Widow of Rock band KISS tour guitar tech sues over husband's COVID death

Fran Stueber would make sure Paul Stanley looked great in every KISS concert, but his wife claims no one watched out for him

ByJosh Haskell KABC logo
Thursday, October 19, 2023
Widow's suit alleges KISS to blame for guitar tech's COVID-19 death
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The widow of a guitar technician who traveled with the rock band KISS is suing the group after her husband contracted COVID-19 and died while on tour.

LOS ANGELES -- The widow of a guitar technician who traveled with the rock band KISS is suing the group after her husband contracted COVID-19 and died while on tour.

For 21 years, Fran Stueber toured the world with KISS. He served as frontman Paul Stanley's guitar tech.

"Fran's job was to make Paul look good, sound good, feel safe at all times," said Cathey Stueber, Fran Stueber's wife. "Every guitar had to be just right, tuned just right. He loved what he did. He loved being on the stage. He was good in that place. He loved making sure everybody else looked good. He took his role very seriously."

Family says the 53-year-old was aware of the risk of going on tour during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. But this was his job, and he trusted that the band's management would keep him safe.

Two years ago, Fran Stueber died in his hotel room in Detroit, Michigan, where the band had a show. His autopsy revealed COVID-19 played a role in his death.

SEE ALSO: CDC is no longer distributing COVID-19 vaccination cards, once a staple of the pandemic

A lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles superior court against band manager Doc McGhee, Live Nation and band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. The lawsuit alleges Stueber's death was preventable.

"He was telling me that they were sending him and four other crew members to the hotel to quarantine," Cathey Stueber said. "I asked him about going to the hospital, and he had said they would send somebody to take him there, and the few times talking to him throughout the day, that hadn't happened yet."

Family says Fran had expressed concerns about the lack of COVID protocols, as there had been an outbreak on tour lasting weeks involving members of the crew.

"The powers involved here that had control over the situation quite literally let Fran fend for himself," said Shant Karnikian, the lawyer representing the Stueber family. "And that's sadly, but unsurprisingly, didn't work out for him. They put the responsibility on him to indicate when he needed help. I don't think that's fair. You have someone who's a dedicated loyal member of this group, that's dedicated his life and career to this. It's really hard to expect someone like that to tap out."

ABC Los Angeles affiliate KABC reached out to all the defendants named in the lawsuit but has not heard back.

"I would venture to say that if this was one of the members of the band that had fallen ill and was quarantining in a hotel room, I would think they would get much more attention than what Fran got," Karnikian said. "They would have gotten a doctor visiting, medical attention, and that's not what was given to Fran."

"I have three children. My youngest was 12 at the time," Cathey Stueber said. "They had a great relationship with their dad, and he was my childhood sweetheart, so it's been -- it's been a difficult road."