MINT - SEALED - NEVER OPENED - NOT A CUT-OUT! First pressing!On Jun-09-07 at 15:20:17 PDT, seller added the following information:
KISS - GENE SIMMONS Solo Album
from Ace Frehley's personal collection.
This sealed, never opened album came directly from Ace Frehley's personal album collection
(stored in Ace Frehley's garage, given to Gordon Gebert by Ace himself in the early 90's - documented in the KISS & Tell book).
Each member of KISS are given a box of albums when they are first released.
GENE SIMMONS personally gave ACE FREHLEY this album who then gave it to Gordon Gebert.
Album comes with a letter of Authenticity from Gordon G.G. Gebert stating the history of the album.
KISS GENE SIMMONS SOLO ALBUM - CREDITS:
All songs written by Gene Simmons except where otherwise noted.
1 Gene Simmons, Sean Delaney, Howard Marks
2 Ned Washington, Leigh Harline
Executive Engineer: Mike Stone
Assistant Engineers: John Brand, Allen Douglas & Frank "Cheech" D'Amico
Allen Schwartzberg * Drums
Neil Jason * Bass
Elliot Randall * Guitar
Gene Simmons * Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Sean Delaney * Percussion
Ron Frangipane * Symphonic Arrangements & Conductor of Members of the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras
Gordon Grody, Diva Gray, Kate Sagal, Franny Eisenberg, Carolyn Ray, Sean Delaney
Eric Troyer * Piano, Vocals
Courtesy Chrysalis Records
RADIOACTIVE & LIVING IN SIN
Steve Lacey * Guitar / RADIOACTIVE
John Shane Howell * Classical Guitar / Segue Between
RADIOACTIVE & BURNING UP WITH FEVER
Richard Gerstein * Piano
Courtesy RCA Records
ALWAYS NEAR YOU / NOWHERE TO HIDE
Recorded at The Manor * Oxford, England
Cherokee Studios *
Los Angeles, California USA
Mixed at Trident * London England
Mastered at Sterling Sound with George Marino
New York, New York USA
Coordinators: Melanie Delaney & Michele Slagter / Aucoin * New York
All songs published by KISS except where otherwise noted:
Kick a Rock Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
A/M Publishing (ASCAP)
Bourne, Inc. (ASCAP)
To Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss
Contains the songs:
BURNING UP WITH FEVER
SEE YOU TONITE
TUNNEL OF LOVE
LIVING IN SIN
ALWAYS NEAR YOU / NOWHERE TO HIDE
MAN OF 1000 FACES
MR. MAKE BELIEVE
SEE YOU IN YOUR DREAMS
WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR
Produced by Gene Simmons and Sean Delaney
Bob Seger / courtesy Capitol Records
Joe Perry / courtesy Columbia Records
Helen Reddy / courtesy Capitol Records
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter / courtesy Warner Bros Records
Donna Summer / courtesy Casablanca Records
Janis Ian / courtesy Columbia Records
Rick Neilson / courtesy Epic Records
Cher / courtesy Casablanca Records
Mitch Weissman & Joe Pecorino / Beatlemania courtesy Leber / Krebs Arista Records
Michael De Barres courtesy Swan Song / Atlantic Records
Ritchie Ranno courtesy Capitol Records
The Azusa Citrus College Choir
Ben Bollinger Director
Thank you credits: Lydia Criss, Jeanette Frehley, Carol Ross, Stephanie Tudor, Bernie Sutton, Paul Chiavarria, Corky Stasiak, Haruko Minakami, Jaan Uhelszki, Sluts of Oxford, Ron Johnsen, Wally Meyrowitz, Elli, Karanauskas, Seth Dogramajian, John Harte, Rosie Licata, Scott Voorhees, Eddie Kramer, Jan Walsh, Bill Aucoin, Fred Kirby, Jeff Franklin, Punch Andrews, Steve Coronel, Van Halen, Ken Anderson, Paul Marshall, Chris Lendt, Linda West, Barry Levine, Sandy Gallin, Clarice, Jill, Skip Johnson & China, Dinah Shore, Sammy Davis Jr., Michele Phillips, Margeaux Hemingway, Howard Marks, Carl Glickman, Laurie Greenan, Toni Weissman, Florence, George, Larry, Magda, Heidi, Randy, Hope, Linda, Eva, Danny Goldberg, Jeff Wald, Ken Adamany, Ric Aliberte, Rick Grimaldi, Yvonne DeCarlo, Neil & Joyce Bogart, Susan Munao, Larry Harris, Cedric Kushner, Alan Miller, Al Ross, Billy Miller, Ron Boutwell, Steven Bishop, Chubby Checker, Maria Contessa, Casey King, Chaka Khan, Dave Mason, Dolores Gatza, Elayne, Catherine, Dennis Woloch, Dr. Mansky, Eddie Solon, Bobby McAdams, Gordon G.G. Gebert, Bob Ezrin, Electric Lady, Eli, Fritz Postlewaite, Frankie Scinlara, Donnie & Marie, J.R. Smalling, Peter Oreckinto, Paul and Linda McCartney, Syd Hap, Bob Gruen, Shaun Cassidy, Ted Nugent, Ken Scaeffer, Steven Tyler, Cyrinda, Jimmy Lenner, Charlie Koppleman, Stevie Nicks, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Lynn Goldsmith, Jim Lott, Stunts Unlimited, Michele Myers, Binky Philips, Doobie, Nickey Martin, Julie Harrison, Richard Monier, Roberta Skopp, Scott Shannon, Mr. Tiny, Carol Kaye, Leber-Krebs, New York City, Lee Friedman, Ron Delsener, Stu Silfen, Nancy Wassen, Karen Lerner, Ritchie Wise, Kenny Kerner, Totie Fields, Dick Clark, Coventry, Danny Haber, Larry Dimarzio, Richard Robinson, Gerry Rothberg, Robert Duncan, The KISS Army, The Daisy, Lou Linet, 10 East 23rd Street, Jack Boyle, Jules Belkin, Joe DeCarlo, Flo & Eddie, Cafe Geiger, Fresca, Mr Udo & Tats, Reno, Brooke Ostrander, Tony Zarrela, Camp Surprise Lake, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Bucky Reingold, B.O.C.. The Brats, The girl with the purple and green hair from Edmonton, One Dollar Magazine, Star Stowe, Angie, Rodney Bingenheimer, Robb Bros., George Plimpton, Eddie Balandas, Elijah, Chastity, Nancee Parkinson...and Mom!
