(sometimes typeset "KISS", to fit the official
logo) is an American rock band formed in New York
City in 1973. Easily identified by their trademark
face paint and stage outfits, the group rose to prominence
in the mid-1970s on the basis of their elaborate live
performances, which featured firebreathing, blood
spitting, smoking guitars, and pyrotechnics. Kiss
has been awarded 22 gold albums to date, and have
certified sales of 19 million records in the United
States. The group's worldwide sales exceed 80 million
original lineup of Gene Simmons (bass and vocals),
Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar and vocals), Ace Frehley
(lead guitar and vocals) and Peter Criss (drums and
vocals) is the most successful and identifiable. With
their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas
of comic book-style charactersthe Demon (Simmons),
the Star Child (Stanley), the Space Ace (Frehley),
and the Cat Man (Criss). Due to substance abuse problems
and creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were
out of the group by 1982. The band's commercial fortunes
had also waned considerably by that point.
1983, Kiss abandoned their makeup and enjoyed a commercial
resurgence throughout the rest of the decade. Buoyed
by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band
announced a reunion of the original lineup (with makeup)
in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide Tour was
the top-grossing act of 1996. Criss and Frehley have
since left Kiss again, and have been replaced by Eric
Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively. The band continues
to perform, while Stanley and Simmons have remained
the only two constant members.
years and struggles (197175)
Kiss traces its roots to Wicked Lester, a New York
City-based rock and roll band led by co-founders Gene
Simmons (born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel on August
25, 1949) and Paul Stanley (born Stanley Harvey Eisen
in Queens, New York City on January 20, 1952). Wicked
Lester, with their eclectic mixture of musical styles,
never achieved any success. They recorded one album,
which was shelved by Epic Records, and played a handful
of live shows. Simmons and Stanley, feeling that a
new musical direction was needed, abandoned Wicked
Lester in 1972 and began forming a new group.
late 1972, Simmons spotted an ad in Rolling Stone
placed by Peter Criss, a veteran drummer from the
New York club scene. Criss (born Peter Criscuola on
December 20, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York City) auditioned
for and joined the new version of Wicked Lester. The
trio focused on a much harder style of rock than Wicked
Lester played. Inspired by the theatrics of the New
York Dolls, they also began experimenting with their
image by wearing makeup and various outfits. In
November 1972, the trio played a showcase for Epic
Records A&R director Don Ellis, in an effort to
secure a record deal. Although the performance went
well, Ellis hated the group's image and music. On
top of that, as he was leaving, he was vomited on
by Criss's brother.
January 1973, the group added lead guitarist Paul
"Ace" Frehley (born April 27, 1951 in the
Bronx, New York City). The eccentric Frehley impressed
the group with his first audition, although he showed
up wearing two different sneakers (one red and one
orange) and began warming up on his guitar while another
guitarist (Bob Kulick) was being auditioned by the
band. A few weeks after Frehley joined, the Wicked
Lester name was dropped and the band became Kiss.
Stanley came up with the name, and Frehley created
the now-iconic logo (making the "SS" look
like lightning bolts). The letters happened to look
similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS, or Waffen-SS,
a symbol that is now illegal to display in Germany.
Therefore, in Germany, all of the band's album covers
and merchandise used a modified version of the logo,
in which the "SS" looks like a backwards
band's name has been rumored to have many hidden meanings,
among them an acronym for "Knights In Satan's
Service." The band has consistently denied this,
stating that Paul Stanley simply chose the name on
the spur of the moment.
first Kiss performance was on January 30, 1973, for
an audience of three at the Popcorn Club (renamed
Coventry shortly afterward) in Queens. In June of
that year, the band recorded a five-song demo tape
with producer Eddie Kramer. Former TV director Bill
Aucoin, who had seen the group at a handful of showcase
concerts in the summer of 1973, offered to become
the bands manager in mid-October. Kiss agreed,
with the condition that Aucoin get them signed to
a recording contract within two weeks. On November
1, 1973, Kiss became the first act signed to former
teen pop singer and Buddha Records executive Neil
Bogart's new label, Emerald City Records (which was
shortly afterward renamed Casablanca Records).
band entered Bell Sound Studios in New York City on
October 10, 1973 to begin recording their first album.
On December 31 the band had their official industry
premier at the Academy of Music in New York City,
opening for Blue Öyster Cult. It was at this
concert that Simmons accidentally set his hair (which
was coated in hairspray) ablaze for the first of many
times while performing his inaugural firebreathing
Kiss's self-titled debut (1974) sold respectably,
but was not the success the band or the label hoped
for.Kiss's first tour started on February 5, 1974
in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, at the Northern Alberta
Jubilee Auditorium. The bands self-titled debut
album, Kiss, was released on February 18. Casablanca
and Kiss promoted the album heavily throughout the
spring and summer of 1974. On February 19, the band
performed "Nothin' to Lose," "Firehouse,"
and "Black Diamond" for what would become
their first national television appearance, on ABC's
Dick Clark's In Concert (aired March 29). On April
29, the band performed "Firehouse" on The
Mike Douglas Show. This broadcast included Simmons's
first televised interview, a conversation with Douglas
in which Simmons declared himself "evil incarnate,"
eliciting titters from an uncomfortable and largely
confused studio audience.
the publicity and constant touring, Kiss initially
sold just 75,000 copies. Meanwhile, the group and
Casablanca Records were losing money quickly. The
band flew to Los Angeles in August 1974 to begin recording
their second album, Hotter Than Hell, which was released
in on October 22, 1974. The only single, "Let
Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll," failed to chart and the
album stalled at #100.
