KISS, or Knights In Satan's Service, is
a cynical 1970s marketing campaign the hottest band in the land, consisting of long-tongued advertising mogul Gene Simmons and his three sidemen. They are known for their extravagant, pyrokinetics-driven live shows and endless line of cheesy merchandise. Like other bands such as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and The Who, their hit singles are played ad nauseam on "classic rock" stations to this day, but unlike AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and The Who, the kids today don't even think KISS is cool.
- 1 History
- 2 Members
- 3 Logo
- 4 Spinoffs
- 5 See also
Thousands of years ago before the dawn of man as we knew it, the world was dominated by the numerous Gods of Glam Metal, and the God among Gods was Van Halen but that was before the great Moscow Music Peace festival and I think we all know what happened after that... where was I now? Oh yes, KISS. It was a thousand years ago that KISS were birthed. The world was ruled by greedy theme park owners that frequently used metal bands to boost attendance at their crappy parks, only to have the park engineers commonly simper up after their plans of world domination would fail. But everything changed when Paul met Gene.
KISS was founded in 1973 when rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley and singer/bassist/frontman Gene Simmons watched an Alice Cooper concert, one of these many theme park venues, then got wasted and decided to "make each other feel pretty." After several awkward minutes of putting on each other's makeup and playing dressup, climaxing with facials, they finally decided to create characters to enact their mime fantasies. Two other like-minded individuals, lead guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss, soon joined thus completing the lineup. The name "KISS" comes from those first tender moments Paul and Gene spent together, while the idea of wearing black and white facepaint started from Paul's idea of wearing bright makeup and rainbow-colored hair. They then traveled to a fancy dress shop where they had enough money only for black and white clothes, fittingly enough, hence their image.
Although it is commonly believed that KISS stands for "Knights In Satan's Service", some contend that it is in fact a secret acronym for "Knights in Stevie's Service", referring to Stevie Nicks. When asked whether Gene Simmons was indeed giving her good service, Miss Nicks replied, "God no."
1974–78: Early struggles and breakthrough
With their ballsy, raw, hard-rocking first three albums 1974's KISS, 1974's Hotter Than Hell, and 1975's Dressed for Satanic Rituals, the band struggled for success, and resorting to tying up Peter Criss and selling his body to Amazonian ladies down at the local dock. After raising $1.69 from Criss's exploitation, KISS daringly used this meager sum to produce the 1975 double-live album KISS Alive!, containing the band's signature song "Rock 'n' Roll All Nite". Surprisingly the album was a smash hit, unusual for a live album.
The success of KISS Live! buoyed the band into creating their most ambitious album yet, 1976's Destroyer. Its slick, poppier sound, featuring a flamboyant orchestra and choir plus superfluous tape effects, caused fans of the first three albums to scream "Sell out!", but earned the band so many millions of new fans that they couldn't give less of a toss. KISS quickly followed this success up with 1976's Rockitty N Rollity Hop Over, 1977's Hate Uzi, 1977's KISS Half-Dead!, and 1978's A KISS Kompilation. In 1978, the band members took a cue from Yes's playbook and released their own solo albums; Paul's and Ace's fared the best while Gene's was panned for featuring batshit weird songs like a cover of "When You Wish Upon a Star" instead of rock'n'roll like fans wanted, and Peter's was panned for featuring smooth R&B ballads instead of rock'n'roll like fans wanted.
1979–82: Growing pains
In 1979, KISS released Disco Dynasty containing the hit single "I Was Made for Loving You", which caused fans to again howl "Sell out!" with its disco beats. Peter Criss left the band at the conclusion of their Disco Dynasty tour, after he ran out of coke and tried to raid Gene's bank account. On 1980's Unmasked (Though We're Still Wearing Our Fucking Makeup), the cover art fooled listeners into thinking Criss was still with the band, even though his role was actually filled out by session musicians. New drummer Eric Carr then joined KISS. His first costume design was a giant chicken with a huge nose, which was removed after Paul became overexcited about a horny cock joining the band, so the rest of the band had to change the design to a fox. Carr wrote most/all of KISS's tracks after Criss's departure; his monster drumming is featured on the track "Heaven's On Fire", the anthem of the Chicago Bulls.