Direction/Management Aucoin Management Inc. 645 Madison Ave, New York
KISS Army Fan Mail:
P.O. Box 2634, Canoga Park, California 91367
ASCAP / BMI
Cover Painting by Eraldo Carugati
Design by Howard Marks Advertising, Inc.
KISS uses Gibson Guitars and Pearl Drums because they want the best.
Manufactured and Distributed by Casablanca Record & Filmworks, Inc. 8255 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90046
A Rock Steady Production Inc.
Printed in U.S.A.
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Kiss (or KISS) is an American rock band formed in New York City in 1973 featuring trademark face paint and stage outfits (costumes). The group rose to prominence in the mid-1970s on the strength of both their music, which was a combination of glam rock, heavy metal and classic rock, and their groundbreaking elaborate live performances, which featured firebreathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, and pyrotechnics.
Kiss has been awarded 24 gold albums to date.  The group's worldwide sales exceed 80 million albums.
The original KISS lineup of Gene Simmons on bass and vocals, Paul Stanley on rhythm guitar and vocals, Ace Frehley on lead guitar and vocals, and Peter Criss on drums and vocals, is the most successful and identifiable of all the lineups, which later retained Stanley and Simmons but saw Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, and Tommy Thayer enter and/or leave the band at various times. Carr died from cancer
in 1991 and is still venerated by fans of KISS who do not view Peter
Criss as necessarily having to be the band's definitive drummer (which
other Kiss fans do feel).
With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style
characters—the Demon (Simmons), the Star Child (Stanley), the Space Ace
(Frehley), and the Cat Man (Criss). Later additions were the Fox (Carr)
and, very briefly, the Wizard (Vincent).
Due to substance abuse
problems and creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of
the group by 1982. and the band's commercial fortunes had also waned
considerably by that point. In 1983, Kiss abandoned their makeup and
costumes and enjoyed a commercial resurgence throughout the rest of the
decade as a 1980s Glam metal
band. However, Kiss's refashioning as an 80's pop-metal band was
nowhere near as popular among diehard Kiss fans, or for that matter
among the general public, as had been its original image of makeupped,
Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, which featured many acoustic mini-tours around the country to small venues, the band participated in MTV Unplugged
in 1995 and, on the unusual strength of that performance, the band
announced a reunion of the original lineup of Criss, Frehley, Stanley
and Simmons, with makeup, in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996.
Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again, presumably over
irreconciliable differences with Simmons and/or Stanley, and have been
replaced by Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer,
respectively. Unlike a generation ago, Thayer and Singer are not only
permitted to, but actively do, use the Cat Man and Space Man makeup and
costumes of Criss and Frehley. This is controversial among many KISS
fans, but Criss and Frehley sold the rights to the Cat Man and Space
Man personas to Stanley and Simmons in the 1980s, so legally, they
belong to the Kiss Company, whose leadership body is Stanley and
The band's uniqueness has given it an unparalleled marketing
capacity, very well-used by Simmons, and it is probably due to this
fact that the band continues to perform and tour today, despite what
they called a "Farewell Tour" in 2000.
Early years and struggles (1971–75)
Kiss traces its roots to Wicked Lester, a New York City-based rock and roll band led by co-founders Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel on August 25, 1949) and Paul Stanley (born Stanley Harvey Eisen in Queens, New York City on January 20, 1952).
Wicked Lester, with their eclectic mixture of musical styles, never
achieved any success. They recorded one album, which was shelved by Epic Records,
and played a handful of live shows. Simmons and Stanley, feeling that a
new musical direction was needed, abandoned Wicked Lester in 1972 and
began forming a new group.
In late 1972, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley placed an ad in Rolling Stone seen by Peter Criss, a veteran drummer from the New York club scene. Criss (born Peter Criscuola on December 20, 1945 in Brooklyn,
New York City) auditioned for and joined the new version of Wicked
Lester. The trio focused on a much harder style of rock than Wicked
Lester played. Inspired by the theatrics of the New York Dolls, they also began experimenting with their image by wearing makeup and various outfits. In November 1972, the trio played a showcase for Epic Records A&R
director Don Ellis, in an effort to secure a record deal. Although the
performance went well, Ellis hated the group's image and music. On top
of that, as he was leaving, he was vomited on by Criss's brother.
