Every time I got to thinking, where’d they disappear?
When I woke up, Mom and Dad are rolling on the couch.
Rolling numbers, rock and rollin, got my Kiss records out.
1978 was a year of firsts. My youngest sister was born. I experienced going through my first crush (albeit more one sided than the Dream Team vs Angola). The first rock and roll band I really got into. That was so long ago Kiss had yet to go through the non make up stage and they had all their original members (Paul Stanley/ Starchild, Ace Frehley/ Space Ace, Gene Simmons/ The Demon and Peter Kriss/ the Cat). This year as far as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is concerned Kiss sheds their Susan Lucci label and finally gets the call from the hall.
This might sound subjective because of how I got into rock and roll but to paraphrase Bobby Knight, is not complete in no way, shape or form without Kiss. “The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio ., is not complete, in any way, shape or form until Kiss is in there,” As stated by Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone Magazine the stumbling block was the critics. A lot of what I appreciate today was shaped by music critics. Critics that mostly wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine books and special editions. It is safe to say people like Billy Joel and Kiss falls outside of that. Learn what you can from critics but in the end all a critic is , is one person with an opinion.
I am a person with an opinion and it is that the 70s was the greatest decade for music. Granted what the Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Who , The Yardbirds, Phil Spector and Motown did in the 60s and what Jerry Lee Lewis, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry did the 50s helped make the 70s possible. Steely Dan, Supertramp, The Eagles, Randy Newman, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Styx, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Jeff Beck, Allman Brothers, Yes and Kiss all experienced the zenith of their musical studliness in the 70s. I will admit that I am a disco fan. Chic, Village People, Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Gino Soccio, Andy Gibb and KC and Sunshine Band. Love it all. Maybe because that was made all pre-drum machine/ sequencer era. For me, the 70s is where it was at.
Kiss never was and never will be a darling of the critics. What they are though is a rock and roll band. It was good enough for me back then and good enough for me now. Songs like Cold Gin, She, Parasite, Deuce, Black Diamond, Firehouse and God of Thunder to me are what Rock and Roll is all about. Maybe the critics have a different idea of what Rock and Roll is or maybe you have your own. In my rock and roll universe Kiss is every bit as rock and roll as ZZ Top or The Eagles. Kiss may not be critically accepted or universally loved but you can never argue the longevity of the band founded by Gene and Paul.
One thing that distinguished Kiss was the onstage theatrics. The makeup, the pyrotechnics, the huge props. I would still be a Kiss fan even without those things but having seen them perform twice it is worth bringing up here. The Hot In the Shade tour had this huge Sphinx that moved. There was also this big fountain that Gene drank from or at least looked like he drank from. When time came for Heaven’s on Fire, I literally felt the heat from the big flash and I was around 60 to 80 feet from the stage. I listened to Love Gun dozens of times but something about seeing it on stage with the ascending guitar solo just gave me new appreciation. There was a show stopping airborne drum solo later in the show by Eric Karr (The Fox) so memorable I forgot if he even sang Beth that night. Good thing it was memorable because he passed away from heart cancer not too long after. Towards the end I could not help but give a big cheer when the Sphinx gave way to the animated lit up KISS sign. There was just something so appropriate about it. It was a great nod to somebody who was watching Kiss a whole twelve years after discovering them.
The Revenge tour featured Kiss’ best album not recorded in the 70s. The deceased Eric Karr was replaced by Eric Singer. The song Take It Off saw a bevy of women join in on stage that looked like they were imported from the Hellfire Club. It did not go much beyond that but it was a fun number. The feature prop was this huge Statue of Liberty from the chest up. I totally forgot the song but face dropped to reveal the skull and lasers shooting out of the eyes. The torch fell to expose a bony “bird” salute. So juvenile, so Kiss and so funny to me at the time. To end the show instead of the aforementioned classic Kiss sign, a huge Kiss banner unfurled from the top of the stage rigging. And people wonder why I don’t care about so called big scale concerts in Araneta Coliseum.
It is now December 2013. That first crush has a child who graduated college. My baby sister for the first time gave birth to a baby of her own a week ago and now Kiss is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It has been 21 years since I saw a Kiss show. It has been almost as many years since I sang (I use the verb loosely) in probably the only band in the world that did both Kiss and Elvis covers. My mother told me back in 1978 that Kiss would be a phase then I would move on to something else. So many things have come and gone in music the last 35 years yet I still listen to Kiss every now and then. That’s some phase.
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