Like most of her generation, native New Yorker, Brooklyn-born Lydia DiLeonardo discovered rock and roll while watching American Bandstand every afternoon. But unlike most of her peers, Lydia would marry the man who would become the wild, grease-painted drummer for KISS, and rock and roll became the foundation of Lydia's life.
Only a week after her 16th birthday, Lydia began a seven-year stint at Abercrombie & Fitch (The World's Greatest Sporting Goods Store) in the Gun Department. Shortly thereafter, in July 1966, she met the Brooklyn-born Peter Criscuola aka Peter Criss. The two instantly became a couple and eventually married in January 1970, neither knowing that Peter would find fame and fortune as the cat-faced drummer of the legendary rock band KISS.
After leaving Abercrombie & Fitch, Lydia worked for five years as a bookkeeper/statistical typist for philanthropist William Rosenwald (the son of the founder of Sears-Roebuck). During this time, she supported Peter in almost every way imaginable, from making some of the earliest KISS costumes, to providing financial and emotional support for him while he pursued his dream of rock stardom. This continued until KISS finally became successful in late 1975, when Lydia began enjoying life as a homemaker and playing the role of the 1970s rock star wife.
Lydia ended up earning rock celebrity status in her own right as the inspiration for KISS's Top 10 hit single "Beth" for which she accepted The People's Choice Award for "Favorite New Song of 1976" in February 1977.
KISS's massive worldwide appeal in the 1970's would see them publicized in every teen, rock, and entertainment magazine that one could possibly think of, and Lydia herself was certainly no stranger to features in print media from around the world. The much-publicized 1978 split between Lydia and Peter would make headlines in both People Magazine and The New York Post, and she was also pictured and quoted in a biography about her renowned divorce lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson.
Left to care for the couple's Greenwich, Connecticut mansion alone, Lydia quickly realized she needed a career and enrolled in photography classes at the prestigious New School in Greenwich Village as well as studying law at Hunter College. With that knowledge in tow, Lydia melded her newfound love of photography with her passion for rock and roll and began professionally photographing her favorite rock stars, along with many of her rock and roll friends.
When Lydia landed the back cover of a friend's album, she was hooked. She signed with Star File Photo Agency and soon expanded her viewfinder to celebrities, sports figures, models, and even everyday events.
Lydia has since had her work published on numerous CDs for dozens of bands, and in major publications such as The Daily News, The New York Post, and People Magazine to name a few. Additionally, her work has been published in a host of places: biographies, calendars, tour books, trading cards, Videos, DVDs and TV shows ranging from Late Night with Conan O'Brien to several shows for VH-1. She has even had some of her earlier KISS work reproduced into limited edition lithographs.
Lydia Criss is currently semi-retired, working part-time for photographer Bob Gruen (himself a classic KISS photographer) and at her current new profession-author.