Reader Pat O'Connor called this morning to inform us that former Kiss guitarist Mark St. John died of a cerebral hemorrhage April 5. He was 51. St. John's death has received little attention in Orange County media, but it has been reported by Billboard's website, Reuters, msnbc.com, Wikipedia, and other major news outlets.
St. John's major claim to fame was playing on Kiss' 1984 album Animalize, which many fans consider to be among the best by that band during its unmasked phase. After his brief stint with Kiss (he had to leave a tour early after developing a form of arthritis called Reiter's Syndrome), St. John formed White Tiger with ex-Black Sabbath vocalist David Donato and in 1990 collaborated with Kiss drummer Peter Criss on a project, but left it wthout releasing any material. In 2003, St. John issued the instrumental album Magic Bullet Theory.
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The Garden Grove resident reportedly had been living in his mother's basement for the past several years, sanding guitars and teaching that instrument to aspiring local players. In his later years, the guitarist allegedly suffered from crystal-meth abuse. According to O'Connor, St. John's neighbor and a fan of his, St. John had sold all of his Kiss paraphernalia except for the Animalize gold record and a tour itinerary.