In January 1974, the group added lead guitarist Paul "Ace" Frehley (born April 27, 1951 in the Bronx,
New York City). The eccentric Frehley impressed the group with his
first audition, although he showed up wearing two different sneakers
(one red and one orange) and began warming up on his guitar while
another guitarist (Bob Kulick)
was being auditioned by the band. A few weeks after Frehley joined, the
Wicked Lester name was dropped and the band became Kiss. Stanley came
up with the name (taken from the New York Dolls song "Looking for a
kiss"), and Frehley created the now-iconic logo (making the "SS" look
like lightning bolts). The runic letters happened to look similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS, or Waffen-SS, a symbol that is now illegal to display in Germany.
Therefore, in Germany, all of the band's album covers and merchandise
used a modified version of the logo, in which the "SS" looks like a
The band's name has been rumored to have many hidden meanings, among them an acronym
for "Knights In Satan's Service." The band has consistently denied
this, stating that Paul Stanley simply chose the name on the spur of
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 March of that year, the band recorded a
five-song demo tape with producer Eddie Kramer. Former TV director Bill Aucoin,
who had seen the group at a handful of showcase concerts in the summer
of 1974, 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 for the first of many times while
performing his inaugural firebreathing stunt.
Kiss's self-titled debut (1974) sold respectably, but was not the success the band or the label hoped for.
Kiss's first 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). On April 29, the band performed "Firehouse" on The Mike Douglas Show. This broadcast included Simmons's first televised interview, a conversation with Douglas
in which Simmons declared himself "evil incarnate," eliciting titters
from an uncomfortable and largely confused studio audience.
Despite the publicity and constant touring, Kiss initially sold just 75,000 copies. Meanwhile, the group and Casablanca Records were losing money quickly. The band flew to Los Angeles in August 1974 to begin recording their second album, Hotter Than Hell, which was released in on October 22, 1974. The only single, "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll," failed to chart and the album stalled at #100.
With Hotter Than Hell quickly dropping off the charts, Kiss
was pulled from their tour to quickly record a new album. Casablanca
head Neil Bogart stepped in to produce the next album, trading in the
murky, distorted sound of Hotter Than Hell for a cleaner and slightly poppier sound. Dressed To Kill, released on March 19, 1975, fared slightly better commercially than Hotter Than Hell. It also contained what would later become the band's trademark song, "Rock and Roll All Nite" (sample (info)).
Although Kiss albums had not proven to be big sellers, the band was
quickly gaining a reputation as a top-flight live act. Kiss concerts
featured things such as Simmons spitting "blood" (primarily yogurt and
food coloring) or "breathing fire" (spitting flammable liquid at a
torch); Frehley soloing as his guitar burst into flames (light and
smoke bombs placed inside the guitar); Criss's elevating drum riser
that emitted sparks; Stanley's Townshend-style guitar smashing; and pyrotechnics throughout the show.
By late 1975, Casablanca was nearly bankrupt and Kiss was in danger
of losing their record contract. Both parties desperately needed a
commercial breakthrough if they were to survive. That breakthrough came
in an unlikely form - a double live album.
Alive! (1975) was the band's breakthrough album
Kiss wanted to express the excitement felt at their concerts (which
their studio albums had so far failed to do), with their first live
album. Released on September 10, 1975, Alive!, achieved quadruple platinum
status, and spawned Kiss's first top 40 single, a live version of "Rock
And Roll All Nite." It was the first version of "Rock and Roll All
Nite" with a guitar solo, and this recording has come to represent the
definitive version of the song; supplanting the studio original. In
recent years the band admitted that additional audience noise had been
added to the album, not to deceive fans, but to add more "excitement
and realism" to the show.
The success of Alive! not only brought Kiss the breakthrough they had been seeking, but arguably saved Casablanca, which was close to bankruptcy. Following this success, Kiss partnered with producer Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked with Alice Cooper. The result was Destroyer (released March 15, 1976), Kiss's most musically ambitious studio album to date. Destroyer,
with its rather intricate production (utilizing an orchestra, choir,
and numerous tape effects), was a departure from the rawer sound of the
first three studio albums. While the album sold well initially and
became the group's second gold album, it quickly dropped down the
charts. Only when the ballad "Beth" (sample (info))
was released as a single did the album's sales rebound. "Beth" was a #7
hit for the band, and its success revived both the album (which
achieved platinum status by the end of 1976) and ticket sales for Kiss.
In October 1976, Kiss appeared on the The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,
lip-synching "Detroit Rock City," "Beth," and "King of the Night Time
World." For many teenagers, this was their first exposure to Kiss's
dramatic appearance. The show was co-produced by Bill Aucoin. In
addition to the three performances, Kiss was the subject of a brief
comedic "interview" conducted by Paul Lynde himself. This included Lynde noting, when hearing the member's first names, "Oh, I love a good religious group."
A 1977 comic book published by Marvel Comics showcased Kiss as superheroes.
Two more highly successful studio albums were released in less than a year—Rock and Roll Over (November 11, 1976) and Love Gun (June 30, 1977). A second live album, Alive II, was released on October 14, 1977.
