Ex-KISS Guitarist Mark St. John Dead at 51

Mark St. John, KISS' third official guitar player, died on Thursday of an apparent brain hemorrhage at the age of 51.

St. John, who was born Mark Norton, joined KISS in 1984, replacing Vinnie Vincent--who two years earlier had replaced founding guitar player Ace Frehley.

He was featured on 1984's "Animalize", one of the fans' favorite 'non-makeup' records, and can be seen in the video for the arena-rock hit "Heaven's on Fire".

While the band was getting ready to go on the road to support the record, St. John was diagnosed with Reiter's disease, a form of arthritis that made his joints swell--making it impossible for him to continue his role in KISS. He was replaced, for the tour (although he did manage to play one full show and parts of others) and forever, by Bruce Kulick.

Kulick released the following statement: "I wish to express my sympathy to Mark St. John's family and friends. Though Mark was the guitarist I replaced, I respected his talent and contribution to Kiss. May he rest in peace."

KISS' Official Website had this message posted: "KISS remembers Mark for his contributions and sends their condolences and deepest sympathies to his family and friends."