Hotter Than Hell quickly dropping off the charts,
Kiss was pulled from their tour to quickly record
a new album. Casablanca head Neil Bogart stepped in
to produce the next album, trading in the murky, distorted
sound of Hotter Than Hell for a cleaner and slightly
poppier sound. Dressed To Kill, released on March
19, 1975, fared slightly better commercially than
Hotter Than Hell. It also contained what would later
become the band's trademark song, "Rock and Roll
Kiss albums had not proven to be big sellers, the
band was quickly gaining a reputation as a top-flight
live act. Kiss concerts featured things such as Simmons
spitting "blood" (primarily yogurt and food
coloring) or "breathing fire" (spitting
flammable liquid at a torch); Frehley soloing as his
guitar burst into flames (light and smoke bombs placed
inside the guitar); Criss's elevating drum riser that
emitted sparks; Stanley's Townshend-style guitar smashing;
and pyrotechnics throughout the show.
late 1975, Casablanca was nearly bankrupt and Kiss
was in danger of losing their record contract. Both
parties desperately needed a commercial breakthrough
if they were to survive. That breakthrough came in
an unlikely form - a double live album.
Alive! (1975) was the band's breakthrough album Kiss
wanted to express the excitement felt at their concerts
(which their studio albums had so far failed to do),
with their first live album. Released on September
10, 1975, Alive!, achieved quadruple platinum status,
and spawned Kiss's first top 40 single, a live version
of "Rock And Roll All Nite." It was the
first version of "Rock and Roll All Nite"
with a guitar solo, and this recording has come to
represent the definitive version of the song; supplanting
the studio original. In recent years the band admitted
that additional audience noise had been added to the
album, not to deceive fans, but to add more "excitement
and realism" to the show.
success of Alive! not only brought Kiss the breakthrough
they had been seeking, but arguably saved Casablanca,
which was close to bankruptcy. Following this success,
Kiss partnered with producer Bob Ezrin, who had previously
worked with Alice Cooper. The result was Destroyer
(released March 15, 1976), Kiss's most musically ambitious
studio album to date. Destroyer, with its rather intricate
production (utilizing an orchestra, choir, and numerous
tape effects), was a departure from the rawer sound
of the first three studio albums. While the album
sold well initially and became the group's second
gold album, it quickly dropped down the charts. Only
when the ballad "Beth" (sample (info)) was
released as a single did the album's sales rebound.
"Beth" was a #7 hit for the band, and its
success revived both the album (which achieved platinum
status by the end of 1976) and ticket sales for Kiss.
October 1976, Kiss appeared on the The Paul Lynde
Halloween Special, lip-synching "Detroit Rock
City," "Beth," and "King of the
Night Time World." For many teenagers, this was
their first exposure to Kiss's dramatic appearance.
The show was co-produced by Bill Aucoin. In addition
to the three performances, Kiss was the subject of
a brief comedic "interview" conducted by
Paul Lynde himself. This included Lynde noting, when
hearing the member's first names, "Oh, I love
a good religious group."
A 1977 comic book published by Marvel Comics showcased
Kiss as superheroes.Two more highly successful studio
albums were released in less than a yearRock
and Roll Over (November 11, 1976) and Love Gun (June
30, 1977). A second live album, Alive II, was released
on November 29, 1977. All three albums were certified
platinum upon or soon after their release. Between
1976 and 1978, Kiss earned $17.7 million from record
royalties and music publishing. A 1977 Gallup
poll named Kiss the most popular band in America.
In Japan, Kiss performed five sold-out shows at Budokan
Hall, breaking the previous record of four held by
first of what is now many Kiss greatest hits albums,
Double Platinum, was issued on April 2, 1978. This
double album included many remixed versions of their
hits, as well as "Strutter '78," a re-recorded
version of one of the group's signature songs. Per
Neil Bogart's request, the song was played in a style
similar to the then-popular disco music.
this period, Kiss merchandise became a substantial
source of income for the group. Some of the products
released included a pair of comic books issued by
Marvel (the first one of which contained ink mixed
with actual blood donated by the group), a pinball
machine, Kiss dolls, "Kiss Your Face Makeup"
kits, Halloween masks, board games, and many other
pieces of memorabilia. Membership in the Kiss Army,
the band's fan club, was in the six figures. Between
1977 and 1979, worldwide merchandise sales (in-store
and on tour) reached an estimated $100 million.
Going solo (1978)
Kiss were at their commercial peak by 1978Alive
II was the band's fourth platinum album in just under
two years, and the ensuing tour had the highest average
attendance (13,550) in the group's history. In addition,
Kiss's gross income for 1977 was US$10.2 million.
The group, along with creative manager Bill Aucoin,
sought to take the band to the next level of popularity.
To that end, an ambitious, two-pronged strategy was
devised for 1978.
first part involved the simultaneous release of four
solo albums from the members of Kiss. Although Kiss
has claimed that the solo albums were intended to
ease rising tensions within the band, their 1976 record
contract did in fact call for four solo records, with
each of them counting as half an album toward the
group's five-record commitment. While each album was
very much a solo effort (none of the group appeared
on another's album), they were all released and marketed
as Kiss albums (with similar cover art and poster
inserts). It was the first time that all current members
of a rock band had released solo albums at the same
the band members, it was a chance to showcase their
individual musical styles and tastes outside of Kiss,
and in some cases to collaborate with contemporary
artists (Simmons's album featured appearances by the
likes of Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Cheap Trick's Rick
Nielsen, disco diva Donna Summer, and then-girlfriend
Cher). Stanley's and Frehley's albums stuck pretty
closely to the successful hard rock style that Kiss
had utilized, while Criss's album featured an R&B
style and was loaded with ballads. Simmons's was the
most eclectic of the fourit featured hard rock,
ballads, Beatles-influenced pop, and ended with a
straight cover of "When You Wish upon a Star"
(from the movie Pinocchio).
