Is It Really The End?

Though they first qualified in 1999, Kiss finally made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 2014 inductees. According to the criteria of eligibility on the Hall’s website, Kiss should have been given that honor sixteen years earlier. It reads;a band can be considered for induction twenty-five years after the release of their first album.Along with that the only other benchmark listed is as follows; the influence and significance of the artist contribution to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll. The definition of perpetuation is: to prolong the existence of, cause to be remembered for a long time. 

The recognizable logo created by Ace

Kiss is an American Icon. Their influence is all over the rock world, it’s also seen in other genres. The pyrotechnic use in other bands can be traced back to Kiss. Although they’ll never be given credit for their innovative style of entertainment, they are the pioneers of it.  They didn’t snub the Hall of Fame like the Hall snubbed the band. Kiss showed more class by turning the other cheek. Paul Stanley stated, they participated in the ceremony because the fans deserved it.

Thiis was just the start.

Members of the band were tired of going to what they considered boring rock concerts, dishing out cash money to see someone stand there just playing with no showmanship. Kiss wanted to give more bang, (literally) for the buck, they succeeded. So not only were they eligible because it had been twenty-five years from the release of their first album, the fact they changed the entire landscape of the concert experience should have made their induction a no brainer. 

The first Kiss album I ever saw.

Alas, the Hall of Fame committee felt that was insufficient for the band to even be considered. Tom Morello of the band Rage Against the Machine openly reminded everyone during his induction speech “Kiss was never a critic’s band, Kiss was a peoples band.” There was never a truer statement. At one point in my musical journey it was Kiss and only Kiss. Every other band had to measure up. They all failed. The first Kiss album I saw was their third release, “Dressed to Kill” It was in the miscellaneous location of the record store. They hadn’t earned a labeled bin yet. Their album was lumped into a record holder most music lovers avoided. Then I read an article in a long ago rock periodical “Creem”magazine, again it peaked my interest. A couple of months later I saw an advertisement in another music publication announcing the release of their live album Kiss “Alive.”

I loved this record.

I became a Kiss fanatic. That album shook the foundation of my parent’s house everyday. I became engrossed with it. There was not a slow song on any of the four sides of the album. September of 1975 I switched from Deep Purple to Kiss being my favorite band. November of that year just two months after hearing some of the best rock music (at least to a young rocker like myself), I went to my first rock concert. It was Kiss. Even though they were not allowed to use any of their pyro, under the threat of going to jail, along with Gene not breathing fire, they still blew the roof off the old International Amphitheater. I could barely hear when I left. 

Two walls of my basement were dedicated to pictures and posters of Kiss. My record catalog soon grew as I went out buying the first three Kiss records. Then came three more. In three years Kiss released six studio albums and two live albums. Kiss saturated the market. Paul wrote that the second live record was manufactured because most of their concerts contained more of the older songs. The record company wanted another live album with the most recent material. Because of that saturation I started to lose interest. I believe Alive IIwas the last album I purchased from that Era of Kiss. It’s ironic; I felt they had become more entertainment than music. Which is what they set out to be. For me the entertainment took the music over. As exciting as the band was, I became bored with them.

Nineteen years later it was 1996. Kiss “Unplugged”made me briefly come back to my old favorite foursome. It was different. Felt spontaneous. Hearing my old favorites with a new twist brought a joy to my ears. So I bought it. Then there was talk of a reunion, and a new record. I saw them on the reunion tour 1998. It had been twenty-one years since I experienced a Kiss show. I totally enjoyed seeing the four original members once again owning the stage. When they reunited releasing Psycho Circus, the fan in me said it was a must have. I was not disappointed. It’s been documented that both Peter and Ace didn’t even play on most of the record. So much for a reunion. Funny thing is no one heard about it till after the record had been out for some time and the reunion tour finished. 