All three albums were certified platinum upon or soon after their
release. Between 1976 and 1978, Kiss earned $17.7 million from record
royalties and music publishing. A 1977 Gallup poll named Kiss the most popular band in America. In Japan, Kiss performed five sold-out shows at Budokan Hall, breaking the previous record of four held by The Beatles.
The first of what is now many Kiss greatest hits albums, Double Platinum, was issued on April 2, 1978.
This double album included many remixed versions of their hits, as well
as "Strutter '78," a re-recorded version of one of the group's
signature songs. Per Neil Bogart's request, the song was played in a
style similar to the then-popular disco music.
During this period, Kiss merchandise became a substantial source of
income for the group. Some of the products released included a pair of comic books issued by Marvel (the first one of which contained ink mixed with actual blood donated by the group), a pinball machine, Kiss dolls, "Kiss Your Face Makeup" kits, Halloween masks, board games, and many other pieces of memorabilia. Membership in the Kiss Army,
the band's fan club, was in the six figures. Between 1977 and 1979,
worldwide merchandise sales (in-store and on tour) reached an estimated
Going solo (1978)
Kiss were at their commercial peak by 1978—Alive II was the
band's fourth platinum album in just under two years, and the ensuing
tour had the highest average attendance (13,550) in the group's
history. In addition, Kiss' gross income for 1977 was US$10.2 million.
The group, along with creative manager Bill Aucoin, sought to take the
band to the next level of popularity. To that end, an ambitious,
two-pronged strategy was devised for 1978.
The first part involved the simultaneous release of four solo albums
from the members of Kiss. Although Kiss has claimed that the solo
albums were intended to ease rising tensions within the band, their
1976 record contract did in fact call for four solo records, with each
of them counting as half an album toward the group's five-record
While each album was very much a solo effort (none of the group
appeared on another's album), they were all released and marketed as
Kiss albums (with similar cover art and poster inserts). It was the
first time that all current members of a rock band had released solo
albums at the same time.
For the band members, it was a chance to showcase their individual
musical styles and tastes outside of Kiss, and in some cases to
collaborate with contemporary artists (Simmons's album featured
appearances by the likes of Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, disco diva Donna Summer, and then-girlfriend Cher).
Stanley's and Frehley's albums stuck pretty closely to the successful
hard rock style that Kiss had utilized, while Criss's album featured an
R&B style and was loaded with ballads. Simmons's was the most eclectic of the four—it featured hard rock, ballads, Beatles-influenced pop, and ended with a straight cover of "When You Wish upon a Star" (from the movie Pinocchio).
Released simultaneously, the four Kiss solo albums signaled the beginning of the group's commercial decline.
The Kiss solo albums were released on September 18, 1978.
The marketing blitz behind the albums was unprecedented—Casablanca
announced it was shipping five million total copies of the albums
(guaranteeing instant platinum status), and they spent US$2.5 million
marketing them. Despite all four solo albums making it into the Top 50 of the Billboard
album chart, the massive preorder for these albums was soon followed by
an equally enormous attempt to ship them back to the record company,
followed by the subsequent discounting of these albums once sales had
(very quickly) peaked. The albums were also the first Kiss albums to be
seen in the "bargain bins" of many record stores, and it was the first
clear harbinger of Kiss's waning popularity. All four solo albums
combined sold about as many copies as Love Gun alone. Of the
four, Frehley's album was the most successful (although not by a huge
margin) and spawned the only radio top 20 hit (Russ Ballard's composition "New York Groove", originally performed by Hello).
The second part of Kiss's and Aucoin's plan called for the band to
appear in a movie that would cement their image as larger than life
superheroes. Filming for the movie commenced in the spring of 1978.
Although the project was proposed to the band as a cross between A Hard Day's Night and Star Wars,
the final results fell far short of those expectations. The script
underwent numerous rewrites, and the band (particularly Criss and
Frehley) grew increasingly frustrated with the film making process.
Criss refused to take part in post-production, and so his entire voice
track was completely over-dubbed by another actor.
Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, produced by Hanna-Barbera, aired on NBC on October 28, 1978.
Despite scathing reviews, it was one of the highest-rated TV movies of
the year, and saw theatrical release outside the U.S. in 1979 under the
title Attack of the Phantoms. While later interviews with band
members would have them talk about their movie making experience with a
mix of humorous embarrassment and regret as to the finished product,
their unhappiness with the final product was well-known to those around
them. They felt that the movie ended up portraying them more as clowns
than superheroes. The artistic failure of the movie led to a rift
between the band and Aucoin, whom they blamed for it.
Late makeup years and decline (1979–83)
The band's first album of new material in two years, Dynasty (May 23, 1979), continued their platinum streak. The album contained what would become the biggest single in the history of the band, "I Was Made For Lovin' You." The song, which combined elements of hard rock with disco, was a top ten hit throughout the world (peaking at #11 in the U.S.).Dynasty was recorded using session drummer Anton Fig, at the request of producer Vini Poncia, who felt that Criss's drumming skills were not adequate. The only contribution made by the increasingly discontented Criss to Dynasty was "Dirty Livin'," which he co-wrote and sang.
Billed as "The Return of Kiss," the Dynasty tour was expected
by Kiss and their management to build on the success of previous tours.