In 1981 the band released Music from "The Elder", a concept album featuring studio outtakes plus 30 minutes of KISS tuning their guitars and ordering Chinese takeout. Due to the album's epic failure, band members continued dropping like flies, as Ace Frehley left KISS and was replaced by Vinnie Vincent, an amazing guitar player who shredded so fast that he could play songs that had negative time signatures. 1982 saw the release of Killers, a compilation of KISS songs with the same songs as the other compilations, and Humans of the Day, the first album to feature Vinnie (although the cover again fooled people into thinking Ace was still there).
This was followed by 1983's Lick It Up (And I'll Let You Release This Record), the band's first album where they took off their makeup, even though you'd expect Unmasked to be the one where they took off their makeup. Sadly, Vinnie Vincent's time with KISS was short-lived; due to the expensive stage set, and the likelihood of the universe to explode from Vinnie's negative time signature-playing abilities, he was kissed goodbye from KISS in 1984. Vinnie was replaced by Mark St. John, who holds the record for being in KISS for the shortest period of time, being an active band member for only nine months. He played on one album, 1984's furry concept album Animalize, and only managed to play three shows. On some audio bootlegs of shows from that tour, John only plays half of a show. This is because the TV station needed him for a sports event, and wanted to try out a new camera that would be positioned on John's head.
John was replaced by Bruce Kulick, as KISS was going for a more "eco-friendly" approach. He remained in KISS for about ten years, until he got a song on Funeral of Integrity that no one cared about and he left. You really couldn't expect him to do anything onstage, as a Kulick doesn't move, unlike a Carr; he also messed up the solos for "Calling Dr. Love" and "King of the Night Time World" quite often. The band released more forgettable albums such as 1985's Asylum, nicknamed Ace Frehley's House and We Wear Lipstick! by fans, 1987's 8 Crazy Nights, which featured guest performance from a then-unknown Adam Sandler, 1988's Smashes, Thrashes & Hits, a KISS compilation with three really popular songs everyone has heard before and ten random shitty ones, and 1988's Cold in the Sun, where Eric Carr was a able to write a song about the pizza company Little Caesar's. After the song, everyone forgot about Carr and he got heart cancer. When Vinnie Vincent went to see him in the hospital, he started playing an amazing guitar solo, showing off his negative time signature playing abilities; Carr's heart exploded in shock. Vinnie laughed and went to go work with KISS for the next two weeks, as a songwriter on their 1992 album Revenge for Absolutely Nothing (Except of It Sounding Cool).
Eric Singer, who had previously played for other groups like Alice Cooper, replaced Eric Carr on Revenge onward. He was regarded by many as "the shitty drummer who replaced Peter Criss", even though, unlike Criss, Singer can play the drums properly (and didn't even replace Criss, he replaced Carr). He was the dumb blonde of the band, and hit it big time when he finally put on the pussy costume that Peter Criss had previously donned. The band then churned out two more stopgap albums, 1993's KISS 1/2 Dead! and 1994's KISS My Ass! Another KISS Kompilation.
In 1995, the original lineup of KISS reunited to record the live MTV nostalgia album KISS Unplugged, also known as The "See, We Could Possibly Re-Unite, Without Killing One Another! We Played Acoustically on a Stage for 20 Minutes!" Album. In 1996, they performed at the annual Grammy Awards, with a rousing introduction from Tupac Shakur. This was quickly followed by 1996's You Didn't Need It! And There's No Medicine to Cure It! – A KISS Alive! Compilation, a bunch of KISS Alive! remastered tracks with three "unreleased Alive! tracks" (which were recorded very, very recently), and 1997's Greatest KISS, another KISS kompilation (why?). In 1997 they released Funeral of Integrity (even though it was supposed to be released in 1995), a really controversial album that some people said was great and others said was shit.
Funeral of Integrity was quickly eclipsed by 1998's Psycho Circus, known in some fan circles as Ace Frehley's Circus or Fecal Storm. It featured some studio musicians, a few minor riffs overdubbed by Ace and Peter, and some guy who was going to be in KISS named Tommy Thayer. Tommy was another scab Gene Simmons hired to keep KISS merchandise cash rolling in; no one likes Tommy, but Tommy likes coffee. After no one liked Psycho Circus, KISS decided the only way to make money was to hold a Farewell Tour and officially retire, which they did from 2000 to 2001. That tour seemed to bring in more money then the band had made in years, so when they are not recycling the same greatest hits compilations, they often go on tour with another Farewell Tour.
