The Band Kiss Came Alive In 1975
KISS Explodes Onto The Scene
Ace Frehley ,Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, and Gene Simmons got together in 1972 to form the band KISS. The member s of the band had visions of explosions, fire breathing, smoke and choreographed mayhem.
After three underfunded studio albums for Casablanca records and relentless touring the B Circuit on manager Bob Aucoin's American Express card, KISS was given the green light by a desperate studio to record a live show.
Twenty-four gold records and nearly forty years later, that live recording continues to set the bar for bands trying to recapture the magic that is KISS Alive!
I wanted to be in a band that gave bang for the buck. I wanted to be in the band who didn't look like a bunch of guys who, you know, should be in a library studying for their finals.
~ Gene Simmons
What's All That Noise?
Make up, explosions, fire breathing, blood spewing, big lights, funky costumes, smoking guitars and one long tongue. This was the legend of KISS.
The band had signed with Casablanca Records, who was quick becoming known as the laughing stock of studios. KISS recorded three studio albums and was touring the country without an expense account from Casablanca; just a promise to the band's manager that he would somehow be reimbursed all expenses.
The manager, Bob Aucoin, believed in the band, and he had good reason to. Aucoin was with the group every night as they played small clubs, auditoriums and former movie theaters turned concert halls. Every night, KISS played in venues that were packed with hundreds of kids who wanted to witness the high decibel circus.
Eventually, Aucoin was able to convince the management at Casablanca records that there needed to be a live recording of the band's show. One at a large arena. Casablanca agreed and Detroit's Cobol Area was the place.
The album was recorded, mixed and pressed. The recording eventually made it to number 9 on Billboard's list.
KISS' Alive tour was stretched to nearly 100 shows in eighteen months, including tours of the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe.
The band was hot, some might say they were hotter than hell.
What Was The Attraction?
Make-up for rock stars was nothing new. The New York City Dolls were famous for their make-up. On stage theatrics wasn't a novel act either. Alice Cooper was one of many who tread that path before KISS started down it.
So what was it about KISS that was such a hit?
Timing. Alice Cooper had been on the scene for a while and all the other hard rock/heavy metal bands were trying to cultivate a quasi-occult spectacle. It was time for another band that was all about a dazzling show and KISS delivered.
Honestly, as far as musically, KISS was not above par, and it has been since revealed that there was a lot of overdubbing in the studio for the Alive album. But, it wasn't the quality of the music that was the draw. Teenagers needed release and the driving, upbeat chords aided by visuals of the spectacular sideshow that was KISS is what propelled sales of the album.
KISS gave birth to the phenomenon known as the air guitar as millions of teenage boys around the world perfected axe skills in their bedrooms while pretending to be the band.
Kiss Alive And I was There
I missed the KISS Dressed To Kill tour as it rolled into Dayton, Ohio. The band played at a concert hall that was at one time the oldest movie theater in Dayton. Apparently the pyrotechnics burned the ceiling and the over packed house nearly caused a riot in all the excitement of the show.
I was working at a 24 hour restaurant/coffee shop when the next tour, Alive, rolled through Dayton. By this time KISS had graduated to the largest venues at the time and were playing at Hara Arena, about ten minutes from where I worked.
The restaurant was located near the intersection of a major state Highway and U.S. I-70, which made the Holiday Inn that was right behind the restaurant the perfect place for touring bands to stay. Also perfect, for me anyway, was that the Holiday Inn was newer and had no kitchen.
I met quite of few musicians in that restaurant.
When Gene Simmons walked in late on a Saturday morning, I recognized him right away, even without his make-up. The shoes and belt buckle were a dead give away because I remembered seeing him wear those in a magazine picture.
Eventually, all the band was in and eating, and about 99.23% of the folks an there didn't care who they were, nor did they know. I was in the top .77% and I held my composure, went over to talk to Gene, get an autographed napkin, and two backstage passes.
I had tickets for the next night in Cincinnati, so I got to see them two nights in a row. Between the excitement of the two shows and all the substance abuse, I wasn't right for twenty-five years.
If you enjoyed the band KISS on tour, you might enjoy the article Blue Oyster Cult In Concert.