You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best: My KISStory

KISS

KISS could probably be the least understood band in metal or rock history. Some people think of them as a gimmick band while others think of them as a hair metal band, but the thing that everyone forgets is that you do not get that kind of longevity without quality music. It utterly amazes me how people could think of KISS as nothing more than a gimmick band in makeup and high heels.

Even from day one, with their self-titled release in 1974, you knew that there was something special about the band. If you could see through the makeup and the extraordinary tongue and the over-the-top costumes, that first album was an absolute classic. Including songs such as Deuce, Strutter, Cold Gin, Firehouse and Black Diamond, the album was an instant success and is filled with songs that they still play live to this day.

Of course, the hits did not stop there. Soon to come would be classics like Rock ‘N Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Love Gun and so many more hits that I know of no other band that has so many hits.

When was the last time did you saw a band performing live in Detroit and they did not call the town Detroit Rock City? They even made a movie loosely based on the song. How often is Rock ‘N Roll All Nite played on most rock radio stations now? How much airplay did Beth get back when it first came out?

Kiss Ace Frehley 1977I still remember the days of old like they were yesterday. Hanging around outside playing sports and blasting some metal music, which pretty much consisted of KISS or Judas Priest most nights. We would all make cassette tapes of our favorite KISS tracks and put them in our specific order of how we would like to see them played live, of course throwing in some tracks we knew the band would never play live. We would go to the KISS concert begging for them to play songs we knew we would never hear live. Sometimes, our cassettes even has our own homemade crowd behind them that we created from splicing together crowds from live albums.

When the make up came off in the 80s, the hits did not stop coming. It is debatable on whether or not “Creatures of the Night” was with or without makeup, but it is one of the best albums that kiss has ever released with classics like I love it loud, war machine, the title track and many more lesser-known smash hits.

Albums like “Lick it Up” and “Animalize” are just as impressive with songs like Lick it Up, Heavens on Fire, Under the Gun and so many more. I hate to keep listing songs like that, and I hate even more to leave out so many songs that I love, but it proves the point that KISS has an astounding number of impressive songs. I still stand behind albums like “Crazy Nights” and “Asylum.”

In 1996, the unthinkable happened with the reunion, which became the biggest reunion in music history. No other reunion has ever drawn the kind of attention that KISS’ did.

KISS Gene and Paul
This day and age, KISS is not the band that it once was, but they are still amazing live. KISS has become a marketing machine that has transcended music.  The KISS Army is larger than ever. The merchandise is never ending. You can be buried in a KISS casket or play one of a few different KISS pinball machines.

KISS is one of the few bands that have graced the big screen with “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” and even “Scooby Doo Meets KISS.” They have been on Oprah. Gene Simmons has had a reality television show and has been featured on “Toy Hunter.” Paul Stanley has performed as the Phantom of the Opera. Paul and Gene own a football team. The band has seemingly done it all.

Through all of these larger than life happenings, the band has become a household name, but the one thing that has recently happened I that the band has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Perhaps that gives some credence to the band getting some long earned respect. I hope so, but the fact of the matter is that the true fans know how great the band has always been. We do not need a pinball machine to tell us who can Rock and Roll All Nite and Party Every Day.