Plans were drawn up for a Kiss-themed traveling amusement park, called Kiss World, but were abandoned due to the immense costs involved. Rather than being the band's biggest and most successful tour, "The Return of Kiss" saw a marked decline in attendance.
One very public indication of the heightened friction within the group was an infamous October 31, 1979 interview on Tom Snyder's late-night The Tomorrow Show.
During it, a visibly irritated Simmons and Stanley try to contain the
bombastic (and drunk) Frehley, whose non-stop laughter and joking
overshadowed the content and conversation that takes place between
Snyder and the rest of the band. Criss made repeated references to his
large gun collection, to the chagrin of Simmons.
By the conclusion of the Dynasty tour in December 1979,
tensions between Criss and the rest of the band were at an all-time
high. His drumming skills had noticeably eroded, and he even
intentionally slowed down or stopped playing altogether during some
concerts. The final show of the tour (December 16, 1979) was the last time Criss performed with the group, although he remained an official member for nearly six more months.
Yet the disagreements were hardly noticed by Kiss's new fan base.
The crowds were very much younger than previous audiences had been,
with many pre-adolescent children in Kiss makeup with their mothers and
fathers (who were sometimes wearing the makeup themselves) in tow at
most concerts. Kiss themselves did little to dissuade this new fan
base, donning colorful costumes that reinforced a cartoonish image for
these younger fans.
With Criss's involvement in Kiss at an end, the group recorded the followup to Dynasty in early 1980. As with Dynasty,
this album was recorded with session drummer Anton Fig, although at the
time his performance was uncredited. Showcasing a slick, contemporary
pop sound, Unmasked (May 20, 1980) had the dubious distinction of being the first Kiss album since Dressed to Kill
to fail to achieve platinum sales. Soon after the album's release,
Criss's departure was officially announced, as was the announcement
that the band would be auditioning his replacement.
Kiss's first-ever replacement member, Eric Carr (born Paul Caravello on June 12, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York City) was announced in late July 1980. He debuted with the group on July 25 at New York's now-defunct Palladium Theatre. Due to disappointing domestic sales of Unmasked, this was Kiss's only U.S. show in support of the album. The band's 1980 tour of Australia and New Zealand,
on the other hand, was one of the biggest in their history, as they
played to sold-out crowds and received overwhelmingly positive press
Music from "The Elder" (1981) was a commercial disaster for the group.
For their next album, the band once again approached Bob Ezrin, with whom Kiss had found success on Destroyer.
Early press reports indicated that the new album would be a return to
the hard rock style that had originally brought the band success. What
was released instead was 1981's Music from "The Elder", a concept album featuring medieval horns, strings, harps, and synthesizers.
The album was presented as a soundtrack to a film that was never
made, making it difficult (if not impossible) to follow the storyline.
To make matters worse, having received negative feedback following
their record company's preview of the album, Kiss altered the record's
track sequence in most countries to emphasize potential singles "The
Oath" and "A World Without Heroes," which all but guaranteed the
inability of listeners to understand the already muddled storyline.
Once released, fan reaction to The Elder was harsh; it failed to achieve gold status and peaked at #75 on the Billboard Album Chart.
The commercial failure of Music from "The Elder" forced Kiss
to forego a supporting tour completely. The band made only a few
appearances for the album, both in January 1982. One was a performance
on the ABC late-night variety program Fridays, while the second was a lip-synched performance that was broadcast via satellite during Italy's Sanremo Festival. Kiss also performed "I", and "A World Without Heroes" on Solid Gold.
Absent from the second performance was Frehley, who had become
increasingly frustrated with Kiss's new musical direction. Upset with
the band's decision to record a concept album (Music from "The Elder"),
he did not actively participate in the album's creation, only providing
lead vocals to one track, "Dark Light". He recorded his guitar parts at
his home studio in Wilton, Connecticut
and mailed them to Ezrin. Another source of frustration for Frehley was
that with the departure of Criss, and with Carr not being an equal
partner in the band, he was often outvoted 2-to-1 on group matters. In
June 1982, Frehley's departure from the band was negotiated, although
he did not officially leave until December.
This German release of Kiss's 1982 Killers compilation shows the modified logo the band uses in Germany. As this album was unreleased in the U.S., German imports of Killers introduced the modified logo to many American fans.
Soon after, Kiss made major changes to their business dealings –
chief among them was severing ties with their manager of nine years,
Bill Aucoin, and cutting back on their unwieldy organizational tree.
Although Frehley had already decided to leave the band, Simmons and
Stanley needed for their record company to believe that Frehley was
still in Kiss in order for the band to keep its newly renegotiated
contract. So to keep up appearances, Frehley was pictured on the covers
of 1982's Killers and Creatures of the Night, although he did not participate in the recording of either album.
Creatures of the Night (October 13, 1982) was Kiss's heaviest album to date, and although it fared better than Music from "The Elder",
it peaked at #45 on the charts and was not certified gold until 1994.
In Frehley's absence, Kiss utilized a number of guitarists for the
recording of the album, including Vinnie Vincent (born Vincent John Cusano on August 6, 1952). Vincent officially replaced Frehley as lead guitarist in December 1982, as the band embarked on its 10th Anniversary Tour.
