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A Brief

To the nonfan, KISS is the hard rock band who wore black and white face makeup, flamboyant costumes, and became famous for their one of a kind theatrics. Those who know their music; however, realize that KISS is much more than what the critics suggest. The influence of KISS is, and will be, one of the strongest of any rock and roll band in history. The massive appeal of KISS as a touring band also translated into album sales, as the band ranks third behind only the Rolling Stones and the Beatles for consecutive gold records, with twenty-three.

KISS was formed when bassist Gene Simmons and singer/guitarist Paul Stanley of a Manhattan-based band called Wicked Lester recruited drummer Peter Criss through an ad in Rolling Stone magazine, and brought in guitarist Ace Frehley through a classified ad in the Village Voice. Simmons and Stanley had a concept for the band right from the start, which was to perform in white makeup, platform boots, and black and silver costumes. Each member was to be their own "cartoon character." Simmons was the Demon, Stanley the Star Child, Criss the Cat, and Frehley the Space Man.
In 1973, KISS signed with Casablanca records. The band struggled with its first three albums, but 1975's double live album Alive! was the breakthrough of what became a 70's phenomenon. In 1976, KISS released Destroyer, which included more than a couple rock and roll masterpieces, but the album's biggest hit was its first ballad called "Beth." The song went to number 7 on the singles chart, virtually unheard of territory for a hard rock band, and could rightly be called the first power ballad. With the success of "Beth," Marvel Comics paid the band the ultimate tribute by publishing a KISS comic book.
KISS remained extremely active throughout the 70's, releasing five more albums, including the multi-platinum Alive II in 1977 and the greatest hits collection Double Platinum in 1978. In October of that year, each band member simultaneously released a solo album. Through the release of 1979's Dynasty, KISS was a permanent fixture on the road and the band was still performing in full makeup. By 1980; however, the dynasty had begun to come apart. Peter Criss left the band prior to the recording of Unmasked, and was replaced for the sessions by future David Letterman Show drummer Anton Fig. Criss was replaced permanently by Eric Carr in 1981. Ace Frehley left the band prior to 1982's Creatures of the Night to form his own band, Frehley's Comet. The next year, with the release of Lick It Up, KISS removed its costumes and makeup for the first time.
Vinnie Vincent, who had joined prior to Lick It Up, left two years later, and was replaced by Mark St. John for 1984's Animalize. St. John took ill with Reiter's Syndrome, and in 1985, Bruce Kulick captured the guitarist role and held it for a decade. Despite these adversities, KISS began to regain its stature and formed a new legion of fans in the late 80's. "Forever," from the 1989 album Hot in the Shade, became the band's biggest track since "Beth." There would be more tragedy in 1991, however. Drummer Eric Carr died of cancer at the age of 41, casting a shadow over the band's first album in three years, Revenge. Carr was replaced by Eric Singer. A third live album, Alive III followed in 1993, and its success sparked another year-long tour.
In 1994, the band created a KISS fan convention tour, the centerpiece of which was an intimate live performance by the band themselves. For fans, it was the first time they were given a chance to see KISS play acoustically; the band even took requests. As a result of these shows, KISS performed in a 1995 MTV Unplugged session, which saw the band bring back original members Criss and Frehley for special guest appearances. The success of the Unplugged set sparked a massive KISS reunion tour which saw the band reapplying the makeup and slipping back into their costumes. Kulick and Singer were to be on hold until the reunion tour concluded, but when the tour was extended, they left the band in early 1997. In 1998, KISS released the highly marketed Psycho-Circus album and began another world tour, which lasted through March, 1999. KISS will begin a final "farewell tour" that will begin in March, 2000.

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