Blog Archives

James Campion Speaks with journalist Ken Sharp!

In this exclusive interview excerpt, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Ken Sharp discusses KISS’s pre-Destroyer days with Shout It Out Loud author James Campion! Watch the video below to hear more, and let us know what are your thoughts on KISS’s pre-Destroyer days.


Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandising, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

As Campion writes in his introduction, “Destroyer is the indisputable KISS mission statement—the realization of a dream that stridently reflects the extraordinary time from which it was fashioned. Destroyer is ’70s rock: loud, yes, and decadent, you bet, but mostly it is pompous, weird, and fantastical….It is a cartoon fantasy’s parody of excess. Its message is fun and doom all rolled up in a thunderous package of melodramatic farce.”

Shout It Out Loud is the story of how an underground rock and roll oddity became a cultural phenomenon.

Anthrax’s Scott Ian speaks with author James Campion!

In researching his upcoming book, Shout It Out Loud, James Campion sat down with Scott Ian of Anthrax. In this exclusive interview excerpt Ian reminisces about KISS’s Destroyer and his obsession with the intro to Detroit Rock City. To hear more about what he had to say click on the link below and let us know your favorite KISS song!


Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandising, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

As Campion writes in his introduction, “Destroyer is the indisputable KISS mission statement—the realization of a dream that stridently reflects the extraordinary time from which it was fashioned. Destroyer is ’70s rock: loud, yes, and decadent, you bet, but mostly it is pompous, weird, and fantastical….It is a cartoon fantasy’s parody of excess. Its message is fun and doom all rolled up in a thunderous package of melodramatic farce.”

Shout It Out Loud is the story of how an underground rock and roll oddity became a cultural phenomenon.

“Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer” is coming in October!

If the fourth of his videos discussing his new book, Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, James Campion talks about why he believes Destroyer was worthy of a book of its own and everything he packed into it!


Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

“Shout It Out Loud” – The Album That Changed Everything!

Coming soon in Fall 2015 from Backbeat Books 

Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

“Shout It Out Loud” – KISS’s Manifesto!

Coming soon in Fall 2015 from Backbeat Books 

Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

“Shout It Out Loud” Trailer

Coming soon in Fall 2015 from Backbeat Books 

Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

Dale Sherman: KISS Update

00122479With the upcoming release of Dale Sherman’s latest FAQ book (Coming in March!), Quentin Tarantino FAQ, Dale is celebrating by going back to his previous books in the series to pull up some new details for readers! This week, he has provided additional information on KISS!

In KISS FAQ I cover the making and ramifications of the notorious television movie, KISS Meets the Phantom of the ParkThe chapter of the book certainly held no surprises to readers in the acknowledgement that the movie contains wooden acting, a bizarre musical soundtrack (namely in the televised version; not as much in the later theatrical one), bad special effects, and a clunky script, but one myth that was put to rest was of KISS Meets the Phantom being one of the highest rated television programs of 1978. NBC certainly wished that had been the case, as they pre-empted a showing of their popular cop series, CHiPs for the movie in hopes of gaining a good chunk of young viewers.

It was a gamble that NBC needed, as they were floundering; the network had only two 00333153programs with ratings high enough to place in the top twenty-five programs of the 1978-1979 television season: the family-oriented drama about frontier life, Little House on the Prairie, and the police series CHiPs. Even so, a gamble on using the CHiPs timeslot earlier that October for a two-part showing of Rescue from Gilligan’s Island had earned a 40 share for NBC, making Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park in the same time the last Saturday of October a seemingly good risk.

However, when the ratings came out, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park was nowhere near the Number One slot. It wasn’t even in the top 25 for the week. It finished at #45, leading to Variety , to proclaim “NBC had its worst Saturday of the year,” with the KISS movie being the reason. Its failure in drawing interest as a television movie was only the starting point of concern for those connected to the film, as it was about to be released as this type of filmic albatross in theaters overseas. But that story and other details about the movie can be found in the pages of KISS FAQ.

Check out the rest here!

KISS induction into Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Guest BloggerDale Sherman, author of KISS FAQ and Armageddon Films FAQshares his thoughts on KISS’s upcoming induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It’s also Paul Stanley’s birthday today!

As a KISS Fan, Should I be Happy or Angry about KISS and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

By Dale Sherman

 As some of you reading may know, I’ve written extensively about KISS over the years, from the days of fanzines back in the early 1980s up to biographical and reference books, such as the recently released KISS FAQ (available through Backbeat Books and bookstores everywhere).  In doing the promotional runs from the KISS FAQ book, one of the most common questions I got asked was about the band and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  More pointedly, why the Hall had not inducted the band until 2014 and what fans thought of it.