Vincent's hurriedly developed identity was that of an Egyptian warrior (with a gold ankh
painted on his face), although he did not need this persona for very
long. While the tour was a commercial disappointment in the U.S., the
band did perform for the largest crowds of their career elsewhere,
including 137,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 18, 1983. The last show of the tour (June 25 in São Paulo, Brazil) was the final show the band performed in makeup until 1996.
Unmasking and rebound (1983–95)
Lick It Up (1983) was the group's first album after taking off the makeup, and it helped revitalize their career.
Sensing it was time for a change, Kiss made the decision to abandon
their trademark makeup and costumes. They officially appeared in public
without makeup for the first time on a September 18, 1983 appearance on MTV, which coincided with the release of the band's new album, Lick It Up.
Lick It Up became Kiss's first gold record in three years, but the tour was even more sparsely attended than the one for Creatures of the Night.
Due to quickly rising tensions between Vincent and the rest of Kiss
(particularly Simmons and Stanley), Vincent was fired at the conclusion
of the tour in March 1984. His replacement was Mark St. John (born Mark Norton on February 7, 1956 in Hollywood, California), a session player and guitar tutor.
With St. John on board, Kiss released Animalize in September 1984. Animalize built on the success of Lick It Up
and was the band's best-selling record during the decade. With the
success of the album and subsequent tour, Kiss had recaptured some of
their earlier glory (though not to the level of their '70s heyday). St.
John, however, was soon taken ill with Reactive arthritis during tour rehearsals, and only performed at a handful of shows. He was fired from Kiss in December 1984 and replaced by Bruce Kulick (born December 12, 1953 in Brooklyn), making him Kiss's fourth lead guitarist in three years.
The lineup of Stanley, Simmons, Carr, and Kulick turned out to be
the most stable since the original, and for the rest of the 1980s Kiss
released a series of platinum albums—1985's Asylum, 1987's Crazy Nights and the 1988 greatest hits compilation Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. Crazy Nights, in particular, was one of Kiss's most successful albums overseas. The single "Crazy, Crazy Nights" (sample (info)) reached #4 on the singles chart in Britain, the highest showing to date for a Kiss song.
Although Kiss never duplicated their 1970s success in the 1980s, albums like Asylum (1985) still achieved platinum status.
Kiss ended the '80s with the 1989 release Hot in the Shade. Although the album failed to achieve platinum status, it spawned the early 1990 hit ballad "Forever," co-written by Michael Bolton.
Peaking at #8, it was the group's highest-charting single since "I Was
Made for Lovin' You" and was to be the band's last Top 10 single.
During these non-makeup years, Kiss struggled with their identity
and fan base. Simmons, arguably the dominating force in Kiss during the
'70s, became less involved with the group in the '80s as he pursued
outside interests; most notably, a film career. After the band's
unmasking, he struggled with the loss of the Demon persona. During this
time, Stanley became the driving force in Kiss, as well as their most
The band decided to once again enlist Bob Ezrin to produce their
first album of the 1990s. Before recording could begin in earnest,
however, tragedy struck. In March 1991, it was discovered that Eric
Carr had a tumor
on his heart. It was successfully removed in an April surgery, but more
tumors were soon discovered in his lungs. Carr received chemotherapy and was pronounced cancer-free in July. In September, he was hospitalized after suffering the first of two cerebral hemorrhages. He died on November 24, 1991 at the age of 41 (the same day as Freddie Mercury).
Though devastated, Kiss continued, bringing in former Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Lita Ford, and Alice Cooper drummer Eric Singer (born Eric Mensinger on May 12, 1958 in Cleveland, Ohio). Singer has a connection with the group, having played in Paul Stanley's backing band during his 1989 club tour.
Kiss released Revenge on May 18, 1992. It featured a leaner, harder-edged sound, as indicated by the first single, "Unholy" (sample (info)).
In a surprise move, Kiss enlisted the aid of Vinnie Vincent for
songwriting duties. The album debuted in the Top 10 and went gold. Kiss
embarked on a brief club tour of the U.S. in the spring of 1992, before
beginning an American arena tour in September 1992. Kiss followed with
the release of Alive III (May 14, 1993), which was recorded during the Revenge tour.
During this period, Kiss nostalgia started to pick up steam. June 1994 saw the release of Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved,
a compilation album featuring popular artists of the era putting their
own spin on Kiss songs. The result was an eclectic mix, featuring Lenny Kravitz's funky version of "Deuce" (with Stevie Wonder on harmonica), a ska punk version of "Detroit Rock City" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Garth Brooks' straightforward take on "Hard Luck Woman," with Kiss as his backup band.
On August 9, 1995, the then-present lineup of Kiss performed with founding members Ace Frehley (3rd from right) and Peter Criss (2nd from left).
In 1995, the group released Kisstory, a 440-page, nine-pound,
detailed chronicling of the group's history to that point. That same
year, the band embarked on a unique and well-received Worldwide Kiss
Convention Tour. The conventions were all-day events, featuring
displays of vintage Kiss stage outfits, instruments, and memorabilia,
performances by Kiss cover bands, and dealers selling Kiss merchandise
from every stage of the band's career. Kiss appeared live at the
conventions, conducted question and answer sessions, signed autographs
and performed a two-hour acoustic set comprised mostly of spontaneous
fan requests. On the first U.S. date (June 17, 1995)
Peter Criss appeared onstage with Kiss to sing "Hard Luck Woman" and
"Nothin' to Lose." It was the first time Criss had performed publicly
with the band in nearly 16 years.
