Bill Aucoin, a music industry legend most famous for discovering Kiss, passed away yesterday at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. A family spokesperson told the Associated Press it was due to complications from prostate cancer. He was 66 years old.
While Aucoin didn't give Kiss the idea for the makeup and theatrics, he was the first industry professional to really recognize its particular thrill -- and commercial potential. He first saw the band perform at a showcase at the Diplomat Hotel in New York City in 1973, and immediately introduced the quartet to Neil Bogart, then starting up his label Casablanca Records.
Kiss was the first act signed to the imprint, and it was Aucoin who largely convinced the band to then think of itself as a brand. These days, it's impossible to think of Kiss only as musicians, without all the attendant lunchboxes, toys, and assorted paraphernalia. That was Aucoin's genius.
After he parted ways with Kiss in the early '80s, he also went on to manage that decade's great pair of Billies: Idol and Squier.
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That split from Kiss was amicable, and the band posted a statement about Aucoin's death yesterday on its official web site:
Bill Aucoin, our irreplaceable original manager, mentor and dear friend has died of complications arising from his ongoing battle with prostate cancer. He was instrumental in guiding us from the beginning and without his vision, leadership and unending dedication, we could never have scaled the heights we have reached.
Bill loved life and lived it to the fullest. Words can never convey his impact on us or those close to him.
Over all the years, he never missed an opportunity to be with us at our shows near his home or fly in for special concerts, including our most recent Madison Square Garden show. He had hoped to attend our London show earlier this month but his illness prevented it. He still planned to visit us upon the start of our upcoming US tour.
We loved him, told him and have peace that he knew it. We will grieve and celebrate all he was and did. We have lost a part of us.
Aucoin was a longtime resident of South Florida, having settled here with his partner, Roman Fernandez. At the time of his passing, he was still active in music management, and boasted local bands Dreaming in Stereo and Nothing Rhymes With Orange as his new acts.