It was a question that really didn’t need an answer.  How did Alice Cooper fans feel about the Hall dragging their feet on inducting him?  Or the frustration fans of Rush had in the delays in getting that band into the place?  Right now, KISS fans are mostly beaming over the very recent news that KISS will be inducted in early 2014, while there are fans of bands such as Yes, The Zombies and others who feel mistreated for being passed over.  Of course, KISS fans now act insulted that fans of these other bands are grumbling about KISS being inducted instead … forgetting completely the times in the past the KISS Army grumbled just as loudly over the same.  Just the way it goes.

Of course, fans are of two minds about the reported induction forthcoming.  Those that are … well, ecstatic is not really the right word here – you won’t find KISS fans throwing parties and jumping up and down in glee over the news, after all.  Pleased, rather, would be the way many fans in the KISS Army feel about the news.  Then there is a vocal minority of fans who are angry over the announcement; not to mention hurt that the band has so readily accepted without complaint.  To them, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley merrily going along with this plan to join the Hall is the same as if Colonel Saunders joined PETA or Pat Robertson came out as an atheist.  It seemed anti-climactic and against what fans assumed about the band’s attitude.

Why is this?  Quite simple, KISS has never been about being part of the establishment, and we KISS fans liked them for that.

I let those reading who aren’t fans calm down from laughing at that last statement before I continue.  But I’m not just throwing out wild ideas here – yes, they may be considered as “establishment” as establishment can get – certainly in terms of readily admitting that they put out products to make money – but in reality KISS has never truly been accepted as the norm by Americans.  Never.  They started out as outsiders – a group that made fellow New York area musicians roll their eyes when they started in 1973, thanks to the makeup and the costumes, even if other band were doing the same thing at the time.  The parent record company, Warner, tried to talk Casablanca Records’ Neil Bogart out of supporting when the band was getting to release their first album in 1974.  Meanwhile, the mellow bands of the 1970s hated because they were too hard and outrageous, while the hard rock and punk bands hated as being too corporate and calculating.  Throw in the toys and lunch boxes and you had a good reason for teenagers to start hating them once puberty hit, while kids were never totally sure what to make of them (and certainly their parents hated them). Critics disliked them, hard rock fans got confused when the band did pop and disco, and the hipsters could never latch on to them in a way to see them as being something to hang their names.

Let’s face it, the pinnacle of the band’s acceptance in American Culture ran roughly ten minutes – between “Beth” becoming a hit and right before they won a People’s Choice Award for the song.  After that, there was no way anyone would acknowledge them as being cool, much more as being important to the development of rock music in the 1970s.  Sure, they helped change the face of how rock concerts, albums, fan-related activities, hard rock, and promotion were done in rock music, but their contribution typically gets ignored because there’s a gag-reflex when it comes to acknowledging their important role in musical history.

Just as well, KISS fans thought (and still think).  We’re united as one because we like this … thing no one else has to guts to believe in – this band full of clown makeup, special effects, and musicians telling a story on stage.  If everyone else can’t see through that to enjoy the music, that’s their problem.  We, the KISS Army, stand alone.  Paul sang in the song, “Crazy Crazy Nights,” “We’re a million strong,” and fans knew exactly it was about them as fans against the world.  And what is cooler than being the selected few against the ignorance of the world?

Hence, the sentiment behind the disregard about the Hall – a place that more than one artist has put down as being the ultimate sellout for rock musicians.  “They don’t want us?  Who wants to be pigeonholed as being important by the Hall?  That just proves that we’re right when the establishment doesn’t want us!”  Throw in rumors of a longtime battle between founder Jann Wenner (of Rolling Stone) and KISS, as well as a supposed blood oath against KISS by author and Hall Committee member Dave Marsh, and it just added fuel to the fire.  (Although, to be fair, this supposed conspiracy boils down to a lone statement where Marsh said he had done his “share to keep [KISS] off the ballot.”  Hardly the stuff of “Wrath of Khan” like calls of vengeance.)  Not to mention that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have both voiced opinions about not “needing the Hall” when past attempts to be in failed.  As many fans that would ponder about the Hall finally adding the band, just as many said that they didn’t want to see the band there.  Or, if offered, that the band should turn down the offer.  “Throw it back at them!  Give the Hall and those guys running it the middle finger!  They can come begging and we’ll prove we don’t need them!”

