Kiss (often written as KISS) is an American rock band that brought about their own unique form of Glitter Rock and Metal Rock music; they were formed in New York City in 1973. What characterizes their brand of American Glam Rock is their facepaint -often looking like real-life comicbook heroes- the constant themes of sex and seduction in their song lyrics, their catchy, iconic guitar riffs, and their astounding stage theatrics such as rockets, firebreathing, and fake blood consumed/vomited by Gene Simmons. According to Wikipedia, KISS has been awarded 28 gold albums, the most for any American band. The original classic lineup for KISS consisted of Paul Stanley (guitar, vocals), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Simmons (bass guitar, vocals), and Peter Criss (drums, vocals).
What has captivated worldwide audiences for over 35 years now by KISS has been the elaborate stage makeup that the band members, up until their famous 1983 “unmasking”, were rarely seen without. Indeed, some fans would have preferred that the comic book illusion continued, while others thought it just added to the reality of the group. Not everyone is a fan of Gene Simmons in the cable reality TV series “Family Jewels”, and some thought Gene has come across as almost obnoxious. Anyway, the makeup, according to Kiss themselves, were from fan suggestions. Paul Stanley has the star on his face (Starchild), Gene Simmons has the garish Halloween-type makeup (Demon), Ace Frehley’s makeup and costuming suggested Alien worlds (Spaceman), and Peter Criss looked like a cat (Catman). KISS continues to tour and record to this day, but with only Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from the original lineup. Ace Frehley and Peter Criss left in 1982 over creative differences, rejoined the group in 1996 and 1997 for high grossing worldwide tours, then left the band again shortly thereafter.
KISS began with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in New York City in 1972 forming a group called Wicked Lester (see Wikipedia for this and the following information). They came across an ad in Rolling Stone placed by Peter Criss, and with Criss as an addition to the group shortly thereafter began experimenting with various costumes and stage theatrics, drawing upon American Glitter acts such as The New York Dolls and Alice Cooper. In 1973, the band added guitarist Ace Frehley; reportedly, the band came up with the name “Kiss” while driving around New York City. Criss mentioned that he had been in a band called “Lips” and Simmons suggested “What about ‘Kiss’?”, while Frehley drew the iconic logo, with the double “S” looking like lightning bolts. Because the double “S” also possibly connotated Nazism to some, the logo had to be modified in Germany. The first KISS performance, according to the band’s website, http://www.kissonline.com, was in a venue called “The Popcorn Club” in Queens 1973 to an audience of three people.
On March 13, 1973, the band recorded a five song demo tape and Bill Aucoin (former TV director) offered to become the band’s manager. The band entered Bell Sound Studios in New York City in October 1973 to begin recording their first album, and performed as an opening act for Blue Oyster Cult. It was during this concert when Simmons first set his hair ablaze in his firebreathing stunt onstage.
Kiss’ first album was entitled KISS and released Feb. 18, 1974 with hits “Nothin’ to Lose”, “Firehouse”, and “Black Diamond”. In 1974, the band performed “Firehouse” on the Mike Douglas Show, which featured an interview with Gene Simmons that made the studio audience fairly uncomfortable. The next album, Hotter than Hell, fared better (KISS initially only sold 75,000 copies) with the band’s now trademark song “Rock and Roll All Nite”. By 1975, the record label Casablanca was almost bankrupt, and the group needed a smash…which came in the form of their next release -a double live album set called Alive! which went to gold status, and almost every teenager in the 1970s would own.
The band’s history is quite extensive; for the most detailed timeline, see KISS’ website, http://www.kissonline.com. The group continued to gain more and more exposure, and worldwide fame, with the success of albums Destroyer (1976), Rock and Roll Over (1976), Love Gun (1977), and a second live album Alive II (1977). Between 1976 and 1978, KISS earned $17.7 million from recording royaties and publishing. In Japan, KISS performed five sold out shows breaking the Beatles record at the same venue.
KISS will embark on a 100 city worldwide tour following the release of their next album, Monster, due out June 2012.
December 1, 2011 | Categories: Entertainment, Glam Metal Rock Music, Glam Rock, Heavy Metal Music, Metal Rock, Rock Stars | Tags: Ace Frehley, Entertainment, Gene Simmons, Glam Rock, Glitter Rock Music, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal Music, Kiss, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss | Leave a comment