On August 9, 1995, Kiss joined the long line of musicians to perform on MTV Unplugged.
The band contacted Criss and Frehley and invited them to participate in
the event. Both joined Kiss on stage for several songs at the end of
the set–"Beth," "2000 Man," "Nothin' to Lose," and "Rock and Roll All
Nite." The Unplugged
appearance set off months of speculation that a possible reunion of the
original Kiss lineup was in the works. In the weeks following the Unplugged
concert, however, the band (with Kulick and Singer), returned to the
studio for the first time in three years to record a followup to Revenge. Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions was completed in February 1996, but its release was delayed for almost two years. Bootleg copies of the album circulated widely among fans.
While Kiss continued to exist publicly as Simmons, Stanley, Kulick,
and Singer, arrangements for a reunion of the original lineup were in
the works. These efforts culminated with a public event as dramatic as
any the band had staged since their 1983 unmasking on MTV.
You know how the Grammys used to be, all straight-looking folks
with suits. Everybody looking tired. No surprises. We tired of that. We
need something different, something new. We need to shock the people.
So let's shock the people!
– Tupac Shakur
With that statement on February 28, 1996, Tupac Shakur introduced the original Kiss lineup (in full makeup and Love Gun-era stage outfits), to a rousing ovation at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards. On April 16, the band held a press conference aboard the USS Intrepid in New York, where they announced their plans for a full-fledged reunion tour, with the help of new manager Doc McGhee. The conference, emceed by Conan O'Brien, was simulcast to 58 countries. On April 20, nearly 40,000 tickets for the tour's first show sold out in 47 minutes.
The first public concert featuring the newly reunited Kiss was an hour-long warm up show on June 15 for the annual KROQ Weenie Roast in Irvine, CA, during which the band nearly ignited the stage of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. On June 28, the Kiss Alive/Worldwide Tour began at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan
in front of a sold-out crowd of 39,867 fans. The tour lasted for 192
shows over eleven months and earned $43.6 million, making Kiss the
top-drawing concert act of 1996. The average attendance of 13,737 is the highest in the group's history.
In September 1998, the reunited group issued Psycho Circus. Despite its appearance as the first album with the original lineup since 1977's Love Gun,
the contributions of Frehley and Criss were minimal. While the images
of Frehley and Criss are featured prominently on the album, most of the
lead guitar work was later revealed to have been performed by future
band member Tommy Thayer
and former member Bruce Kulick. Most drum duties were handled by
session musician Kevin Valentine. Despite the controversy, the album
achieved a #3 chart debut, the highest ever position for a Kiss album.
The title track received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The Psycho Circus Tour opened at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on Halloween
night 1998, and was simulcast on FM radio across the U.S. It proved to
be another success, and was historic for being the first to ever
incorporate 3-D visuals into a stage show.
On August 11, 1999, Kiss was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the "Recording Industry" category. August 13 saw the nationwide premiere of a Kiss-themed motion picture, titled Detroit Rock City. The movie takes place in 1978, and focuses on four teenagers (featuring Edward Furlong) willing to do anything to score tickets for a sold-out Kiss show in Detroit.
The next month, the group worked in collaboration with World Championship Wrestling to produce a Kiss-themed wrestler known as The Kiss Demon whose face was painted to resemble Simmons. The group performed "God of Thunder" live on WCW Thursday Night Thunder to debut the character. The character was short-lived, as all ties to Kiss were cut by WCW when its head, Eric Bischoff was relieved of his duties in September of that year.
Kiss announced in early 2000 that they would be launching a U.S. Farewell Tour in the summer, which was to be the band's last. The group quickly added dates to the tour, which ran through April 2001. 2001 also saw the release of a computer game, Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child.
On the eve of the Japanese and Australian leg of the Farewell 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, assumed
Criss's Cat Man persona as the Farewell Tour continued. Simmons and Stanley own Criss's makeup designs (as well as Frehley's), so there was no way for Criss to prevent this.
With the band scheduled to call it a day supposedly by early 2001, a career-encompassing collection entitled The Box Set
(94 tracks on five CDs) was released in November of that year, while
the summer saw perhaps the most over-the-top piece of Kiss merchandise
yet – the Kiss Kasket. In introducing the Kiss Kasket, Simmons quipped, "I love livin', but this makes the alternative look pretty damn good."
Kiss was relatively quiet through the rest of the year, but 2002
started with some controversy as Simmons took part in a controversial
interview on National Public Radio, where he criticized NPR and berated host Terry Gross with sexual comments and condescending answers. In February 2002, Kiss (with Singer on drums and Frehley on lead guitar) performed during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was Frehley's last performance with Kiss to date.
On March 6, 2002, Kiss performed a private concert at a resort in Trelawny, Jamaica.
Frehley, who was no longer under contract, did not play with the group.
He was replaced by Tommy Thayer, who donned Frehley's Spaceman makeup
and costume for his first live appearance with Kiss. That month, the band (with Thayer) taped an appearance on the American sitcom That '70s Show.
The episode, "That '70s Kiss Show," aired in August 2002. Thayer again
performed with the group in April 2002, when Kiss performed "Detroit
Rock City" (with pre-recorded music and live vocals) for an appearance
on Dick Clark's American Bandstand 50th Anniversary show, which aired on May 3.
