Logos


1979-
Used in Germany on most Kiss albums and merchandise since 1979 due to original looking like Nazi SS symbol (which is illegal to display in Germany).

1973-
Created by guitarist Ace Frehley. Since 1979, an alternate logo has been used in Germany due to the original baring resemblance to the Nazi SS logo, a symbol illegal to display in Germany.


Biography

Self styled "Hottest Band In The World". KISS singlehandedly revolutionized the American Rock scene during the 70's taking their rabid fans into realms of comic book schlock horror no other band had dared attempt. In doing so KISS rode a steady stream of platinum albums and spawned a merchandising industry like no other.

The roots of KISS can be initially traced back to 1972 when bassist GENE SIMMONS and rhythm guitarist PAUL STANLEY decided to re-launch themselves on to an unsuspecting world. Splitting apart the duo's existing band, WICKED LESTER, in the process, in order to piece together the ultimate Rock band; the kind of outfit they wanted to see live and not go home feeling they'd been short changed.

Although Simmons and Stanley were unknown prior to KISS, the duo were hardly overnight sensations, having both played in a succession of different groups since their teens. Simmons, who was born Chaim Witz in Haifia, Israel and acquired the surname of Klein when his family emigrated to the United States, had taken up playing bass at 16. Amongst his first bands was the LONG ISLAND SOUNDS and THE LOVE BAG who he played with between 1964 and 1968 alongside his guitar playing, High School buddy Steve Coronel...

On January 30 1973 KISS played their first show at the Coventry Club in Queens, although they were still undecided about a band name when the gig was originally booked, using KISS for the first time on the night. The band had briefly toyed with the idea of using FUCK as a moniker, amongst other weird and wonderful ideas! They were also unafraid to experiment with make-up, Simmons having gone on record long since to describe their early attempts at an image as: "football players trying to look like the New York Dolls. We looked like bad drag queens. We were by no means convincing".

However, over a period of a few months the band's image became more defined and the superhero style characters (not to mention the platform boots!) that have become synonymous with KISS came to the fore.

Working day jobs (ranging from Simmons holding down an office job after leaving his teaching post to Stanley cab driving) to pay the rent and rehearsing at night. KISS began bombarding anyone and everyone in the music business in order to attract them to shows. The new group made their debut in Manhattan on June, 1973 opening for THE BRATS and WAYNE COUNTY at a loft in Bleeker Street down in Greenwich Village...

Having spent a short period of time on the road in Canada during early February after a headlining show at the Filmore East in New York on January 8, 1974, KISS' self-titled debut album was released on February 18, 1974. Casablanca Records hosted a massive album launch party at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles featuring a live performance from the band to mixed press reaction, following it up with a TV appearance on Dick Clark's 'In Concert' show two days later.

KISS then began a punishing schedule of touring and recording, a regimen they would stick to almost religiously for the next four years. Initially heading back to Canada for a brief spell opening for SAVOY BROWN and ARGENT, MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND before later American support slots to BLUE OYSTER CULT and NAZARETH, KATHY McDONALD, AEROSMITH, GOLDEN EARRING, FOGHAT, FOCUS and RORY GALLAGHER.

The group began work on second album, 'Hotter Than Hell', with Kerner and Wise in Los Angeles during August 1974. A month later KISS were back on the road, playing with FLUDD and then a fledgling RUSH opening. By November, KISS had hooked up with BLACK OAK ARKANSAS for dates in the South Eastern states...

February 1975 saw KISS back at Electric Lady Studios to record again, and the third KISS album found none other than Neil Bogart in the producer's chair. 'Dressed To Kill' being released on March 19 1975, but was not the album to send the troops over the top. KISS would have to wait until a little later in the year for the breakthrough that had so far eluded them.

The point at which KISS' fortunes changed could not have come at a better time. Casablanca were entrenched deep in financial problems (mainly due to the failure of a double album of material culled from Johnny Carsons' popular 'The Tonight Show') and Bill Aucoin financing the group's touring exploits with his American Express card. The decision to record a double live package might have looked like being a straw that would break the Casablanca camel's back. It turned out to be a masterstroke...

Teaming up with former ALICE COOPER producer Bob Ezrin, KISS put a great deal of effort into the new album. Tracks included 'Detroit Rock City' (written in honor of the city that had put the group on the map), 'God Of Thunder', 'Do You Love Me' (co-written with RUNAWAYS creator KIM FOWLEY) and the Peter Criss penned ballad 'Beth'. 'God Of Thunder' was in fact penned by Stanley but would over the course of time become entrenched in the KISS live set as a showcase for Simmons diabolic alter ego.

