 which is considered to still be a single!
Benz1r from Dallas, TxThanks to James from Columbus for sharing that experience. This song and James' comment have had me thinking all day about the song's theme. I have always thought this melody was the quintessential song about young guys who don't realize how great they have it at home, it's about the guy who chooses the friends and other women instead of the lady at home. We aren't forever young and time with Beth would have been the better investment.
James from Columbus, OhI'm 52 now but when the song first came out I was a college student working at a Pizza Hut in San Antonio. Many of my friends also worked there and we had an absolute blast. It was one of the best periods of my life.
While at Pizza Hut, a fellow was hired to help cook. He didn't fit in with our group so we didn't know much about him. One evening while we were working a really beautiful girl walks in. She had long black hair and on the scale of 1 to 10 she was a 15. I would guess she was in her very early 20s. She walks up to the counter and I'm stunned by her beauty. I noticed she had this innocent look but appeared somewhat distraught. I go up to see if she needed anything and she asked to see this one fellow. I noticed she was wearing a wedding ring and that's when I realized she was married to him. I called him over then went back to the pizza make table. Since I was close to the counter I overheard her asking him when he was coming home that evening. He told her he was going out with his friends and would be home late that night. He turned and walked back to his station. She stayed for a moment before walking out. If I had to guess he was probably very tired of their marriage and wanted out.
All us guys dream of falling in love with a gorgeous lady. He did and I would venture to guess their marriage did not last. He was young, good looking, and I guess wanted to be free to play the field. Every time I here Beth, I think of that sad relationship.
Karen from Manchester, NhMy mother loved this song when it came out (no, neither her name, nor mine, is Beth). She thought it was so pretty. One day when we were out shopping, I showed her the cover of "Destroyer" and told her, "These are the guys who do the song 'Beth'." She's never listened to it again.
Jason from Denver, CoI was at the reunion concert at Tiger Stadium in Detroit on June 28, 1996. I remember when Peter sang this song, I became a little watery eyed because after many years of hearing this song on albums and the radio,I thought to myself I cannot believe I am actually seeing him sing the live in make up and with the other original members....WOW
Gregg from Raceland, KyJeff from Wayne, NJ wins the argument here. His explaination is the correct one. I can't believe that so many people post before doing their homework, sheesh!
Jeff from Wayne, NjThe song was written by Peter Criss and Stan Penridge, both of whom were in a band called Chelsea. A demo tape of the song, however, was recorded later, during Criss' tenure in another band, Lips, immediately before he joined Kiss.
Although Criss has stated that the original song, entitled "Beck", was about his then-wife, Lydia, this is in contradiction to other statements which point to a woman named Becky (Rebecca, or "Beck" for short), who was the girlfriend of Chelsea guitarist Mike Brand. The song was written as an insult to Rebecca, who would frequently interrupt recording sessions and rehearsals. She was, according to Criss, also a notorious hypochondriac.
Several years later, when Destroyer producer Bob Ezrin was presented with the song, he re-wrote the lyrics and suggested the piano and orchestra. Gone was the caustic (and reportedly profane) diatribe against an annoying woman. What it became was a sweet ballad about missing a loved one while on the road; telling her that even though you're not there and have a job to do, you're still thinking about her. However, it was Gene Simmons who suggested a change in title to "Beth". The two versions of this story alternately have Simmons concerned about fans believing it was about guitarist Jeff Beck or, worse yet, misconstrued as a gay love song about the guitarist.
During the recording sessions for Beth, the only Kiss member to be present in the studio was Peter Criss.
Live, "Beth" was performed by Peter Criss backed solely by a tape of the instrumental track. However, during the years when Eric Carr and Eric Singer were Kiss' drummers, the song was never performed live by Kiss. The version of Beth featured on the group's 2003 Kiss Symphony: Alive IV DVD and subsequent album would be the only time the song was performed live with a full orchestra.
Axeman from Melbourne, AustraliaI was AT that concert! BEST I'd ever heard Pete sing that!
Chris from Selinsgrove, PaBrett from Canada is correct.
It was for Mike's GF and Peter wrote the lyics while on a train riding from Ny to Nj for practice
Austin from Bristow, VaThe most overrated Kiss song ever.
Gary from Morgantown, WvSteve, Birmingham, AL, you're mistaken. Or, have you never heard of KISS: UNPLUGGED, on which it is performed on acoustic guitars.
Don from Indianapolis, InI hear this song ALOT on a couple of our local FM stations. It's about my favorite song by KISS with its heartfelt(!) emotion. But...there is something about hearing KISS 30 years later on an "easy listening" station. It just don't seem natural...
Draal from Tilburg, NetherlandsThe Eric Carr version is also quiet nice (1989).
Frank from Brampton, Ontario, CanadaThis is a really sad song and I cry alot whenever I listen to it. Call me a wuss if you want but it is indeed a sad song despite it being a powerful ballad. Hey it's ok to cry whenever you hear a sad song like this.
Steve from Birmingham, Al"Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park" contains the only recording of "Beth" performed on acoustic guitars. Supposedly, the soon-to-be-released Kissology Vol. 2 contains the first ever DVD copy of this rare film.
Randell from Sydney, AustraliaThis one of my favourite KISS songs ever!
Beth from Pittsburgh, PaGee...i love this song
Brian from L.a., CaIf you pay close attention on Alive II you can hear the spring in Peter's throne rattle as he gets up to sing the song. Also, towards the end of the song, you can hear a woman in the crowd scream "Peter!" at the top of her lungs.
Cam from Cambridge, CanadaOriginally this song was on the B side of the single Detroit Rock city. The only reason KISS put it there was because they thought that it would be a dud, but man were thy wrong it won them a people choice award and will always be one of KISS'S most popular and known song.
Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaThis song still gives me chills. KISS was one of the loudest bands of that time, and this was such a beautiful departure.
Craig from Madison, WiIn the movie Detroit Rock City, the epic saga of 4 teen boys trying to get to a Kiss concert (produced by Gene Simmons) one of the boys falls for a girl named Beth, appropriately.
Jordan from WvI read or heard somewhere that the band changed the name from "Beck" to "Beth" as to avoid any confusion about the song being a tribute to guitarist Jeff Beck.
Dee from Indianapolis, InI was seven when this was hot on the radio. It still envokes memories of an era gone buy. It was the only song I knew by Kiss for the longest time. As an adult I got more into them and have seen them in concert three times. Beth is one of the shortest songs to ever get radio play during the 70's, if you don't include some of the punk ones that have made it. Especially , when many songs lasted half an album side.
Sarah from Colac, AustraliaLove this song, but i really would like to know what it is really about!
Shana from Pembroke,ontario, Canadapretty good song, but im surprised it did so well...i wouldnt say its as good as some of their other stuff
Brett from Sudbury, Canadahe didn't write it for his wife, Criss wrote it with Penridge in his old band Chelsea. It was the Mike the guitarist girlfriend Becky who called while they were rehearsing and nagged him to come home.
Tristan from Anderson, ScI heard thet the song was written about his dog? I have heard this from several venues.
Andrew from Some Where In Tx, TxI heard it was written about Peters mom.
Steph from Melbourne, AustraliaPeter Criss wrote it for his first wife...being a major rock star and being married caused problems. Pete also won a songwriting award for it. Good on him