KISS Online

Kiss (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 albums.

The 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 characters—the 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.

In 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 Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again, and have been replaced by Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively.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.

Early years and struggles (1971–75)
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.

In 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.[8] 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.

In 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 "ZZ."

The 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.

The 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 band’s 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).

The 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 stunt.

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 band’s 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.

Despite 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.

With 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 All Nite"

Although 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.

By 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.

Success (1975–78)

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.

The 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.

In 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 year—Rock 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.[18] 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 The Beatles.

The 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.

During 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 1978—Alive 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.

The 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 time.

For 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 four—it 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 unprecedented—Casablanca 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").

The 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.

Kiss 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 (1979–83)
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.).[28] 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 sang.

Billed 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.

One 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 of Simmons.

By 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.

Yet 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.

With 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 his replacement.

Kiss's 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Absent 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.

Creatures 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 Tour.

Vincent's 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 1996.

Unmasking and rebound (1983–95)

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.

Lick 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 guitar tutor.

With 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.

The 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 albums—1985'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.

During 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.

The 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).

Though 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.

Kiss 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.

During 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 band.

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.

On 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."[59] 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.

While 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 MTV.

Reunion (1996–2002)
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 people!

– Tupac Shakur

With 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.[61] 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.

The 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.[63] 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.[64] The average attendance of 13,737 is the highest in the group's history.

In 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.[66] 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.

On 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.

The 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.

Kiss 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.[69] 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.

On 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.

With 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."

Kiss 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 City, Utah.

On 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.[73] That month, the band (with Thayer) taped an appearance on the American sitcom That '70s Show.[74] 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 3.

Post-reunion (2003–present)
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.

Despite 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.[76] 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.

Simmons 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.

During 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 scheduled.

Despite 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."[82] 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.

In 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.[83] 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: 1974–1977, the first of ten possible DVD sets featuring concert footage, interviews, and never-before-seen clips.[84] As of January 2007, the set is certified quintuple platinum in the United States.[85] 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.

Though 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 cancelled.

Current members
Paul Stanley – rhythm guitar, vocals (1973–present)
Gene Simmons – bass guitar, vocals (1973–present)
Eric Singer – drums (1991-1996, 2001–2002, 2004–present)
Tommy Thayer – lead guitar (2002–present)

Past members
Peter Criss – drums, vocals (1973–1980, 1996–2001, 2002–2004)
Ace Frehley – lead guitar, vocals (1973–1982, 1996–2002)
Eric Carr – drums, vocals (1980–1991)
Vinnie Vincent – lead guitar (1982–1984)
Mark St. John – lead guitar (1984)
Bruce Kulick – lead guitar (1984–1996)
(Credit- Wikipedia)


Kiss Online

Peter Criss

Bruce Kulick

Gene Simmons

Paul Stanley

Eric Singer

Tommy Thayer


KISS to rock the Grand Prix - 14th November 2007
(Credit: Australian Grand Prix)

The rumours are true.

Legendary 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.

KISS 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.

"Let 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 seatbelts."

"We miss Australia,” added Gene Simmons. “The people. The culture. And the Melbourne Grand Prix. This is gonna rock!”

The 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.

“There 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 simply unmissable.

“All this with no increase in general admission and grandstand prices from 2007. That’s great value,” said Mr Ward.

KISS will perform their full concert extravaganza for race fans on a specially erected stage, just after the FORMULA 1™ race on Sunday, 16 March.

While 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” area.

Patrons 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.

“KISS Pole Position” tickets for the reserved general admission area will go on sale on Friday, 30 November from Ticketek - 131 931 or

With 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.

The 2008 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix - Albert Park - 13–16 March


Gene Simmons happy to Kiss and tell for reality TV, by Cameron Adams - 7th Feb 2008
(Credit: Herald Sun)

GENE 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.

MOST celebrities who have facelifts keep them private.

But Gene Simmons isn't like most celebrities.

The Kiss singer filmed he and partner Shannon Tweed's his 'n' her facelifts for their reality series Family Jewels.

It was graphic viewing that made headlines. Simmons was thrilled.

"If you want to see me wiping my ass on camera I will,'' Simmons says. "I'll take a s--- on air, I don't care.''

On 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.

"I'm 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.

"The 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.''

Simmons is one of the most famous wedding-dodgers alive. He's been "happily unmarried'' to Tweed -- an actor and former Playboy playmate -- since 1985.

"Women 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.

"Women's 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 man.

"The 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.

"The 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.''

Simmons has made no secret of his arrangement with Tweed and continues to be one of the world's most notorious ladies' men.

"I 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.''

Simmons is writing a book called Ladies of the Night -- "a personal and historical perspective of the oldest profession in the world''.

He's in the process of interviewing "high-end ladies'' for the tome, due out this year.

"They make a very good living doing what biology dictates, which is they charge for their companionship,'' Simmons says.

"What's 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.''

Simmons will launch the book with a campaign to legalise prostitution.

"Anything consenting adults agree to behind closed doors should be their business. Even in the New Testament, God prevents people from killing the prostitute.''

Family Jewels ("You mean Gene Simmons' Family Jewels, notice how it sounds better,'' he corrects) highlights his two well-adjusted teenagers Nicholas and Sophie.

A proud Simmons reels off their latest school reports: a string of straight As.

"They're 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.

"The 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.''

Kiss remain one of the most profitable acts in music through touring and merchandise, yet haven't released a new album in 10 years.

Bandmate Paul Stanley realises people coming to Kiss shows want hits not new material, but Simmons is more blunt.

"There's no new Kiss material because there's no record industry,'' Simmons says.

"Any 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?''

Simmons was one of the most vocal musicians to call for those caught illegally downloading to be prosecuted.

"They're 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.

"Here 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.

"Every 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.

"But 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.''

There may be no new Kiss material, but that's not to say there's nothing for fans to spend their money on.

Stanley 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''.

Simmons 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.

Their 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''.

He has a third series of Family Jewels about to air in the US and makes an appearance in the new series of Ugly Betty.

Stanley says he'd rather "take a bullet'' than be filmed for reality TV, but Simmons can't get enough of the genre.

As 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.

Not that that was Simmons' motivation for appearing alongside Stephen Baldwin and Omarosa.

"Anybody who tells you they're doing a television show to raise money for charity is lying,'' Simmons says.

"They 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.''

Simmons' extracurricular work includes a comic-publishing company and overseeing the endless Kiss merchandise, which runs from coffee houses to condoms to coffins.

He does it, he says, because he can.

"See, 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.

"Kiss 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 honour.

"It'd 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.''

It's 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.''

Gene Simmons' Family Jewels, Biography Channel, Wednesdays, 9.30pm. Kiss, Australian Grand Prix, March 16. $149, Ticketek.



KISS Online

Peter Criss

Bruce Kulick

Gene Simmons

Paul Stanley

Eric Singer

Tommy Thayer



Marvel Comics