Written for his then wife Lydia, 'Beth' (that had evolved from an original Criss tune titled 'Beck') was something of an anomaly on an otherwise grandiose, hard hitting record. Ironically, it would turn into 'Destroyer's' biggest hit.

A little known fact is that Rick Derringer was used to record a good deal of the guitar work on 'Destroyer' in the absence of Ace Frehley...

On February 18 1977 KISS realized their long-held dream of headlining Madison Square Garden in New York City. The show was such a sell out that KISS had to play a second New York date on February 21, albeit at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island due to the Garden being fully booked.

KISS undertook their very first tour of Japan in early April 1977, to the kind of hysteria not seen since the days of the original Liverpudlian fab four. The band hired a Pan American Airlines Boeing 747 in order to fly to Tokyo, emblazoned with the KISS logo on its nose.

KISS sold out four straight shows at the legendary Budokan venue in Tokyo, equaling the BEATLES record and played SRO dates in Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya and Kyoto. In May, after a couple of weeks holiday, the band were back in the studio, recording the 'Love Gun' album with Eddie Kramer at the Record Plant in New York. Paul Stanley had written the album's title track on the flight to Japan, whilst the Simmons penned 'Got Love For Sale' had been penned in an Osaka hotel room. 'Love Gun' marked the singing debut of Ace Frehley on the self-penned 'Shock Me', a track inspired by his near death experience on stage in Lakeland. Interestingly, a 1977 Simmons co-composition 'Now That You're Gone', penned with BALANCE guitarist Bob Kulick, would much later resurface on GENE SIMMONS 2004 'Asshole' solo album. Kulick's name was bandied about as the "secret" KISS session guitarist...

To commemorate KISS' platinum album selling achievements, Casablanca 'honored' the quartet by releasing a Greatest Hits package suitably titled 'Double Platinum'. Containing a re-mixed compilation of KISS material and a rather bizarre re-recording of 'Strutter' (re-titled 'Strutter '78' in this instance) which, to the untrained ear, differed little from the original.

At the end of March KISS returned to Japan, and this time broke THE BEATLES record of four sold out Budokan shows by playing a fifth date. The Japanese end of Casablanca issued 'Originals II', a specially packaged set in the style of the American released 'The Originals' but containing 'Destroyer', 'Rock And Roll Over' and 'Love Gun' along with a booklet and cardboard masks. It remains one of the most desirable and collectible of all KISS releases, commanding quite a premium when coming up for sale on the collector's market.

In May, the band began shooting their debut movie, a made for TV fantasy thriller tentatively titled 'KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park'. With the plot calling for the superhero KISS to foil the plans of mad amusement park robotics expert Abner Devereaux (played by Anthony Zerbe) and, in the process, fight clones of themselves to win the day, KISS convened at the Magic Mountain Amusement Park with English director Gordon Hessler. ...

Going into 1979 demand for KISS was at its peak, the merchandising machine having progressed from the standard T-shirts, belt buckles and poster business into a wider reaching empire. Fans could now buy KISS toy guitars, Halloween costumes, radios, garbage cans, board games, lunchboxes, bubble gum cards, rucksacks, make-up kits and a set of 12" high dolls to torment Barbie and Sindy. And KISS were even in amusement arcades, thanks to a pinball machine made by the Bally company. Amongst the toys that never made it past the pre-production stage were a 'Love Gun' water pistol, a camera fashioned like Gene's head, a kite and Bendy figures.

In 1979, KISS were back with the extremely slick and commercial 'Dynasty', fronted by, what would become, a smash hit single world-wide in 'I Was Made For Lovin' You'. This song was KISS' first deliberate foray into the realms of Disco and had been co-written by Stanley with Capitol recording artist Desmond Child (of DESMOND CHILD AND ROUGE) and producer Vini Poncia...

The band returned to the studio with Vini Poncia to record the extremely poppy (and misleadingly titled) 'Unmasked' album in 1980. The record sold well internationally, scoring KISS no. 1 chart positions in Norway and New Zealand, although this enthusiasm did not transfer over to the major markets of the USA and UK. Criss was no longer in the band and Anton Fig playing all the drum tracks on the album, although for appearances sake Peter's image did appear on the cover artwork and he made his last appearance with the band filming the video for the single 'Shandi'.

