KISS roadies have alleged that lax COVID measures on tour are to blame for the death of Fran Stueber, the longtime guitar tech of Paul Stanley who died earlier this month at age 52 from COVID-19.
Three roadies spoke on the condition of anonymity “over fear of retaliation” to Rolling Stone saying “not enough was done to protect them” and “the tour didn’t take strict enough safety measures, which they say sickened several tour workers and potentially cost Stueber his life.”
These three roadies levied a number of accusations about tour operations including not being tested every day. They even mentioned that about 13 crew members of the nearly 70-person team tested positive for COVID-19, but there was no postponements until Stueber’s death.
Rolling Stone reported, “Four different workers on the tour described Stueber as noticeably ill with a cough and breathing troubles in the days leading up to his death, starting around a week before he was quarantined. But he wasn’t given a test until just a couple of days before he died…when it came to testing, it was largely on the shoulders of the staff to opt in, which some chose not to do because a positive test would put them in quarantine at a hotel in a random city. Moreover, frustrated crew members say that the band seldom notified other workers about a positive Covid test. Instead, they say, the worker would inexplicably disappear from the tour.”
Additionally, a production executive on the tour told Rolling Stone, “The tour was originally slated to have a designated Covid-19 compliance officer…adding that management decided to nix that position a day before the tour started, and those responsibilities fell onto the production team.”
Not all of the roadies on KISS’ tour were unhappy with the protocols in place. A fourth unnamed roadie was quoted as saying, “Production did a really good job to the best of their ability going into it. Individuals from a bunch of different departments were sometimes more lackadaisical about it, some took it upon themselves not to wear a mask. People were getting sick, but these were people not doing what they’re supposed to.”
For their part, KISS said in a statement, “While the protocols were in place for the tour, it was impossible to police the crew minute by minute of their lives. 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.
They added, “We are now aware there were crew members who attempted to conceal signs of illness, and when it was discovered, refused medical attention…. Furthermore, it has recently been brought to our attention that certain crew members may have provided fake vaccination cards which, if true, we find morally reprehensible (as well as illegal), putting the entire tour in harm’s way.”