Bill Aucoin, the Man Who Found KISS and Built Them Into a Marketing Juggernaut, Passes Away at 66

Over the course of his career, Bill Aucoin managed and built the careers of artists like Starz, Billie Squier, Billy Idol and Toby Beau, but it was his 1973 discovery of the New York based band Kiss that may be his legacy.  Aucoin passed away on Monday morning at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, FL from complications due to prostate cancer surgery.  He was 66.

Aucoin started his professional career while still in college as a television cinematographer.  After graduating, he started work at Teletape Productions in New York where he moved up to the director's chair, working on commercials and winning a number of Cleo awards. 

His programming concepts were always innovative and ahead of their time so Bill eventually took that creativity and applied it to the music business.  Aucoin saw the group Kiss at clubs around New York and took an interest in their sound and creativity.  In October of 1973, he offered to be their manager which the group accepted on the condition that he get them signed to a record label within two weeks.  On November 1, they signed with the fledgling Emerald City label which would soon change their name to Casablanca. 

Hotter Than HellAccording to Aucoin's website "The most interesting and little known fact behind this extraordinary feat, is that there was little or no money available to promote Kiss' first tour. But because he so strongly believed in the strength of his vision, Aucoin used his personal American Express card to fund their tour, secure in the belief that he would be reimbursed by their success."  His efforts paid off, not only in growing record sales and touring receipts, but also in his spearheading of the merchandising of KISS products.

Aucoin split from KISS in 1982 during a time of rising tensions in the group.  First, was the recording of the soundtrack album for The Elder, a film that was never made.  The project brought Ace Frehley to the point where he, in essence, left the group even though he continued to be pictured on their album covers.  Aucoin left when the members decided to streamline their organization. 

Rebel Yell (Exp)Bill formed Aucoin Management, Inc., an organization that sought to creatively market emerging musical artists, something he did successfully with both Billy Idol and Billy Squier.  Other clients included Manowar, Starz and, most recently, Tantric.  He also reestablished his relationship with Kiss late in the 2000's to work on new DVD projects. 

Kiss drummer Peter Criss said "He was the fifth Kiss.  If it wasn't for Bill, there would be no Kiss."

Aucoin is survived by his partner of fifteen years, Roman Fernandez, and two sisters.

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