The drummer's departure had caused KISS to cancel a summer European tour that was planned to coincide with the release of 'Unmasked'. Instead, the remaining trio set to the task of auditioning for a new drummer., knowing full well that the new boy had to be an unknown in order to keep the mystery of KISS' 'real' identities very much alive despite approaches made from a number of name skinsmen...

The new year beckoned with KISS settling into Frehley's new home studio, In The Hole, to begin work on their first album with Eric Carr on the drum stool. The original plan was to record a typical KISS Hard Rock album, eschewing the Pop Rock and Disco overtones of 'Dynasty' and 'Unmasked'. A number of tracks were recorded (including 'Deadly Weapons', 'Reputation', 'Feels Like Heaven' and ' Nowhere To Run' ) but were scrapped as Bob Ezrin was brought in to produce a record that was expected to have the same impact as 'Destroyer', persuading KISS to come up with a concept record. Gene duly came up with the plot for '(Music From) The Elder', an album expected to not only be complemented with an ambitious stage show but also a proposed movie project (hence the title).

Whilst Gene and Paul were enthusiastic about the record, Ace was reportedly dead against it and Eric mystified as to its direction. In any event, Frehley chose not to join his band mates at Ezrin's studio in Toronto, recording his guitar parts at home...

The band held auditions to officially replace Ace in order to go ahead with a new year tour of America in early 1983. These sessions attracted the likes of ex-ANGEL guitarist Punky Meadows and one RICHIE SAMBORA (soon to rise to household status himself within a few years as a member of BON JOVI), KISS settled on their man. Cusano wound up with the job and was transformed into Vinnie Vincent, the guitar wizard and sporting make up incorporating an Egyptian ankh design.

As it turned out, Vincent would participate in the very last show KISS would perform with the greasepaint and platforms for over a decade. The quartet following up the American shows with a visit to Brazil, the final show occurring in Sao Paulo during June and flew back to the States to finish a new studio album.

In October 1983 the unthinkable happened. Having teased their fans with the title of 'Unmasked' back in 1980, KISS finally shed their skin and took the greasepaint off for 'Lick It Up', appearing on the cover of the new album fresh-faced and in regular clothes...

The man brought in to replace Vinnie Vincent was Anaheim, California born Mark Norton - who would take the stage name of Mark St. John in KISS - whose arrival in the ranks was announced at the end of June 1984. The guitarist had previously earned a living playing sessions, teaching guitar and holding seminars on the subject of guitar playing. He had also been playing with ex DEEP PURPLE bassist GLENN HUGHES and erstwhile ARMAGEDDON vocalist David Donato in the short-lived WHITE TIGER.

St. John had been recommended to KISS by Grover Jackson of the Charvel guitar company and joined the band in time to contribute solo work to all nine tracks of the new album 'Animalize'. But his stay in KISS was to be an extremely short one.

With a European tour mere days away St. John was reported to have been struck with Reiter's Syndrome, a rare arthritic affliction that meant that he most certainly was unable to participate in the tour. A temporary replacement was found in ex BLACKJACK and GOOD RATS guitarist Bruce Kulick, the brother of long-time KISS associate Bob Kulick, and the New Yorker debuted with KISS in Brighton, England...

KISS kept to the overtly commercial direction for the ensuing 'Crazy Nights' album. Released in October 1987 the Ron Nevison produced affair, originally to be titled 'Condom-Nation' and then the less tongue-in-cheek 'Who Dares Wins', was made up of mainly Stanley compositions and from it the band scored a huge European hit with the single 'Crazy Nights'. Also included on the album was the track 'Thief In The Night' which Simmons had originally donated to WENDY O'WILLIAMS for her 'W.O.W.' album. The ballad 'Reason To Live' also proved to be a hit in Europe.

Despite the album sales wise being one of the band's most successful Simmons was later to cite the 'Crazy Nights' album as "Pop crap" and subsequent releases were certainly to witness a toughening of attitude.

Simmons launched his own record label, Simmons Records, in 1988. The man's first signing was HOUSE OF LORDS, the Pomp Rock group formed by ex ANGEL keyboard player Gregg Giuffria. Simmons had previously been instrumental in having ANGEL signed to Casablanca back in 1975, having discovered the group playing in a Washington DC club. Gene was also the first person to champion the likes of VAN HALEN (financing their first ever demo) and CINDERELLA, amongst others...

