Thursday, May 17, 2012


Early years and struggles (1971–75)

Kiss traces their roots to Wicked Lester, a New York City-based rock and roll band led by co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Wicked Lester, with its 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 and Stanley came across an ad in the East Coast version of Rolling Stone placed by Peter Criss, a veteran drummer from the New York scene, who was previously in bands called Lips and Chelsea. Criss 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 Alice Cooper and 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.
In early January 1973, the group added lead guitarist Ace Frehley. Frehley impressed the group with his first audition, although he showed up wearing two different sneakers, one red and one orange. A few weeks after Frehley joined, the Wicked Lester name was dropped and the band became Kiss.
Stanley came up with the name as he, Simmons, and Criss were driving around New York City. Criss mentioned that he was in a band called Lips, so Stanley said something to the effect of "What about Kiss?"Frehley created the now-iconic logo, making the "SS" look like lightning bolts, when he went to write the new band name over Wicked Lester on a poster outside the club where they were going to play. The runic letters happened to look similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS, a symbol that is now illegal to display in Germany. Therefore, to avoid controversy, since 1979 most of the band's album covers and merchandise in Germany have used a modified version of the logo instead, with the SS represented by two backwards Zs.
The band's name – which is often spelled in all capital letters – has been rumored to have many secret meanings, among them an acronym for "Knights In Satan's Service" and "Kids In Satan's Service" but has been shown to be false.
The first Kiss performance was on January 30, 1973, for an audience of three at the Popcorn Club (renamed Coventry shortly afterward) in Queens. For the first three gigs, January 30 – February 1, they wore little to no makeup; the iconic makeup designs associated with Kiss made their debut during the March 9–10 shows at The Daisy in Amityville, NY. On March 13 of that year, the band recorded a five-song demo tape with producer Eddie Kramer. Former TV director Bill Au-coin, 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 Buddah Records executive Neil Bogart's new label 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 premiere 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' first tour started on February 5, 1974 in EdmontonAlberta, 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. Fellow guest Totie Fields remarked that it would be humorous if, beneath all the make-up, Simmons was "just a nice Jewish boy." Simmons deftly parried this remark with neither a confirmation nor denial, by saying simply, "You should only know." To which she responded, "I do. You can't hide the hook," a reference to the Jewish nose.
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 (while touring) stopped in Los Angeles in August 1974 to begin recording their second album, Hotter Than Hell, which was released on October 22, 1974. The only single, "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll," failed to chart and the album stalled at No. 100.


Reunion (1996–2001)

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. On April 16, the band held a press conference aboard the USS Intrepid (CV-11) 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, California, during which the band nearly ignited the stage of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. 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 11 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.

In September 1998, the reunited group issued Psycho Circus. Despite their appearance as the first album with the original lineup since 1980s Unmasked (even though Criss didn't play on the album), 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 number 3 chart debut, the highest position for a Kiss album until Sonic Boom debuted at number two in 2009. 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.

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 film 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 next month, the group worked in collaboration with World Championship Wrestling to produce a Kiss-themed wrestler known as The Demon whose face was painted to resemble Simmons. The group performed God of Thunder live on WCW Monday Nitro to debut the character. The band got $500,000 for the one-night, one-song performance. 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, although it was last for the original line up; the tour kicked off on March 12, 2000. The group quickly added dates to the tour, which ran through April 2001. 2000 also saw the release of a computer game, Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child, based on the comic book series Kiss: Psycho Circus from Todd McFarlane Productions.

[edit]Post-reunion (2001–08)

On the eve of the Japanese and Australian leg of the Farewell Tour on January 31, 2001, Criss suddenly left the band once again, due to the fact that he and the band could not come to agreement with his contract salary. Taking his place was previous Kiss drummer Eric Singer who, in a move that was controversial among longtime fans, assumed Criss's Cat Man persona as the Farewell Tour continued.
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 outrageous item 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.
On December 4, 2001, Kiss was one of the honorees at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences ("The Recording Academy") Heroes Award ceremony, at the NARAS New York Chapter. NARAS has 12 chapters throughout the United States, hence 12 ceremonies throughout the year, with the honorees each being honored by the chapter closest to their residence. By receiving this honor, which NARAS has renamed the "Recording Academy Honors," Kiss effectively received NARAS' second-highest career honor, right behind the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
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 with host Terry GrossIn 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. This was Frehley's final performance with Kiss.


Kiss Band

Kiss (often stylized as KISS) is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Well known for its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featuredfire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics. Counting the 1978 solo albums, Kiss has been awarded 28 gold albums to date, the most of any American rock band. The band has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 20 million have been certified by the RIAA and their worldwide sales exceeds 100 million albums. The 1973–'80 original lineup of Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals and bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter Criss (drums) is the most successful.
With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley) and Catman (Criss). The band explains that the fans were the ones who ultimately chose their makeup designs. Stanley became the "Starchild" because of his tendency to be referred to as the "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic". The "Demon" makeup reflected Simmons' cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Frehley's "Spaceman" makeup was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet. Criss' "Catman" makeup was in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn. Because of creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band's commercial fortunes had waned considerably by that point.
Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band announced a reunion of the original lineup in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide/Reunion Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996 and 1997. Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again, but the band continues with Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Stanley and Simmons have remained the only two constant members. Kiss has been named in many "Top" lists. They include Number 10 on VH1's '100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock', 9th on 'The Greatest Metal Bands' list by MTV, number one on Hit Paraders's "Top 100 Live Bands", 56th on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time", and 26th on Gibson's "50 Greatest American Rock Bands". Kiss was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ten years after becoming eligible. However, on December 15, 2009, it was announced that Kiss did not make it in.