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You wanted the best, you got the best
The hottest band in the land - KISS!
Now many of my readers know that I am a dancing, clubbing fool, and that club music is my thing, but it wasn't always that way. You see, when I was a tyke of about 14, there was this kid who lived down the block from my nana. His name was Guy and he loved the rock group KISS. The year was 1977, and Guy was a fanatic! He and I and my brother Dave used to sit in his room and listen to these 'colorful' and rockin dudes all the time, slowly, but surely getting hooked.
Shout It Out Loud
At the time, KISS was riding high with their now classic albums "Destroyer" and "Rock and Roll Over," and I was loving songs like "Detroit Rock City," "God of Thunder," "I Want You," "Calling Dr. Love," "Hard Luck Woman," and so many others. Within weeks I had purchased both albums and was delving back to their earlier days, which their "Alive" concert record captured so perfectly.
Rock and Roll All Nite, from the Brooklyn Bridge at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards
KISS was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. The foursome of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss took upon personas that were larger than life, and the Demon, Starchild, Spaceman and Cat grew a legion of fans that still call themselves the KISS Army, with their hard-driving style of rock and roll. Though their music is what gave them their base of fans, it was always their live shows that made their base multiply, as seeing these guys live is always an entertaining event! Spectacular light shows, fire-breathing, blood-spitting, explosions and lots of energy make KISS concerts the popular spectacle that they are. Many saw the group as a gimmick, and didn't take their music as seriously as other bands who were popular at the time, like Led Zeppelin, Queen, and others, but to me their music was simply enjoyable, and I quickly became a huge fan.
Hard Luck Woman - Peter Criss
KISS did have a couple of hits during their early days. The live version of their "Rock and Roll All Nite" hit #12 on Billboard's Hot 100 and of course the classic "Beth" became their only top ten hit in their original form, peaking at #7 in 1976. For several years I was a bona fide KISS fanatic, and when they came to the Nassau Coliseum sometime in the late 70's, I convinced mom to take me to see them. It was my first concert and I went armed with a special KISS sign that I had made with cardboard and aluminum foil and a fire hat (they had a song called "Firehouse" that I loved at the time). Judas Priest was their opening act and to this day my mom likes to say that she went to a KISS/Judas Priest concert....now that's truly a mother's love!
I Was Made for Loving You
Next up for the guys was their made for TV movie, "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park," which featured the foursome battling an evil amusement park menace with special superpowers. In reality a terrible movie, but it was awesome nonetheless for KISS fans like me! The following year was 1979, and disco was all over the airwaves. KISS got into the act with their song "I Was Made for Loving You," off their "Dynasty" album. Though many of their fans were turned off to their new sound, many new ones were made as the bass-heavy song climbed all the way to #11 on the charts...I loved the song (a little foreshadowing?)!
Lick It Up
By the time the "Dynasty" album came out, I was already in my late teens and starting to branch out into other types of music. In fact, I first got into Diana Ross partly because Gene Simmons had dated her for a spell. In the early 80's, Peter Criss left the band followed by Ace, and my KISS days were soon over...for the most part. In the years that ensued, the band underwent several incarnations, even going for a spell "unmasked" and finding renewed success with songs such as "Lick It Up," "I Love it Loud," and "Heaven's on Fire." Though I was no longer a rabid fan, I still paid some attention and I even like several of these later songs.
Next year will be KISS' 40th Anniversary and these dudes are still rocking well into their 60's! Though they no longer make a lot of new fans with new music, they still perform like nobody's business to a still huge KISS Army. Whenever they come to town, my brother, sister's and I grab our tickets and we go. In fact, we're all taking a ride to Jone's Beach Theater in September to see them again, and you know what? They still rock!
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Image Source: faux-diddley