Criss joined Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons in the early 1970s as drummer for their band, Wicked Lester. The two musicians had answered an ad placed in a local paper by Criss, who was looking for a band. that Wicked Lester recorded an album together, but as of 2002, it has never been released.
KISS released their first self-titled debut in February of 1974.
Criss struggled with alcoholism through many of the years he was in the band. Although always credited as drummer, Criss did not play on most of the 1979 release, Dynasty, and didn't play at at all on 1980's Unmasked.
Criss left the band in the early 1980s and launched a solo career.