So were the rumors true?  Did the Hall have a problem with KISS?  If so, what happened that got the band inducted?  Better yet, that saw the band members readily saying that they’ll accept?  The most important step was the public voting that happened this year, which allowed fans to vote for which one of the possible inductees to go into the Hall.  Such voting was established the year before, and once it was clear that KISS won the vote of the possible inductees for 2014, it would be hard for the Hall to suddenly void the results, especially in the infancy of such a new procedure.  Even if Dave Marsh lashed himself to the mast of the building in defiance and Wenner threw bolts of lightning from his offices, it wasn’t going to make much of a difference – KISS was bound to get in after the votes came through.

Yet, even if they had not won – and it is true that Nirvana came in as a close second in that voting – in all probability, KISS was going to get in anyway.  Why so?  Because no matter what the vendettas there may be between those who run the Hall and the members of KISS, or that of the KISS fans, there’s one thing that matters a bit more.  It’s the same reason that I mentioned time and again as to why I thought the band would make it into the Hall in 2014:  It’s just too good of a deal to pass up for one and all.

As mentioned above, KISS released their first album in 1974, and thus we come upon the 40th anniversary of the band’s first album in 2014.  You can promote that in so many ways, from re-releases (such as planned vinyl reissues of many albums in 2014 from the band’s catalog) to books (Paul Stanley’s autobiography; to be released the same month as the induction ceremony in April 2014) to touring and other releases in both visual and audio formats.  What a way for the Hall to make a little bit of money off the rub by way of inducting KISS as well.  Just as readily, the band gets to internationally promote themselves and their anniversary by accepting the induction.  Everyone gets something out of it.  What is there to lose in this agreement?

But what about the hew and cry of all those involved?  The blood oaths?  The disdain of the band in being ignored?  Well, it’s not called show business for nothing.  Especially the business part of that term.  You may want to stab that guy over there in the back, but if he can help you make a little bit of money?  Let’s just say that in business, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and my enemy is being poor.”

So those fans who are upset over the band being inducted?  It’s understandable – you’ve found something that you can call your own, and (to wildly mix metaphors) it’s hard when everyone else suddenly jumps on the bandwagon that you’ve staked a claim.  Here we were for years following the thread of Gene and Paul as to dissing the Hall for not wanting KISS.  We were supposed to rise up and hate them for this, right?  Actually, no.  It’s good publicity, and that trumps personal feelings.  Gene Simmons has always stated that there’s no such thing as bad publicity; but to be fair, good publicity can be much more beneficial, thank you very much.

Therefore, the band will gladly make it to the show.  As to who will be there – that is the next controversy.  Will it be the band today, with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer?  Or the original foursome?  As much as fans would like to think it’s all up to Gene and Paul, it’s really up  to the Hall, as has been the case in the past with other bands that has had replacement members over the years.  The Hall typically likes to see the original members of such bands reunite for the awards – publicly because it’s good to reward the people who were there at the beginning of things, but namely because audiences want to see reunions and it helps with ratings and getting .  So we’ll no doubt see Ace Frehley and Peter Criss up there with Gene and Paul.  Perhaps with the others in passing mention in the speeches, and no slight to these guys who have been in the band for nearly or more years than Ace and Peter, but that’s just the way it goes.

As to performing on the show, there has been some concerns as to how that will work.  Do they do it in costume and makeup?  If Thayer and Singer is there, will they wear the makeup and costumes of Peter and Ace?  Is it going to look like the fight scene from KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, where the fake KISS fights the real KISS on-stage?  Although that would be fun, in reality the induction ceremonies haven’t been much into having people perform “in character” (Alice certainly didn’t when performing with the remaining members of the Alice Cooper Group when inducted a few years back).  Thus, such concerns may be moot – no need to worry about multiple “Space Aces” up on stage, as it’ll probably be the original four without makeup, with perhaps additional support from Thayer and Singer.

So in the end it’ll be as dry as possible when it comes to emotional concerns – the original four will get their induction, play a few songs, and that will be that.  Does it give some of the fans wanting to see some vindication to their anger over the Hall any satisfaction?  No.

But, once again, that’s show business.

