Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy 40th Anniversary KISS

I am going to set this situation in the “World’s Most Famous Arena, ” New York’s Madison Square Garden. However, this could be just about any arena.

The curtain drops with the band’s famous logo on it. The lights go out, and then out of the darkness and the screaming crowd, a voice shouts, “ALL RIGHT NEW YORK CITY!” “YOU WANTED THE BEST. YOU GOT THE BEST. THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD, KISS.” Strains of the opening song are heard, and the curtain is removed, and the fans go nuts for 2 hours while the members of KISS perform classics such as “Deuce, ” “Strutter, ” “Lick It Up,” ” Tears are Falling, ” “Detroit, Rock City,” and many others.

Fans are also treated to the pyro, the blood spitting and fire breathing done by bassist Gene Simmons, and such. They also will treated to the smoking guitar solo once performed by original lead guitarist Ace Frehley, but now it is performed by current lead guitarist Tommy Thayer.

I have been to 46 KISS shows, and I have seen other bands, but no one puts on a show like KISS.

January of this year marks the 40th anniversary of the formation of the band. The band pretty much started from the ground up. The four original members, Gene Simmons (bass, vocals), Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals), and Peter Criss (drums, vocals) honed their craft in that famous loft on 10 E. 23rd St. in New York City.

They started to play the clubs, and were discovered by Bill Aucoin, who became their first manager. They eventually got a record deal on Casablanca Records, owned by Neil Bogart. Even though the band’s first three records (“KISS,” “Hotter than Hell,” and “Dressed to Kill”) didn’t light the world on fire, the band’s live shows were their calling card. They blew away their opening acts that they were touring with, such as the New York Dolls.

The band felt that they had a great reputation as a live act, a decision was made to release a double live album. Even though double live albums were risky, and Casablanca was not in great financial shape, they decided to go forward with the idea. KISS “ALIVE” was a giant hit, and KISS became superstars from that day forward, and that, as they say is KISStory.

During the 40 years of the band’s existence, as superstars in the 70s, through various lineup changes, during the successful reunion tour, during the Farewell Tour , and now with their current lineup, KISS has survived and thrived, despite the naysayers who keep slamming the band because they think the band is “a gimmick,” “satanic,” “don’t sing about flowers and rainbows,” and “can’t play.”

In my past blogs about the band, I did a top ten KISS albums of all time, and the top 50 KISS songs of all time. What I will be doing in this blog is just to show my appreciation for my all time favorite band on their 40th Anniversary.

I have been a KISS fan since 1977, ever since I got that “Destroyer” album that my mom let me keep. It was a fight, but I got to keep it. Through my school years, I learned really fast how musical tastes change. When I got to Junior High in the 80′s, my classmates hated KISS, as Ozzy Osbourne was the “in” thing. However, I stuck to my guns, and still listened to my “boys,” as I like to call them.

Of course, I have a lot of different tastes in music, as I love Opera, Classical, pop, rock, metal, etc. I played the violin at the time, and was a serious student of the instrument. That being said, I always followed what KISS was up to, and didn’t care what the kids at school thought. I think that is a lesson that I picked up from being a KISS fan. Always stand up for what you believe in. Also, be proud of who you are, and don’t worry about what others think. Those themes are in several KISS songs.

KISS’ music has been so valuable to me during the 36 years that I’ve been a fan. No matter the lineup, or whatever, if I am in a bad mood, I will put on KISS, and my mood will improve. When my parents died, their music was there to cheer me up, and KISS’ music has gotten me through some other rough times. On the other hand, when I am in a good mood, I will crank out KISS as well.

The one thing that I love about the band is that their fans, the KISS ARMY, are so passionate. I think that is so awesome. We KISS fans debate just about everything about the band. We have debates over favorite members, producers, albums, which tour is the best, which costumes are the best, and all sorts of things.

Another thing I love about the KISS Army is the way they show their devotion to the band. Some get amazing tattoos. Some fans have KISS rooms where they have all their merchandise stored, and the rooms in the house are decorated with everything KISS. Some, I am sure have named their kids after band members. I have a 15 year old beagle named Ace Frehley, whom I named after my favorite member of the band.

However, what I love the most is that the band has brought a lot of great people into my life. As I have said, I have gone to 46 KISS shows. I also have been to many KISS Expos, which are fan organized events where fans can buy merchandise from vendors, and there are guest speakers, and a KISS Tribute band performs. At these places, I have met so many friends and acquaintances that I would never have met. These people are like the brothers and sisters I never had.

Many of the band’s critics said they would never last. Well, let’s see. In the past 40 years, we have seen three horses (Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed) win the Triple Crown, and are still waiting 35 years for another horse to complete it. The USA has elected 6 US Presidents There have been wars all over the world. There have been several NFL dynasties in the past 40 years ( Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys, Patriots). Even music went through a whole bunch of changes (disco, punk, glam metal, metal, grunge).

That being said, and not even mentioning their own changes, who is still standing? KISS. That is a real testament to the band, especially Paul Stanley for really keeping the band going, especially through some of its slow times in the 80′s.

Thanks Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace, Tommy, Eric, Bruce, Eric C (RIP), and everyone who has contributed to this great band for everything. Happy 40th.