Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that Kiss is one of the most important rock bands of all time, influencing everyone from Garth Brooks and Mötley Crüe to Nirvana and Lady Gaga.
Many older fans remember what they were doing when they first heard or saw the bombastic band, whether it was “Beth” or “Rock and Roll All Nite” on the radio, the group performing live on “The Midnight Special” or the iconic covers to the “Destroyer” or “Love Gun” albums, which featured the costume-clad, makeup-wearing foursome as fantasy heroes.
Or perhaps you were introduced to Kiss during the 1980s, when band members removed their patented makeup. Maybe you’re a younger fan, and you know Kiss from its 1990s reunion tour or its more recent shows.
Regardless, here are 15 things you need to know before you go see Kiss in concert Sept. 27 at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving, plus info on five upcoming Kiss-related events:
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1. Formed in New York City in 1973, Kiss released its self-titled debut album Feb. 18, 1974. Before that, co-founders Paul “The Starchild” Stanley (rhythm guitar) and Gene “The Demon” Simmons (bass guitar) belonged to a band called Wicked Lester. Simmons envisioned Kiss as the “heavy metal Beatles,” which is one reason why each member has a distinctive, yet cohesive persona.
2. Only two of the original members, Stanley and Simmons, remain with the band. Ace “The Spaceman” Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter “The Catman” Criss (drums) are long gone, though widely debunked rumors persist that the original four will get back together again.
3. Kiss still performs in kabuki-style makeup and theatrical costumes, with former Kiss tribute band member Tommy Thayer assuming the Spaceman identity and former Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath drummer Eric Singer filling in as Catman. Their stage shows are as loud and as explosive as ever (literally and figuratively), so you might want to bring ear plugs to the concert.
4. Fans are divided on how they feel about Thayer and Singer. Though they’ve now been with Kiss for more years than either Frehley or Criss, and though they are talented musicians, some feel that they are “imposters” or “scabs,” because they don’t have their own stage personas.
5. The band’s biggest hit was “Beth,” which reached No. 7 on the “Billboard” charts. Unfortunately, you probably won’t hear it in Irving. Singer has sung the Peter Criss power ballad in concert before, but he didn’t when Kiss was in Oklahoma earlier this year or at other recent shows.
6. Expect to hear many of Kiss’ other hits, including “Detroit Rock City,” “Shout It Out Loud,” “Lick It Up,” “Psycho Circus” and of course “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Thayer will likely sing Frehley’s signature tune, “Shock Me,” and the band has been performing a relatively deep cut of late — the anthemic “Flaming Youth.”
7. Most everyone knows that Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Fewer realize that the band has 30 gold records, which is more than any other U.S. rock group.
8. While they aren’t as old as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Stanley and Simmons have passed retirement age. Stanley is 65 while Simmons is 68. Both are still fit and energetic, and both still put on a great show, but Stanley’s voice has lost some of its range, and on a bad night he sounds a little hoarse.
9. You won’t get a discount on anything like you might at a sporting event, but feel free to wear Kiss-inspired makeup and costuming to the show. Be advised, though — the Music Factory is an outdoor pavilion, so you may get a little warm in platform boots and spandex.
10. Kiss has always been a hedonistic band (the now-married Simmons in particular has bragged about having thousands of lovers over the years), but rumors from the 1970s that their name is an anagram for Knights in Satan’s Service were greatly exaggerated.
11. Expect to see many kids in the audience, brought by their Gen-X parents. The band still rocks hard, but its family-friendly shows typically lack cursing and usually feature Stanley leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance at some point.
12. A patriotic band, Kiss donates significant sums of money to the Wounded Warrior Project, and it makes a habit of hiring currently serving troops and military veterans as roadies.
13. Along with the Beatles and Elvis, Kiss is one of the most merchandised musical acts of all time. It even marketed a series of Kiss coffins that doubled as beer coolers. The late, great “Dimebag” Darrell, co-founder of Pantera and a huge Frehley fan, is buried in a Kiss coffin at the Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington.
14. Dining is available at the Music Factory, and you can bring in bottled water and food packaged in clear plastic zip bags. However, if you want to go elsewhere for dinner and drinks before the show, set the proper mood with a visit to Rock & Brews, a music-themed bar and restaurant located in The Colony. Stanley and Simmons are part-owners of the popular chain.
15. If you can’t make it to the Kiss show in Irving, check out “Kiss Rocks Vegas” on DVD or Blu-ray for an excellent concert experience from the comfort of your couch. For your kids, pick up a copy of “Scooby-Doo! & Kiss: Rock & Roll Mystery,” which features classic Kiss tunes, along with voice acting by all four current band members.
Brett Weiss is the author of “Encyclopedia of Kiss: Music, Personnel, Events and Related Subjects” (McFarland, 2016)
- 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27
- The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
- 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd. Irving
What’s coming up from Kiss
1. A “Marvel Zombie” at heart, Gene Simmons is a big comic book geek. You can meet him in Austin at Wizard World Comic Con (wizardworld.com/comiccon/Austin) Nov. 18-19. In addition to signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, he’ll perform a solo concert.
2. Peter Criss retired from the music biz recently, but Ace Frehley remains active, recording solo albums and going out on tour. The former Spaceman will be at the Bomb Factory in Dallas on Dec. 16 as part of the Hair Metal Holiday show.
3. Nov. 5-10, you can join Kiss and more than 2,300 of its fans on The Kiss Kruise VII: KissWorld At Sea (www.theKisskruise.com), a music-filled voyage that goes from New Orleans to Cozumel to Costa Maya.
4. Kiss has had a number of lead guitarists over the years, including original Frehley replacement Vinnie Vincent, whose persona was that of an “Ankh Warrior.” He’s come out of seclusion recently and will be appearing at Kiss Expo Atlanta (www.laKissexpo.com) Jan. 19-20, 2018.
5. Simmons has been making the rounds on TV talk shows pimping “The Vault,” a boxed set of more than 150 of his previously unreleased songs. For a whopping $2,000, you’ll get 10 CDs, a photo book, a Simmons action figure and a gold medallion, all packaged in a 38-pound safe. The price includes a meet-and-greet with Simmons at a major city. The Dallas Vault Experience 2018 (www.genesimmonsvault.com) is April 21-22, 2018. For a “mere” $50,000, he’ll deliver “The Vault” to your home — seriously.
Brett Weiss, Special to the Star-Telegram