Kiss - Biography

Kiss Biography

KISS is a New York City-based heavy metal band that became famous in the mid 1970s. KISS was born out of the ashes of Wicked Lester. Although 'Heavy Metal' didn't exist when the band was formed in 1972 it can be said that they invented a big part of the sound and style which now belong to Heavy Metal. The band is known for its elaborate stage shows, loud music, and extravagant costumes. Until 1983 the band never appeared in public without their make-up (which disguised their real identities). The band first appeared without their make-up in 1983 on a MTV news special. They had to remove the makeup to be a viable band of the oblivious 1980s (platform shoes died with disco). KISS put it back on in 1996 for their Alive Worldwide Reunion Tour.

The original members of KISS (and their made-up personas) are Paul Stanley (star child), rhythm guitar/vocals; Gene Simmons (demon), bass/vocals; Ace Frehley (space-ace), lead guitar/vocals; and Peter Criss (catman), drums/vocals. William 'Gui' Aucoin was the original manager 1973-1981. Doc McGhee is the current manager. Sean Delaney was the group's first road manager and creative director.

Originally inspired by the New York Dolls, The Harlots of 42nd Street, and other New York glam scene bands. They felt that the feminine look didn't work for them.

1980 saw Peter Criss's departure for 3 'commercial flop' solo albums. Other drummers between 1980 and 1996 and 2001 and 2004

1982 saw Ace Frehley officially leave the band to pursue a somewhat successful solo career. Other lead guitarists between 1982 and 1996 (when the original four members reunited):

The band's name was rumored to stand for 'Knights In Satan's Service' but this is an urban legend - propogated in the 1970s by Minnesota-based evangelists the Peters Brothers - which Gene Simmons has denied in his book. Simmons states that Paul Stanley suggested the name on the spur of the moment while they were stopped at a traffic light. Paul has also stated that the band name is not an acronym (the original name of the band was Wicked Lester, 1969-1972). Ace designed the infamous lightening bolt logo, and the rest is KISStory.

The first ever KISS performance was in 1973 to an audience of 10 at the Popcorn Club (renamed Coventry shortly afterwards) in New York City.

KISS' first Canadian tour started on February 5, 1974 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. This is always where Gene encountered his first groupie.... a girl with Purple and Green Hair, who is credited on his solo album.

Their next show, February 6, 1974 was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

The group released their first two albums in 1974, both produced by Kenny Kerner and Ritchie Wise, (KISS and Hotter Than Hell). The cover of their debut, KISS, showed the group in their makeup, mimicking the cover of the Beatles' With the Beatles album. At the time, no one really knew what to make of the group's look. Topping at #87 in the charts, the album did feature a few chestnuts in the group's career; 'Strutter,' 'Deuce,' 'Cold Gin,' and the closer 'Black Diamond.' The follow-up, Hotter Than Hell featured a Japanese influenced cover, an attempt to make people think the group were well-known worldwide. The album did less well than their debut, reaching just #100 on the Billboard album chart.

In 1975, having achieved recognition, but no big hit single, Casablanca Records head Neil Bogart stepped in to produce their next album. Trading in the rawer sound of KISS and Hotter Than Hell for a more clean, produced sound with Dressed To Kill. The album included two important songs in the group's career; 'C'mon And Love Me,' their first big radio hit, and 'Rock And Roll All Nite,' which became their first hit single. In 1975, they released the live album Alive!, a lion's share recorded at Detroit's Cobo Hall. The album was a huge success. Following it, the group decided to expand their musical horizons and make a more venturesome album. The result was Destroyer, KISS' most commercially successful album, which included the hits 'Beth', 'Detroit Rock City,' and 'Shout It Out Loud.'

Destroyer (1976), Music from the Elder (1981) and Revenge (1992) were produced by Bob Ezrin. The first two were concept albums, with the former being less conspicuously so. Ezrin's production on Music from The Elder is clearly similar to his work on Pink Floyd's The Wall, released two years earlier. As an example, compare the ethereal arpeggios of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' with KISS' 'Under The Rose'. While both albums are arguably quite good, the world was not ready to consider KISS outside of its '3-minute song about lusting for women' reputation.

