Anyone who grew up during the 70s and 80s is familiar with the song “Beth” which was written by guitarist Stan Penridge and sung by KISS original drummer, Peter Criss. The song, to which many of my peers slow-danced in school gyms, has been featured or sung on GLEE, American Idol and in numerous movies. We often speculated as to who this “Beth” actually was – and apparently we were not the only ones.
above: at the risk of simultaneously dating myself and freaking out my readers, I actually still have my original single of Beth.
KISS song Beth parody
This legendary KISS ballad gets lampooned in this four and a half minute short film directed by Brian Billow of Anonymous Content, shown below. The fictitious story of the song’s inspiration came from the mind of Bob Winter, executive creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami. The Peter Criss character’s dialogue stays true to the song’s lyrics and the video is perfectly art directed to capture the era. Only flaw? Peter Criss was actually the only KISS member in the studio when the song was recorded for the 1976 album Destroyer*.
As Winter told Adweek previously, “I was thinking that it might be fun to create a series that’s like the made-up stories behind real songs.”
The Vimeo version is much better quality and if you belong, you can watch that here.
The truth is not far off. According to Songfacts, Criss and Penridge came up with a song called “Beck,” which was about the wife/girlfriend of their guitarist Mike Brand (they were in a band named Chelsea at the time), whose name was Becky. It’s rumored she was a hypochondriac and was constantly interrupting their band practices with phone calls asking when Mike was coming home, and the song was a joke directed at him.
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?”
Get the whole story behind the Bob Winter and Brian Billow version here at Adweek.
Director: Brian Billow
Production Company: Anonymous Content
Senior Executive Producer: Eric Stern
Executive Producer, Production: SueEllen Clair
Producer: Paul Ure
Writer: Bob Winter
Director of Photography: Darran Tiernan
Editor: John Dingfield, Beast Editorial
Beth: Lilli Birdsell
Peter: Steven Olson
Kid #1: Michael Hamilton
Kid #2: Robert Hamilton
Ace: Roy Green
Paul: Alec Paul Cartinian
Gene: Rocco Fonzarelli
Roadie: Jason Lee Beckwith
Performer, Beth Piano Intro: Coleman Zurkowski