Released simultaneously, the four Kiss solo albums
signaled the beginning of the group's commercial decline.
The Kiss solo albums were released on September 18,
1978. The marketing blitz behind the albums was unprecedentedCasablanca
announced it was shipping five million total copies
of the albums (guaranteeing instant platinum status),
and they spent US$2.5 million marketing them. Despite
all four solo albums making it into the Top 50 of
the Billboard album chart, the massive preorder for
these albums was soon followed by an equally enormous
attempt to ship them back to the record company, followed
by the subsequent discounting of these albums once
sales had (very quickly) peaked. The albums were also
the first Kiss albums to be seen in the "bargain
bins" of many record stores, and it was the first
clear harbinger of Kiss's waning popularity. All four
solo albums combined sold about as many copies as
Love Gun alone. Of the four, Frehley's album was the
most successful (although not by a huge margin) and
spawned the only radio top 20 hit (Russ Ballard's
composition "New York Groove").
second part of Kiss's and Aucoin's plan called for
the band to appear in a movie that would cement their
image as larger than life superheroes. Filming for
the movie commenced in the spring of 1978. Although
the project was proposed to the band as a cross between
A Hard Day's Night and Star Wars, the final results
fell far short of those expectations. The script underwent
numerous rewrites, and the band (particularly Criss
and Frehley) grew increasingly frustrated with the
film making process. Criss refused to take part in
post-production, and so his entire voice track was
completely over-dubbed by another actor.
Meets the Phantom of the Park, produced by Hanna-Barbera,
aired on NBC on October 28, 1978. Despite scathing
reviews, it was one of the highest-rated TV movies
of the year, and saw theatrical release outside the
U.S. in 1979 under the title Attack of the Phantoms.
While later interviews with band members would have
them talk about their movie making experience with
a mix of humorous embarrassment and regret as to the
finished product, their unhappiness with the final
product was well-known to those around them. They
felt that the movie ended up portraying them more
as clowns than superheroes. The artistic failure of
the movie led to a rift between the band and Aucoin,
whom they blamed for it.
Late makeup years and decline (197983)
The band's first album of new material in two years,
Dynasty (May 23, 1979), continued their platinum streak.
The album contained what would become the biggest
single in the history of the band, "I Was Made
For Lovin' You." The song, which combined elements
of hard rock with disco, was a top ten hit throughout
the world (peaking at #11 in the U.S.). Dynasty
was recorded using session drummer Anton Fig, at the
request of producer Vini Poncia, who felt that Criss's
drumming skills were not adequate. The only contribution
made by the increasingly discontented Criss to Dynasty
was "Dirty Livin'," which he co-wrote and
as "The Return of Kiss," the Dynasty tour
was expected by Kiss and their management to build
on the success of previous tours. Plans were drawn
up for a Kiss-themed traveling amusement park, called
Kiss World, but were abandoned due to the immense
costs involved. Rather than being the band's biggest
and most successful tour, "The Return of Kiss"
saw a marked decline in attendance.
very public indication of the heightened friction
within the group was an infamous October 31, 1979
interview on Tom Snyder's late-night The Tomorrow
Show. During it, a visibly irritated Simmons and Stanley
try to contain the bombastic (and drunk) Frehley,
whose non-stop laughter and joking overshadowed the
content and conversation that takes place between
Snyder and the rest of the band. Criss made repeated
references to his large gun collection, to the chagrin
the conclusion of the Dynasty tour in December 1979,
tensions between Criss and the rest of the band were
at an all-time high. His drumming skills had noticeably
eroded, and he even intentionally slowed down or stopped
playing altogether during some concerts. The final
show of the tour (December 16, 1979) was the last
time Criss performed with the group, although he remained
an official member for nearly six more months.
the disagreements were hardly noticed by Kiss's new
fan base. The crowds were very much younger than previous
audiences had been, with many pre-adolescent children
in Kiss makeup with their mothers and fathers (who
were sometimes wearing the makeup themselves) in tow
at most concerts. Kiss themselves did little to dissuade
this new fan base, donning colorful costumes that
reinforced a cartoonish image for these younger fans.
Criss's involvement in Kiss at an end, the group recorded
the followup to Dynasty in early 1980. As with Dynasty,
this album was recorded with session drummer Anton
Fig, although at the time his performance was uncredited.
Showcasing a slick, contemporary pop sound, Unmasked
(May 20, 1980) had the dubious distinction of being
the first Kiss album since Dressed to Kill to fail
to achieve platinum sales. Soon after the album's
release, Criss's departure was officially announced,
as was the announcement that the band would be auditioning
first-ever replacement member, Eric Carr (born Paul
Caravello on June 12, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York City)
was announced in late July 1980. He debuted with the
group on July 25 at New York's now-defunct Palladium
Theatre. Due to disappointing domestic sales of Unmasked,
this was Kiss's only U.S. show in support of the album.
The band's 1980 tour of Australia and New Zealand,
on the other hand, was one of the biggest in their
history, as they played to sold-out crowds and received
overwhelmingly positive press coverage.
Music from "The Elder" (1981) was a commercial
disaster for the group.For their next album, the band
once again approached Bob Ezrin, with whom Kiss had
found success on Destroyer. Early press reports indicated
that the new album would be a return to the hard rock
style that had originally brought the band success.