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

  • Music from The Elder — concept album about a youth's journey into heroism
  • Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions — introspective and serious songs
  • Psycho Circus — songs explicitly referencing Rock music or KISS itself

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

KISS starred in a made for NBC television movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978).

KISS has four official book releases:

  • Behind The Mask
  • The Early Years

In 1997, the original band reunited after 17 years apart, and launched their wildly successful reunion tour. In 1998, the band released 'Psycho Circus', and departed on the ensuing 3-D tour, with a circus as the opening act. The tour was mildy successful, but the band continued to dominate the rock world.

In 2003, KISS released 'KISS SYMPHONY' with Gene Simmons,Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Tommy Thayer, backed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Peter Criss left the band again in late 2003, and was replaced with Eric Singer, who along with Tommy Thayer performed during KISS' 2004 'Rock The Nation' Tour, with 80's hair band Poison as the opening act.

The KISS logo had to be redesigned for the German market because of the similarity of its two S's to the symbol of the SS, Adolf Hitler's paramilitary troops, which it is illegal to display in Germany. The German KISS logo has S's that resemble backward Z's, and all the band's albums and German merchandise use it. (See accompanying image)


KISS Albums

USA Releases

  • Kiss (1974; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Hotter than Hell (1974; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Dressed to Kill (1975; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Alive! (1975; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • The Originals (1976; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace) — a set of the first 3 studio albums
  • Destroyer (1976; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Rock and Roll Over (1976; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Love Gun (1977; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Alive II (1977; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • The Originals II (1978; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace) — 'Japanese only' set of the second 3 studio albums
  • Double Platinum (1978; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Paul Stanley (1978; Paul)
  • Gene Simmons (1978; Gene)
  • Peter Criss (1978; Peter)
  • Ace Frehley (1978; Ace)
  • Dynasty (1979; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace, Anton Fig)
  • The Best of Solo Albums (1980; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace) — 'Import only' 3 tracks each from each solo album
  • Unmasked (1980; Gene, Paul, Ace, Anton Fig)
  • (Music from) the Elder (1981; Gene, Paul, Ace, Eric C.)
  • Killers (1982; Gene, Paul, Ace, Eric C.) — unavailable in North America
  • Creatures of the Night (1982; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Vinnie)
  • Lick It Up (1983; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Vinnie) — first album cover without face paint
  • Animalize (1984; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Mark)
  • Asylum (1985; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Bruce)
  • Crazy Nights (1987; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Bruce)
  • Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits (1988; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Bruce) — Greatest Hits compilation with 2 new songs and Eric Carr's vocal on Beth.
  • Hot in the Shade (1989; Gene, Paul, Eric C., Bruce)
  • Revenge (1992; Gene, Paul, Bruce, Eric S.)
  • Alive III (1993; Gene, Paul, Bruce, Eric S.)
  • Kiss My Ass (1994; Gene, Paul, Bruce, Eric S., various artists)
  • MTV Unplugged (1996; Gene, Paul, Bruce, Eric S., Peter, Ace)
  • You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best (1996; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Greatest Kiss (1997; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Carnival of Souls (1997; Gene, Paul, Bruce, Eric S.)
  • Psycho Circus (1998; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace)
  • Psycho Circus Live (1999; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace) — 'Import Only'
  • The Very Best of Kiss (2002; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace, Eric C., Vinnie, Bruce, Eric S.)
  • Alive IV - Kiss Symphony (2003; Gene, Paul, Peter, Tommy)
  • 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection 1 (2004; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace, Eric C)
  • 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection 2 (2004; Gene, Paul, Eric C, Vinnie V, Mark, Bruce, Eric S)
  • Gold: 1974-1982 - Sound+Vision (W/Dvd) (2004; Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace, Eric C, Vinnie V) —
  • Gold (2005)

External links

This biography is published under the GNU Licence