KISS returned in late 1989 with the new studio set 'Hot In The Shade' (wryly an abbreviated H.I.T.S. but originally due to be titled 'Crimes Of Passion'), a record that saw KISS going for a slightly more retro sound if tracks like 'Betrayed' were any indication. The album not only featured a version of 'Hide Your Heart' (also recorded by BONNIE TYLER and ACE FREHLEY!) but also Eric Carr's 'Little Caesar' on which the drummer, many feel, made his legitimate vocal debut.

Surprisingly, GENE SIMMONS and PAUL STANLEY donned the make-up to form part of a flashback sequence for the video to new single 'Rise To It' during November 1989. Simmons also involved himself in producing the latest album from German ex-WARLOCK songstress DORO and Japanese Metal act EZO's debut American release. Initially 'Hot In The Shade's sales were not as expected but with the power ballad 'Forever' securing major radio play in early 1990, climbing to number 8 in the singles chart, KISS once more geared up for a full blown live extravaganza. Testing the waters KISS opened up with a short run of club dates, commencing in Galveston, Texas in late March. These smaller shows saw LITTLE CAESAR as openers. Suitably broken in, a mammoth US tour followed exhaustively covering the entire country from early May until the grand finale at New York's Madison Square Gardens on the 9th of November. The band, surrounded by lasers, made a spectacular entrance from the open mouth of "Leon" the sphinx - a quite enormous stage piece depicting the album cover. In usual KISS fashion their stage set pulled out all the stops, Leon not only emitting lasers from his moth but also firing projectiles from his eyes and even being animated to sing along with 'God Of Thunder'! Touring to promote...

KISS pulled in Cleveland, Ohio born Eric Singer on the drum stool - whose past pedigree included BADLANDS, ALICE COOPER, BLACK SABBATH, GARY MOORE and a stint with LITA FORD. The drummer's first official appearance as a member of KISS came at the music industry N.A.M.M. trade show in 1992. The year had started off well for the band with KISS donating a cover version of ARGENT's classic 'God Gave Rock n' Roll To You II' to the soundtrack of the movie 'Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey'. In the UK this single put KISS back into the top five of the charts.

The Bob Ezrin produced 'Revenge' album itself proved to be one of the band's heaviest efforts since 'Creatures Of The Night' and as usual saw song-writing collaborations on many of the songs. Perhaps the strangest of these being the track 'Unholy' co-written with ex-KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent, the hatchet seemingly well and truly buried between Simmons and Stanley with their former colleague. Further credits included 'Thou Shalt Not' written by Simmons and SILENT RAGE front man Jesse Damon and 'Take It Off', a joint effort between Stanley and SKID ROW guitarist Dave Sabo. In addition, Simmons had been writing with 60's icon BOB DYLAN on songs that never made the final listing...

The 'Unplugged' show proved to be a catalyst for a huge event in the history of the group. The group pulled something very special out of the hat for MTV as the show marked the first time since 1979 that Simmons and Stanley had played together with both ACE FREHLEY and PETER CRISS.

The ex-KISS pair had recently been touring together on an interesting double headlining package and had been invited to the MTV filming by Gene and Paul seemingly as a special treat for fans at the climax of the show. In hindsight, there was a hidden agenda and before long the talk was that a full scale KISS reunion was on the cards.

With the 'Carnival Of Souls' album delayed as the 'Unplugged' album made its appearance in the stores, the inevitable occurred. The original line-up of KISS turned up unannounced - in full 'Love Gun' era regalia - at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in early '96 before making it official at a press conference. Meanwhile an ex-KISS man, guitarist VINNIE VINCENT was in contrast undertaking a low key promotion campaign to promote his new 'Euphoria' EP...

Rumors of a combined arena tour with AEROSMITH for late 2003, originally mooted as a union a year before, would be confirmed in January. The three month trek saw SALIVA as opening act and Tommy Thayer taking the KISS guitar role with PETER CRISS on drums. For these dates the band took their marketing reputation to the next level by selling 'Platinum package' tickets, guaranteeing front row seats and backstage passes, for a cool $1'000 dollars.

One of the more unexpected tributes to KISS came in early 2003 with the album 'Kiss My Grass: A Hillbilly Tribute to Kiss', a Bluegrass take on the KISS classics performed by HAYSEED DIXIE. Simmons too weighed in with a treat for die hard fans, revealing plans to include a CD of unreleased demo tracks 'Everybody Knows' and 'You're My Reason For Living' with his book 'Sex Money Kiss'. A brand new GENE SIMMONS solo album was apparently also in the works. ...

Biography: http://www.rockdetector.com