I have a DVD of concert footage in Las Vegas that also featured interviews with the band. During the interview Gene Simmons was emphatic in saying this is the end. “We are going out on top. This is the real deal.” For that reason thinking I would never see the four high heeled rockers again, in 2000 I took my sixteen-year-old daughter to see Kiss on their Farewell Tour. I wanted her to experience what a Kiss show was like since I had talked about them so much. We were not disheartened. I thought I said goodbye to my seven-inch, bomb exploding, fog filled, critic-hating rockers, but I got lured again…

They came back as part of a double bill with Aerosmith. Co-headliners. I thought, hey why not? I had never seen Aerosmith before so it would be an added treat to see Kiss one last time. I went all out, spending over two hundred dollars on my ticket. I was main floor center stage row fourteen, WOW! The problem is, it was the same show again. Aerosmith was great. Kiss? I felt like I was back in 1975. Same set list, same effects, same encore, I felt cheated. 

Now they’re at the end of the road. One last trip around the globe that will take them three years to complete: a “farewell tour.” Sorry but I have turned into more of a skeptic of the four grease painted rockers. They hailed this banner before. I have long stopped buying anything new from Kiss for twenty years. I did purchase the DVD of Kiss with the Melbourne Symphony to watch on my flat screen and listen with my surround sound. But any new recorded music after Psycho Circus? Nope! 

So fifteen years after their eligibility, the fans conclusively had their vindication when Kiss was inducted. As a fan I too was miffed why Kiss had been passed by for so many years. Especially when bands like The Sex Pistols (who only released one album) had been inducted. Or Percy Sledge who had one hit, and I’ll bet if asked, no one would know what hit that was. Oh, don’t get me wrong; you’ll know the song, just not the artist. Yet those two were inducted before Kiss.

I share my history with Kiss for credibility. For the rest of this blog it may come across that I am one of those critics or committee members who always hated Kiss. On the contrary, as stated earlier I was one of the biggest Kiss fans around. 

But…

In my opinion, Kiss has lost the original intent and reason they created the band. When Gene was saying this is the real deal, we’re going out on top; just what did he mean? Was it in reference to the final tour with the original four members? If it was, I believe Kiss is going for the moneymaking marketing more than the fan. That recognizable grease paint, black leather, along with the platform shoes, took precedence over the fan. If Kiss was saying goodbye to the original four, the make up should have been wiped off also.

Not so. Gene Simmons is a marketing genius. I believe they bought the rights to Peter and Ace’s well-known character. Now anyone who joins the band can wear that recognizable face paint. To me that’s greed. The band was still a huge draw having a strong fan base when the make-up came off. They would still be a big draw today. The all-mighty profit induced business world exploded like a Kiss finale. The only question is, will this road really end? Tommy Thayer has been recorded saying, he could see Kiss continuing with different members, but same faces. For the last nineteen years Kiss supposedly said farewell to a road seeming to have no end. 

When I saw them last, Ace was not on guitar. Tommy Thayer(who does a masterfuljob of recreating the well-known Frehley solos)had replaced Ace. He was once again out. It wouldn’t be long before drummer Peter Criss would also be gone. Yet the band still continues to make money off their respective characters. I’m not saying because of these things Kiss doesn’t deserve to be in The Rock Hall of Fame. Perhaps Kiss themselves should take note how the committee only inducted the original four. After all, the original four laid the foundation, blazing a trail on the rock and roll highway with fire and blood. 

In Paul and Gene’s defense, it has been well documented this disassociation with both Ace and Peter started during the recording of the follow up to Alive. So in essence the original started to disengage well before the official departures. Whether they walked away on their own or fired, the splintering happened quickly. The question could be asked; why mess with a good thing? Problem is the fans were being played…. being fooled that the band was strong and would go on forever. With the makeup on perhaps it will, which means this may not be the end of the road. Obviously the die-hard Kiss fan doesn’t care. The band is selling out every venue they book. Album sales have been more tepid.  Their last two studio albums Sonic Boom 2009 and Monster 2012 have not even been certified Gold. Meaning in the ten and seven years respectively, they have sold less than 500,000 copies each. Does that mean the makeup, the pyro, smoke, fire, and blood is more important than the music.

One may wonder.

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