jakub | October 12, 2023

Widow of KISS guitar tech suing band for wrongful COVID death


KISS are being sued by the widow of their long-term guitar technician Francis ‘Fran’ Stueber, who passed away after contracting COVID while the band were on tour in 2021.

Catherine Stueber, along with other members of her family, is claiming negligence and wrongful death. KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, their manager Doc McGhee, the tour promoter Live Nation and the hotel chain Marriott International have been named as defendants.

The suit, obtained by Rolling Stone, states: “As a direct and proximate result of the dangerous condition created by Defendants, Decedent suffered fatal injuries and Plaintiffs suffered damages, including, but not limited to funeral and burial expenses, the permanent deprivation of the love companionship, affection solace, society, comfort, assistance, services and financial contributions, and moral support of Decedent in an amount according to proof at trial.”

Fran Stueber died shortly after being quarantined in a hotel room in Detroit in October 2021 during KISS’ ‘End of the Road Tour’. The lawsuit states that “the failure to enforce or have adequate COVID-19 policies or procedures caused a COVID-19 outbreak amongst band members and tour personnel.”

According to the suit, McGhee, having been contacted directly by Stueber, said he would arrange for medical attention for the technician, but it alleges he sent a member of the tour crew instead. The crew member could not reach Stueber’s hotel room and called the police, who entered the room and found him unresponsive.

KISS live in Germany
KISS live in Germany in 2023 (Photo by Thomas Banneyer/picture alliance)

Shortly after Stueber’s death, KISS denied allegations of slack COVID protocols on the tour. They said their shows “met, but most often exceeded” national and local guidelines.

Nevertheless, three crew members who spoke to Rolling Stone on condition of anonymity have disputed that adequate measures were in place. “Every day during the shows, we weren’t tested,” said one crew member. “And there are so many unknowns. Did we superspread [COVID], did we spread this thing from city to city? It’s horrible that Fran passed, and it’s horrible if this is our protocol just for us to tour. Is this going to be the normal, to stick someone in a hotel and if somebody dies, ‘Oh, well, off to the next guy?’”

A second crew member said: “I couldn’t believe how unsafe it was, and that we were still going. We’d been frustrated for weeks, and by the time Fran died, I just thought, ‘You have to be fucking kidding me.’”

KISS’ response to those allegations continued: “Ultimately this is still a global pandemic and there is simply no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk.”

“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.”

The ‘End of the Road’ tour, which has been announced as the band’s farewell, is set to begin its final leg in Cincinnati on October 19, finishing with two nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden on December 1 and 2.





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