Since 1973, KISS has recorded over 20 studio albums; been recognized as an innovator in rock presentations; witnessed a firestorm of rumors and controversies; remained a thorn in critics’ sides; and continues to surprise its massive fan-following, the KISS Army, with various career twists and turns. Moreover, many television shows, movies, toys and even comics have kept KISS a bigger-than-life name in entertainment for decades.

Yet with all that has been written over the years, there are subjects that fans have never put to rest when it comes to the “hottest band in the land”: What were the most significant concerts? Why did Phantom of the Park turn out that way? What were the best – and worst – album covers? How did the comics come about? And what the heck is a deuce?

These subjects and more appear in KISS FAQ – showcasing the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

KISS FAQ

Dale Sherman, the author of KISS FAQ, can now be seen in these excerpts from a Japanese Documentary Special about KISS. Enjoy!

SONG TO SOUL CLIP ONE

SONG TO SOUL CLIP TWO

SONG TO SOUL CLIP THREE

 

KISS FAQ

Since 1973, KISS has recorded over 20 studio albums; been recognized as an innovator in rock presentations; witnessed a firestorm of rumors and controversies; remained a thorn in critics’ sides; and continues to surprise its massive fan-following, the KISS Army, with various career twists and turns. Moreover, many television shows, movies, toys and even comics have kept KISS a bigger-than-life name in entertainment for decades.

Yet with all that has been written over the years, there are subjects that fans have never put to rest when it comes to the “hottest band in the land”: What were the most significant concerts? Why did Phantom of the Park turn out that way? What were the best – and worst – album covers? How did the comics come about? And what the heck is a deuce?

These subjects and more appear in KISS FAQ – showcasing the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

 

Gene Simmons doesn’t want you to know this

Dale Sherman KISS FAQGuest Blogger: Dale Sherman, author of KISS FAQ, has some intriguing thoughts to share for the rocker’s 64th birthday on August 25th.

Gene Simmons wants you to know he’s a businessman.

I don’t think anyone reading this is surprised by that statement.  Even back in the 1970’s Gene was talking to reporters about his needs to be involved in the business side of the KISS world, inspecting the merchandise, going into hard-sells on the latest albums, pushing (possibly a bit too hard) in hyping the band’s latest antics.  As the years gone by, that attitude has simply grown, to the point where it seems that the only words that leave Gene’s lips is a variation of “I have this product, so give me your money!”

But, as we arrive at Gene’s 64th birthday, I have come here to praise the Demon, not to bury him.

You see, there’s the other side of Mr. Simmons that he really doesn’t want you – the general public – to know about.  Gene has always stated variations of the line that “bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.”  Thus, when he goes into overdrive in pushing the KISS Kasket or selling us on some burger and wine joint he had placed himself as a stakeholder, and everyone just groans, he enjoys that response, because it at least means he had crawled his way into your head so you can’t help but talk about him.  Doesn’t mean you have to like what he’s selling or even buy it, and if you come away thinking, “He’s found another sucker to work with him,” it still means that you think he’s a good businessman, and that’s more of what he wants  in the end.  Even more than the money, your respect is what he is after.  I’m not suggesting that he wants you to love him, just respect him.  That’s a major goal for Gene these days.

It all comes down to the fact that the child is the father of the man.  In other words, whatever we were dealing with when we were kids is exactly the type of mental makeup we employ through life – sometimes to the deterrence of our lives; sometimes to the better.  As for Gene, we have to remember who that man was when he was a boy – not only an immigrant (Gene was born in Israel and arrived in America as a boy), but Jewish and the son of a divorced mother.  That’s a lot of heavy baggage in the 1950s and 1960s to carry around for a kid.  He was also chubby, geeky (as a comic book and movie fanatic, he did his own fan-magazines while a teenager), and awkward with girls.  As such, everything was working against him in a society that is built on the idea of the good-looking, naturally-born athletic kids getting ahead.  Even if we want to promote that anyone can make it, we assume those types are the ones that will.  Meanwhile, if you want to know what an outcast is, Gene is it.

And from that type of “outcast” background, people have two choices available to them in life:  They can either withdraw or they can blossom.  Gene took the latter route, pushing himself to be “in your face” because he wasn’t about to wither away.  He never said it, but the thrust of his personality is this, “If you’re going to stare at me for being different than you, then I’m going to make you pay for the privilege.  In fact, I’m going to make it so you’ll wait in line and give me all the money in your wallet to do so.”  Essentially, it is a philosophy born out of frustration, pride, and anger – people tend to tell us in life that you can only be so-and-so, can only go so far, can only do “these things” and nothing else.  Gene took that attitude and promptly stomped it into the dirt.  “I’ll be a musician.  Oh, I can’t know about the business if I’m a musician?  Then I’ll learn that as well.  And I’ll be a manager because I want to.  And a movie star as well.  And I’ll produce records.  Tell me something you don’t want me to me and I’ll prove you wrong.”