What was released instead was 1981's Music from "The
Elder", a concept album featuring medieval horns,
strings, harps, and synthesizers.
album was presented as a soundtrack to a film that
was never made, making it difficult (if not impossible)
to follow the storyline. To make matters worse, having
received negative feedback following their record
company's preview of the album, Kiss altered the record's
track sequence in most countries to emphasize potential
singles "The Oath" and "A World Without
Heroes," which all but guaranteed the inability
of listeners to understand the already muddled storyline.
Once released, fan reaction to The Elder was harsh;
it failed to achieve gold status and peaked at #75
on the Billboard Album Chart.
commercial failure of Music from "The Elder"
forced Kiss to forego a supporting tour completely.
The band made only a few appearances for the album,
both in January 1982. One was a performance on the
ABC late-night variety program Fridays, while the
second was a lip-synched performance that was broadcast
via satellite during Italy's Sanremo Festival.
from the second performance was Frehley, who had become
increasingly frustrated with Kiss's new musical direction.
Upset with the band's decision to record a concept
album (Music from "The Elder"), he did not
actively participate in the album's creation. He recorded
his guitar parts at his home studio in Wilton, Connecticut
and mailed them to Ezrin. Another source of frustration
for Frehley was that with the departure of Criss,
and with Carr not being an equal partner in the band,
he was often outvoted 2-to-1 on group matters. In
June 1982, Frehley's departure from the band was negotiated,
although he did not officially leave until December.
This German release of Kiss's 1982 Killers compilation
shows the modified logo the band uses in Germany.
As this album was unreleased in the U.S., German imports
of Killers introduced the modified logo to many American
fans.Soon after, Kiss made major changes to their
business dealings chief among them was severing
ties with their manager of nine years, Bill Aucoin,
and cutting back on their unwieldy organizational
tree. Although Frehley had already decided to leave
the band, Simmons and Stanley needed for their record
company to believe that Frehley was still in Kiss
in order for the band to keep its newly renegotiated
contract. So to keep up appearances, Frehley was pictured
on the covers of 1982's Killers and Creatures of the
Night, although he did not participate in the recording
of either album.
of the Night (October 13, 1982) was Kiss's heaviest
album to date, and although it fared better than Music
from "The Elder", it peaked at #45 on the
charts and was not certified gold until 1994. In Frehley's
absence, Kiss utilized a number of guitarists for
the recording of the album, including Vinnie Vincent
(born Vincent John Cusano on August 6, 1952). Vincent
officially replaced Frehley as lead guitarist in December
1982, as the band embarked on its 10th Anniversary
hurriedly developed identity was that of an Egyptian
warrior (with a gold ankh painted on his face), although
he did not need this persona for very long. While
the tour was a commercial disappointment in the U.S.,
the band did perform for the largest crowds of their
career elsewhere, including 137,000 fans in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil on June 18, 1983. The last show of
the tour (June 25 in São Paulo, Brazil) was
the final show the band performed in makeup until
Unmasking and rebound (198395)
Lick It Up (1983) was the group's first album after
taking off the makeup, and it helped revitalize their
career.Sensing it was time for a change, Kiss made
the decision to abandon their trademark makeup and
costumes. They officially appeared in public without
makeup for the first time on a September 18, 1983
appearance on MTV, which coincided with the release
of the band's new album, Lick It Up.
It Up became Kiss's first gold record in three years,
but the tour was even more sparsely attended than
the one for Creatures of the Night. Due to quickly
rising tensions between Vincent and the rest of Kiss
(particularly Simmons and Stanley), Vincent was fired
at the conclusion of the tour in March 1984. His replacement
was Mark St. John (born Mark Norton on February 7,
1956 in Hollywood, California), a session player and
St. John on board, Kiss released Animalize in September
1984. Animalize built on the success of Lick It Up
and was the band's best-selling record during the
decade. With the success of the album and subsequent
tour, Kiss had recaptured some of their earlier glory
(though not to the level of their '70s heyday). St.
John, however, was soon taken ill with Reactive arthritis
during tour rehearsals, and only performed at a handful
of shows. He was fired from Kiss in December 1984
and replaced by Bruce Kulick (born December 12, 1953
in Brooklyn), making him Kiss's fourth lead guitarist
in three years.
lineup of Stanley, Simmons, Carr, and Kulick turned
out to be the most stable since the original, and
for the rest of the 1980s Kiss released a series of
platinum albums1985's Asylum, 1987's Crazy Nights
and the 1988 greatest hits compilation Smashes, Thrashes
& Hits. Crazy Nights, in particular, was one of
Kiss's most successful albums overseas. The single
"Crazy, Crazy Nights" reached #4 on the
singles chart in Britain, the highest showing to date
for a Kiss song.
Although Kiss never duplicated their 1970s success
in the 1980s, albums like Asylum (1985) still achieved
platinum status.Kiss ended the '80s with the 1989
release Hot in the Shade. Although the album failed
to achieve platinum status, it spawned the early 1990
hit ballad "Forever," co-written by Michael
Bolton. Peaking at #8, it was the group's highest-charting
single since "I Was Made for Lovin' You"
and was to be the band's last Top 10 single.
these non-makeup years, Kiss struggled with their
identity and fan base. Simmons, arguably the dominating
force in Kiss during the '70s, became less involved
with the group in the '80s as he pursued outside interests;
most notably, a film career. After the band's unmasking,
he struggled with the loss of the Demon persona. During
this time, Stanley became the driving force in Kiss,
as well as their most prominent member.
band decided to once again enlist Bob Ezrin to produce
their first album of the 1990s. Before recording could
begin in earnest, however, tragedy struck. In March
1991, it was discovered that Eric Carr had a tumor
on his heart. It was successfully removed in an April
surgery, but more tumors were soon discovered in his
lungs. Carr received chemotherapy and was pronounced
cancer-free in July. In September, he was hospitalized
after suffering the first of two cerebral hemorrhages.
