Bill Aucoin, who discovered the rock group Kiss and helped build them into a musical and merchandising juggernaut, died June 28 in Aventura, Fla., of surgical complications from prostate cancer. He was 66.
A former television cameraman, Aucoin discovered Kiss in New York City in 1973 and helped launch the makeup-wearing, fire-breathing quartet. He financed the band’s first tour on his personal American Express credit card when money was tight, but he was well rewarded when the band’s popularity exploded in 1975 with the hit “Rock and Roll all Nite.”
“He was the fifth Kiss,” said drummer Peter Criss, who had Aucoin serve as the best man at his second wedding. “If it wasn’t for Bill, there would be no Kiss.”
Aucoin first saw the band at a showcase gig at New York’s Diplomat Hotel, then brought it upstairs to meet with record company executive Neil Bogart, who signed it as the first act on his Casablanca Records label.
After parting with Kiss in the early 1980s, Aucoin managed Billy Squier and Billy Idol.
Survivors include his partner of 15 years, Roman Fernandez.