As an early member of the KISS Army, all I can say is that I did my duty. So don’t blame me.
Ever since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its doors in the mid 80’s, I joined my fellow brethren in bitching and moaning for KISS to be inducted. And over the years, I’ve painfully watched as other artists and bands (many deserving, most not) walk through the Hall’s hallowed doors while Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were unjustly ignored.
Regardless of whether or not you like their music, there can be no denying that KISS deserves a place alongside The Beatles, Hendrix, U2 and (gasp!) ABBA.
In the 1970’s KISS was literally the biggest thing on the planet.
1. You NEVER, EVER saw them without make-up. It was big part of their schtick and one that they took very seriously.
2. They were SO huge that each member created their own solo album and released them all simultaneously.
3. Dolls were made in their likeness.
4. They were in movies, on television and in comic books.
5. Kids (like me) dressed up like them for Halloween.
I remember being a naive eight year old reading the TV guide when I noticed that one of the members of KISS was going to be in a movie that was coming on. Can you imagine my horror when I turned on channel 4 to discover that my hero was actually actress Jean Simmons in a black and white movie. I thought they had spelt Gene’s name wrong.
But that was the kind of impact KISS had. We read about them, listened to their music, bugged our parents to buy their merchandise. Most of all, we wanted to be them. When the “Dressed To Kill” album came out, I thought they were cool. When the “Alive” album came out, I wanted to be a rock star.
Late last year, it was revealed that the band would finally receive their long overdue induction into the Hall. Euphoria ran amok in the KISS Army, while tears of joy ran down the faces of the now middle-aged fans who had dreamt about seeing their beloved four original members reunite in make-up for one final soiree.
But alas, then came the shit storm.
For some reason, whether it was monetary, too much trouble or (most likely) that they simply just continue to hate each other’s guts, the band has announced that they will not play in any line-up at their hall induction. Kind of ironic when you consider that it was Simmons and Stanley (the only two original members still with the band) who have bemoaned the Hall for decades for not accepting them.
Over the years, original members of the band have written tell all books and released ho-hum records. Their induction was the one thing fans wanted most and the only thing that would make KISS relevant again. It’s sad to think that these guys can’t put aside their differences for just one night.
After finally getting their long overdue reward, wouldn’t it have been cool for KISS to put on an induction performance the likes of which have never been seen before? Maybe do it and then announce your retirement during your acceptance speech and seal the band’s legacy with the ultimate rock moment? Sadly, we’ll never get a chance to see anything now.
Gene Simmons once declared that KISS is a band that’s unlike any other. In light of what the band has done to the legions of fans who finally got them into the Rock Hall of Fame, I’d say he got that right.
Sometime during he mid 1970’s, I stumbled upon a bunch of old record albums that had been accumulating under my grandparents large stereo system. My family and I had lived with my grandparents at the time, and their house and property was used by aunts, uncles and cousins as a repository for such things as old records, books, hand me down clothing and the occasional automobile that did not run anymore. Every once in a while, especially when there was nothing else to do on a rainy day, it was always cool to take stock of the things relatives had dumped off with no intention of ever taking back.
It was during one of these rainy days, while picking my way through the Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow and Carpenters albums, that I discovered it. The picture on the album was both creepy and cool. There they were, four dudes standing on some street corner against a pole; perhaps waiting for a bus (or an ambulance to take them all to the loony bin). They were all dressed in suits and ties; wearing the highest of high water pants the seventies had to offer. Big white shoes and the coolest make-up I had ever seen in the seven years that I had been alive.
The album was KISS’ Dressed To Kill, and unless my grandmother was a closeted guitar shredder and told none of us kids, I still to this day have no idea how the album wound up with all of those other relics. But I was so glad I did. Thanks Nan!
I quickly fired up the turntable and placed needle on vinyl (for those of you born after 1995 or so, that means I played the record). At the time, I remember not being all that much interested in most of what I heard. Sure, songs like “Two Timer”, “Rock Bottom” and “She” were kind of catchy, but nothing that really did anything for me on a first listen.
Then it happened.
The final song on the album was played and a spark went off. The cool little drum intro, the crunch guitars, the catchy lyrics! When I heard “Rock and Roll All Nite” for the very first time, I had an epiphany. Something snapped inside of me and I knew I would be changed forever. Yes Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace, I did wanna rock and roll all night AND party EH-VER-EEE Day!
Over the next several years, I couldn’t get enough of KISS. The “Alive”, “Alive II” and “Destroyer” albums were soon added to my collection (yes, I took ownership of “Dressed To Kill”). Each a masterpiece of music and mystery. I signed up as a member in good standing of the KISS Army and whenever the band appeared on TV, I just had to watch. I even remember there were times I was bummed out when I saw that a “Jean Simmons” movie was coming on and only found out (after watching most of it) that they really didn’t spell Gene’s name wrong. Whether it was the music, watching Ace Frehley’s guitar catch fire or Gene Simmons’ spitting up blood (always a fan favorite), I was obsessed with these “unknown” guys.
In retrospect, I suppose it was the combination of everything that made KISS appeal to me so much. But little did I know at the time, the band (and particularly the song, “Rock and Roll All Nite”) planted the seed that made me want to become a rock star.