He died on November 24, 1991 at the age of 41 (the
same day as Freddie Mercury).
devastated, Kiss continued, bringing in former Black
Sabbath, Gary Moore, Lita Ford, and Alice Cooper drummer
Eric Singer (born Eric Mensinger on May 12, 1958 in
Cleveland, Ohio). Singer has a connection with the
group, having played in Paul Stanley's backing band
during his 1989 club tour.
released Revenge on May 18, 1992. It featured a leaner,
harder-edged sound, as indicated by the first single,
"Unholy" (sample (info)). In a surprise
move, Kiss enlisted the aid of Vinnie Vincent for
songwriting duties. The album debuted in the Top 10
and went gold. Kiss embarked on a brief club tour
of the U.S. in the spring of 1992, before beginning
an American arena tour in September 1992. Kiss followed
with the release of Alive III (May 14, 1993), which
was recorded during the Revenge tour.
this period, Kiss nostalgia started to pick up steam.
June 1994 saw the release of Kiss My Ass: Classic
Kiss Regrooved, a compilation album featuring popular
artists of the era putting their own spin on Kiss
songs. The result was an eclectic mix, featuring Lenny
Kravitz's funky version of "Deuce" (with
Stevie Wonder on harmonica), a ska punk version of
"Detroit Rock City" by the Mighty Mighty
Bosstones, and Garth Brooks' straightforward take
on "Hard Luck Woman," with Kiss as his backup
On August 9, 1995, the then-present lineup of Kiss
performed with founding members Ace Frehley (3rd from
right) and Peter Criss (2nd from left).In 1995, the
group released Kisstory, a 440-page, nine-pound, detailed
chronicling of the group's history to that point.
That same year, the band embarked on a unique and
well-received Worldwide Kiss Convention Tour. The
conventions were all-day events, featuring displays
of vintage Kiss stage outfits, instruments, and memorabilia,
performances by Kiss cover bands, and dealers selling
Kiss merchandise from every stage of the band's career.
Kiss appeared live at the conventions, conducted question
and answer sessions, signed autographs and performed
a two-hour acoustic set comprised mostly of spontaneous
fan requests. On the first U.S. date (June 17, 1995)
Peter Criss appeared onstage with Kiss to sing "Hard
Luck Woman" and "Nothin' to Lose."
It was the first time Criss had performed publicly
with the band in nearly 16 years.
August 9, 1995, Kiss joined the long line of musicians
to perform on MTV Unplugged. The band contacted Criss
and Frehley and invited them to participate in the
event. Both joined Kiss on stage for several songs
at the end of the set"Beth," "2000
Man," "Nothin' to Lose," and "Rock
and Roll All Nite." The Unplugged appearance
set off months of speculation that a possible reunion
of the original Kiss lineup was in the works. In the
weeks following the Unplugged concert, however, the
band (with Kulick and Singer), returned to the studio
for the first time in three years to record a followup
to Revenge. Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions
was completed in February 1996, but its release was
delayed for almost two years. Bootleg copies of the
album circulated widely among fans.
Kiss continued to exist publicly as Simmons, Stanley,
Kulick, and Singer, arrangements for a reunion of
the original lineup were in the works. These efforts
culminated with a public event as dramatic as any
the band had staged since their 1983 unmasking on
You know how the Grammys used to be, all straight-looking
folks with suits. Everybody looking tired. No surprises.
We tired of that. We need something different, something
new. We need to shock the people. So let's shock the
that statement on February 28, 1996, Tupac Shakur
introduced the original Kiss lineup (in full makeup
and Love Gun-era stage outfits), to a rousing ovation
at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards. On April 16,
the band held a press conference aboard the USS Intrepid
in New York, where they announced their plans for
a full-fledged reunion tour, with the help of new
manager Doc McGhee. The conference, emceed by Conan
O'Brien, was simulcast to 58 countries. On April 20,
nearly 40,000 tickets for the tour's first show sold
out in 47 minutes.
first public concert featuring the newly reunited
Kiss was an hour-long warm up show on June 15 for
the annual KROQ Weenie Roast in Irvine, CA, during
which the band nearly ignited the stage of the Irvine
Meadows Amphitheatre. On June 28, the Kiss Alive/Worldwide
Tour began at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan in
front of a sold-out crowd of 39,867 fans. The tour
lasted for 192 shows over eleven months and earned
$43.6 million, making Kiss the top-drawing concert
act of 1996. The average attendance of 13,737
is the highest in the group's history.
September 1998, the reunited group issued Psycho Circus.
Despite its appearance as the first album with the
original lineup since 1977's Love Gun, the contributions
of Frehley and Criss were minimal. While the images
of Frehley and Criss are featured prominently on the
album, most of the lead guitar work was later revealed
to have been performed by future band member Tommy
Thayer and former member Bruce Kulick. Most drum duties
were handled by session musician Kevin Valentine.
Despite the controversy, the album achieved a #3 chart
debut, the highest ever position for a Kiss album.
The title track received a Grammy nomination for Best
Hard Rock Performance. The Psycho Circus Tour
opened at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California
on Halloween night 1998, and was simulcast on FM radio
across the U.S. It proved to be another success, and
was historic for being the first to ever incorporate
3-D visuals into a stage show.