These days KISS spend all their time re-releasing and recycling the same greatest hits albums over and over. Each year the same few tracks are put onto a new album with a different name, where one track will be a live version; examples include KISS Symphony: Alive IV, KISS Rocks the Nation to Sleep, KISS Alive! 1975–2000, Milkin' It – Studio Outtakes from the Vinnie Vincent Era, KISS Reads Chaucer, KISS Dials On a Phone, KISS: The New Makeup Years After Peter Left, Just Before Ace Left, But Before Tommy Thayer Took Over But Hadn't Tuned His Guitar and Just Plugged It In (Basically the First Few Minutes He Came Into the Studio and After He Took His Jacket Off But Before He Took His Other Guitar Out of the Case), and KISS: Supercentenarians (My God, How Are We Still Alive or Popular?). KISS beat out Alice Cooper for the "Most Fucking Compilations/Greatest Hits Albums Ever Released By the Same Artist", awarded to them in 2010 by the Corporate Boomer Rock Industry Lifetime Achievement Awards. They have also occasionally released new studio albums, such as 2009's Fashizzlin' Sonic Boom Joom, a sellout rap album, and 2012's Monster, a sellout Lady Gaga collaboration; on these albums, Gene Simmons said, "We haven't sold out enough, we need to milk more money out of the KISS name."
2014 marked the indiction of KISS into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Hame, where Gene Simmons said something like, "We can't write decent songs anymore because KISS is a business, and that business is selling the same compilation CDs all the time, and planning our next Farewell Tour. Also people with depression should kill themselves, women can't have both a career and kids, I'm the greatest, don't do drugs and stay in school kids, also be sure to buy more KISS compilation CDs and my DVDs of My Dad the Rockstar and Gene Simmons' Family Jewels, etc. etc. etc. I'm outta here!" He then went into some rant about a threesome he had with twenty-five girls, all of which had Adam's apples. Rumors are running rampant that Gene and Paul want to have Alice Cooper join the band for a tour, but Cooper told them in an interview that he "would rather be jabbed in the face with a pine tree than join a bunch of sellout senior citizen emo-boys who wear makeup and perform to elderly groupies and braindead teenage girls."
“Looky, looky! There's tits over there!”
Simmons is the lead singer, bassist, and most recognizable figure in KISS, the self-proclaimed inventor of everything, a jack-off of all trades, and a master of your mom. He has allegedly bedded numerous women in spite of having a face like a schmuck. Groupie folklore claims that his overlong tongue is the cure for cancer, and he has over 340 lovechildren.
Gene also has a talent for marketing cheap crap with the KISS logo on it to make a quick buck; products include KISS chocolate fire guards, KISS Kaskets, KISS Kondoms, and KISS-brand children that are born with one of four KISS facepaint designs (permanent) and a random tattoo (semi-permanent, just rub with sandpaper). He is currently trying to persuade the U.S. government to put the faces of KISS on dollar bills.
“Wanna know what my favorite type of fur coat is? Shaved beaver...”
Paul is a very talented rhythm guitarist but is very flamboyant which would explain his costume and perm hairdo; he also desperately needs a wax and has auditive problems. He is a talented artist of oil paintings, and once performed onstage as a walking canvas. He hails from Manhattan, New York, where he grew up as an awkward child. He always preferred to play dress-up or stare at the stars while all the other kids went to temple or spun the dreidel. Growing up in Queens further complicated matters for the young lad, and he began writing heartfelt power ballads about the Torah. As a boy, Stanley earned the nickname "Starchild" by laying in the moonlight for hours at a time while wishing upon the stars that somebody would come and whisk him away.
One day Gene Simmons turned out to be that somebody, and Paul joined KISS, beginning a partnership which lasts to this day. Paul, being the younger of the four music stars (younger being relative; this chap was born in 1952), decided to become the "Starchild" for real. In 1975, Paul used the cursed dagger of Yahweh he bought at a garage sale to link the souls of the four members, binding them to their instruments for all time. As long as KISS play, they shall never die; this has led to nonstop touring and merchandising.
“Insufficient data at the moment Starchild.”
“My Grand Slam was supposed to be with sausage.”
