Though he cut out his drum solo, Peter Criss impersonator Jason Lee (2nd from left) finished the early August show during which he had his third heart attack.
For the past seven years, veteran local drummer Jason Lee has played in the Kiss tribute band Kissed Alive.
“My first heart attack happened when I was in Target six years ago. I started having chest pains in the dressing room,” says Lee. “I was in my underwear. I forced myself to get dressed because I did not want to be hauled out on a gurney through Target in my underwear. I was not going to be someone else’s Youtube moment. I was doubled over in pain. But because I had long hair and a denim vest, no one would help me. They thought I was a drugged-out hippie.
"I went to the emergency room at a North County hospital, which I won’t name, where they misdiagnosed me and sent me home. I actually walked home with a heart attack.”
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On August 4, Kissed Alive was playing for about 300 people at Campland on the Bay on Mission Bay. “It was my 47th birthday. Twenty or 30 minutes in I started feeling shortness of breath. At first I thought I was exhausted.”
But then came chest pains.
“It took me about 15 minutes to realize I was in the middle of my third heart attack. Looking at my set list, I knew I had a ways to go. I was determined to at least try and finish the show. I should have exited but I was not thinking straight. I played very conservatively. I cut out my drum solo.
“There were all these people waving glowsticks and riding on bikes with neon all over them and I was in this intense pain. All this fun and beautiful circus-like energy, and I’m getting ready to check out then and there. It felt like I was in a Disney-meets-Fellini movie.”
As soon as the house music came up Lee made it to the dressing-room floor.
“My sister was helping me. I told her to get some cleansing wipes and get the makeup off of my face.... There must have been a doctor-in-the-house announcement because someone came up with a nitro pill that helped things considerably until paramedics arrived. When I left the dressing room someone yelled, ‘He’s walking, everybody!,’ and people started cheering.”
Lee says a fourth stent was installed in one bad artery, “...while another is all closed up again and they can’t do anything about it. But the doctors gave me a green light to return to the stage at Campland September 15. I’m going to go back and finish this show.”