August 11, 1999, Kiss was inducted into the Hollywood
Walk of Fame, in the "Recording Industry"
category. August 13 saw the nationwide premiere of
a Kiss-themed motion picture, titled Detroit Rock
City. The movie takes place in 1978, and focuses on
four teenagers (featuring Edward Furlong) willing
to do anything to score tickets for a sold-out Kiss
show in Detroit.
month, the group worked in collaboration with World
Championship Wrestling to produce a Kiss-themed wrestler
known as The Kiss Demon whose face was painted to
resemble Simmons. The group performed "God of
Thunder" live on WCW Thursday Night Thunder to
debut the character. The character was short-lived,
as all ties to Kiss were cut by WCW when its head,
Eric Bischoff was relieved of his duties in September
of that year.
announced in early 2000 that they would be launching
a U.S. Farewell Tour in the summer, which was to be
the band's last. The group quickly added dates
to the tour, which ran through April 2001. 2001 also
saw the release of a computer game, Kiss Psycho Circus:
The Nightmare Child.
the eve of the Japanese and Australian leg of the
Farewell tour in early 2001, Criss suddenly left the
band once again, reportedly unhappy with his salary.
Taking his place was previous Kiss drummer Singer
who, in a controversial move among longtime fans,
assumed Criss's Cat Man persona as the Farewell Tour
continued. Simmons and Stanley own Criss's makeup
designs (as well as Frehley's), so there was no way
for Criss to prevent this.
the band scheduled to call it a day supposedly by
early 2001, a career-encompassing collection entitled
The Box Set (94 tracks on five CDs) was released in
November of that year, while the summer saw perhaps
the most over-the-top piece of Kiss merchandise yet
the Kiss Kasket. In introducing the Kiss Kasket,
Simmons quipped, "I love livin', but this makes
the alternative look pretty damn good."
was relatively quiet through the rest of the year,
but 2002 started with some controversy as Simmons
took part in a controversial interview on National
Public Radio, where he criticized NPR and berated
host Terry Gross with sexual comments and condescending
answers. In February 2002, Kiss (with Singer on drums
and Frehley on lead guitar) performed during the Closing
Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake
March 6, 2002, Kiss performed a private concert at
a resort in Trelawny, Jamaica. Frehley, who was no
longer under contract, did not play with the group.
He was replaced by Tommy Thayer, who donned Frehley's
Spaceman makeup and costume for his first live appearance
with Kiss. That month, the band (with Thayer)
taped an appearance on the American sitcom That '70s
Show. The episode, "That '70s Kiss Show,"
aired in August 2002. Thayer again performed with
the group in April 2002, when Kiss performed "Detroit
Rock City" (with pre-recorded music and live
vocals) for an appearance on Dick Clark's American
Bandstand 50th Anniversary show, which aired on May
In February 2003, Kiss traveled to Australia and recorded
Kiss Symphony: Alive IV with the Melbourne Symphony
Orchestra at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. Thayer
once again replaced Frehley, while Peter Criss returned
to the group.
claims made prior to the Farewell Tour that it would
be the group's last, Kiss announced a co-headlining
tour with Aerosmith in 2003. Frehley announced that
his departure from the band was permanent, stating
that he believed the Farewell Tour would be Kiss's
last. He was permanently replaced by Thayer. On
this tour the group introduced the "Platinum"
tickets package, with the most expensive packages
costing USD $1,000. This package included a seat in
the first five rows, a meet-and-greet with Kiss after
their performance, and a photograph with the band.
The tour earned more than US$64 million in 2003, which
ranked #7 for the year.
and Stanley did not renew Criss's contract when it
expired in March 2004. Criss, on his website, stated
that "No one, again no one has called me, or
my attorney about an extension for future touring.
As a founding member I find this to be disrespectful
to me, and to the fans that have made us one of the
biggest bands in the world." Criss was replaced
for the second time by Singer.
the summer of 2004, Kiss headlined the Rock the Nation
2004 World Tour, with Poison as the opening act. The
tour ended in August with a sold-out show in Mexico
City. Selected dates on the tour were filmed for the
Rock the Nation Live! concert DVD, released on December
13, 2005. Stanley, who had been experiencing increasing
difficulty with his hip, had his mobility limited
during the tour. He has already had two hip surgeries
performed, with more likely in the future.
Kiss in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa
Ynez, California, on July 26, 2006.Since the conclusion
of the Rock the Nation Tour, Kiss has been relatively
inactive as a touring act. The group played two shows
in 2005, and another six in 2006. Four of the 2006
shows were July concerts in Japan, including two dates
(July 22 and 23) as a headlining act at the 2006 Udo
Music Festival. Most recently, Kiss performed two
dates at Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California
on July 26 and 28. No future concerts are currently
the relative lack of concert activity since 2004,
the group has remained visible. Kiss (along with Queen,
Def Leppard, and Judas Priest) was honored at the
first annual "VH1 Rock Honors" event, held
May 25, 2006 in Las Vegas. On April 9, 2006, the Associated
Press announced the event by saying "the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame looks to be getting some competition."
A tribute band, consisting of Rob Zombie (vocals),
Slash (guitar), Scott Ian (bass), and Supernova bandmates
Tommy Lee (drums) and Gilby Clarke (guitar), performed
"God of Thunder" with Ace Frehley.