"Ass frei ist mein Held!" Hat die Anhänger in Deutschland geweint. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY to German parents, young Ace soon took up the ideals of national socialism. He learned how to play the guitar mainly so he could combat the evil ninjews attacking his beloved Fatherland. He joined KISS as their lead guitarist to spread his love of his country, implant subliminal messages in the youth, and keep an eye on Paul and Gene, both known ninjews. He currently resides in Westchester, NY in his huge mansion.
A drummer worthy of getting the Noble Prize for being noodle-armed. He is known for losing his temper and has fired more weapons than hitting the drums. No one wants to be Peter Criss; not even George Peter Criscuola wants to be Peter Criss. He actually wanted to be Eric Carr, who played much better than him (since he took the same drumming classes as Rush's Neil Peart), but the other members didn't think fox makeup would fit his face, so they gave him lame cat makeup. Still, no one understands why they let this pussycat be in this extreme metal group.
Aspiring graphic artist Ace Frehely designed the logo for KISS and was the guiding force behind the thunderbolt "SS" in the current logo. Judging the public to be hungry for Nazi-related iconography, Frehely designed the thunderbolt SS after the Nazi Schutzstaffel. The band vetoed his first idea (pictured), which called for a swastika with each of the four band members' heads at the end of each arm.
KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park
In the year 1978, when disco ruled, pet rocks roamed the earth, and everyone was snorting cocaine and Pop Rocks, KISS decided to further milk their non-talent by making the made-for-television movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. The movie won critical acclaim for the band and went on to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Hair, Best Action Scene With a Wolfman, Best Acting by Non-Actors, and Best Makeup.
The basic plot is a direct lift from Dante's Inferno only instead of Hell, the action takes place at Magic Mountain in California. Since its release, the movie has been praised as an edgy postmodern treatise that navigates the precarious line between receiver, message, and agent in a way reminiscent of the works of Igmar Bergman. It also deconstructs such thorny issues as third-wave feminism and class conflict in a amusement park setting. Plus they play "Shout It Out Loud" and Ace shoots thunderbolts from his fingers.
Notable actors such as Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando approached KISS to make a follow-up movie to which they declined, having rocked and/or rolled all night nite and partied every day to which caused them extreme exhaustion. Due to its television success, the distributors decided to put KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park in theaters; however, it bombed miserably at the box office with a gross of $12.35. It was then taken out of theaters and all copies of the film were burned and dumped at the back of a nearby Dairy Queen. To this day, the members of KISS maintain that KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park is their proudest achievement, despite its commercial failure.
KISS further cemented their success with a line of 12-inch Phantom of the Park dolls made by Mego. The dolls were rumored to be made with human tissue and hair (some rumors state that it was Jew hair exhumed from WWII). The dolls sold out immediately and outsold any Star Wars figures. Sales stagnated after children began removing the clothes to find that Gene had only a bump down there.
My Dad the Rockstar
In the early 2000s, after Gene Simmons realized KISS wasn't "cool" with the kids anymore, he though what better way to make them cool than a cartoon? This Teletoon/Nickelodeon series, running from 2003 to 2004, chronicled Gene's son Wily, an ungrateful redhead who is rich, lives in a mansion, has a loyal token black friend Quincy, and a cute token First Nations girlfriend Alyssa, but somehow it just isn't good enough for him and he just wants to live a "normal" life in a lower-middle-class family without his flamboyant crazy upper-class dad embarrassing him. The show didn't make it past one season, mostly because it focused on the rockstar's boring whiny son instead of the rockstar and his crazy awesome glam-rocky adventures cross-country, thus casting a spectre of boredom across its viewers, who derisively nicknamed it My Son the Ungrateful Piece of Refuse because of its ungrateful main character.
Gene Simmons' Family Jewels
Running from 2006 to 2012, this was a reality show on A&E, chronicling Gene's life, his family, and how great he is as he sits atop his golden throne decorated with the family jewels. Misadventures include Gene breaking up with his wife because she prefers New Age music over rock, Gene visiting his homeland of Israel and battling Palestinian terrorists with the Power of Rock™, Gene purchasing Australia's Carlton Football Club, Gene attempting to sell KISS pez dispensers for ten times the usual price to unsuspecting children, and Wily being caught plagiarizing Bleach when writing manga.