Former KISS keyboardist Gary Corbett has died after battling a very aggressive form of lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain and hip.
Earlier today (Thursday, July 15), his family released the following statement: “It is with great sadness and the heaviest of hearts that the Cohen/Corbett family needs to let everyone know that after a hard-fought battle with cancer Gary Corbett passed away last night on Wednesday [July] 14, 2021
“Those who knew Gary know that we and the world of music have all lost a very talented, funny, kind and gentle soul.
“The pain cuts so deeply that our hearts are bleeding.
“A memorial event is being planned. The details will come at a later date
“Today is Gary‘s birthday. Please keep Gary and our family in your thoughts and your heart.
“Gary Corbett will be truly and deeply missed by all who know him.
“Lenora Corbett/Cohen and Mindy Cohen“.
According to LA Weekly, Corbett played offstage keyboards and handled background vocals on KISS tours promoting late-’80s and early-’90s LPs “Crazy Nights”, “Hot In The Shade” and “Revenge”. Before that, his credits included co-writing Cyndi Lauper‘s Top 5 hit “She Bop” and working with the solo band of former FOREIGNER singer Lou Gramm, who recommended Corbett to KISS frontman Paul Stanley.
“There seemed to be a trend in the ’80s that bands didn’t want the image of having a keyboard player onstage,” Corbett told LA Weekly. “Some people think keyboards aren’t as much of a rock instrument as a guitar. Gene Simmons is definitely of that mindset. At every soundcheck, if the soundman asked me, ‘Could you just give me a couple of notes,’ [Simmons] would immediately put his hands behind his back and act like he was ice skating around a rink.”
In his interview with LA Weekly, Corbett recounted a particularly memorable experience playing with KISS at the 1988 “Monsters Of Rock” festival. “It was such a big show that they had big Diamond Vision screens on each side of the stage,” he said. “So when the guys that were working the cameras on the side of the stage were roaming around and filming everything, I guess nobody told them that they weren’t supposed to be filming me. So during ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’, I’m standing there singing and playing and having a good time. And later I found out I was on the big screens in front of, like, 60,000 people, which I don’t think made the guys very happy.”
After KISS, Corbett played with CINDERELLA until 2011. He also got a couple of Grammys for his work with reggae legends Damian and Stephen Marley.