June 2006, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley attended
the opening of the Kiss Coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina. On October 15, 2006, Simmons, Stanley,
and Criss were inaugural inductees into the Long Island
Music Hall of Fame, along with performers such as
Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, Louis Armstrong, The Ramones
and Tony Bennett. Stanley released a solo album,
Live to Win, on October 24 and undertook a brief solo
tour in support. On October 31, the group released
Kissology Volume One: 19741977, the first of
ten possible DVD sets featuring concert footage, interviews,
and never-before-seen clips. As of January 2007,
the set is certified quintuple platinum in the United
States. Stanley has stated that Kiss turned down
a tour in the summer of 2007, but that it is inevitable
that they will tour again in the future.
Kiss is eligible for enshrinement in the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame (whose rules state that an act is
eligible 25 years after its first release), they have
not been nominated. While this snub displeases some
fans, Stanley and Simmons maintain that it is meaningless
to them. Nevertheless, a group of about 200 Kiss fans
held a protest rally in front of the Hall of Fame
in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5, 2006. It was the first
known organized demonstration seeking the induction
of a band into the Hall. A similar march was scheduled
to be held in Melbourne, Australia, but was subsequently
Paul Stanley rhythm guitar, vocals (1973present)
Gene Simmons bass guitar, vocals (1973present)
Eric Singer drums (1991-1996, 20012002,
Tommy Thayer lead guitar (2002present)
Peter Criss drums, vocals (19731980, 19962001,
Ace Frehley lead guitar, vocals (19731982,
Eric Carr drums, vocals (19801991)
Vinnie Vincent lead guitar (19821984)
Mark St. John lead guitar (1984)
Bruce Kulick lead guitar (19841996)
KISS to rock the Grand Prix - 14th November 2007
Australian Grand Prix)
rumours are true.
rock band KISS will provide a spectacular conclusion
to the 2008 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand
Prix by performing a full concert for race goers
on Sunday, 16 March.
will be flying to Australia especially for the
Grand Prix and are looking forward to being part
of what is widely regarded as the best round of
the Formula One World Championship.
me see - high octane, roaring horsepower testing
the threshold of sound and speed. And then the
Formula One Grand Prix!” said Paul Stanley.
“No way we'd miss this! We'll be firing
on all cylinders and the audience will need their
miss Australia,” added Gene Simmons. “The
people. The culture. And the Melbourne Grand Prix.
This is gonna rock!”
addition of KISS to the Albert Park line-up for
2008 is one of a number of new initiatives aimed
at making next year’s Grand Prix the most
entertaining ever held in the thirteen years of
the great race.
have never been more reasons to go to the Grand
Prix,” says Australian Grand Prix Corporation
chief executive Drew Ward. “With FORMULA
1™ more competitive than ever, with the
V8 Supercars back in a new format, the KISS concert
and other new attractions planned, it’s
this with no increase in general admission and
grandstand prices from 2007. That’s great
value,” said Mr Ward.
will perform their full concert extravaganza for
race fans on a specially erected stage, just after
the FORMULA 1™ race on Sunday, 16 March.
everyone with a valid Grand Prix ticket for Sunday
March 16 will be able to watch the concert, a
limited number of tickets named “KISS Pole
Position” will be available in a reserved
general admission area at the front of the stage
for $149 inclusive - $50 more than the standard
general admission ticket price. Patrons in this
area will receive a souvenir KISS 2008 FORMULA
1™ ING Australian Grand Prix ticket and
lanyard on entry to the “KISS Pole Position”
with corporate, grandstand or standard general
admission tickets valid for Sunday will be able
to purchase a $50 upgrade voucher for the “KISS
Pole Position” area while space lasts.
Pole Position” tickets for the reserved
general admission area will go on sale on Friday,
30 November from Ticketek - 131 931 or www.ticketek.com.au
32 albums, more than 90 million record sales and
every accolade imaginable bestowed upon them,
KISS - Gene Simmons (vocals, bass), Paul Stanley
(vocals, guitar), Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy
Thayer (guitar) – will ensure the 2008 Grand
Prix finishes with a mighty big bang.
2008 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix
- Albert Park - 13–16 March
Simmons happy to Kiss and tell for reality TV,
by Cameron Adams - 7th Feb 2008
Simmons, Kiss's infamous frontman, is dishes the
dirt on facelifts, how downloading music is ruining
the industry, negotiating with kids and ladies
of the night.
celebrities who have facelifts keep them private.
Gene Simmons isn't like most celebrities.
Kiss singer filmed he and partner Shannon Tweed's
his 'n' her facelifts for their reality series
was graphic viewing that made headlines. Simmons
you want to see me wiping my ass on camera I will,''
Simmons says. "I'll take a s--- on air, I
a CNN plastic-surgery special last year, people
were shown photos of Simmons before and after
the cosmetic surgery -- most got the pictures
the wrong way around.
delusional,'' Simmons, 58, says. "I thought
I was beautiful before and I'm even more stunning
now. The male of the species doesn't have to worry
about those things, we just have to have a good
job, then we'll attract the female.
female of the species is unfortunately stuck in
that biological thing of stimulating the male
of the species. Which is why the beauty industry
is so powerful -- women.''
is one of the most famous wedding-dodgers alive.
He's been "happily unmarried'' to Tweed --
an actor and former Playboy playmate -- since
reluctantly point to our family and say it works,''
Simmons says. "But they don't like the non-married
part because no social security is involved: a
financial obligation if you will. I refuse to
have a financial obligation to anyone other than
the mother who gave me life.
biology means they make one or two eggs a month
and by their middle years stop being able to procreate
entirely, so their biological urge is to corner
a man so when they can't reproduce they have a
phrase is 'I'm going to get my claws in him' or
'he's a good catch' -- because he's trying to
run away. Man's tendency is not to stick around.