Which really isn’t that bad of a philosophy to have.  What better way to tell the world your life is your own than showing them that there are no walls that can contain them?  Again, respect is the key.

But there’s something else that seems to drag Gene down at times and that’s the career of his biggest success, KISS.  A band started decades ago, with the 40th anniversary of their first signing with a major record company  just around the corner, KISS has done pretty well for itself in the “stare if you want, but you’ll have to buy a ticket first” category of show-business.  Yet, in the past few years there have been some criticisms of the band for what they do.  Back in the late 1990s, the original band members had gotten back together to do a reunion tour that seemed to be on a trajectory  that made some kind of sense to the general public – the band will tour, do an album, tour for that album and then do a final push before retiring.  In fact, that last tour was the Farwell Tour, which lasted until 2001.

Then something strange happened.  The band didn’t go away.  Oh, two of the members – Ace Frehley and Peter Criss – eventually did, but Paul Stanley and Gene didn’t.  They just hired two other guys and kept touring.  Then they recorded a couple of new albums.  And kept touring.  And kept touring.

And to a public that thought, “Didn’t they do a farewell tour twelve years ago?” it set the band  – and in particular Gene – up for ridicule.  The feeling was the guys can’t stop because they need or want the money.  That it is all that matters.  After all, Gene wants to sell you on the idea that it is all about the money, so why would anyone think differently of how KISS continues on these days?

Yet, there’s something else going on here.  KISS has been doing well with the touring, but the returns on that investment hasn’t been growing these past few years.  The merchandise is still coming out, but it seems to turn up in the bargain bins so much faster.  The albums are being released, but are soon forgotten with barely a blip on the radar from the critics.  Worse yet, from the fans.

In business-terms, Gene would be better off packing up and going home.  Let loose the age-old concept of KISS II (four new musicians taking over as a touring band), get out the other videos and audios of the band’s past, and sit back and relax.  The money will be better that way.  Do a few more of those other projects he keeps talking about after freeing up his time with no more touring.  It just makes sense.

But that isn’t going to happen.  And the reason why is because in the end Gene is not in it for the money.  Money is good, and if things go financially bad, he’ll wind things up, but money doesn’t seem to be the motivator anymore.  Watch Gene on the latest tour – the guy who seems to be having the most fun on stage out of the band, goofing around and basking in the limelight as he goes with the same stunts of fire-spitting and flying up above the crowd as he has done for years.  This is a guy who isn’t in it for artistic merit or for the money, he’s in it for the fun and for the fans.

Fly up into the air?  Spit blood all over yourself?  Risk your health with spitting fire?  Is that a responsible 64-year-old?  A businessman?  No , that’s the kid in Gene coming out, and when he hits that stage, or when he gets to talk to fans who idolize him, then it all comes back to the fulfillment of those dreams of the 10-year-old.  He wants to do all those things because they’re fun.  And knowing that people enjoy watching him do it makes even more fun.  He’s enjoyed that feeling since the 1970s, so why stop now?  It’s the same with the books about the zenith of the band’s career back in the 1970s and Gene’s continuing fascination with KISS fandom at large – he loved those days and this is a way to relive them, even if some would say he should be thinking of retirement.

He wouldn’t want you to know that, though.  That’s not being businessman-like if you admit you’re probably not doing the smartest financial moves because you want to play like a kid.

Gene isn’t a businessman.  He’s a sentimentalist.

But don’t let him find out we know.

KISS FAQ

Since 1973, KISS has recorded over 20 studio albums; been recognized as an innovator in rock presentations; witnessed a firestorm of rumors and controversies; remained a thorn in critics’ sides; and continues to surprise its massive fan-following, the KISS Army, with various career twists and turns. Moreover, many television shows, movies, toys and even comics have kept KISS a bigger-than-life name in entertainment for decades.

Yet with all that has been written over the years, there are subjects that fans have never put to rest when it comes to the “hottest band in the land”: What were the most significant concerts? Why did Phantom of the Park turn out that way? What were the best – and worst – album covers? How did the comics come about? And what the heck is a deuce?

These subjects and more appear in KISS FAQ – showcasing the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

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