JACK FM Artist Spotlight: KISS
KISS and Motley Crue play together for the first time ever at the Minnesota State Fair on August 29th and they are in this weeks JACK Spotlight! Text “Beth” to 42784 for your chance to win tickets!
Kiss is an American hard rock band formed in New York City, USA in 1973. The group has performed and recorded continuously since their formation. KISS has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and has been awarded 45 gold albums to date, and has certified sales of 19 million records in the United States.
Easily identified by their trademark face paint (registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office) and stage costumes, KISS quickly rose to prominence on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire-breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars and pyrotechnics.
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) became the most successful and identifiable in the band’s history, and released a series of gold and platinum albums throughout the 1970s. Due to substance abuse problems and creative differences, both Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band’s commercial fortunes had also waned considerably by that point.
Criss and Frehley have since left KISS, and have been replaced by Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively.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.
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. After a handful of showcase concerts in the summer of 1973, former TV director Bill Aucoin 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 while performing his inaugural fire-breathing stunt.
KISS’s first major 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).
But on the eve of a Japanese and Australian 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, donned Criss’s Cat Man makeup as the “Farewell Tour” continued. (Simmons and Stanley own both Frehley’s and Criss’s makeup designs, so there was no way for Criss to prevent this.)
With the band scheduled to call it a day supposedly by late 2001, a career-encompassing Box Set (94 tracks over five discs) was released in November, while the summer saw perhaps the most over-the-top piece of KISS merchandise yet — the KISS Kasket.
The group was relatively quiet through the rest of the year, but 2002 started with a bang as Simmons turned in an entertaining and controversial interview on National Public Radio where he criticized NPR and berated host Terry Gross with sexual comments and condescending answers. He was promoting his autobiography at the time, which also caused dissension in the KISS camp because of the inflammatory remarks made towards Frehley. Frehley was quite angry at the situation, leading to his no-show at an American Bandstand anniversary show.