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KISS (band)
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KISS (band)

KISS is a New York City-based heavy metal band that became famous in the mid to late 1970s. Although "Heavy Metal" didn't exist when the band was formed in 1972 you can say that they invented a big part of the sound and style which now belong to Heavy Metal. The band was known for its elaborate costumes and stage sets, and the fact that the band never appeared in public except in heavy make-up which disguised their real identities. The band stopped wearing their make-up in 1983, and put it back on by the mid 1990s when they began touring as a 1970's nostalgia act.

The original members of Kiss (formed 1972?-'73) (and their made-up personas) are Paul Stanley (star child), rhythm guitar; Gene Simmons (demon), bass; Ace Frehley (space-ace), lead guitar; and Peter Criss (catman), drums.

Over the years, the band had these replacements for Ace Frehley between 1982 and 1996 (when the original four members reunited):

And these were the replacements for Peter Criss between 1980 and 1996 and after 2001 when he left the band a second time: The band's name was rumored to stand for "Knights In Satan's Service" but this is an urban legend which Gene Simmons has denied in his book. Simmons states that Paul Stanley suggested the name on the spur of the moment while they were stopped at a traffic light.

KISS opened for Teenage Lust, Iggy Pop, and Blue Öyster Cult at the New York Academy of Music on New Years' Eve 1973. At this event, Gene's firebreathing gimmick backfired and ignited his hair.

The group released their first two albums in 1974. The cover of their debut, Kiss, showed the group in their kabuki makeup, mimiking the cover of the Beatles' With The Beatles album. At the time, no one really knew what to make of the group's look. Topping at #87 in the charts, the album did feature three major classics in the group's career; "Strutter," "Deuce," "Cold Gin," and the closer "Black Diamond." The follow-up, Hotter Than Hell featured a Japanese influenced cover, an attempt to make people think the group were well-known worldwide. The album did poorer than their debut, just reaching #100 on Billboard.

In 1975, having achieved recognition, but no big hit single, Cassablanca Records head Neil Bogart stepped in to produce their next album. Trading in the raw sound of Kiss and Hotter Than Hell for a clean, pop sound with Dressed To Kill. The album included two important songs in the group's career; "C'mon And Love Me," their first big radio hit, and "Rock And Roll All Nite," which became their first hit single. In 1975, they released the live album Alive! The album was a huge success and is considered by many their most exciting work. Following it, the group tried out new ideas and tape experiments, creating very different music. The result was Destroyer, which included the hits "Beth" (sung by drummer Peter Criss), "Detroit Rock City," and "Shout It Out Loud."

Both Destroyer (1976) and (Music from) the Elder (1981) were produced by Bob Ezrin. Both were concept albums, with the former being less conspicuously so. The latter was the only KISS album to reach merely "gold" sales status. Ezrin's production on "(Music from) The Elder" is clearly similar to his work on Pink Floyd's The Wall, released two years earlier. As an example, compare the ethereal arpeggios of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" with KISS' "Under The Rose". While both albums are arguably quite good, the world was not ready to consider KISS outside of its "3-minute song about lusting for women" reputation.

On a similar note, only three of KISS' albums are without reference to unrepentant libido:

On New Years' Eve 1975, Blue Öyster Cult opened for KISS at Nassau Coliseum, two years to the day after KISS opened for them.

KISS Albums

External links