Which is unfortunate when you look at all the
fathers and husbands who've walked out. Women
are never surprised when that happens, they're
just surprised it's happened to them.
reason I'm crazy about Shannon is she's a modern,
21st-century woman and she should be teaching
all other women to get a life, get a hobby. Stop
torturing the men.''
has made no secret of his arrangement with Tweed
and continues to be one of the world's most notorious
just don't care,'' Simmons says. "That's
why you never read about me in those trash mags
women are addicted to. If I go to a strip club,
and when I'm in Australia I intend to, I'll stand
in front of the club and pose with the strippers
all you like. You can take my photo and put them
in your magazines because I'll be smiling.''
is writing a book called Ladies of the Night --
"a personal and historical perspective of
the oldest profession in the world''.
in the process of interviewing "high-end
ladies'' for the tome, due out this year.
make a very good living doing what biology dictates,
which is they charge for their companionship,''
the difference between that and a 15-year-old
kid who eagerly tries to feel up his girlfriend
but has to pay for the movie tickets and take
her out to dinner? Men will always pay, they have
always paid, call it what you will -- whether
it's marriage, girlfriend or ladies of the night.''
will launch the book with a campaign to legalise
consenting adults agree to behind closed doors
should be their business. Even in the New Testament,
God prevents people from killing the prostitute.''
Jewels ("You mean Gene Simmons' Family Jewels,
notice how it sounds better,'' he corrects) highlights
his two well-adjusted teenagers Nicholas and Sophie.
Simmons reels off their latest school reports:
a string of straight As.
both extraordinary young people because that's
their job,'' Simmons says. "They have no
other purpose except to do well in school and
be charming. I'll take care of all the rest, I'll
risk my life, I'll make all the money.
idea of negotiating with kids is lunacy. It's
pathetic what's happened to the male of the species.
The father disciplinarian has all but disappeared
in society. I see all these grown men negotiating
with kids who've just learnt to wipe their asses.
It's f---ing lunacy.''
remain one of the most profitable acts in music
through touring and merchandise, yet haven't released
a new album in 10 years.
Paul Stanley realises people coming to Kiss shows
want hits not new material, but Simmons is more
no new Kiss material because there's no record
industry,'' Simmons says.
band who tries to do new material is trying to
climb a slippery mountain. Every day record companies
are folding. It'd be nice to have new Kiss songs,
but what's the business model? Do you just put
songs on the internet for free? Then what?''
was one of the most vocal musicians to call for
those caught illegally downloading to be prosecuted.
crooks,'' he says. "I would have sued the
very first one and the very last one. As soon
as you take somebody's property, that's stealing.
People say to me 'You're rich, you have enough
money'. It's actually not for anyone to decide
that. I'll let you know when I'm too rich. The
last time I checked, what we do isn't called charity,
it's called the music business.
we are today with exactly what I said would happen
happening. The very same people that love the
music the most have slit its throat and they're
surprised it's dying. 'How come my new band can't
get a shot?' 'Cos you killed it, bitch.
day college kids who probably love music more
than anybody are the same people slashing the
record industry's throat by file sharing and downloading.
It's the saddest thing for new bands. Doesn't
affect me or Kiss. We can continue to play stadiums
and do very well, and we release DVDs.
there isn't a chance for a new band to become
the next Beatles or Kiss because there isn't the
infrastructure to do it.''
may be no new Kiss material, but that's not to
say there's nothing for fans to spend their money
released a solo album last year, and embarked
on a world tour. Simmons saw a handful of shows
-- "it reminded me why I'm in a band with
him, he's the best frontman in the business with
the best voice in rock 'n' roll, period''.
is threatening a box set of 250 solo songs that
have never been released, as well as a Kiss box
set of "hundreds'' of rarities.
Kissology DVD series has sold healthily in the
US, with Simmons promising more instalments because,
unlike most bands, Kiss have "filmed ourselves
from the beginning -- we still have vaults full
of unheard and unseen stuff''.
has a third series of Family Jewels about to air
in the US and makes an appearance in the new series
of Ugly Betty.
says he'd rather "take a bullet'' than be
filmed for reality TV, but Simmons can't get enough
of the genre.
well as Family Jewels, he put together a teenage
band for British show Rock School and just appeared
in a celebrity version of Donald Trump's series
The Apprentice, which raised money for charity.
that that was Simmons' motivation for appearing
alongside Stephen Baldwin and Omarosa.
who tells you they're doing a television show
to raise money for charity is lying,'' Simmons
do a television show to be on television and to
position themselves in the marketplace in a certain
way. Yes, I gave the money to charity, but the
reason for being on TV is you think it's a cool
thing to do.''
extracurricular work includes a comic-publishing
company and overseeing the endless Kiss merchandise,
which runs from coffee houses to condoms to coffins.
does it, he says, because he can.
the biggest stars in the world today are rap stars
because they're much more interesting than today's
rock stars, who mostly look like garbage collectors.
carries on the grand tradition that the stage
is a holy place and the fans are our bosses. We
owe you something. This is a privilege and an
be cheaper to just plug in some small amps and
play songs. It costs a fortune to bring Kiss shows
around the world. But we consider that our mission.''
that mission that brings the band back to Australia,
one of their most loyal markets.
"We love the Australian fans,'' Simmons says.
"And I probably have a few kids down there
I should say hello to.''
Simmons' Family Jewels, Biography Channel, Wednesdays,
9.30pm. Kiss, Australian Grand Prix, March 16.