In February 2003, Kiss traveled to Australia and recorded Kiss Symphony: Alive IV with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. Thayer once again replaced Frehley, while Peter Criss returned to the group.
Despite claims made prior to the Farewell Tour that it would be the group's last, Kiss announced a co-headlining tour with Aerosmith
in 2003. Frehley announced that his departure from the band was
permanent, stating that he believed the Farewell Tour would be Kiss's
last, and that he did not want to open for Aerosmith, a band who in the past had opened for Kiss.
He was permanently replaced by Thayer. On this tour the group
introduced the "Platinum" tickets package, with the most expensive
packages costing USD $1,000. This package included a seat in the first
five rows, a meet-and-greet with Kiss after their performance, and a
photograph with the band. The tour earned more than US$64 million in 2003, which ranked #7 for the year.
Simmons and Stanley did not renew Criss's contract when it expired
in March 2004. Criss, on his website, stated that "No one, again no one
has called me, or my attorney about an extension for future touring. As
a founding member I find this to be disrespectful to me, and to the
fans that have made us one of the biggest bands in the world." Criss was replaced for the second time by Singer.
During the summer of 2004, Kiss headlined the Rock the Nation 2004 World Tour, with Poison as the opening act. The tour ended in August with a sold-out show in Mexico City. Selected dates on the tour were filmed for the Rock the Nation Live! concert DVD, released on December 13, 2005. Stanley, who had been experiencing increasing difficulty with his hip, had his mobility limited during the tour. He has already had two hip surgeries performed, with more likely in the future.
Kiss in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California, on July 26, 2006.
Since the conclusion of the Rock the Nation Tour, Kiss has been
relatively inactive as a touring act. The group played two shows in
2005, and another six in 2006. Four of the 2006 shows were July
concerts in Japan, including two dates (July 22
and 23) as a headlining act at the 2006 Udo Music Festival. Most
recently, Kiss performed two dates at Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California on July 26 and 28. Despite the relative lack of concert activity since 2004, the group has remained visible. Kiss (along with Queen, Def Leppard, and Judas Priest) were honored at the first annual "VH1 Rock Honors" event, held May 25, 2006 in Las Vegas. On April 9, 2006, the Associated Press announced the event by saying "the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame looks to be getting some competition." A tribute band, consisting of Rob Zombie (vocals), Slash (guitar), Scott Ian (bass), and Supernova bandmates Tommy Lee (drums) and Gilby Clarke (guitar), performed "God of Thunder" with Ace Frehley.
In June 2006, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley attended the opening of the Kiss Coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. On October 15, 2006, Simmons, Stanley, and Criss were inaugural inductees into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, along with performers such as Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, Louis Armstrong, The Ramones and Tony Bennett. Stanley released a solo album, Live to Win, on October 24 and undertook a brief solo tour in support. On October 31, the group released Kissology Volume One: 1974–1977, the first of ten possible DVD sets featuring concert footage, interviews, and never-before-seen clips. As of January 2007, the set is certified quintuple platinum in the United States.
Stanley has stated that Kiss turned down a tour in the summer of 2007,
but that it is inevitable that they will tour again in the future.. Kiss is currently slated for two July concerts in Michigan and Wisconsin.
In February 2007 Kiss, through their Platinum Studios and Kiss
Catalog company formed a comic book entertainment company dubbed the
'Kiss Comics Group'. The oversized first issue Kiss 4K
details the story of the transformation of Simmons, Stanley and other
Kiss band members from rock stars to world-protecting warrior spirits,
and will debut as the world's largest comicbook, priced at $50. The
second title is expected to be "Kiss Girls," which features four
teenagers who "talk about shopping and are about as dysfunctional as
anyone until something happens to them and they get to wear the Kiss
makeup and look good doing it," Simmons said.
Though Kiss is eligible for enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
(whose rules state that an act is eligible 25 years after its first
release), they have not been nominated. While this snub displeases some
fans, Stanley and Simmons maintain that it is meaningless to them.
Nevertheless, a group of about 200 Kiss fans held a protest rally in
front of the Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5, 2006. It was the first known organized demonstration seeking the induction of a band into the Hall. A similar march was scheduled to be held in Melbourne, Australia, but was subsequently cancelled.
On April 5, 2007, Mark St. John died from an apparent cerebral hemorrhage at age 51. After being fired from Kiss in 1984, St. John formed the short-lived glam metal group White Tiger.
In 1990 he briefly collaborated with Peter Criss in a band called The
Keep, which only performed once and released no recordings. St. John
largely dropped out of public view in later years, but did make
occasional appearances at Kiss fan conventions.
For more details on this topic, see Kiss band members.
- Gene Simmons – bass guitar, vocals (1973–present)
- Paul Stanley – rhythm guitar, vocals (1973–present)
- Eric Singer – drums (1991-1996, 2001–2002, 2004–present)
- Tommy Thayer – lead guitar (2002–present)
- Peter Criss – drums, vocals (1973–1980, 1996–2000, 2003)
- Ace Frehley – lead guitar, vocals (1973–1982, 1996–2002)
- Eric Carr – drums, vocals (1980–1991)
- Vinnie Vincent – lead guitar (1982–1984)
- Mark St. John – lead guitar (1984)
- Bruce Kulick – lead guitar (1984–1996)