NEW YORK (AP) – A loft on 23rd Street in New York City was the location where four young people from New York brought their guitars, amplifiers, and drums with the hope of becoming the most successful band in the world. This was fifty years ago.
Approximately ten blocks to the north of that loft, Kiss, the band that was founded by those four individuals, will say its farewell this coming weekend. However, the band today has two different members performing with them.
Kiss, which has become one of the most popular bands in the world and has redefined expectations for the live concert experience, will perform at Madison Square Garden. Kiss is not the biggest band in the world, but they are surely one of the biggest.
The following is a retrospective of significant occurrences in the history of Kiss, compiled from interviews conducted by the Associated Press with members of the band, quotations they provided to other media outlets, and excerpts from the memoirs of band members:
Gene Simmons, who had a brief career as a teacher and was a fan of horror films and comic books, and Paul Stanley, a cab driver who had once dropped off passengers at Madison Square Garden to see Elvis Presley and vowed that he would one day be on that same stage, left their band Wicked Lester in 1973 and began looking for bandmates to put together a true spectacle.
— WCBS 880 (@wcbs880) December 2, 2023
This was an act in which the show and the visuals were just as important as the music. They come across Ace Frehley, who came up for auditions with one pair of red sneakers, one pair of orange sneakers, and a guitar.
They also come across drummer Peter Criss, who had posted an ad in a music paper asking for a band.
Simmons is the demon, Stanley is the starchild, Frehley is the spaceman, and Criss is the catman. Each member will take on a different stage identity during the performance.
Over the course of New Year’s Eve, the band is able to secure a support slot on the bill with Blue Öyster Cult, effectively honing their performance through a series of small club gigs.
Today, A New Era Begins. #KISSARMY, the end is only the beginning!
KISS have been immortalized and reborn as avatars to rock forever. #KISSNEWERA
— KISS (@kiss) December 3, 2023
While Simmons was inhaling fire that night, he somehow managed to set his hair on fire by mistake. (This would occur on a regular basis over the course of the years, to the point where they would station a roadie with a towel that was completely drenched in water nearby.)
Kiss presents its first record, which bears the band’s name, as well as its second album, which is named “Hotter Than Hell.”
The year 1975 saw the release of the band’s third studio album, titled “Dressed to Kill.” This album included a memorable song titled “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
However, the band does not achieve its first significant hit until the live version of that song is released later that year as the centerpiece of Kiss’s “Alive!” album.
It is in 1976 that Kiss publishes “Destroyer,” which is often regarded as the band’s best studio album. The album features the orchestral ballad “Beth,” which would, quite by chance, become one of the band’s most successful songs.
There was a hard-rocking record called “Detroit Rock City,” and “Beth” was the B-side of that single. However, radio disc jockeys started playing the ballad instead, and it quickly became popular.
A second live album, titled “Alive II,” is released by the band in 1977. “Love Gun” is also released. Kiss has been ranked as the most popular band in the United States by the Gallup Poll. This is the first time that the band has performed in Madison Square Garden.
1978: In a move that was unprecedented in the music industry, the four members of the band released their solo albums at the same time, and each of them sold more than one million copies. Nevertheless, Frehley’s is the only one that has produced a hit, and that song is “New York Groove.”
This two-hour television movie, titled “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park,” stars the band and is broadcast on NBC. For example, in addition to the typical T-shirts and posters, Kiss distributes a wide variety of band-related stuff all over the world.
This merchandise includes things like lunchboxes, vitamins, transistor radios, trading cards, and pinball machines. In later years, Kiss Kondoms and Kiss Kaskets were introduced to the market.
1979 saw the release of “Dynasty” by Kiss, which includes the disco-influenced song “I Was Made For Lovin’ You.” Furthermore, Simmons appears to fly into the air and settle atop speakers that are located above the stage during their live concert.
This is in addition to the typical fire-breathing and blood-spitting that they do during their performances.
1980: They release the pop-influenced song “Unmasked,” and later on, they employ Eric Carr to take over for Criss as the band’s drummer.
It was in 1981 when the band released “Music From the Elder,” a concept album that was inspired by the “Harry Potter” mania twenty years before the phenomenon really began.
Due to the album’s deviation from their regular musical style and the fact that it is centered around a medieval concept, it does not appeal to a large number of fans.
Kiss released “Creatures of the Night” in 1982 as a response to the criticism that was directed after “The Elder.” This album is a fantastical, drum-laden masterwork that continues to be one of the band’s most heavy albums to this day. Vinnie Vincent takes over as the lead guitarist after Frehley’s departure.
Kiss revealed their true appearance in an MTV special that was planned to coincide with the release of their album “Lick It Up” in 1983. Kiss had previously agreed that it was time for them to abandon their signature makeup.
They do not wear makeup until 1996, when they go on a reunion tour with the original members of the band.
The albums “Animalize,” “Asylum,” “Crazy Nights,” and “Hot in the Shade” are released by Kiss during the years 1984 and 1990, at which time MTV embraced their new image.
During the year 1984, guitarist Mark St. John took over for Vincent, but he was unable to continue playing the guitar due to a terrible nerve ailment that affected his hands. In his place, Bruce Kulick will take over.
Carr passes away in 1991 due to heart cancer.
In 1992, Eric Singer, a highly regarded drummer who has worked with Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Badlands, and Lita Ford, is hired. In 1989, Singer was a member of Paul Stanley’s solo band and went on tour with them. The album “Revenge” is released, and the band also records the album “Alive III” while they are on tour.
The lineup, which consisted of Stanley, Simmons, Kulick, and Singer, was joined by Frehley and Criss during the taping of an MTV “Unplugged” broadcast in 1995, which served as a precursor to a future reunion performance.
The grunge-inspired album “Carnival of Souls,” which had been pirated and was already widely bootlegged, is finally released through official distribution in the years 1996-1997. For what would go on to become the most successful tour of the year, the original members of Kiss get back together during their tour.
Reunited Kiss releases their album “Psycho Circus” in the year 1998.
From the years 2000 to 2003, Kiss announces their first farewell tour. Almost immediately after it is over, Stanley and Simmons have a change of heart. Tommy Thayer, who had been a band aide for a long time, takes over for Frehley in the year 2002.
In 2003, the band releases “Alive IV” by collaborating with a symphonic orchestra. The return of Singer solidifies a team that has remained consistent ever since it was first formed.
Kiss releases their final studio albums, “Sonic Boom” and “Monster,” between the years 2009 and 2012. It is the beginning of a series of yearly “Kiss Kruises” that take fans to tropical locations throughout the autumn season.